Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Our combined vote to select the top prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system is back for the 12th year.

The Cardinal Nation's 12th annual countdown starts Monday, November 14 – now expanded to the 50 best St. Louis Cardinals prospects – and will be unveiled over a 50-day period.

Once again, it is time for the unveiling of our annual The Cardinal Nation/ Top Prospect List. Back for its 12th year, the countdown for 2017 is expanded to 50 players. 

During the period we call “50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Cardinals Prospects”, a new top St. Louis Cardinals prospect is disclosed each day, starting with number 50 and carrying us into the New Year.

We will continue until the number one pick is identified – our top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system coming into the 2017 season. Will 2016 number one Alex Reyes repeat, be unseated by Luke Weaver or will there be a new player crowned as the king of the farm system?

As always, following the top 50 countdown will be our annual nine-pack of “best-of”, “just-missed” and in-depth analysis articles. This series will conclude as Winter Warm-Up’s arrival signals pitchers and catchers reporting in just four more weeks.

As has been the process in recent years, the final ranking representing the site is actually a melding of multiple individual prospect lists. Our 2017 voters are site publisher and editor Brian Walton, Springfield reporter Derek Shore and you, the readers.

Since Labor Day, the members of our free message board community have been conducting voting for their own Cardinals prospect list. This detailed annual ranking involves considerable debate and discussion. The fan voting process has been imitated but never duplicated, as our readers continue to be the some of the most knowledgeable people anywhere when it comes to the players in the Cardinals minor league system.

The Cardinal Nation community ranking is given its customary one-third weighting to yield the countdown order to be unveiled here. The community leader who led the voting process, “PadsFS,” aka Jeremy Byrd, will also speak for the group in the individual player capsules posted daily. Shore will provide his scouting-oriented commentary on each member of the new top 50 as well as on a handful of others who just missed out.

To follow the countdown, you can either read each new story when posted on our home page every morning or click on the individual players’ names, which will be listed below as they are unveiled. You can also return to this page daily to check the current status of our Top 50 countdown.

As always, readers can join in the debate at The Cardinal Nation’s free message board, where there will be a new discussion thread devoted to that day’s entry onto the top prospect list.

To check out the corresponding rankings from each of the past 11 winters, click here, or you can always access them the permanent links located underneath the site logo under PROSPECTS>THE CARDINAL NATION RANKINGS.


The Cardinal Nation/ Top 50 Prospects – 2017

50. Chris Chinea (free)
49. Wadye Ynfante (TCN members)
48. Carlos Soto (TCN members)
47. Corey Littrell (TCN members)
46. Luke Voit (TCN members)
45. Andrew Knizner (free)
44. Trey Nielsen (TCN members)
43. Dennis Ortega (TCN members)
42. Kendry Flores (TCN members)
41. Darren Seferina (TCN members)
40. Rowan Wick (free)
39. Breyvic Valera (TCN members)
38. John Kilichowski (TCN members)
37. Sam Tuivailala (TCN members)
36. Daniel Poncedeleon (TCN members)
35. Tommy Edman (free)
34. Matt Pearce (TCN members)
33. Derian Gonzalez (TCN members)
32. Ian Oxnevad (TCN members)
31. Zac Gallen (TCN members)
30. Mike Mayers (free)
29. Jeremy Martinez (TCN members)
28. Ronnie Williams (TCN members)
27. Jonatan Machado (TCN members)
26. Bryce Denton (TCN members)
25. Jordan Hicks (free)
24. Connor Jones (TCN members)
23. Marco Gonzales (TCN members)
22. Dylan Carlson (TCN members)
21. Nick Plummer (TCN members)
20. Allen Cordoba (free)
19. Alvaro Seijas (TCN members)
18. Johan Oviedo (TCN members)
17. Randy Arozarena (TCN members)
16. Eliezer Alvarez (TCN members)
15. Ryan Helsley (free)
14. Edmundo Sosa (TCN members)
13. Paul DeJong (TCN members)
12. Jake Woodford (TCN members)
11. Junior Fernandez (TCN members)
10. Magneuris Sierra (free)
 9. Austin Gomber (TCN members)
 8. Sandy Alcantara (TCN members)
 7. Jack Flaherty (TCN members)
 6. Dakota Hudson (TCN members)
 5. Harrison Bader (free)
 4. Carson Kelly (TCN members)
 3. Delvin Perez (TCN members)
 2. Luke Weaver (TCN members)
 1. Alex Reyes (free)


There’s more!

