Eliezer Alvarez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Pulling together all the votes on the St. Louis Cardinals’ top minor league prospects for 2017 and looking at the movers and shakers

Pulling together all the votes on the St. Louis Cardinals’ top minor league prospects for 2017 and looking at the movers and shakers from year to year.

As our yearly 50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Prospects series moves into its analysis phase, this article brings together the voting of the participants from The Cardinal Nation. The trio are the collective members of our Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals message board community (Cm)*, Springfield beat writer Derek Shore (DS) and me - Brian Walton (BW).

The far left column of the table below is the aggregate ranking as we counted down daily over the last seven weeks. To the right of the players’ names are our individual votes. Next are the prior years’ rankings of the players in the new 2017 Top 50 from 2016 all the way back to when players joined the professional ranks.

* (Cm) represents the collaborative effort among a group of very knowledgeable Cardinals fans from our Message Board. That group actually went on to rank 70 players. Click here to see the entire community list and their discussion behind each selection.

Rk Group Cm DS BW   16 15 14 13 12 11 10
1 Alex Reyes 1 1 1   1 2 7        
2 Luke Weaver 2 4 2   4 9          
3 Delvin Perez 4 2 3                
4 Carson Kelly 3 3 4   12 11 9 10      
5 Harrison Bader 7 5 5   13            
6 Dakota Hudson 6 6 7                
7 Jack Flaherty 5 8 9   2 6          
8 Sandy Alcantara 8 7 8   17 NR          
9 Austin Gomber 9 10 12   14 NR          
10 Magneuris Sierra 11 17 6   10 16 NR        
11 Junior Fernandez 10 9 16   18 NR          
12 Jake Woodford 12 14 11   15            
13 Paul DeJong 14 11 13   16            
14 Edmundo Sosa 15 16 10   9 19 32        
15 Ryan Helsley 13 15 22   NR            
16 Eliezer Alvarez 16 21 14   36 NR NR NR      
17 Randy Arozarena 20 13 20                
18 Johan Oviedo 24 12 21                
19 Alvaro Seijas 19 18 26   38            
20 Allen Cordoba (Rule 5) 19 20 23   23 NR NR        
Rk Group Cm DS BW   16 15 14 13 12 11 10
21 Nick Plummer 23 24 17   8            
22 Dylan Carlson 18 23 24                
23 Marco Gonzales 22 34 15   3 1 6        
24 Connor Jones 29 25 19                
25 Jordan Hicks 25 19 30   NR            
26 Bryce Denton 26 26 25   21            
27 Jonatan Machado 31 28 28                
28 Ronnie Williams 28 30 31   31 31          
29 Jeremy Martinez 27 32 34                
30 Mike Mayers 32 35 27   NR 25 21        
31 Zac Gallen 34 37 29                
32 Ian Oxnevad 36 27 38   35            
33 Derian Gonzalez 30 31 40   NR NR NR NR      
34 Matt Pearce 40 29 37   39 NR          
35 Tommy Edman 33 33 42                
36 Daniel Poncedeleon 41 39 35   22 34          
37 Sam Tuivailala 38 41 36   11 8 36 NR NR NR  
38 John Kilichowski 37 36 43                
39 Breyvic Valera 35 38 46   NR 15 31 19 39 NR  
40 Rowan Wick 39 42 39   NR 28 NR        
Rk Group Cm DS BW   16 15 14 13 12 11 10
41 Darren Seferina 46 47 33   26 39          
42 Kendry Flores 42 42 42   NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
43 Dennis Ortega 44 40 44   NR NR NR        
44 Trey Nielsen 52 48 32   28 NR NR        
45 Andrew Knizner 42 43 51                
46 Luke Voit 47 44 45   NR NR NR        
47 Corey Littrell 55 45 41   34 NR          
48 Carlos Soto 43 46 57                
49 Wadye Ynfante 53 50 47   NR            
50 Chris Chinea 51 49 53   NR            
  NA=not in Cards org                      
  NR=not ranked                      

I will finish this segment with a look at some of the most notable player changes in 2017 from the 2016 list.

Movers and shakers

Top debut – 2016 drafteeDelvin Perez - #3

(next: Dakota Hudson - #6)

After an odd 2015 Draft aftermath, in which only one member of that most recent draft class made our top 12 Cardinals prospects for 2016, things are back to normal.

http://www.scout.com/player/206019-delvin-perez?s=321

Two players drafted this past June debuted in our top six – high school shortstop Delvin Perez and college pitcher Dakota Hudson – representing the opposite ends of the development investment portfolio. Hudson, who was on the “Wacha Plan” for first-year pitchers, ended up at Springfield, while the 17-year-old Perez opened in the farthest US stop from the top, the Gulf Coast League.

Ironically, the only top 12 debut last year among that draft class, outfielder Nick Plummer, slid down the rankings considerably for 2017.

