Details behind the top 15 St. Louis Cardinals prospects from the new Minor League Baseball Analyst.

In the first of a four-part series, we highlight the top 15 St. Louis Cardinals prospects from the new Minor League Baseball Analyst with the details as to why they’re ranked where they are.

The 12th edition of BaseballHQ’s “Minor League Baseball Analyst” is now available. As always, the guide integrates sabermetrics and scouting for over 1000 minor leaguers across all 30 organizations. In-depth scouting reports and stats include batter skills ratings, runner speed, pitch repertoires, Major League equivalents, ultimate potential and much more.

Once again, authors Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney have included their Organizational Ratings for all 30 major league systems, ranking each organization’s top 15 prospects, with details why, as well as a scoring of the organization in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent and overall. We will cover a subset of that in the second article of this series, exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.

The comprehensive information in the Analyst is more in-depth than comparable guides from well-known sources of minor league information and is used by front office personnel, scouts, fantasy players and fans from coast to coast.

It has become almost as eagerly-awaited each hot stove season as HQ’s famous “Baseball Forecaster” has been for over 30 years. If readers order the Minor League Baseball Analyst from HQ directly, online updates will be included in March along with a PDF copy at no additional charge.

Following is a subset of their findings, covering their top 15 Cardinals prospects. Interestingly, every one of the seven US levels of play are represented - from St. Louis to the Gulf Coast League. As always, click on each highlighted player's name to be taken to his in-depth Player Profile page here at The Cardinal Nation.

Please respect the rights of the authors and the associated copyrights by not reproducing this information elsewhere. You are receiving this exclusive view through the courtesy and generosity of BaseballHQ.

 

Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – 2017

Rank, player, (position), height/weight, (bat/throw), age, year drafted (round), school level (state) or country

 

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

1.     Alex Reyes (RHP) ... 6-3, 185 ... 22 ... 2012 FA (NJ)

Year Team IP ERA WHIP Ctl Dom Cmd OppBA
2015 GCL 3 0 0 0 9 0 0
2015 PB 63.2 2.26 1.26 4.4 13.6 3.1 0.204
2015 Sgf 34.2 3.12 1.13 4.7 13.5 2.9 0.168
2016 Mem 65.1 4.96 1.45 4.4 12.8 2.9 0.243
2016 StL 46 1.57 1.22 4.5 10.2 2.3 0.193

Comments: Proved he has one of the best arms in baseball with a good three-pitch mix that is highlighted by a plus-plus 96-97 mph FB that tops at 102 mph with good arm-side run. Plus 12-6 power CB and improved 90 mph CU allow him to dominate when he's on. Mechanics have been smoothed out and now draws on the plus velocity with ease.

Development Path: Reyes was impressive in his MLB debut, posting a 1.57 ERA and should be in contention for a rotation spot in 2017.

Fantasy Impact: As good as Reyes is, don't look for him to post a sub-2.00 ERA just yet. Control continues to be an issue. Could be some bumps in the road, but the ride should be fun and he has the stuff to be a #1 starter or lights-out closer.

Upside Grade: 10D

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

2.     Delvin Perez (SS) ... 6-3, 165 ... R/R ... 18 ... 2016 (1) HS (PR)

Year Team AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
2016 GCL 163 .294/.352/.393 7 83 0.43 0/12

Comments: 23rd pick was considered a lock to go in the top 10, but a failed drug test caused him to drop. Plus athlete with true SS actions. 70 grade runner with good first-step quickness, range, and a plus arm. Good approach at the plate with a quick bat, but needs to make more contact and improve pitch recognition. Below-average power is only flaw.

Development Path: Perez showed enough in his pro debut to warrant an aggressive promotion to Low-A Peoria in 2017. A strong start could see him at High-A by year's end. He should be on the fast track to the majors.

Fantasy Impact: Perez is the kind of plus athlete every team wants. If he can develop even average power he has the skills to be a top 10 fantasy SS who hits .280 with 10-15 HR and 20+ SB.

