Johan Oviedo (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

A different Cardinals top 50 prospect ranking based on ultimate potential, with risk getting there only secondary.

Re-spinning our St. Louis Cardinals top 50 prospect list for 2017 with ultimate potential being the primary ranking criteria.

Though we have been preparing St. Louis Cardinals top prospect lists since before 2005 when we moved to Scout.com, it remains a constantly evolving process to try to improve each year.

For 2017, I implemented Scouting Grades as part of my prospect rankings. This was a simplified look at ultimate potential, rather than a full detailed, tool-by-tool breakdown. The grades were accompanied by a risk factor, measuring the height of the bar to reach those grades.

Each prospect was graded on a 2-8 scale that mirrors the standard 20-80 scouting scale. “2” represents a career minor leaguer, while “8” designates an elite talent. As you might expect, in the 2017 top 50, the distribution was bell-shaped, with few players at the bottom or top and most in the middle.

(The full grading and risk scales are listed at the bottom of this page for reference.)

As noted, the risk factor also came into play in my top 50 ranking. It represents the likelihood of a player reaching or exceeding his ceiling, as measured in his grade. Many times, it was sheer distance from the major leagues that increased risk. So did age – young or old for level – as did competition and of course, how close the player seems to be to achieving his ultimate level of performance.

http://www.scout.com/player/174617-alex-reyes?s=321

For example, Alex Reyes and Delvin Perez are the only two players I graded an “8” for 2017. However, their current situations are like day and night. Reyes is ready to step into the St. Louis rotation, so I placed his risk as “low”. That means he has a strong chance of reaching his ceiling, but I stopped short of the most positive risk, called “safe”. On the other hand, Perez, who played on the back fields of the Gulf Coast League at 17 years of age in2016, was given a “high” risk – right now. That should change as he moves from his needle from potential toward performance.

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

Why are we here, again?

The purpose of this article, the newest in our annual series, is to re-spin the top 50 by making the “risk” assessment secondary to the player’s graded potential. When two players have the same grade, then risk is used to break the tie, with the surest thing given the better ranking. If two players have the same grade and risk, then their top 50 ranking is the tie breaker.

(Note: Please understand this will not be perfect, as the top 50 is a composite score from three voters while the Scouting Grades are my personal assessment. I considered showing my personal rankings instead, but ultimately decided to stay with the primary rankings published.)

TCN 2017 Top 50 totals - by Grade and Risk

First, we will start with the numerical distribution of the 2017 top 50. The grades are the horizontal view and the risks are vertical.

  Risk          
  Safe Low Medium High Extreme total
Grade            
8   1     1 2
7     2   1 3
6.5 / 6   2 2 6 4 14
5.5 / 5   1 5 6 1 13
4.5 / 4     3 6 2 11
3.5 / 3   1 4   1 6
2.5 / 2         1 1
total   5 16 18 11 50

As you can see, that bell-shaped distribution I mentioned earlier is reflected in the far right column. For visual clarity, I combined the listings of players that graded at 5.5 and 5, for example.

Looking at the table vertically, I feel no prospects should be considered “safe” when assessing risk of reaching ultimate ceilings. While there is a bit of a bell here as well, my risk assessments are skewed toward the high side. That seems very appropriate to me.

Revised TCN 2017 Top 50 - by Grade, then Risk, then original rank

On the left side is the original top 50 as we rolled out over the past two months. On the right is the sort I described above.

I know there is a lot to take in here. I suggest starting with the bold column in the center, "Pot", where I highlighted the new potential-based rankings. The regular top 50 rankings are presented twice, under "Rk" - first in the original sequence and then relative to the potential-based ranks.