 

Top debut – already in systemRyan Helsley – non-ranked to #15

(next: Jordan Hicks – NR to #25)

A year after Austin Gomber leaped into the rankings at #14 after being passed over following his partial season in his draft year, the same thing occurred with Ryan Helsley in 2016. In fact, the standout performance was at the same level the next year, at Class-A Peoria.

http://www.scout.com/player/200626-ryan-helsley?s=321

Further, the two were both drafted from smaller schools in the fourth (Gomber from Florida Atlantic in 2014) and fifth rounds (Helsley from Northeastern State (OK) in 2015), respectively.

It is not surprising that the other top debuting player who had been in the system in 2015 had not been ranked one year ago. Due to injury, third rounder Jordan Hicks’ professional debut was delayed until 2016. So his initial #25 ranking reflects his first official mound action with the Cardinals, in which he advanced all the way to State College.

 

Top debut – internationalRandy Arozarena - #17

(next: Johan Oviedo - #18)

It says a lot about the quality of the Cardinals’ international haul that two new Cuban signees debut in our top 20, including one, Randy Arozarena, who has yet to play an official game as a Cardinal.

http://www.scout.com/player/210771-randy-arozarena?s=321

While the center fielder is closer to St. Louis so should contribute first, I believe the runner-up, right-handed pitcher Johan Oviedo, has the highest ceiling of any of the organization’s 25 international signees this July 2nd period.

Arozarena received a signing bonus of $1.25 million and the Cardinals wrote Oviedo a check for a cool $1.9 million. I have placed Arozarena at Palm Beach as a guess, but opening 2017 at Springfield may not be out of the question.

 

Top top 50 returneeMike Mayers – non-ranked to #30

(next: Breyvic Valera – NR to #38, Rowan Wick – NR to #39)

Three formerly-ranked players returned to the list after not making it a year ago. Each of their reasons are different, but ultimately, all three are now on St. Louis’ 40-man roster.

http://www.scout.com/player/135121-mike-mayers?s=321

Right-hander Mike Mayers suffered through an injury-plagued 2015, but came back strong enough last season to make his MLB debut. Second baseman Breyvic Valera upped his performance at Triple-A Memphis after a disappointing Double-A showing, not unlike what happened to Aledmys Diaz the year before.

Reliever Rowan Wick missed the list during his first year as a pitcher after having placed among the top prospects as a slugging outfielder with State College. Most recently, the right-hander was relieving at Springfield and in the Arizona Fall League.

 

Fastest riserEliezer Alvarez – #36 to #16

(next: Sandy Alcantara - #17 to #8)

In my opinion, no other Cardinals prospect improved his stock through the 2016 as much as Eliezer Alvarez. Not only was the second baseman Peoria’s best hitter, he earned The Cardinal Nation’s nod as the system-wide Player of the Year. This fall, the recently-turned 22-year-old was wisely added to the 40-man roster.

http://www.scout.com/player/158983-eliezer-alvarez?s=321

Hard-throwing right-hander Sandy Alcantara was already fairly well known, but earned a lot of attention with a strong start to the season at Peoria and continuing strongly in the Florida State League after making the leap all the way from the Gulf Coast League in 2015.

 

Biggest fall off the top 50Jacob Wilson - #20 to non-ranked

(next: Patrick Wisdom - #24 to non-ranked)

Two infielders felt the biggest drop off the list from year to year. Both Jacob Wilson and Patrick Wisdom reached Memphis, but their prospect momentum lost steam. In fact, second baseman Wilson played his way down to Springfield.

http://www.scout.com/player/169887-jacob-wilson?s=321

In the case of Wisdom, his everyday spot at the hot corner at Triple-A for 2017 was probably saved by the position change this fall of Paul DeJong, our new 13th-ranked prospect, from third base to shortstop.

 

Biggest fall still on the top 50Sam Tuivailala - #11 to #37

(next: Marco Gonzales - #3 to #23)

Here we have two prospects who first reached St. Louis in 2014, but three years later, have not yet found the formula to stick.

http://www.scout.com/player/145217-sam-tuivailala?s=321

Reliever Tuivailala is coming off a disappointing 2016 at Memphis and has been up and down 10 times already by my count. Left-handed starter Gonzales missed much of 2015 and all of last season due to injury. The latter has the further route to travel, but has exhausted less of his upside if he can prove healthy.

The future outlook for both remains blurry, with a return to Memphis to start 2017 appearing most likely. 

http://www.scout.com/mlb/cardinals/story/1726858-50-days-50-nights-50-ca...

For more

To reference our entire list of top 50 Cardinals prospects for 2017 and read about each individual player, click here. You can learn the voters’ philosophies in making their selections and much more.

Next up

This article series continues as we highlight the newest members of the top 50. Then, the voters highlight the players on our personal lists that did not make the 2016 consolidated top 50.

We move next to our All-Prospect Team, the highest-ranked players at each position, dive into the numbers behind the top 50, take a look back at our best and worst selections from 2016, the top prospects by level of play and finally those players that left the rankings from last year to this.

 

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

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