Jose Martinez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Derek Shore discusses six top St. Louis Cardinals prospects who missed our new 2017 Top 50 list, led by shortstop Jose Martinez.

Derek Shore discusses six top St. Louis Cardinals prospects who missed our new 2017 Top 50 list, led by shortstop Jose Martinez.

Editor’s note

As those who have followed our St. Louis Cardinals Top 50 Prospects countdown over the last month and a half here at The Cardinal Nation know, the selection of our master top 50 list was a melding of multiple points of view.

As a result, a number of deserving players on each of our three individual lists did not make the consolidated Top 50. In addition, the Cardinals added two prospect pitchers in trade after our rankings were complete.

In these articles, we highlight some of those prospects – our “Best of the Rest”. Today, we look at Derek Shore’s list. The following commentary is his.

  TCN top 50     Derek Shore
1 Alex Reyes   1  Alex Reyes
2 Luke Weaver   2  Delvin Perez
3 Delvin Perez   3  Carson Kelly
4 Carson Kelly   4  Luke Weaver
5 Harrison Bader   5  Harrison Bader
6 Dakota Hudson   6  Dakota Hudson
7 Jack Flaherty   7  Sandy Alcantara
8 Sandy Alcantara   8  Jack Flaherty
9 Austin Gomber   9  Junior Fernandez
10 Magneuris Sierra   10  Austin Gomber
11 Junior Fernandez   11  Paul DeJong
12 Jake Woodford   12  Johan Oviedo
13 Paul DeJong   13  Randy Arozarena
14 Edmundo Sosa   14  Jake Woodford
15 Ryan Helsley   15  Ryan Helsley
16 Eliezer Alvarez   16  Edmundo Sosa
17 Randy Arozarena   17  Magneuris Sierra
18 Johan Oviedo   18  Alvaro Seijas
19 Alvaro Seijas   19  Jordan Hicks
20 Allen Cordoba   20  Allen Cordoba
21 Nick Plummer   21  Eliezer Alvarez
22 Dylan Carlson   22  Dylan Carlson
23 Marco Gonzales   23  Nick Plummer
24 Connor Jones   24  Conner Jones
25 Jordan Hicks   25  Bryce Denton
26 Bryce Denton   26  Ian Oxnevad
27 Jonatan Machado   27  Jonatan Machado
28 Ronnie Williams   28  Matt Pearce
29 Jeremy Martinez   29  Ronnie Williams
30 Mike Mayers   30  Derian Gonzalez
31 Zac Gallen   31  Jeremy Martinez
32 Ian Oxnevad   32  Tommy Edman
33 Derian Gonzalez   33  Marco Gonzales
34 Matt Pearce   34  Mike Mayers
35 Tommy Edman   35  John Kilichowski
36 Daniel Poncedeleon   36  Zac Gallen
37 Sam Tuivailala   37  Breyvic Valera
38 John Kilichowski   38  Daniel Poncedeleon
39 Breyvic Valera   39  Dennis Ortega
40 Rowan Wick   40  Sam Tuivailala
41 Darren Seferina   41  Rowan Wick
42 Kendry Flores   42  Kendry Flores
43 Dennis Ortega   43  Andrew Knizner
44 Trey Nielsen   44  Luke Voit
45 Andrew Knizner   45  Corey Littrell
46 Luke Voit   46  Carlos Soto
47 Corey Littrell   47  Darren Seferina
48 Carlos Soto   48  Trey Nielsen
49 Wadye Ynfante   49  Chris Chinea
50 Chris Chinea   50  Wadye Ynfante
      51  Jose Martinez
      52  Walker Robbins
      53  Steven Farinaro
      54  Bryan Dobzanski
      55  Vince Jackson
      56  Victor Garcia
      57  Ryan Sherriff
      58  Arturo Reyes
      59  Blake Drake
      60  Jacob Evans
      61  Ian McKinney
      62  Andrew Morales

 

Jose Martinez (Derek’s #51)

http://www.scout.com/player/204176-jose-martinez?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
NR SS 08 15 96 2013 IFA(KC)

No, this isn't the Jose Martinez who made his major-league debut for the big-league Cardinals in 2016, but the lone prospect acquired via the Tony Cruz trade to the Kansas City Royals in December 2015.

Shortly after the trade, I reached out to Burlington manager Scott Thorman, who coached Martinez in his last year with the Royals, for an outline of his progress up to that point.

"Jose is an exciting middle infielder with excellent defensive ability, instincts and has a good arm," the manager said. "He is a maturing switch hitter that gives quality at-bats and can bunt and do a lot of things to help his team. He is a baseball player with flair for getting the big hit and has shown the ability to drive the ball from both sides of the plate.

"Jose has the ability and leadership skills to stay at shortstop but is versatile enough to move around the infield and be an asset wherever needed."

Martinez, 20, opened 2016 in extended spring training before officially debuting as a Cardinals farmhand at High-A Palm Beach this past summer, filling in due to injury over six games. Eight days later, the switch-hitter reported to Low-A (short-season) State College, where he slashed .276/.357/.327 with a homer, nine RBI, and a 12-to-13 strikeout to walk ratio while catching the eye of his skipper Johnny Rodriguez.

"He knows how to play the game," Rodriguez said of Martinez, whose skill-set was as advertised. "He's got a feel for his bat, a switch-hitter, who is better from the left-hand side, but is stronger from the right-hand side and takes a better approach as a lefty. Works the count; good bunter and drag bunter.

"Good enough arm to play short. Definitely will play second base. He's got very soft hands and is an average runner. The main thing is he knows how to play the game. He's got a good feel for the game at age-20, so he's been a real good player since he got here."

Promoted to Low-A Peoria on July 22, Martinez batted .273/.331/.342 with one homer and 18 RBI through 39 games (161 at-bats) in the Midwest League. Despite his contact skills slipping a bit (35-to-13 strikeout to walk), the Venezuelan continued to receive good marks from the player development staff.

"From the beginning, he struggled a little bit," Peoria hitting coach Jobel Jimenez said. "I don't know why, but maybe he got excited when he made the team. I give credit to Roger LaFrancois (State College hitting coach). When he came here to us, he did a really good job.

"For me, he was the best hitter in two-strike approach situation. I got more confident in him every time when he got two strikes more than he was ahead in the count. A couple weeks later, he tried to get doubles and put balls in the gap. He's a singles hitter so far, but he's got a pretty good idea on both sides of the plate."

From the scouting side, the 5-foot-10, 150 pounder, has a lithe, wiry frame and from scouts is best described as a "baseball player - not a tools player -- average across." Martinez gets lauded for his heads-up play thanks to sound baseball instincts and stands out for his polish on the diamond.

With excellent hand-eye coordination, he consistently makes contact and projects to have a contact-oriented line-drive stroke with occasional hard contact due to a bat wrap which lengthens his path to the barrel of the ball. While he has flashed some strength with more to add, Martinez has a fairly mature build already with a likely fit at second base where his soft hands, instincts, and average arm could play up.

"Martinez has got instincts," Jimenez said. "He knows how to move at shortstop. He's a guy - when somebody hits the ball at shortstop - you feel comfortable because you know he'll make the play. He's got good instincts, a quick release. He knows how to move around and he's a leader too. He's got good leadership for a little guy."

I asked if there is more sock in his bat.

"For sure, he needs to get stronger in the offseason," Jimenez added. "At the same time, he needs to improve his technique about hitting, so we are working on that. He looks better, and he looks different. Now, he's able to pull the ball in the gaps consistently. He can see the difference between, 'What are we doing right now versus what he did previously?'

"There's no doubt he can make contact. He knows how to use the field from both sides of the plate. If he improves on his technique like how to use more of his legs or lower half, he's going to make it, and you'll see the ball have more carry. He's going to be able to hit the ball into the gaps."

As a good contact hitter, who can play both short and second, Martinez has the profile to be a major-league utility player at best or a quality org player that can play multiple positions and hit without any power.

Martinez should open 2017 at High-A Palm Beach.

 

Walker Robbins (Derek’s #52)

http://www.scout.com/player/175603-walker-robbins?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
NA OF 11 18 97 2016 5th

Reportedly targeted in the top 40 range on day one of the draft, the Cardinals waited to land Mississippi State's top recruit in Walker Robbins on day two of the draft in the fifth round at 166th overall after drafting the Bulldogs’ ace Dakota Hudson a day earlier.

Robbins, now 19 years old, finished his senior season going 42-for-88 (.471) with nine doubles, a triple, three home runs, 18 runs scored, and 16 RBI while ranking as the state's top high school baseball player. In his 127 high school games, which actually started when he was in eighth grade, Robbins hit .351 with a .445 OBP. 