Upside Grade: 8C

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

3.     Luke Weaver (RHP) ... 6-1, 154 ... 23 ... 2014 (1) Florida State University

Year Team IP ERA WHIP Ctl Dom Cmd OppBA
2015 PB 105.1 1.62 1.11 1.6 7.5 4.7 0.237
2016 Sgf 77 1.40 0.95 1.2 10.3 8.6 0.214
2016 Mem 6 0.00 0.67 3.0 6.0 2.0 0.100
2016 StL 36.1 5.70 1.60 3.0 11.1 3.7 0.297

Comments: Comes after hitters with a good 90-94 mph FB that hits 98 mph. Keeps the ball down in the zone and gets nice late action. Improved mechanics results in plus Cmd and walked just 12 in 83 IP. Mixes in a decent SL and a plus CU that has good late fade and sink. Held his own in MLB debut. Breakout candidate in 2017.

Development Path: Some will look at Weaver's MLB ERA and shy away, but his 11.1 Dom, 3.7 Cmd, and 3.76 xERA tell the real story. Should get a good look at the #5 role in 2017.

Fantasy Impact: Weaver doesn't wow you the same way as Alex Reyes or some of the other power arms in the system, but he knows how to pitch and could be a fantasy sleeper.

Upside Grade: 8C

http://www.scout.com/player/179302-jack-flaherty?s=321

4.     Jack Flaherty (RHP) ... 6-4, 205 ... 21 ... 2014 (1) HS (CA)

Year Team IP ERA WHIP Ctl Dom Cmd OppBA
2014 GCL 22.2 1.59 0.97 1.6 11.1 6.9 0.209
2015 Peo 95 2.84 1.29 2.9 9.2 3.2 0.244
2016 PB 134 3.56 1.30 3.0 8.5 2.8 0.243

Comments: Former 1st rounder has a good four-pitch mix and was solid in the FSL. FB sits a 88-92 most nights. Also throws a SL, CB, and CU, all of which have the potential to be average or better but none project as plus. Good athlete with repeatable mechanics. Fills up the strike zone and knows how to pitch.

Development Path: Flaherty will move up to Double-A where his four-pitch mix and ability to throw strikes has him on the verge of making his MLB debut. Most likely he will have to wait until 2018.

Fantasy Impact: There is a chance he develops into a #2 starter, more likely he settles in as a reliable #3 with good Dom and the ability to limit damage.

Upside Grade: 8C

http://www.scout.com/player/171618-magneuris-sierra?s=321

5.     Magneuris Sierra (OF) ... 5-11, 160 ... L/L ... 20 ... 2012 FA (DR)

Year Team AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
2013 DSL 212 .269/.357/.340 12 84 0.88 1/15
2014 GCL 202 .386/.434/.505 7 85 0.53 2/13
2015 JC 216 .315/.371/.394 8 81 0.45 3/15
2015 Peo 178 .191/.219/.247 4 71 0.13 1/4
2016 Peo 524 .307/.335/.395 4 81 0.23 3/31

Comments: Toolsy, athletic OF from the D.R. continues his rapid development. Has plus eye-hand coordination and barrels the ball well. Strike zone judgment fluctuated and he struggled with breaking balls down in the zone. Above-average speed led to a career high 31 SB. Gap power is only average tool and has the speed and arm to stick in CF.

Development Path: Sierra hit .307 in the pitcher-friendly MWL as one of the younger every day players. He will move up to High-A Palm Beach and is still a few years away from the majors.

Fantasy Impact: Sierra projects as a top-of-the order true CF. His speed and ability to hit give him plenty of fantasy appeal. If he can improve his strike zone judgement and OB% he could be an impact player.

