Sam Tuivailala (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Brian Walton audits his pre-season roster predictions for 125 season opening spots in the St. Louis Cardinals system.

Looking back at which pre-season predictions of players on opening season rosters at five levels of the St. Louis Cardinals system were missed and why.

As regular readers of The Cardinal Nation know, each spring, I take my best educated guesses as to which players will make up the initial 25-man rosters for the St. Louis Cardinals and each of their four full-season minor league affiliates. The purpose of this article is to score my accuracy and discuss the differences between what I thought what would happen and what actually did.

Impossible to predict in advance are new signees and disabled list moves. The ramifications of the latter have a domino effect across every level below. Releases are not impossible to guess, but are plenty challenging. Sometimes, I expected more aggressive promotions than occurred, but missed a few others.

Before we move into each team, my scorecard is below. Overall, I had 77 percent accuracy in my opening day roster predictions, and as one might expect, the percentage dropped at every lower level of the system – from the high of 96 percent with St. Louis to 60 percent at Class-A Peoria.

  Hits Misses Pct.
St. Louis 24 1 96%
Memphis 22 3 88%
Springfield 18 7 72%
Palm Beach 17 8 68%
Peoria 15 10 60%
total 96 29 77%

Instead of celebrating the 77 percent I got right, in the following, I will look into the other 23 percent – the misses.

Tips for the remainder of the article

Click on any team’s name to view the original in-depth projection article for that club.

In the tables that follow, there are two rows:

  • The “Missed” row lists those players I had guessed incorrectly would be on that roster.
  • The “Additions” are the ones who essentially made the team instead.  They are lined up in the same columns as the players they replaced, but there are no other meanings to their column placements.


The three key columns are as follows:

  • “Missed promo” are those players who were promoted above the level I guessed.
  • “DL/other” are those who did not make their projected roster due to injury or other circumstances.
  • “Missed low” are those players who I guessed would be promoted more aggressively than they ended up being.


St. Louis (one miss)

StL pitchers (1) Missed  promo DL/other Missed  low
Missed (1)   Rosenthal  
Addition (1)   Tuivailala (up)  

Rosenthal-Tuivailala: Until the surprise move of Trevor Rosenthal to the disabled list at the end of camp, it looked like a clean sweep for me. The temporary promotion of Sam Tuivailala from Memphis meant an incorrect pick for the Triple-A roster, too.


Memphis (three misses)

Mem pitchers (3) Missed  promo DL/other Missed  low
Missed (3) Tuivailala (StL) Gant (StL DL) Echemendia (Spr)
Additions (3) Heyer (Mem) Montgomery (new) Lucas (Spr)

I had pegged all 13 position players plus the rotation, too – until John Gant was injured late in MLB camp and had to be placed on St. Louis’ DL.

Let’s look at the players from the table above. While the names involved are accurate, the pairings are my groupings.

Tuivailala-Heyer:  As noted above, Tuivailala was on the initial Redbirds roster. His departure created room for another. I had placed Kurt Heyer in limbo this spring, but the versatile right-handed swingman made the team.

Gant-Montgomery: With the Redbirds down a pitcher due to Gant’s injury, the Cardinals went out and signed veteran Yankees minor league reliever Mark Montgomery. Another recent signee, Josh Zeid, slipped into the rotation – at least temporarily.

Echemendia-Lucas: I admit it – I just plain whiffed on this one, and I shouldn’t have. Lucas has a strong track record and is a favorite of the organization. He performed well in MLB camp this spring and proved ready for the promotion. Echemendia’s time in Memphis last season was also solid, so the right-hander should be back when a roster spot opens up.