A legit two-way player, he excelled on the mound as well, posting an 8-2 record with a 0.67 ERA and a perfect game, but the Cardinals drafted him as an outfielder.

Originally seen as a signability risk, Robbins quickly came to terms a week following the draft, inking an over slot bonus of $450,000. The George County, MS product struggled to acclimate to pro ball in his draft year, putting up a .185/.226/.194 (20-for-108) slash line for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals while knocking in six runners and had a troublesome 31-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

GCL manager Steve Turco spoke of the adjustments facing Robbins ahead.

“It’s funny because he’s got good size and raw power,” Turco said of the prep prospect. “He’s got a good combination. He’s probably an average runner with plus raw power. I think what he did in high school you can get away with things, but as you get to pro ball you’re going to have to make some adjustments. He drifted way too much (in his pro debut).

“In other words, he would get out on his front side and his hands would follow and he wouldn’t have anything to go ahead and hit at that point in time. He needs to go ahead and stay back at least keep his hands back where he can utilize the field to drive through. He really struggled with that. He knew what he needed to do and worked to get better at it.

“The transition was just a little bit slower and he struggled most of the season. There was one stretch where he looked like he started to figure things out and unfortunately it had reverted back to where he had been earlier in the season.”

However, Turco saw some natural ability on the defensive side in Robbins despite being limited to first base in high school.

“He’s an athletic kid, who’s a first baseman, had never played the outfield before, and we put him in left field,” the Cardinals longtime GCL skipper concluded.

From a pure scouting point of view, the 6-foot-3, 210 pounder, is big already and has a chance to be huge. With wide shoulders and a torso that screams room for projection with pro strength and conditioning, Robbins could be as strong as an ox at his peak.

The left-handed hitter and left-handed thrower was considered one of the more intriguing two-way players in the draft. On the mound, he was in the low 90s with a feel for secondary stuff, but he was drafted as a hitter because he was perhaps the most interesting high school hitter out of the 2016 draft as well.

For a burly dude with raw power as his carrying tool, Robbins isn’t just a one-dimensional talent and amateur scouts credit his fairly compact swing that doesn’t allow him to sell out for power, but with a mature approach and able to hit for average. One scout said, He’s got a flat swing right now, but could add some loft coupled with bat speed and strength could profile as an average game power guy.”

Assuming he was drafted as a first baseman, there would be more concerns about his power profile.  As a corner outfielder with the arm strength to play right field, he is a gifted enough hitter to tap into more power in favor of a lesser average while also focusing on making consistent, hard contact when he is not looking to do damage. Robbins is capable of doing damage already, but being aggressive and attacking should come with time.

Defensively as an amateur, Robbins was a first baseman with good hands and actions around the bag. By the early reports of his defense in the outfield, he is athletic and will have the arm to play left or right with the potential to be a run producer.

Still a long way off from the big-leagues, Robbins should open 2017 in extended spring training with a shot at rookie-level Johnson City.

 

Steven Farinaro (Derek’s #53)

http://www.scout.com/player/179942-steven-farinaro?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
NR RHS 08 18 95 2013 11th

While he hasn’t lived up to the largest bonus given to any Cardinal past the 10th round ($750,000 - equivalent to third-round money in 2013) through his first three pro seasons, Steven Farinaro had a breakout season for the Low-A (short-season) State College Spikes in 2016, setting the Spikes’ single-season wins record.

Not only that, Farinaro was named as TCN’s State College Spikes Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2016 while guiding the squad to home field advantage throughout the playoffs and eventually a New York-Penn League championship. The California native finished very strongly on a big stage by allowing just two hits and two walks over six scoreless innings in State College’s 3-0 Game 1 win over Hudson Valley in the NYPL finals. Including his last four starts of the regular season, Farinaro did not allow an earned run over his final 31 innings on the mound.

The 21-year old made steady improvement this past summer, compiling a 3.46 ERA over 14 starts. He produced 83 1/3 innings of work, the most of any State College pitcher this year. Farinaro yielded 100 hits and 38 runs, and gave up no home runs. He walked 18, hit two batters and struck out 53, posting a 1.42 WHIP.

Much of the credit for Farinaro’s late-season success was attributed to a slight change in pace and his breaking ball being the difference.

“At the beginning of the season I was working a little bit slower, but we started working on throwing every pitch with conviction,” Farinaro told the CentreDaily.com. “Keeping the tempo up and keeping your fielders in the game. You attack on every pitch. It becomes like a motor, but you don’t even really think about your tempo.”