Upside Grade: 8C

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

6.     Harrison Bader (OF) ... 6-0, 195 ... R/R ... 22 ... 2015 (3) University of Florida

Year Team AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
2015 U FL 256 .297/.393/.379 11 79 0.61 17/8
2015 SC 29 .379/.400/.655 0 83 0 2/2
2015 Peo 206 .301/.364/.505 7 79 0.34 9/15
2016 Sgf 318 .283/.351/.497 7 71 0.27 16/11
2016 Mem 147 .231/.298/.354 7 74 0.29 3/2

Comments: Started the season well, hitting .283 at AA, but struggled when moved up. Aggressive approach at the plate with surprising power for size and hit 19 HR, but also resulted in below-average contact rate. Runs well with good range and a strong arm and will stick in CF for now. Lacks a true plus tool, but does everything well.

Development Path: Will likely start the year back at AAA, but could see time in St. Louis before the year is out.

Fantasy Impact: Solid across-the-board skills has value in NL-only formats and could develop into a .280/20/15 player at his peak.

Upside Grade: 8D

http://www.scout.com/player/171157-edmundo-sosa?s=321

7.     Edmundo Sosa (SS) ... 5-11, 170 ... R/R ... 21 ... 2012 FA (PN)

Year Team AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
2014 GCL 207 .275/.341/.377 8 86 0.62 1/8
2014 SC 5 .200/.200/.200 0 60 0 0/0
2015 JC 200 .300/.369/.485 7 81 0.42 7/6
2016 Peo 351 .268/.307/.336 5 80 0.27 3/5
2016 PB 34 .294/.314/.412 3 76 0.13 0/0

Comments: Solid season at the plate despite low ct%, bb%. Good all-around skills and understands how to play the game. Can barrel the ball, but is overly aggressive. Not likely to hit for power, but has good gap ability and has the swing for more as he matures. Defensively is quick with good hands and range, but a below-average arm.

Development Path: Finished the year at High-A Palm Beach and will head back there in 2017. Cardinals will be patient with his development.

Fantasy Impact: Has the tools to be a good, but not elite SS. He does everything well, but doesn't have a standout tool that will wow fantasy owners.

Upside Grade: 7C

http://www.scout.com/player/168778-dakota-hudson?s=321

8.     Dakota Hudson (RHP) ... 6-4, 185 ... 22 ... 2016 (1) Mississippi State University

Year Team IP ERA WHIP Ctl Dom Cmd OppBA
2016 MS St 113 2.55 1.25 2.8 9.2 3.3 0.238
2016 GCL 4 0.00 1.00 0 20.3 0 0.250
2016 PB 9.1 0.96 1.39 6.8 9.6 1.4 0.176

Comments: Tall, strong-armed hurler was one of three 1st round picks in 2016. Has a plus mid-90s FB that hits 97 mph with good late life. Mixes in a plus CT, CB, and CU. Poor front-side mechanics results in inconsistent release point and below-average command, but showed improvement in debut. Has the stuff to be a power reliever.

Development Path: The Cardinals were aggressive with Hudson, skipping him over Peoria in the MWL. He worked exclusively in relief at High-A, but will be used as a starter in 2017 and could make a return to Palm Beach in the FSL.

Fantasy Impact: Hudson has a big-time arm. If his breaking ball and change improve he has the stuff and frame to be a good mid-rotation starter or even a low-end #2. If not, his FB/CT mix give him to tools to be an impact reliever.

Upside Grade: 8D

http://www.scout.com/player/181067-sandy-alcantara?s=321

9.  Sandy Alcantara (RHP) ... 6-4, 170 ... 21 ... 2013 FA (DR)

Year Team IP ERA WHIP Ctl Dom Cmd OppBA
2015 GCL 64.1 3.22 1.23 2.8 7.1 2.5 0.234
2016 Peo 90.1 4.08 1.36 4.5 11.9 2.6 0.223
2016 PB 32.1 3.62 1.21 3.9 9.5 2.4 0.205

Comments: Long, lean 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic has a lightning quick arm. Added size and strength and now owns a plus 94-98 mph FB that has been clocked as high as 102 mph. Mixes in a CU that is raw but shows potential and has some feel for a CB. Made U.S. debut and held his own, going 4-4 w/3.22 ERA. Lots of projection left with this one.

