BaseballHQ’s annual “Minor League Baseball Analyst” arrived in my mailbox recently. The first prospect guide to fully integrate sabermetrics and scouting includes detailed reports on over 1000 minor leaguers.
In Part 1, we reviewed their top 15 St. Louis Cardinals prospects with the details as to why they’re ranked where they are. In Part 2, Cardinals’ organizational rankings in areas such as pitching, hitting, depth and top talent were compared to their National League Central Division competitors. Then we followed with a look at individual player movement and projections changes from 2016 to 2017.
Here in the final installment of this annual series, we will compare several of the top Cardinals prospects to the best in the game overall, by position in terms of long-range potential in the Major Leagues as well as in top skills. Closing this article will be a review of the Cardinals’ 2016 draft.
The Cardinals made a representative showing compared to other organizations with three players placing among the overall top 100 prospects. “Fair share” for any organization would also be three, though St. Louis’ had just one last year, down from three in 2015.
Top 100 Prospects of 2017 - Top 100 minor league prospects in terms of long-range potential in the major leagues. Their placement in the Cardinals top 15 follows.
1. Alex Reyes, RHP, STL (1)
78. Luke Weaver, RHP, STL (3)
95. Harrison Bader, OF, STL (6)
As in the case of many prospect raters, the overall site rankings represent a melding of multiple votes. BaseballHQ is no different. Shortstop Delvin Perez (ranked second in the system, as well as fourth and fifth-ranked Cardinals Jack Flaherty and Magneuris Sierra, missed the combined cut for the national rankings.
In the positional lists below, the Cardinals fared better than last year, when Sierra was the only hitter to place, among the top 45 outfielders. Sierra is joined by Bader among the top outfielders this year. Carson Kelly and Perez are near the end of the catching and shortstop lists, respectively. It is unclear if Randy Arozarena would have cracked the outfield list had he been placed there instead of second base.
The Cardinals still have a strong representation - three names - on the top 75 starting pitching list, but it is down from five in 2016. That can serve as a reminder that trading strength in one area to address needs in another is an approach that may continue. No Cardinals replaced Sam Tuivailala, who dropped the top 15 relief prospects list.
Top 15 Prospects by Position – Catcher
1. Jorge Alfaro, PHI
14. Carson Kelly, STL
Top 15 Prospects by Position – First base
1. Cody Bellinger, LAD
No Cardinals ranked (Matt Adams was 4th in 2013)
Top 15 Prospects by Position – Second base
1. Yoan Moncada, CWS
10. Randy Arozarena, STL (book was published before his OF assignment was clear)
(Kolten Wong was 1st in 2014)
Top 15 Prospects by Position – Third base
1. Rafael Devers, BOS
No Cardinals ranked (Stephen Piscotty was 14th in 2013)
Top 15 Prospects by Position – Shortstop
1. Dansby Swanson, ATL
15. Delvin Perez, STL
Top 45 Prospects by Position – Outfield
1. Andrew Benintendi, BOS
29. Harrison Bader, STL
36. Magneuris Sierra, STL (#33 in 2016)
Top 75 Prospects by Position – Starting pitcher
1. Alex Reyes, STL (up from #2 in 2016)
32. Luke Weaver, STL (up from #54 in 2016)
55. Jack Flaherty, STL (down from #49 in 2016)
Top 15 Prospects by Position – Relief pitcher
1. Zack Burdi, CWS
No Cardinals ranked (Sam Tuivailala was #12 in 2016)
Note the following lists are unordered.
Top Power - Top 25 prospects that have the potential to hit for power in the Major Leagues, combining raw power, plate discipline, and the ability to make their power game-usable.
No Cardinals represented (Oscar Taveras was the last Cardinal included, in 2014).
Top Batting Average - Top 25 prospects that have the potential to hit for high batting average in the major leagues, combining contact ability, plate discipline, hitting mechanics and strength.
No Cardinals represented (Oscar Taveras was included in 2014).
Top Speed - Top 25 prospects that have the potential to steal bases in the Major Leagues, combining raw speed and base-running instincts.
Delvin Perez, STL
Top Fastball - Top 25 pitchers that have the best fastball, combining velocity and pitch movement.
Alex Reyes, RHP, STL (also in 2015 and 2016)
Sandy Alcantara, RHP, STL
Junior Fernandez, RHP, STL
Top Breaking Ball - Top 25 pitchers that have the best breaking ball, combining pitch movement, strikeout potential and consistency.
Alex Reyes, RHP, STL (also in 2016)
Dakota Hudson, RHP, STL
Comment: It is encouraging to see other pitchers beyond Reyes take a prominent place on the national stage.
Top 75 Fantasy Impact – 2017
3. Alex Reyes, (RHP, STL) (obviously, this was pre-injury)
30. Luke Weaver (RHP, STL)
Bonus coverage - ST. LOUIS CARDINALS 2016 DRAFT RECAP
The Cardinals found themselves in the familiar position of having to wait until the back-end of round one, but were able to land top 10 talent in Puerto Rican SS Delvin Perez. Perez fell in the draft due to a failed drug test (PED), but was one of the better athletes in the draft, showing plus speed, a strong arm, and the chops to stick at short. Perez had a nice debut, hitting .294/.352/.393 in the GCL. The Cardinals then added prep OF Dylan Carlson (1), Mississippi State RHP Dakota Hudson (1), Virginia RHP Connor Jones (2), North Carolina RHP Zac Gallen (3), and USC C Jeremy Martinez. Martinez slashed .325/.419/.433 with 32 BB/16 K in 194 AB. Another impressive haul for the savvy Cardinals.
Sleeper: Vincent Jackson OF (14) is a tall, athletic OF who played college ball at Tennessee. He struggled during his junior year due to a thumb injury, but had a solid senior season, hitting .333/.426/.507 playing along Nick Senzel.
Grade: A (up from B in 2016)
Other NL Central Draft grades
In closing, thank you to BaseballHQ for giving us this special inisders look into their data. Please respect them and copyright laws by not duplicating this material.
Link to Part 1 of this series: ”BaseballHQ’s Top 15 Cardinals Prospects: 2017”
Link to Part 2: ”BaseballHQ: Cardinals System Still in MLB Middle”
Link to Part 3: ”2017 Cardinals Prospect Changes from BaseballHQ”
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