“Steven is a strike-machine. His last six starts were very impressive,” State College pitching coach Darwin Marrero said. “He’s 21 year old guy who is a very hard-worker and very coachable. He was kind of raw early in the season, but this guy had the willingness to learn and willingness to work. This kid is a very hard-worker and a very smart kid. He made really good strides.

“He lowered the percentage of base-on balls which was a very big improvement. His rate in strikeouts per inning went up, too. Farinaro has great fastball velocity and started spiking his curveball better.”

From the scouting side, the 6-foot-0, 170-pound, right-hander has decent athleticism and agility. His fastball, which features good cutting action, regularly sits around 90-92 mph with reports of him hitting 94 in the past as an amateur. He throws a spike curveball in the mid-70s range with a tight, sharp break and will mix in a changeup with solid fade that has gotten above-average grades before, but he is still learning to throw it in key situations with conviction.

Throwing straight over the top, Farinaro is a quick worker with plus makeup, but scouts have never admired his delivery, which has given him plenty of fits with control and command as a pro. He pitches with some effort and lands on a stiff front side, making it tough for him to pitch down in the zone at times, but he has a feel to pitch which allows his stuff to play up.

With a small stature, inconsistent mechanics, and limited projection left, Farinaro seems to fit better in the bullpen where he could blossom in short spurts and perhaps see a velocity spike.

As for his 2017 destination, “Right now, he’s in the running for the Low-A Peoria rotation next year,” State College manager Johnny Rodriguez told the newspaper. “His breaking ball has made the difference.”

 

Bryan Dobzanski (Derek’s #54)

http://www.scout.com/player/183030-bryan-dobzanski?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
24 RHS 08 31 95 2014 29

To the naked eye, Bryan Dobzanski had a relatively underwhelming season in his this third year as a professional, but there were positives. He stayed healthy after his 2015 was cut short by shoulder soreness and was an important innings-eating starter as the State College Spikes marched to the New York-Penn League title.

Still just 21 years old, the New Jersey native came into this season with just 43 professional innings pitched over parts of two summers in the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues. As a result, 2016 was also Dobzanski’s first opportunity to pitch in extended spring training and he hit the ground running as planned.

Late into extended, I got the chance to meet and briefly chat with Dobzanski about his progress. At that point, the right-hander said he had incorporated his entire body into his delivery, especially the use of his lower half and he also said he had liked his results in extended, and the coaches agreed.

“‘Dobz’ is a strike-thrower, a big dude,” Johnson City manager Chris Swauger said during extended. “He’s had much better finish on his pitches and the velocity has been there. He’s been going out and spinning some good breaking balls while using his changeup. He was a high school wrestler, so a really athletic kid.

“They took a flier on him, a big flier because he’s a big dude, but he’s developed okay. It was a shame he got hurt (last year). This guy walks into a room and you know he’s there. I completely understand why a scout would drool over the good things he has and he has done some good things.”

Through 14 games (13 starts) for the Spikes in the NYPL, Dobzanski averaged between five and six innings pitched per start, compiling a 4-6 record with a 3.93 ERA and 37-to-26 strikeout to walk ratio.

“Bryan has been making a lot of improvements,” State College pitching coach Darwin Marrero said. “He’s maturing a lot. He’s started to realize how good his stuff is. I would say it’s more about confidence and trust in all his stuff. I’m very glad he’s gotten good results. He’s a young kid, who is just 21 years old and has a lot of feeling of the strike zone. He mixes his pitches well while learning to pitch inside better.

“He had a really good year this year. I’m proud of him.”

Stuff-wise, Dobzanski averages 89-91, touching 92-93 mph on his fastball. He has good feel and command of a changeup in the low 80s and a curveball that shows rotation, but still needs refinement. Big and strong at 6-foot-4, he possesses excellent pitchability with trust in his off-speed offerings to throw them in fastball counts.

“So far, I feel like the season has gone really well,” Dobzanski told The Cardinal Nation during an exclusive interview in August. “I’ve been going pretty deep into games and keeping those earned runs down. I just feel like I’m pretty comfortable out there on the mound. Hopefully, I can continue commanding my fastball. That’s pretty much what it’s been - first-pitch strikes and working in the off-speed a lot.”

A question is whether Dobzanski will improve his velocity as he advances through the system.