Development Path: It will be interesting to see what the Cardinals do with Alacantara in 2017. He showed enough at High-A in the FSL to warrant a jump to Double-A, but given his age and lack of refinement, he will likely head back to Palm Beach to start the year.

Fantasy Impact: Alcantara has a plus power arm and can hit triple-digits with his fastball, but it lacks movement so he needs to refine his secondary offerings to remain a starter. He is worth rostering in deep keeper leagues due to plus Dom, but has work to do.

Upside Grade: 9D

http://www.scout.com/player/192408-junior-fernandez?s=321

10.  Junior Fernandez (RHP) ... 6-1, 180 ... 20 ... 2014 FA (DR)

Year Team IP ERA WHIP Ctl Dom Cmd OppBA
2015 GCL 51 3.88 1.35 2.6 10.2 3.9 0.261
2015 PB 6.2 1.35 1.50 2.7 6.7 2.5 0.286
2016 Peo 78.1 3.33 1.34 3.9 7.2 1.8 0.232
2016 PB 43.2 5.36 1.56 4.1 5.2 1.3 0.268

Comments: Lean, athletic hurler comes after hitters with a double plus 94-98 mph FB that tops at 100. Ditched his CB for a potentially plus hard SL and mixes in a plus CU. Started well in the MWL, but Cmd deserted him at High-A. Inconsistent mechanics and a tendency to overthrow limit his effectiveness for now, but the upside is huge.

Development Path: Fernandez made 10 appearances at High-A in the FSL, but posted an ugly ERA with 20 BB in 43.2 IP. Will likely start the year back at Palm Beach. If everything goes well, a mid-season jump to Double-A would be in order.

Fantasy Impact: Fernandez still has work to do, but any prospect who can hit 100 mph on regular basis needs to be on your radar. If everything pans out, he has the stuff to be an impact starter - if not he has the power arm to close games.

Upside Grade: 9D

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

11.  Carson Kelly (C) ... 6-2, 200 ... R/R ... 22 ... 2012 (2) HS (OR)

Year Team AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
2014 Peo 363 .248/.326/.366 9 85 0.69 6/1
2015 PB 389 .219/.263/.332 5 84 0.34 8/0
2016 Sgf 216 .287/.338/.403 6 79 0.30 6/0
2016 Mem 113 .292/.352/.381 9 85 0.65 0/0
2016 StL 13 .154/.214/.231 0 85 0 0/0

Comments: Defensive minded backstop continues to improve at the plate and made his MLB debut. Moves well, blocks balls in the dirt, calls a good game, with a strong arm. Has good raw power, but it hasn’t shown up in game action. Makes consistent contact, but lacks an advanced feel for hitting and can be stiff at the plate.

Development Path: Kelly showed enough with the bat at AAA and with the glove in the majors to earn a roster shot with the big league club next spring.

Fantasy Impact: Defensive catchers who can hit with a bit of pop have some value in NL-only formats, but Kelly will be in a back-up role until Y. Molina moves on.

Upside Grade: 7C

http://www.scout.com/player/197200-nick-plummer?s=321

12. Nick Plummer (OF) ... 5-10, 200 ... L/L ... 20 ... 2015 (1) HS (MI)

Year Team AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
2015 GCL 180 .228/.379/.344 18 69 0.7 1/8
2016 DNP   Injured        

Comments: Quick, athletic OF missed all of '16 due to hand/wrist injury that required surgery. Showed an advanced feel for hitting in HS with the potential for above average power. Quick LH stroke with a gap-to-gap approach. Average runner with good speed when under way. Not likely to stick in CF over the long-term, but has nice offensive upside.

Development Path: Plummer should be ready to go in 2017 and will likely head to the MWL where he will need to shake off the rust and make a good impression.

Fantasy Impact: Not an elite athlete, but has the offensive game to make an impact as a corner OF. Has the tools to hit .280 with 20+ HR.

