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.
|20||Allen Cordoba (Rule 5)||19||20||23||23||NR||NR|
|NA=not in Cards org|
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 draftee: Delvin 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.
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 system: Ryan 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.
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 – international: Randy 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.
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 returnee: Mike 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.
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 riser: Eliezer 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.
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 50: Jacob 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.
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 50: Sam 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.
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.
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.
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.
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