“He’s been gaining velocity at times,” Marrero said. “He’s been touching up to 93. I still believe there’s a lot more. He’s a big kid, a very athletic kid, and he’s still 21 years old. He’s in the process now of developing it.”

While he’s said to be a good-strike thrower, Dobzanski did seem very hittable this past season in State College, but Marrero sees more swing and miss in his stuff which he will need at higher levels.

“He’s started to mix his pitches better,” the pitching coach said. “I would like to say by the time he moves up, his stuff will get better. Again, his body is going to get stronger. He’s also maturing in the game and his pitchability is going to improve in a couple of more years. This is a kid that has pitched into adversity and you can tell even at that age the game never speeds up.”

In 2017, Dobzanski should open at Low-A Peoria.

 

Vince Jackson (Derek’s #55)

http://www.scout.com/player/159916-vince-jackson?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
NA OF 02 04 94 2016 14th

With their 14th round pick, the Cardinals snagged college senior outfielder Vince Jackson from the University of Tennessee.  He was previously drafted out of high school by the Yankees in the 23rd round of the 2012 draft and Baseball America tabbed him as the 378th best prospect in the 2016 class.

Coming out of high school, Jackson drew comps to Domonic Brown due to his large 6-foot-5 frame and power potential that comes with it. The power didn’t translate against Southeastern Conference pitching for a while as he slugged a combined four home runs over his first three years with the Volunteers.

As a senior, the left-left player realized his considerable talent and emerged as the high-level performer U of T sought as a prep, hitting .333/.426/.507 for a .933 OPS, second best on the team behind 2016 #2 overall pick Nick Senzel. He tied Senzel for the team lead in home runs with eight, but with three fewer at bats, he bested him in home run rate.

Throughout his collegiate career, Jackson had to undergo constant changes within his hitting approach, starting out as a middle of the order bat protecting 2015 first-rounder Christin Stewart through his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Last season, the Vols tried to get more out of him, hitting him leadoff to jumpstart his athletic ability. He embraced the role - taking more pitches, shortening his stroke to find ways to get on base, but at the expense of his power.

After a thumb injury cost him half a season, it helped him get back in the middle of the order to flourish once again. Over the summer of 2015, Jackson spent the majority of his time in the weight room to get stronger and he finally started to fill out his long, rangy body.

"You could see the difference in his shoulders," Tennessee hitting coach Larry Simcox told the Knoxville News Sentinel. "He looks more like an outside linebacker than a baseball player now when he takes his shirt off."

Again, the 22-year old shifted his approach from a crouch as a leadoff hitter to standing straight up and using all of his 6-foot-5 frame, placing emphasis on plate coverage, leverage through the zone, and being selective on a particular pitch to drive.

"Against righties, I'm looking middle-in for the pitch I can really drive," Jackson told the newspaper. "That's where I want the ball where I can get my hands out there so I can really drive it. Against lefties, really looking middle, middle away, and if they throw in, reacting."

As a pro, Jackson was often a power hitter for the Spikes, with 266 at-bats, the most of any player in the NYPL. The center fielder scored 39 runs and ranked second in RBI (45) while settling in as State College’s No. 3 batter. He has power but also speed, which made him an asset on the base paths. Despite 16 steals in 23 chances, manager Johnny Rodriguez had set a goal for Jackson to get 20-25 stolen bases, believing in his long strides and quick acceleration to get more thefts.

“We’re going to run him,” Rodriguez told CentreDaily.com. “We’re going to run, run, run. I already told him that.”

According to TCN’s State College reporter Kara Duriez, “Jackson often seemed to get too comfortable and was picked off several times when the Spikes needed base runners.”

All considered, Jackson fits the mold of a Cardinals prospect.

“He’s a very quiet and even-keeled guy,” Rodriguez told TCN during an exclusive interview. “It doesn’t matter what situation, he’s always both. Bases-loaded, he’s got the same at-bat whether he’s leading off an inning. He’s made great plays in the outfield. He’s got long strides and long arms. He’s made some very good plays out in left-center and has played right field.

“I’ll be honest, I think a lot of people missed on him being available in the 14th round. He’s got some upside. Strong, he can get going when his legs start to move for a big fella and that power is going to come around,” the skipper concluded.

Scouting-wise, Jackson is a physical specimen. His stock was as high as ever as a junior before a thumb injury (torn sliding into a base) hurt him to the point he had to return for his senior year, where things came together. He hit for the most power in his career and the process of tapping into it was better, balancing out his approach after being almost passive as a lead-off hitter in college.