Springfield (seven misses)

Spr pitchers (3) Missed  promo DL/other Missed  low
Missed (3) Lucas (Mem) Nielsen (DL) Evans (PB)
Additions (3) Echemendia (Mem) Bard (PB) McKinght (PB)
Spr hitters (4) Missed  promo DL/other Missed  low
Missed (4)   Jenner (EST) Sierra (PB)
    Lankford (rel)  
    Katz (EST)  
Additions (4)   Cruz (Spr) Mercado (PB)
    J Wilson (Spr)  
    Thon (high-A)  

I hit all the members of the star-powered rotation, including the key promotions of Jack Flaherty and Sandy Alcantara from Palm Beach. I also pegged the two-level bump of second baseman Eliezer Alvarez from Peoria, but had also expected his 2016 teammate, Magneuris Sierra, to join him.

Lucas-Echemendia: See above.

Nielsen-Bard: 2016 starter Trey Nielsen was not identified as injured during his time with Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. Upon his return, he was immediately sent to minor league camp and opens on the DL. Former MLB pitcher Daniel Bard has a reworked delivery and if he can consistently throw strikes, the right-hander should move up quickly.

Evans-McKnight: I did not expect Blake McKnight to spend a third season at Palm Beach, but I incorrectly guessed the lefty Jacob Evans would be moved up to Double-A, instead. It is Evans who remains in the Florida State League.

Jenner-Cruz: Instead on returning to the S-Cards, Jesse Jenner was sent down to Extended Spring Training. In what was more of a tossup than a major upset, Luis Cruz stayed at Double-A with free agent signee Gabriel Lino, instead.

Lankford-J Wilson: I had sensed that Jacob Wilson may have been approaching the end of his Cardinals line, after being returned to Double-A last season. However, it was Cole Lankford who received his walking papers this spring.

Katz-Thon: I thought Mason Katz would make the Springfield roster, but I was much less confident about that when I asked him if he was playing any first base in spring camp and he said, “no”. Now, he is in Extended Spring Training and free agent signee Dickie Joe Thon, who played at high-A last season, received his promotion to Double-A.

Sierra-Mercado: Sierra was the talk of St. Louis’ camp early, but the center fielder was not given the two-level promotion, as was Alvarez. Instead, light-hitting CF Oscar Mercado was moved up to Double-A. My only logic is that the Cardinals want both Sierra and Springfield’s Adolis Garcia to play every day in center field and they cannot do that on the same roster.


Palm Beach (eight misses)

PB pitchers (3) Missed  promo DL/other Missed low
Missed  (3) Bard (Spr) Wirsu (DL) De La Cruz (EST)
Additions (3) Gallen (GCL) Evans (PB) Vance (JC)
PB Hitters (5) Missed  promo DL/other Missed low
Missed  (5) Cruz (Spr) Sohn (rel) O'Keefe (Peo)
  Mercado (Spr) Herrera (EST)  
Additions (5) Je Martinez (SC) Dykstra (A) Godoy (Peo)
  Sierra (Peo) Pina (Peo)  

The Cardinals were aggressive, moving into the Beach Birds’ rotation second-rounder Connor Jones as well as Zac Gallen, the Cardinals’ third-round pick last June. I had expected one, but not both, to make the Palm Beach team, but that was based on numbers more than performance.

Bard-Gallen: Bard showed enough in camp to earn a promotion to Springfield. That created a Palm Beach roster spot for impressive spring starter Gallen.

Wirsu-Evans: Reliever Josh Wirsu did not report to camp this spring and as I noted above, Jacob Evans was kept at Palm Beach instead of his projected promotion to Springfield.

De La Cruz-Vance: I thought reliever Steven De La Cruz would earn a promotion from the Midwest League to the Florida State League, but instead the right-hander opens in Extended Spring Training. Reliever Ross Vance stormed all the way up to the FSL from the Appalachian League. It wasn’t quite as big of a promotion as Gallen, but less expected and still impressive.

Cruz-Je Martinez: As mentioned in the Springfield section, Cruz ended up in Double-A instead of where I had him – at Palm Beach. In a minor surprise due to all the catchers without roster spots, but still deserved, 2016 fourth-rounder and TCN prospect #29 Jeremy Martinez made the jump over Peoria.

Mercado-Sierra: See above

Sohn-Dykstra: In a tight infield competition, Andrew Sohn was given his release. Acquired from Atlanta in the Jaime Garcia trade, Luke Dykstra moves from low-A to high-A. Makes sense.

