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St. Louis Cardinals Top 20 prospects for 2018: mid-season review

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How did the list come out?

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
Jordan Hicks
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing with our mid-season organization reviews, we turn our attention to the St. Louis Cardinals.

This list was originally published March 10th, 2018, and revised on March 13th, 2018

*****THIS IS NOT A NEW LIST******

THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE PRE-SEASON LIST

THESE ARE NOT NEW GRADES

1) Alex Reyes, RHP, Grade A-/B+: Age 23, came back from Tommy John and looked great, 0.00 ERA in 23 innings with 44/7 K/BB at four levels, made one MLB start then hurt a lat muscle and will be out the rest of the year; talent is obvious and he’s ready to help if his body can hold up, apparently a big if.

2) Jack Flaherty, RHP, Grade B+: Age 22, first round pick in 2014 from high school in Studio City, California; 3.15 ERA in 80 major league innings, 96/28 K/BB, 61 hits; not a fluke and should continue to perform at this level in my opinion, granted the normal health uncertainties as with any young pitcher.

3) Carson Kelly, C, Grade B+/B: Age 24, second round pick in 2012 from high school in Portland, Oregon; hitting .276/.354/.418 with five homers, 23 walks, 27 strikeouts in 196 at-bats in Triple-A; went 2-for-25 during brief MLB trial; reports haven’t changed; excellent defense combined with occasional hitting, just needs an extended opportunity.

4) Andrew Knizner, C, Grade B/B+: Age 23, seventh round pick in 2016 from North Carolina State; hitting .305/.371/.423 between Double-A and Triple-A, four homers, 23 walks, 35 strikeouts in 246 at-bats; solid with the glove, not quite as good as Kelly but certainly decent; steady producer for average and moderate power, should continue to hit; like Kelly he just needs a chance.

5) Harrison Bader, OF, Grade B/B+: Age 24, third round pick in 2015 from University of Florida; hitting .279/.351/.421 with six homers, nine steals, 17 walks, 58 strikeouts in 190 at-bats in the majors; this is exactly what he should be expected to do as his career advances, with more power possible/probable down the line.

6) Tyler O’Neill, OF, Grade B/B+: Age 23, third round pick in 2013 by Seattle Mariners from high school in Maple Ridge, British Columbia; traded to Cardinals for Marco Gonzales last summer; mashing in Triple-A with 23 homers, .303/.369/.683 line, 22 walks, 55 strikeouts in 208 at-bats; 10-for-44 in the majors with three homers but 20 strikeouts; too good for Triple-A and ready for a full trial somewhere.

7) Adolis Garcia, OF, Grade B/B+: Age 25, Cuban, signed last spring for $2,500,000; hitting .253/.283/.451 with 13 homers, 12 walks, 70 strikeout in 297 at-bats, nine steals in 10 attempts; had a bad slump in May (.145) which hurt his numbers but has been strong otherwise, including .339/.359/.581 in July; mashes lefties at .345/.375/.569; seems like he should be useful somewhere but where?

8) Yairo Munoz, INF, Grade B/B+: Age 23, signed out of the Dominican Republic by Oakland Athletics in 2012, traded to Cards in Stephen Piscotty deal; hitting .298/.356/.447 in 161 at-bats in the majors, see more thoughts here.

9) Dakota Hudson, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 23, first round pick in 2016 from Mississippi State University; 13-2 in 18 starts in Triple-A, 2.36 ERA, 87/37 K/BB in 111 innings, 106 hits, 1.88 GO/AO; would like to see more whiffs but hitters have a hard time lofting the ball on his heavy stuff, has given up just one homer all year.

10) Randy Arozarena, OF, Grade B: Age 23, Cuban, signed for $1,250,000; has split season between Double-A and Triple-A, destroying Texas League pitching (.400/.435/.738 in 65 at-bats) but struggling at the higher level PCL (.238/.326/.351 in 202 at-bats); attractive power/speed combo with 10 homers, 16 steals; part of the outfield crowd, high ceiling tools but skills still developing.

11) Ryan Helsley, RHP, Grade B: Age 24, fifth round pick in 2015 from Northeastern State in Oklahoma; 4.12 ERA with 78/29 K/BB in 68 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, currently on disabled list with “shoulder fatigue,” status unclear.

12) Jordan Hicks, RHP, Grade B: Age 21, supplemental round pick in 2015 from high school in Houston, Texas; brought 800 MPH fastball to the majors much sooner than expected thanks to relief conversion, 3.44 ERA with 43/25 K/BB in 50 innings, just 34 hits, 2.68 GO/AO; has done very well considering the circumstances with no previous innings above A-ball.

13) Austin Gomber, LHP, Grade B/B-: Age 24, fourth round pick in 2014 from Florida Atlantic University; successful starter in Triple-A with 3.42 ERA, 76/20 K/BB in 68 innings; used in major league bullpen and held his own, 3.77 ERA in 14 innings, 10/8 K/BB; as with several of the hitters he’s ready and just needs a full opportunity.