Rk TCN Top 50 Grd Risk   Pot Rk TCN Potential Top 50 Grd Risk
1 Alex Reyes 8 low   1 1 Alex Reyes 8 low
2 Luke Weaver 6.5 low   2 3 Delvin Perez 8 high
3 Delvin Perez 8 high   3 6 Dakota Hudson 7 med
4 Carson Kelly 6 low   4 8 Sandy Alcantara 7 med
5 Harrison Bader 5.5 low   5 18 Johan Oviedo 7 ext
6 Dakota Hudson 7 med   6 2 Luke Weaver 6.5 low
7 Jack Flaherty 6.5 med   7 7 Jack Flaherty 6.5 med
8 Sandy Alcantara 7 med   8 4 Carson Kelly 6 low
9 Austin Gomber 5 med   9 10 Magneuris Sierra 6 med
10 Magneuris Sierra 6 med   10 11 Junior Fernandez 6 high
11 Junior Fernandez 6 high   11 12 Jake Woodford 6 high
12 Jake Woodford 6 high   12 14 Edmundo Sosa 6 high
13 Paul DeJong 5 med   13 16 Eliezer Alvarez 6 high
14 Edmundo Sosa 6 high   14 19 Alvaro Seijas 6 high
15 Ryan Helsley 5 high   15 24 Connor Jones 6 high
16 Eliezer Alvarez 6 high   16 21 Nick Plummer 6 ext
17 Randy Arozarena 5.5 high   17 22 Dylan Carlson 6 ext
18 Johan Oviedo 7 ext   18 25 Jordan Hicks 6 ext
19 Alvaro Seijas 6 high   19 27 Jonatan Machado 6 ext
20 Allen Cordoba 5 high   20 5 Harrison Bader 5.5 low
Rk TCN top 50 Grd Risk   Pot Rk TCN top 50 Grd Risk
21 Nick Plummer 6 ext   21 17 Randy Arozarena 5.5 high
22 Dylan Carlson 6 ext   22 9 Austin Gomber 5 med
23 Marco Gonzales 5 med   23 13 Paul DeJong 5 med
24 Connor Jones 6 high   24 23 Marco Gonzales 5 med
25 Jordan Hicks 6 ext   25 30 Mike Mayers 5 med
26 Bryce Denton 5 ext   26 40 Rowan Wick 5 med
27 Jonatan Machado 6 ext   27 15 Ryan Helsley 5 high
28 Ronnie Williams 5 high   28 20 Allen Cordoba 5 high
29 Jeremy Martinez 5 high   29 28 Ronnie Williams 5 high
30 Mike Mayers 5 med   30 29 Jeremy Martinez 5 high
31 Zac Gallen 4.5 high   31 33 Derian Gonzalez 5 high
32 Ian Oxnevad 4.5 ext   32 26 Bryce Denton 5 ext
33 Derian Gonzalez 5 high   33 37 Sam Tuivailala 4.5 med
34 Matt Pearce 3.5 med   34 31 Zac Gallen 4.5 high
35 Tommy Edman 4 high   35 32 Ian Oxnevad 4.5 ext
36 Daniel Poncedeleon 4 med   36 36 Daniel Poncedeleon 4 med
37 Sam Tuivailala 4.5 med   37 47 Corey Littrell 4 med
38 John Kilichowski 4 high   38 35 Tommy Edman 4 high
39 Breyvic Valera 3.5 low   39 38 John Kilichowski 4 high
40 Rowan Wick 5 med   40 41 Darren Seferina 4 high
Rk TCN top 50 Grd Risk   Pot Rk TCN top 50 Grd Risk
41 Darren Seferina 4 high   41 43 Dennis Ortega 4 high
42 Kendry Flores 3.5 med   42 45 Andrew Knizner 4 high
43 Dennis Ortega 4 high   43 48 Carlos Soto 4 ext
44 Trey Nielsen 3.5 med   44 39 Breyvic Valera 3.5 low
45 Andrew Knizner 4 high   45 34 Matt Pearce 3.5 med
46 Luke Voit 3 med   46 42 Kendry Flores 3.5 med
47 Corey Littrell 4 med   47 44 Trey Nielsen 3.5 med
48 Carlos Soto 4 ext   48 49 Wadye Ynfante 3.5 ext
49 Wadye Ynfante 3.5 ext   49 46 Luke Voit 3 med
50 Chris Chinea 2.5 ext   50 50 Chris Chinea 2.5 ext
Rk TCN top 50 Grd Risk   Pot Rk TCN top 50 Grd Risk

Top 20

Let’s start with the top 20. Generally speaking, we should know the most about these players. Other than Perez at #2, the top seven are all pitchers, before Carson Kelly slips in at #8. After all, isn’t pitching the true strength of this system?

http://www.scout.com/player/210323-johan-oviedo?s=321

Two players represent the extremes. Johan Oviedo joins that top group of pitchers, yet we understand his associated risk is much higher than a Dakota Hudson, for example, despite the two having similar ceilings.

Yet in this ranking, Oviedo is ahead of a pitcher who may become St. Louis’ #6 starter this coming season in Luke Weaver. The only reason is that I think Oviedo could become an All-Star one day. That Weaver is much closer to becoming a slightly-lesser pitcher is less important in this kind of assessment.

http://www.scout.com/player/175479-harrison-bader?s=321

At the other end of the spectrum from Oviedo is Harrison Bader. Our #5 prospect falls to #20 on this list for one reason – because I sense his ceiling will be as a fourth outfielder rather than a starter.

The second 20

To a lesser extent, top 20 prospects Austin GomberPaul DeJong and Ryan Helsley all suffered a similar fate as Bader, but dropping down into the second 20 in this potential-based assessment. I would love to believe that everyone is going to be a successful major league starter, but reality suggests otherwise. (I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong in these or any other cases, however.)

http://www.scout.com/player/169883-rowan-wick?s=321

Rowan Wick and Corey Littrell are two players who made considerable positive jumps in this grouping. I suspect the reason why is that as relief pitchers, their path to achieving their ultimate potential may have fewer potential roadblocks than if they were starters.

The bottom 10

Younger players about whom we know much less, such as catchers Dennis Ortega and Carlos Soto, end up being labeled as impact bench players in this early in their career assessment. They are great examples of how these are nothing more than a point-it-time opinion of one observer that can and will change over time.

Still, I hoped you enjoyed this different view of The Cardinal Nation’s 2017 Top 50!

 

In closing

Thank you to those of you who followed along during the entire TCN top 50 prospect journey for 2017. The time has flown by! As always, our top prospect lists from each of the last 12 years can be accessed via “PROSPECTS” > “The Cardinal Nation Rankings” permanently displayed on the red menu bar underneath the site logo on The Cardinal Nation homepage.

 

Footnote

Grades:
8 – Elite talent
7 – All-star
6 – Above average starter, mid-rotation starting pitcher, impact reliever
5 – Average starter, #3-5 starting pitcher, closer candidate
4 – Impact bench/bullpen, spot starter
3 – Up and down player
2 – Career minor leaguer

Risk:
Safe – Almost certain to reach ceiling
Low – Strong chance of reaching ceiling
Medium – Some work to become an MLB player
High – More projection than results
Extreme – Highly projectable, small chance of making the majors

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.

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.

© 2017 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories