Paul DeJong, Carson Kelly and Harrison Bader / (Brian Walton / The Cardinal Nation)

Our annual ranking of the best prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system by position including a top 50 depth chart.

Our annual ranking of the best prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system by position including a top 50 depth chart. Today’s report is FREE!

The subject here in the 55th article in our Top 50 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects for 2017 series is our view of the organization’s best minor league prospects by position. At the end, members are shown by position in an organizational prospect depth chart.

The selection process is very straightforward. We have already unveiled our top 50 prospects in the system via the “50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Prospects” series. Putting together this year’s All-Prospect Team is as simple as culling the top-ranked player at each position from that top 50.

This year's The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Team includes 12 players – eight position players, including two corner outfielders, plus four pitchers – left and right-handed starters and relievers.

Listed are each player’s overall ranking in the top 50, age and highest level played in 2016.

 

The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals 2017 All-Prospect Team

Position Player Rank Age 16 Lvl
Catcher Carson Kelly C 4 22 MLB
First Base Luke Voit * 46 25 AA
Second Base Eliezer Alvarez * 16 22 A
Shortstop Delvin Perez * 3 18 Rk
Third Base Paul DeJong  13 22 AA
Corner Outfield Harrison Bader * 5 22 AAA
Corner Outfield Randy Arozarena *  17 21 NA
Center field Magneuris Sierra  10 20 A
LH Starter Austin Gomber * 9 23 AA
RH Starter Alex Reyes  1 22 MLB
LH Reliever Corey Littrell * 47 24 AAA
RH Reliever Sam Tuivailala  37 24 MLB
  * new members   22.1  
  C = unofficial captain      
  Ages as of 1/1/17      
  # position change      

After eight holdovers and just four new additions to our 2016 All-Prospect Team, the turnover increased to seven of 12 for 2017 (newbies are names with * above).

Carson Kelly makes his fifth consecutive All-Prospect Team, one at third base and the last four as the catcher. That is two years longer than any other 2017 team member and makes the catcher our unofficial team captain.

http://www.scout.com/player/161612-carson-kelly?s=321

Right-handed pitchers Alex Reyes (starter) and Sam Tuivailala (reliever) made their third straight team.

Back for a second year are center fielder Magneuris Sierra and third baseman Paul DeJong. In 2016, Sierra was listed as a corner outfielder behind Charlie Tilson. Though DeJong was moved to shortstop last fall, for purposes of these rankings, he is placed as a third baseman. To be honest, one other reason is that there are no other hot corner players in the entire top 50, a problem we will delve into more deeply later on.

The seven new members of the team come from two different primary backgrounds. Second baseman Eliezer Alvarez and outfielder Randy Arozarena were Latin American signings. The other five were draftees, including 2016 first-round shortstop Delvin Perez, first baseman Luke Voit, outfielder Harrison Bader, left-handed starter Austin Gomber and lefty reliever Corey Littrell, the latter whom was acquired via trade from Boston.

 

TCN/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Teams – 2006 through 2017

All-Prospects 2017 2016 2015
Catcher Carson Kelly  Carson Kelly Carson Kelly
First Base Luke Voit  Luis Bandes Xavier Scruggs
Second Base Eliezer Alvarez  Jacob Wilson Jacob Wilson
Shortstop Delvin Perez  Aledmys Diaz Aledmys Diaz
Third Base Paul DeJong  Paul DeJong Patrick Wisdom
Corner OF Harrison Bader  Nick Plummer Stephen Piscotty
Corner OF Randy Arozarena   Magneuris Sierra Randal Grichuk
Center field Magneuris Sierra  Charlie Tilson Charlie Tilson
LH Starter Austin Gomber  Marco Gonzales Marco Gonzales
RH Starter Alex Reyes  Alex Reyes Alex Reyes
LH Reliever Corey Littrell  Dean Kiekhefer Dean Kiekhefer
RH Reliever Sam Tuivailala  Sam Tuivailala Sam Tuivailala
       
Player of Year   * Allen Cordoba * M. Sierra
Pitcher of Year * Luke Weaver   * R. Kaminsky
       
All-Prospects 2014 2013 2012
Catcher Carson Kelly Adam Ehrlich Tony Cruz
First Base J. Rodriguez Matt Adams Matt Adams
Second Base Kolten Wong Kolten Wong Kolten Wong
Shortstop Oscar Mercado Ryan Jackson Ryan Jackson
Third Base Patrick Wisdom Carson Kelly Zack Cox
Corner OF Stephen Piscotty Oscar Taveras Oscar Taveras
Corner OF Oscar Taveras Anthony Garcia Anthony Garcia
Center field James Ramsey James Ramsey Charlie Tilson
LH Starter Rob Kaminsky John Gast John Gast
RH Starter Carlos Martinez Shelby Miller Shelby Miller
LH Reliever Sam Freeman Sam Freeman Sam Freeman
RH Reliever Keith Butler Eduardo Sanchez E. Sanchez
       
Player of Year      
Pitcher of Year * Zach Petrick * T. Rosenthal  
       
All-Prospects 2011 2010 2009
Catcher Bryan Anderson Robert Stock Bryan Anderson
First Base Mark Hamilton Mark Hamilton Curt Smith
Second Base Daniel Descalso Daniel Descalso Jose Martinez
Shortstop Pete Kozma Pete Kozma Pete Kozma
Third Base Zack Cox* David Freese Brett Wallace*
Corner OF Oscar Taveras Daryl Jones Nick Stavinoha
Corner OF Allen Craig Allen Craig Jon Jay
Center field Adron Chambers Jon Jay Colby Rasmus
LH Starter John Gast Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia
RH Starter Shelby Miller* Shelby Miller* Jess Todd
Reliever Eduardo Sanchez Eduardo Sanchez Jason Motte
       
Player of Year * M. Carpenter   * David Freese
Pitcher of Year * B. Dickson * Lance Lynn  
       
All-Prospects 2008 2007 2006
Catcher Bryan Anderson Bryan Anderson Bryan Anderson
First Base Mark Hamilton Mark Hamilton Mike Ferris
Second Base Jose Martinez Jose Martinez Jose Martinez
Shortstop Pete Kozma Tyler Greene Tyler Greene
Third Base Allen Craig Randy Roth Travis Hanson 
Corner OF Joe Mather Nick Stavinoha Nick Stavinoha
Corner OF Jon Jay Cody Haerther Cody Haerther
Center field Colby Rasmus Colby Rasmus Colby Rasmus
LH Starter Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia Eric Haberer
RH Starter Adam Ottavino* B. Hawksworth Anthony Reyes
Reliever Chris Perez Chris Perez Tyler Johnson
       
Player of Year      
Pitcher of Year * P.J. Walters    

All-Prospect Team members from the previous 11 seasons are included for comparison purposes with our TCN/Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year in those years listed in bold. Our 2016 choices were top pitcher Luke Weaver and top hitter Alvarez.

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

The current Cardinals organizational winners are Weaver and Kelly.

The asterisks (*) denote those cases in past years when either the Pitcher or Player of the Year (or both) was not ranked as the top prospect in the system at his position in the following off-season.

Those who left the 2016 All-Prospect Team include two graduates to the majors, though only one with St. Louis. Aledmys Diaz took over the Cardinals’ shortstop job, but Charlie Tilson made the bigs only after his trade to Chicago.

Five others have seen a decline in their prospect fortunes, leading to their falling off the list, though four still remain in the system. Outfielder Nick Plummer and lefty Marco Gonzales lost 2016 due to injury. Second baseman Jacob Wilson was demoted to Double-A and lefty Dean Kiekhefer departed on waivers. Finally, Luis Bandes was not a ranked prospect, but made last year’s team because someone had to at first base, a position of system weakness since Matt Adams graduated after 2013.