14) Max Schrock, 2B, Grade B/B-: Age 23, drafted by Washington Nationals in 13th round in 2015 from University of South Carolina, traded to Oakland, then on to Cards in Piscotty deal; hitting .266/.312/.356 with four homers, 17 walks, 26 strikeouts in Triple-A; first time in his professional career that he’s not hitting .300+; defense remains very steady and reliable.

15) Oscar Mercado, OF, Grade B-: Age 23, second round pick in 2013 out of high school in Gaither, Florida; looked like a bust as a shortstop who couldn’t hit; moved to outfield and everything changed, hitting .286/.357/.405 in Triple-A with seven homers, 29 steals, 36 walks, 56 strikeouts in 353 at-bats; improved swing, better eye, contact ability, even uses his speed better now, stock up.

16) Dylan Carlson, OF, Grade C+/B-: Age 19, first round pick in 2016 from high school in Elk Grove, California; hitting .254/.349/.391 with nine homers, 41 walks, 60 strikeouts in 284 at-bats between Low-A and High-A; some power development, maintaining command of the strike zone, breakout possible next year.

17) Conner Greene, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, drafted in seventh round in 2013 by Toronto Blue Jays, traded to Cards in January 2018 Randal Grichuk deal; 3.90 ERA in 67 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 55/49 K/BB, 54 hits; I don’t like the K/BB ratio but everything else is better than 2017 and he has no shortage of arm strength; watch for any improvement in the K/BB.

18) Junior Fernandez, RHP, Grade C+: Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2014; opened season on disabled list but back in action, 2.40 ERA with 10/10 K/BB in 15 innings between High-A and Double-A; throws hard, obviously needs to improve his control.

19) Edmundo Sosa, SS, Grade C+: Age 22, shortstop signed out of Panama in 2012, hitting .271/.307/.407 between Double-A and Triple-A, seven homers, 13 walks, 61 strikeouts in 332 at-bats; capable of better I think but more a future role player than regular.

20) Evan Mendoza, 3B, Grade C+: Age 22, 11th round pick in 2017 from North Carolina State; hitting .297/.346/.389 with 26 walks, 71 strikeouts in 380 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; excellent defense at third base but unclear if he will develop enough home run power to keep people happy there.

OTHER GRADE C+ Prospects

Tommy Edman, SS; .286/.345/.389 with 33 walks, 66 strikeouts, 20 steals in 370 at-bats in Double-A; keep track of this guy.

Jacob Evans, LHP; 5.06 ERA with 38/16 K/BB in 48 innings in Double-A; released on July 12th

Derian Gonzalez, RHP; limited to 19 innings by injuries; 4.19 ERA with 24/8 K/BB at three levels.

Scott Hurst, OF; .295/.381/.411 in 190 at-bats in Low-A, on disabled list with hamstring injury

Connor Jones, RHP; 4.08 ERA in 82 innings in Double-A, 54/44 K/BB; needs better control but 2.63 GO/AO is interesting

Jonatan Machado, OF; Hit just .185/.208/.228 in 92 at-bats in Low-A; sent back to Appy League in June and hitting .294/.360/.373 in 102 at-bats so far

Elehuris Montero, 3B; Hitting .316/.375/.512 in Low-A at age 19; glove needs work but hitting looks potent, stock rising

Mike O’Reilly, RHP; 4.19 ERA in 86 innings in A/AA/AAA; 62/24 K/BB, 79 hits; more probably a reliever at the highest levels

Johan Oviedo, RHP; 5.07 ERA in 82 innings in Low-A, 81/60 K/BB, 77 hits; must lower walks obviously, can hit mid-90s

Delvin Perez, SS; hitting .257/.364/.327 in 101 at-bats in New York-Penn League

Chase Pinder, OF; hitting .255/.360/.362 in 235 at-bats in High-A

Rangel Ravelo, 1B; hitting .286/.369/.472 in Triple-A; nothing left to prove there

Julio Rodriguez, C; hitting .281/.311/.452 in Low-A, solid glovework, stock up

Alvaro Seijas, RHP; 4.83 ERA, 65/42 K/BB in 95 innings in Low-A; another hard-thrower who needs polish/experience

Ryan Sherriff, LHP: hurt most of the year

Jake Woodford, RHP; 4.93 ERA in 102 innings in Double-A/Triple-A, 75/41 K/BB, 112 hits; good arm but secondaries need more work

Ramon Urias, SS; strong in Double-A (.338/.398/.615, 148 at-bats) not so much in Triple-A (.221/.274/.426); multi-year track record of good play in Mexican League

Andy Young, INF; sleeper type, older at age 24 but hitting well, .276/.372/.444 in High-A, promoted to Double-A yesterday, solid glove

Wadye Ynfante, OF: just .200/.282/.273 in 110 at-bats in NY-P

Disappointing at the major league level this year overall, but this is still a deep system with plenty of young talent waiting for a chance. Discuss.

Daniel Poncedeleon makes his MLB debut today. He missed almost all of 2017 and wasn’t graded but he has been healthy and excellent in 2018, posting a 2.15 ERA in 92 innings in Triple-A, 103/48 K/BB. I will write a full article on him tomorrow.