Herrera-Pina: Juan Herrera, who had a rough 2016 due to injury, has been seeing spring time at third base as well as his prior shortstop position. His staying in EST allowed Leobaldo Pina, who batted just .245 for Peoria in 2016, to move up a level to open the season. Third will be a crowded place with 2016 starter Danny Diekroeger back on the Palm Beach roster, too.

O’Keefe-Godoy: I expected 2016 Peoria catcher Brian O’Keefe to move up a level, but Jeremy Martinez’ leap over Peoria nixed that. Jose Godoy was promoted from Peoria instead, likely to serve as the Beach Birds’ reserve behind the plate.  


Peoria (10 misses)

Peo pitchers (5) Missed  promo DL/other Missed low
Missed  (5) Gallen (Spr) Then (EST) Oviedo (EST)
      De Lorenzo (EST)
      Almonte (EST)
Additions (5) Farinaro (SC) Dobzanski (SC) Oxnevad (JC)
      Arias (JC)
      Santos (JC)
Peo hitters (5) Miss promo DL/other Missed low
Missed (5) Je Martinez (PB)   Martin (EST)
  Dykstra (PB)   Del Perez (EST)
  Pina (PB)    
Additions (5) O'Keefe (Peo)   Trosclair (GCL)
  JR Davis (JC)   A Young (SC)
  Hudzina (SC)    

The Cardinals were aggressive with multiple promotions from the Gulf Coast League into the Peoria rotation last year. I expected more of the same in 2017, but instead, the starting pitching moves were more traditional, from State College and Johnson City. Still, all are deserved.

Gallen-Farinaro: With Gallen moving up to Palm Beach instead of where I projected him at Peoria, it created rotation room for 2016 State College standout Steven Farinaro.

Then-Dobzanski: Another Spikes starter from last season to push his way into the Chiefs starting six is Bryan Dobzanski. Reliever Jery Then may not be well physically, but was not placed on the Peoria DL, assigned to EST instead.

Oviedo-Oxnevad: My third miss among the starters was foreshadowed when I reported from spring training that Cuban Johan Oviedo was throwing only 89-91 mph. Even so, TCN’s 32nd-ranked prospect Ian Oxnevad earned his promotion from Johnson City.

DeLorenzo-Arias, Almonte-Santos: I missed on two of my State College bullpen promotions to Peoria, as a pair of 2016 Johnson City relievers earned the bump, instead.

Je Martinez-O’Keefe: Covered above.

Dykstra-JR Davis: Luke Dykstra was clearly ready for high-A, but seemed blocked by others. Also a second baseman, J.R. Davis was a Johnson City standout in his first partial professional season.

Pina-Hudzina: Chiefs 2016 third base starter Pina may have been moved up to Palm Beach to keep the line moving. Perhaps the same for third baseman Danny Hudzina, who had some nice moments at State College, but still batted just .239 last season.

Martin-Trosclair: After two years with the Spikes, this seemed up-or-out time for middle infielder Danny Martin, but that is not the case. College hitter Stefan Trosclair was overqualified for the Gulf Coast League but is now going be facing more appropriate pitching while covering at first base for Peoria.

Del Perez-A Young: Despite already working with infield guru Jose Oquendo both at instructional league and spring training, top 2016 draft pick Delvin Perez will be spending even more development time in camp before joining a team roster this season. Andy Young joins the others moving up from State College to Peoria to open the season.


For full roster information

The team rosters here at The Cardinal Nation are as up-to-date for St. Louis and all four full-season clubs. All EST players remain on one of the short-season clubs based on where they ended 2016. To access these team rosters, click on the words “PROSPECTS” > “MiLB Rosters/Player Pages” underneath The Cardinal Nation site logo.

To see the Cardinals’ entire system by level and position on one page along with every player transaction for every club all year long, check out the newly-refreshed Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

What is next

I am already sketching out my monthly changes to The Cardinal Nation top prospect list based on spring training results and season-opening assignments. Look for the article soon!


Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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