 

Age and experience

All-Prospect Team 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07
Average age 22.1 22.2 22.7 22 22.0 21.7 22.4 22.3 22.5 21.8 21.9
Average experience AA AA AAA AA AA AA AA AA AAA AA A+

With the departure of Kiekhefer, Voit takes over as the “old man” of the Top Prospect Team at 25 years of age. The only teenager on this year’s squad is Perez, who played last season at 17. The average age of the team is basically unchanged, from 22.2 last year to 22.1.

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

The level of play reached by the average player is listed as Double-A, same as last year, but mathematically, it increased by a half level, from slightly below Double-A to slightly above. So as a whole, this group is more experienced than last.

In another indication of the more-experienced 2017 All-Prospect team, three of the 12 prospects reached the majors during 2016, up from two having played some with St. Louis the year before. At the other end of the spectrum, two of the new dozen finished at Class-A this past summer, but just one in short-season ball. Last year’s team had two short-season representatives, but both fell off the team for 2017 – Bandes and Plummer.

 

Runners-Up/Depth Chart (name/overall ranking)

I will close with this year’s “Runners-Up” - the 38 players who made the 2017 Top 50, but not this All-Prospect Team. The following list also provides a quick visual snapshot of system-wide balance at all positions behind the 12-man All-Prospect Team.

Pos # Name (top 50 rank)    
C 4 Jeremy Martinez (29) Dennis Ortega (43) Andrew Knizner (45)
    Carlos Soto (48)    
         
1B 1 Chris Chinea (50)    
         
2B 2 Breyvic Valera (39) Darren Seferina (41)  
         
SS 3 Edmundo Sosa (14) Allen Cordoba (23) Tommy Edman (35)
         
3B 0      
         
COF 1 Bryce Denton (26)    
         
CF 4 Nick Plummer (21) Dylan Carlson (22) Jonatan Machado (27)
    Wadye Ynfante (49)    
         
LHS 3 Marco Gonzales (23) Ian Oxnevad (32) John Kilichowski (38)
         
RHS 19 Luke Weaver (2) Dakota Hudson (6) Jack Flaherty (7)
    Sandy Alcantara (8) Junior Fernandez (11) Jake Woodford (12)
    Ryan Helsley (15) Johan Oviedo (18) Alvaro Seijas (19)
    Connor Jones (24) Jordan Hicks (25) Ronnie Williams (28)
    Mike Mayers (30) Zac Gallen (31) Derian Gonzalez (33)
    Matt Pearce (34) Daniel Poncedeleon (36) Kendry Flores (42)
    Trey Nielsen (44)    
         
LHR 0      
         
RHR 1 Rowan Wick (40)    
         
total 38      

Top prospect depth in the infield remains extremely thin at the corners. At first, the only two on the list were ranked 46th (Voit) and 50th (Chris Chinea). As already noted above, if DeJong was moved to shortstop in these rankings, third base would be entirely devoid of prospects.

The wealth of center fielders is quite clear, with six top 50 prospects at the position. It could be as high as eight, considering corner outfield All-Prospect Team members Arozarena and Bader could easily have been listed in center, instead. I put them at the corners, honestly, to have a more-representative team.

http://www.scout.com/player/179139-luke-weaver?s=321

On the pitching side, right-handed supply remains very strong, led by no. 2 prospect Luke Weaver backing up Reyes, but the quantity of left-handed starters is barely half last year’s total. Though only three relievers made the top 50, as long as there is a plentiful supply of starters, bullpen shifts can always follow.

We will dig much more into the potential long-term ramifications of this talent mix in the next installment of this series, “Behind the Numbers”.

 

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

Next up

This article series continues for The Cardinal Nation members as we 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 who left the rankings from last year to this.

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, so join today and don’t miss out!

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Cardinals Prospect Interview: Pitcher Steven Farinaro

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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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