More Top Prospects at Top of Cardinals System

Season-opening rosters for the St. Louis Cardinals indicate more of the best prospects are opening 2016 at the highest level of the system compared to the year before, but ...

In this article, we will focus on how members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 prospect list for 2016 fared in their season-opening roster placements.

These new assignments across the entire system are available via the newly-updated Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

Alternatively, you can explore each team’s roster right here at The Cardinal Nation. They are current as of the start of the regular season. By clicking on player names, you can view bios, photos, videos, articles, news items, links to current season and career stats and much more – everything you need to know about a player’s history in one place.

Full-season clubs
St. Louis Cardinals
Memphis Redbirds
Springfield Cardinals
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Peoria Chiefs

With the initial 2016 rosters set, here are the assignments of the Cardinals top 40 prospects as ranked here at The Cardinal Nation during the off-season.

The right column block indicates a re-sort of the same data, by 2016 level of play. In the far right column, the 2015 season-ending assignment for each member of the top 40 is included.

Rk 2016 TCN Top 40 open   Rk 2016 TCN Top 40 open end 2015
1  Alex Reyes Mem RL   7  Aldemys Diaz StL Mem
2  Jack Flaherty PB   19  Greg Garcia StL StL
3  Marco Gonzales Mem DL          
4  Luke Weaver PB DL   29  Luis Perdomo SD R5 PB
5  Tim Cooney Mem DL          
6  Charlie Tilson Mem     1  Alex Reyes Mem RL Spr
7  Aldemys Diaz StL   3  Marco Gonzales Mem DL Mem
8  Nick Plummer EST   5  Tim Cooney Mem DL Mem DL
9  Edmundo Sosa Peo   6  Charlie Tilson Mem   Spr
10  Magneuris Sierra Peo   11  Sam Tuivailala Mem Mem
11  Sam Tuivailala Mem   20  Jacob Wilson Mem Mem
12  Carson Kelly Spr     24  Patrick Wisdom Mem Spr
13  Harrison Bader Spr   25  Anthony Garcia Mem Mem
14  Austin Gomber PB   30  Michael Ohlman Mem Spr
15  Jake Woodford Peo   33  Arturo Reyes Mem Mem
16  Paul DeJong Spr          
17  Sandy Alcantara Peo   12  Carson Kelly Spr   PB
18  Junior Fernandez Peo   13  Harrison Bader Spr Peo
19  Greg Garcia StL   16  Paul DeJong Spr Peo
20  Jacob Wilson Mem   22  Daniel Poncedeleon Spr DL PB
21  Bryce Denton EST   28  Trey Nielsen Spr PB
22  Daniel Poncedeleon Spr   34  Corey Littrell Spr PB
23  Allen Cordoba EST   37  Andrew Morales Spr Spr
24  Patrick Wisdom Mem          
25  Anthony Garcia Mem   2  Jack Flaherty PB Peo
26  Darren Seferina PB DL?   4  Luke Weaver PB DL PB
27  Ian McKinney PB   14  Austin Gomber PB Peo
28  Trey Nielsen Spr   26  Darren Seferina PB Peo
29  Luis Perdomo SD R5   27  Ian McKinney PB Peo
30  Michael Ohlman Mem   32  Oscar Mercado PB Peo
31  Ronnie Williams EST   39  Matt Pearce PB Peo
32  Oscar Mercado PB          
33  Arturo Reyes Mem   9  Edmundo Sosa Peo JC
34  Corey Littrell Spr   10  Magneuris Sierra Peo JC
35  Ian Oxnevad EST   15  Jake Woodford Peo GCL
36  Eliezer Alvarez Peo   17  Sandy Alcantara Peo GCL
37  Andrew Morales Spr   18  Junior Fernandez Peo GCL
38  Alvaro Seijas EST   36  Eliezer Alvarez Peo JC
39  Matt Pearce PB          
40  David Oca EST   8  Nick Plummer EST GCL
        21  Bryce Denton EST GCL
        23  Allen Cordoba EST GCL
        31  Ronnie Williams EST JC
        35  Ian Oxnevad EST GCL
        38  Alvaro Seijas EST DSL
        40  David Oca EST GCL

What leaps out to me initially in the left columns is the fact that four of the top five prospects across the system are not active as the season opens. I went into detail on those five players here.