Upside Grade: 8D

http://www.scout.com/player/182773-jake-woodford?s=321

13. Jake Woodford (RHP) ... 6-4, 210 ... 20 ... 2015 (1) HS (FL)

Year Team IP ERA WHIP Ctl Dom Cmd OppBA
2015 GCL 26.1 2.39 1.25 2.4 7.2 3.0 0.248
2016 Peo 108.2 3.31 1.30 3.1 6.8 2.2 0.242

Comments: 39th pick in the 2015 draft was signed to an over-slot $1.8 million. Features a good 90-93 mph sinking FB that hits 95 mph. Also has a SL and CU, both of which flash at least average. Tall, strong-bodied has added velocity and has room for more and had a solid full-season debut in the MWL.

Development Path: Woodford will head High-A in the FSL and will move up one step at a time.

Fantasy Impact: While Woodford doesn't have the big-time stuff of Reyes, Alcantara, or Fernandez, he does have good control and knows how to pitch. Solid mid-rotation potential.

Upside Grade: 8D

http://www.scout.com/player/208984-dylan-carlson?s=321

14. Dylan Carlson (OF) ... 6-3, 195 ... B/L ... 18 ... 2016 (1) HS (CA)

Year Team AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
2016 GCL 183 .251/.313/.404 8 72 0.31 3/4

Comments: One of three 1st round picks in '16. Tall, strong switch-hitting corner OF has good across-the-board tools. Projects to have plus power from both sides, though he makes better contact from the right. Fringe runner with an average arm takes solid routes, but could be moved to 1B down the road.

Development Path: Contact was an issue in his pro debut and the Cardinals will likely give him some time in instructs before sending him out to short-season ball at State College.

Fantasy Impact: Solid skills but none of them profile as plus. The Cardinals have done more with less, but Carlson needs to prove he can make more consistent contact before he's a fantasy consideration.

Upside Grade: 7C

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

15. Randy Arozarena (OF) ... 5-11, 195 ... R/R ... 22 ... 2016 FA (CU)

Year Team AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
2016 DNP   in US        

Comments: Athletic Cuban player signed for $1.25 million. Played SS and OF while in Cuba, but the Cardinals have put him in center field. Short, compact stroke results in line drives to all fields. Good understanding of the strike zone should allow him to hit for average once he makes his state-side debut. Average power with plus speed gives him value.

Development Path: 21-year-old will make his U.S. debut in 2017 and will likely start at High-A Palm Beach. Given his age and experience, he should move up quickly.

Fantasy Impact: Has the tools to hit for BA with a bit of pop and above-average speed. If he can stick on the dirt, he could provide a bit of fantasy value.

Upside Grade: 8D

Terms

Ctrl – control rate – walks per nine innings. The best pitchers will have three of less.

Dom – dominance rate – strikeouts allowed per nine innings. The best pitchers will have six or higher.

Cmd – command ratio – strikeouts/walks. Upper echelon of command pitchers will be at 3.0. Lower than 1.0 (more walks than strikeouts) indicates little chance of success.

ct% - contact rate – (AB-K)/AB – Ability to get the ball into play. The best have 90 percent or better while hackers are at 75 percent or less.

Eye – batting eye – BB/K- measures a hitter’s strike zone judgment. Over 1.00 correlates to .300 hitters. Less than .50 signals a low batting average.

 

Player Potential Rating - a player’s upside potential on a scale of 1-10

10 – Hall of Fame-type player
9 – Elite player
8 – Solid regular
7 – Average regular
6 – Platoon player
5 – Major League reserve player
4 - Top minor league player
3 - Average minor league player
2 - Minor league reserve player
1 - Minor league roster filler

 

Probability Rating - a player’s realistic chance of achieving his potential on a scale of A-E

A - 90% probability of reaching potential
B - 70% probability of reaching potential
C - 50% probability of reaching potential
D - 30% probability of reaching potential
E - 10% probability of reaching potential

 

In Part 2, for members of The Cardinal Nation, we will analyze the Minor League Analyst’s organizational ratings for the National League Central Division clubs with scoring of each in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent, depth and overall and compare them to recent past seasons.

 

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