While he profiles best in left field, Jackson is outstanding athlete with legit power and good speed for a guy his size. He has above-average arm strength and range which could allow him to play any outfield position. For him to have much value, staying in center, at a premium position, will be vital for his development in addition to his offense being his carrying tool.

Jackson could be a steal of a toolshed and is one of the biggest sleepers from the 2016 draft. Hopefully, he will be able to take on a full-season assignment at Low-A Peoria in 2017.

 

Chris Ellis (late acquisition)

http://www.scout.com/player/181780-chris-ellis?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
NA RHS 09 22 92 2014 3(LAA)

Last month, the Cardinals shipped enigmatic southpaw starter Jaime Garcia to the Atlanta Braves for a trio of prospects, including right-handed pitching prospect Chris Ellis, who perhaps has the biggest upside of the group with his combination of stuff and size.

This was the second consecutive offseason that Ellis was traded. Once one of the top prospects in the Los Angeles Angels system, he ranked behind Sean Newcomb, who was also packaged in the deal that sent former Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Halos.

In 2016, the Alabama native made 28 appearances combined for Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett in the Braves organization, compiling a 4.49 ERA and 1.43 WHIP with his walk rate spiking to an all-time high (87 walks over 146 1/3 innings) between the two levels.

While the right-hander was much more effective at Mississippi posting a 2.75 ERA through 13 starts, he struggled mightily at Gwinnett with an inflated 6.52 ERA over 15 starts. Braves’ Triple-A manager John Moses explained the issues.

“He struggled in the first inning and cruised through second and third then all of sudden it was barely getting through the fourth; rarely getting to the fifth,” Moses said. “We really considered skipping a start or two to get him refocused with some bullpen work, but all of sudden he showed signs of staying focused and mixing up his pitches well and getting his fastball over for strikes, especially early in the count.

“The month of August and September, he was pretty much lights out. He was really good and a whole different pitcher. His temperament was a lot different. He is kind of a nervous kind of character. If he remains focused, I think he could help the Cardinals organization a lot.”

I asked what Ellis needs to do to refine his control and command of the strike zone.

“I think he has to concentrate,” the skipper said. “He is a nervous guy and it gets to him early. He just has to stay focused. If he pitches like he did the last month and half of August and September - if he could stay that focused - he could be really good. At that time, he was spotting fastballs and when he had to go out of the strike zone he would go out and make hitters swing at bad pitches.

“Overall, he just loses focus.”

On the scouting side, pro scouts said the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder’s control problems were strictly mechanical, as he showed a tendency to break his hands early and rush his delivery, which made his fastball release point inconsistent and put him in hitters’ counts early. With mechanical consistency, Ellis needs to command his stuff at a high rate to pitch to weak contact, but he has shown the ability to do so when he repeats his arm slot and drives to the plate.

The 24-year old’s usable four-pitch mix earned him a promotion to Triple-A where his results didn’t match his upside at that level. Ellis’ is said to have a three-look fastball, sitting anywhere from 88-94 mph and topping 95 which could get him to the big-leagues alone. He throws his four-seam to both sides of the plate, a two-seamer he spots to the arm side, and a cutter to combat left-handed batters. The two-seamer is said to be the best of the three with above-average potential, but all three are serviceable pitches.

As far as his secondary stuff, Ellis has flashed an above-average changeup with late fade, but has an occasional feel for the pitch. While he is capable of varying speeds of the breaking ball, he throws a power breaker at 82 mph with tight bite as the other one is thrown softer in the mid-70s range.

Despite having a better projection in the past, Ellis could still develop into a back-of-the-rotation starter with corrections to his mechanics. He is also a fit as a middle reliever, but there is a chance for a high-leverage role with his stuff.

“I think he has to really command a third pitch (to remain a starter and pitch in the big-leagues),” Moses said. “His secondary pitches give him a lot of trouble and he has a nice breaking ball. His breaking ball is really good. He sometimes doesn’t finish with it and leaves it up a lot. If he gets to be a third starter in the major leagues, he has come a long way.

“I think he is on the verge of being that type of pitcher if he just stays focused, especially if he is around guys that can help him.”

Ellis should open 2017 at Triple-A Memphis.

 

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 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 at our best and worst selections from 2016, the top prospects by level of play and those who left the rankings from last year to this.

 

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

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