Darren Seferina (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The voters were divided on how far to drop the second baseman in the rankings for an injury-plagued 2016.

The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2017 continues at #41 with a second baseman who played only about half the 2016 season, but still was among stolen base leaders. Details for TCN members.

http://www.scout.com/player/191523-darren-seferina?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
26 2B 01 24 94 2014 5th

Selected 2016 stats

Tm AVG BABIP AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO SB wOBA OBP SLG OPS
PB 0.247 0.321 275 34 68 7 1 15 25 68 32 0.299 0.311 0.320 0.631

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (46): Like prospect #44, Trey Nielsen, Darren Seferina fell considerably in prospect stature among The Cardinal Nation community, dropping from #21 in last year’s vote to #46 this year. UncleDenny was the first to pick Seferina, going with him on his 30th pick.

There wasn’t a lot of chatter about Seferina during the community voting. UncleDenny mentioned that Seferina was injured and playing in the tough Jupiter stadium. He said that Seferina, with his great speed, defense, and gap power had been over-looked by the time the vote reached the 40’s. I referenced Seferina’s 36 stolen bases, which placed him third in the league with 200 less plate appearances than the leaders. BobReed, last year, brought up Seferina’s unnoticed power, pointing out that he had a .151 isolated slugging. Perhaps he will get back to that level when he heads to Springfield next year. – Jeremy Byrd

 

Derek Shore (47): Seferina was the first position player the Cardinals selected in the 2014 draft and perhaps the most talented on the 2016 Palm Beach Cardinals roster despite three DL stints and hitting below .250 for the first time in his professional career.

Seferina, 22, also appeared in a career-low 70 games as a result of injury woes and batted only .247/.311/.320 with one homer and 15 RBI for the Beach Birds last season. However, it wasn't his offensive prowess that stood out among Florida State League coaches.

It was his baserunning ability that Baseball America rated as the best in the FSL in a league loaded with speedy up-the-middle prospects. The second baseman garnered the fourth-most stolen bases with 32 thefts in 38 chances, a significant improvement after being caught 17 times in 40 attempts in 2015 with Low-A Peoria.

As I only saw Seferina once the entire 2016 campaign, I reached out to Baseball Prospectus prospect team evaluator Thomas Desmidt, who covers the FSL for BP and saw plenty of him.

"Seferina's development as a strong middle infield bat took a step back in 2016 due to injuries and a poor performing Palm Beach club," Desmidt said. "While his stolen base abilities improved, his offensive slash line was down considerably. He's never a power threat and his 70-grade speed to leg out doubles and triples didn't translate to the FSL."

As far as his skill-set, Seferina is a small player, standing at 5-foot-9, but he's exciting with wheels to match. He has improved his efficiency on the basepaths as well. As mentioned, the Willemstad, Curacao native showed excellent gap power and extra-base ability last year, collecting 42 extra-base hits for Peoria compared to 13 this past season, but that can be attributed to the DL stints.

Defensively, Seferina plays a scrappy second base with a strong arm. Desmidt added, "With a below-average hit tool (35) and average fielding (50), Seferina is going to have to depend on speed and contact skills to move through the system."

He has also seen time at shortstop in the past, and that should not be out of the question as he profiles as a utility player for me. Here is Desmidt’s view.

"I see Seferina's ceiling as a Platoon/Utility Player (45) with a floor as Organizational (30). I don't know if that organization will be the Cardinals after 2018,"

Ultimately, Seferina, if healthy, should be ready to play every day for Double-A Springfield in 2017.

 

Brian Walton (33): As was the case with Nielsen three days earlier in this countdown, I am slower to downgrade a prospect compared to my peer voters. There is no doubt that Seferina had a subpar 2016, ruined by injury, but there were enough high points last summer that I did not wash away his 2014-15 successes, when he was an all-star in two different leagues while batting .295 and swiping 43 bags.

Though Desmidt touched on it above, it is worth reiterating how historically bad the Palm Beach offense was in 2016.

They finished last in the combined first and second half standings with the poorest winning percentage of any of the St. Louis Cardinals’ eight minor league affiliates in 2016 at .423. In fact, it was the worst record posted by any Cards’ full-season club in over a decade.

They placed 11th in the 12-team FSL in hits, runs, batting average (.235), slugging (.306) and OPS (.624). The Beach Birds were last by a mile at just 33 home runs as a team all season long, with only one player hitting more than three over the 137-game schedule.

That consistent offensive futility had to affect their leadoff man’s productivity – while he was battling injury and going on and off the disabled list repeatedly. In fact, Seferina was not healthy from the start, opening 2016 on the DL and finishing the season back in the same place.

Despite not playing for the final seven weeks, as noted above, Seferina still finished fourth in the league with 32 steals and a stellar success rate of 84.2 percent. The league leader had just four more stolen bases in 43 more games, so Seferina could easily have taken the FSL crown.

Across the Cardinals organization in 2016, he finished third, only trailing The Cardinal Nation system-wide Player of the Year Eliezer Alvarez (36) and teammate Oscar Mercado (33). The same situation applies here. With even close to a full season of games, Seferina would have been the organization’s top base stealer, likely by a significant margin.

Seferina was passed over for fall instructional league camp, but that could have been due to him not yet being ready to play again, rather than a drop in his spot in the organizational pecking order at his position.

In Seferina, the Cardinals have an up the middle player defensively who has gap power and translates his plus speed to exceptional results on the bases. In a system that features few true prototypical leadoff men, Seferina fits the bill, and to me, that holds value.

To open 2017, his assignment may depend on where the Cardinals place Alvarez. The latter, now on the 40-man, will receive priority. If Alvarez is jumped from Peoria to Springfield, then Seferina could reprise his Palm Beach assignment, rather than immediately move up to Double-A. 

TCN Scouting Grade: 4, Risk: High (click here to review scales)

 

Our 2017 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation. Thank you for being a member!

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