The next standout point is the lack of Double-A prospects in the top 11 as well as none at Palm Beach in the top 13 and just one on the top 26 at A-Advanced. Yet Springfield picks up the gap with four prospects between number 12 and 22. This illustrates the “donut hole” some talk about in terms of few top prospects in the mid-to-upper levels of the system.

Moving to the right, the balance in the number of top 40 prospects at the five levels below St. Louis (Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach, Peoria and extended spring training) continues to be good. There are no fewer than six prospects are at any of those six levels, though many are in the second 20.

A shift back toward the top

Following is the data summarized, split out by level for both the top 20 and top 40. The same table from this time last year is provided alongside for comparison.

2016 level Top 20 Top 40   2015 level Top 20 Top 40
St. Louis 2 2   St. Louis 2 2
Rule 5 MLB 0 1   Rule 5 MLB 0 0
Memphis 6 10   Memphis 4 8
Springfield 3 7   Springfield 5 8
Palm Beach 3 7   Palm Beach 5 10
Peoria 5 6   Peoria 2 6
Extended  1 7   Extended  2 6
Total 20 40   Total 20 40

The system’s power is at the top. Memphis has both the most top 20 prospects with six and also stands alone with the most top 40 prospects with 10. This is a return to how the top 40 landed in 2014. Last year, however, Palm Beach had that edge.

Then again, the reality that three of the top four prospects out of action are all on the Memphis roster dilutes the apparent strength in numbers.

Promotions not slowing

Now, we will review a summary the movement of the top 20 and top 40 from last year to this.

2015-2016 Top 20 Top 40   2014-2015 Top 20 Top 40
Promo 3 level 3 4   Promo 3 level 2 2
Promo 2 level 4 5   Promo 2 level 0 1
Promo 1 level 6 15   Promo 1 level 5 13
Flat 7 16   Flat 12 22
Down 1 level 0 0   Down 1 level 1 2
  20 40     20 40

As the 2016 data indicates, the aggressive promotions of Sandy Alcantara, Junior Fernandez and Jake Woodford from the Gulf Coast League to Peoria, a three-level jump, follow the pattern set by Jack Flaherty and Magneuris Sierra last year. I also noted the move of Luis Perdomo from Palm Beach to San Diego via Rule 5, at least for as long as it lasts.

This does not even include the huge leap for reliever Rowan Wick from the Gulf Coast League to Palm Beach. As a power-hitting outfielder, Wick was in the top 40, but he has yet to re-register among the top prospects as a pitcher. His 2016 certainly bears watching, however.

The big change year-to-year is in the two-level jumpers. The count of one last year jumped to five this spring, led by Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong moving from Peoria straight to Springfield. So, the aggressive moves aren’t just with pitchers.

Even the totals of those being promoted a traditional one level are up slightly compared to 2015. Standing out is the move of suspended number one prospect Alex Reyes up to Memphis while on suspension. That would seem to indicate his days in Double-A are over. At this rate, Reyes’ Memphis debut could occur on May 19, at home against Fresno.

Of course, all these increases in promotions means the number of those staying put have dropped. I think that is a good thing – assuming the promoted players can hold their own at their new levels. Yet, organization officials even spin struggles at a higher level as a positive, though I am less sure of that.

This data seems to indicate that the system’s prospect pipeline is flowing faster than before, at least in the case of ensuring the top prospects are challenged and not blocked.

Of course, all of this is just point in time analysis. The organization has shown its willingness to promote selected prospects during the season – as well as move ones back down who show they are not ready.

Those who are initially repeating the same level but may appear ready for an additional challenge could easily become candidates to move up with fast starts and some help from above. Same with several of the extended spring training participants.

To keep up with the action, check out our daily Cardinals minor league notebooks with all the action from the night before. In addition, our in-depth weekly team notebooks will commence with Peoria on Tuesday, April 12.

Bookmark the Roster Matrix

To see the full 2016 season-opening rosters by level and position for the entire Cardinals system on one page, along with every transaction all season long, check out the Roster Matrix, always up-to-date and free at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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