At the conclusion of the countdown, a ten-part series follows, as we drill down into the details behind the top 50. Most of these articles will be exclusively for TCN members.

We will analyze each voter’s individual top 50 lists, year-to-year changes and the top additions. The voters highlight their ranked players that did not make the combined top 50 and we unveil our All-Prospect Team - the highest-ranked players at each position. We will take a view behind the numbers, a look back at our best and worst picks from the previous year, the top prospect list cut by level of play and those on the 2016 list who dropped off for 2017. We wrap it up with a new article looking at a re-ranking of the top prospects only by potential.

2017 Top Cardinals Prospects – The Final Tally (TCN members)
2017 Top Cardinals Prospects – The Newbies (TCN members)
2017 Cardinals Prospects: Best of the Rest – Brian Walton (TCN members)
2017 Cardinals Prospects: Best of the Rest – Derek Shore (TCN members)
2017 TCN/ All-Cardinals Prospect Team (FREE)
2017 Top Cardinals Prospects – Behind the Numbers (TCN members)
2017 Top Cardinals Prospects – Picks and Pans (TCN members)
2017 Top Cardinals Prospects by Level (TCN members)
2017 Top Cardinals Prospects – The Departed (TCN members)
New! Cardinals Top 50 Prospects on Potential Only (TCN members)

Special free article: TCN's Cardinals All-Prospect Team History


Not yet a member of The Cardinal Nation?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Take advantage of our seven-day free trial and a one-year subscription to Sports Illustrated now included with all new annual memberships.


The voting process

Here is a bit of insight into the process behind the picks. Earlier this fall, Brian Walton and Derek Shore independently documented their top prospects in the Cardinals minor league system. The Community vote was then folded in.

A weighted score was tabulated, which drove the ranking you will see here. The individual scores will also be shown on the player pages as they are unveiled each day, along with a wealth of additional information on each of the 50 prospects.

To come up with the 50 names, each of us submitted a list of 55 players. This year, 61 prospects were identified by at least one voter, meaning some good players just missed the cut. Ties were broken by the best single voter score.

In terms of qualification, all players in the Cardinals minor league system are eligible, including those on the 40-man roster, as long as they have not exhausted their MLB rookie designation.

The unparalled depth of coverage of the Cardinals system all year round by The Cardinal Nation means there is much more behind these rankings than just a list of names.

Brian and Derek ranked based on personal observation as much as possible, and with local reporters in every affiliate city, TCN knows these players well. Brian was out to see the affiliates in person this spring, summer and fall, and in many cases, multiple times. That included covering spring training, extended spring training, instructional league and the Arizona Fall League first-hand. We also received valuable input from coaches, scouts and others in and out of the organization.

New! Scouting Grades for 2017

This year, Brian Walton is grading each prospect on a 2-8 scale, based on their most likely future potential. This mirrors the standard 20-80 scouting scale, while taking a simplified look at ultimate potential, rather than a full detailed, tool-by-tool breakdown. The grades are accompanied by a risk factor, which assesses the likelihood of a player reaching or exceeding his ceiling.

8 – Elite talent
7 – All-star
6 – Above average starter, mid-rotation starting pitcher, impact reliever
5 – Average starter, #3-5 starting pitcher, closer candidate
4 – Impact bench/bullpen, spot starter
3 – Up and down player
2 – Career minor leaguer

Safe – Almost certain to reach ceiling
Low – Strong chance of reaching ceiling
Medium – Some work to become an MLB player
High – More projection than results
Extreme – Highly projectable, small chance of making the majors

Remember that these are point-in-time assessments, which can easily be overachieved (or underachieved) in the future as some players break out and others regress.

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