The Cardinals, as good as we can be now, have a very bright future ahead of us, and can expect 30 very exciting guys waiting to come up in the minors, according to mlb.com, so why don’t we take a quick look at each of those 30 players?
MLB.com ranks prospects numbers 1-4 as Alex Reyes, Carson Kelly, Jack Flaherty, and Tyler O’Neill. Most Cardinal fans should be acquainted with three of them, if not all of them. Alex Reyes, who played in the back end of 2016 as both a closer and a starter, was out all of 2017 with Tommy John Surgery, making him still eligible for the list. Reyes was exceptional in 2016, going 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 12 games, five of which as a starter and seven in relief. Reyes should be apart of the Cardinals pitching staff for the duration of 2018, but its up in the air if he’ll be used as a starter or a reliever in the back end of the bullpen for the majority of the year. Kelly, who has seen time in the majors each of the last two seasons, comes in at number two. Kelly has an exceptional arm behind the plate, and has a very good track record in the minors with hitting, but it has yet to translate into the majors. Kelly is expected to be the backup catcher to Yadier Molina this season, but could see time at third base as well, unless he is traded, which there are rumors about. Moving on to Flaherty now, who, again was in the majors in 2017. Flaherty was exceptional in the minors in 2017, going 14-4 with a 2.18 ERA. Flaherty got the call up in 2017, starting his first game in San Francisco. Flaherty struggled out of the gate, and doesn’t have a clear path for a role out of spring in 2018, but definitely will play a factor sometime this year. Rounding out 1-4, is Tyler O’Neill, the only player so far not to hit the majors in 2017. O’Neill’s ETA is 2018, and he is on the 40 Man Roster. O’Neill is a huge power hitter, hitting 31 home runs between Seattle’s AAA team and ours, coming over in the trade for Marco Gonzalez. O’Neill hit .246 in the AAA this year, and holds in own the field. O’Neill figures to be up sometime this season.
Advancing to prospect 5-8, we see another familiar face, and perhaps, three new ones. Coming in at five is Harrison Bader. Bader got a bulk of playing time in 2017 due to injuries and struggles by players at the major league level, and he thrived. Bader played exceptional defense, but took a bit of a decline at the plate, hitting .235 as opposed to his .283 in AAA. Bader also slugged three home runs. Bader has a chance of making the club out of spring training, more than likely as a fourth outfielder. Another thing Bader always did well was hustle down the line on every ground ball, bringing a fantastic mindset to every game. At prospect number six, Delvin Perez, our first round draft pick in 2016. Perez has struggled majorly at the plate, barely hitting .200 over two level of the minors, not hitting any home runs either. However, Perez is only 19, and his ETA is 2020, meaning he has roughly two and a half years to grow up to his potential before the club should start getting worried. Now, into number seven, is Dakoda Hudson. Hudson had a very nice 2017 in the minors, going 10-5, with a 3.01 ERA. His MLB ETA is 2018, so he could play a role this season, but Hudson is not currently on the 40 Man Roster, so a corresponding move would have to be made, but he has a chance to make the team out of spring training if he gets an invite. Now to prospect number 8, Junior Fernandez. Fernandez is only 20, but is pitching at a very low level of the minors, at Class A Palm Beach. Fernandez is a hard throwing righty that might project better as a reliever than a reliever than a starter. Nonetheless, Fernandez was 5-3 with an ERA of 3.69 which is a bit high, but nothing too extreme. Fernandez’s ETA is 2020, so it will be interesting to see him grow over the next few seasons.
Going nine through twelve, there are two new names, but first, we get to Randy Arozarena. Arozarena played his first season in the States this year, and he did very well, hitting .266, and knocking 11 home runs, playing in Palm Beach and Springfield. At 10, is newly acquired Yairo Munoz. Munoz is a natural talent, who hits for average, some power, a decent amount of speed, and a great defensive infielder and outfielder. Munoz batted .300 with 13 home runs in the AA and AAA with Oakland. At 11, Edmundo Sosa, who is a slick hitting infielder. Sosa doesn’t bring much power at all, but definitely makes up for it with contract, batting .288 in Palm Beach in 2017, and at 12 is Max Schrock. Schrock also came over from Oakland in the Stephen Piscotty trade. Arozarena’s ETA is this season, 2018, Munoz is also expected to see time in the majors in the 2018. Sosa’s ETA is next season, 2019, and Schrocks is this season.
Now about half way through the list, 13 through 16. At number 13 is Jordan Hicks. Hicks has been in the organization since 2016. He’s only 21 years old, and was 8-3 in the lower level on the minors. Hicks has an electric fastball, and a very lockdown curveball, as well as a changeup, but its not as demanding as the other two. He has a bit of a control problem however, and his ceiling is probably a 3-4 starter in the majors. We can expect Hicks up by the 2019 season. At 14 is Austin Gomber. Gomber, who was just recently added to the 40 Man Roster, has been with the organization since 2014. The very big lefty, standing at 6 foot 5 235 pounds, looks a lot like a left handed Lance Lynn. Gomber is 24, however he’s yet to play above AA Springfield, though he did well there in 2017. Gomber has good control on all of his pitches, and has a very good curveball. Like Hicks, his ceiling is a backend of the rotation, but his ETA was 2017, so there could be reason for concern with him. Ranked at 15 is Jake Woodford. Woodford is a 2015 draft pick, who’s still only 21. The righty pitched the whole season at Single A Palm Beach in 2017, and had good results, going 7-6 with a 3.10 ERA. Woodford is more of a pitcher than a thrower, meaning he has good control and movement on his pitches. He could project as a reliever in his career, which is said to start by 2019. At 16, we have 2016 first round draft pick Dylan Carlson. A centerfielder, though he projects more as a corner outfielder, Carlson played the whole season in Peoria. He batted .240 and hit 7 home runs, which is very respectable. Carlson is only 19, and bats from both sides, but throws with his left hand. He could be up by 2020, which is still 2 full seasons away.
Now, we get lower on the list, at 17 through 20. At 17, we have another player recently added to the 40 Man Roster, Oscar Mercado. Mercado can play both outfield and infield, and does it well. He is an average fielder and an above average hitter. However, he can run. Mercado stole 38 bases in AA Springfield in 2017, hit 13 home runs, and batted .287. Mercado is only 23, in fact he just turned it on December 16th. Mercado could be up with the big club as soon as 2018, likely in a utility role for now, but could blossom into a lot more in the future. At number 18, we have 2015 International signee Alvaro Seijas. Seijas has a decent skillset on his pitches, with good command on every one of them. He’s a bit small for a pitcher, standing at 5 foot 8, 175 pounds, throwing righty. He had some struggles in Johnson City this season, going 4-3 with a 4.97 ERA, but Seijas is only 19, and has lots of room to grow. At 19 is Connor Jones. Jones is a 2016 draft pick with an exceptional fastball. Jones is a 23 year old righty. He reached AA Springfield in 2017, however for only one game. He was 9-5 with a 3.90 ERA overall in 2017. His ETA is 2019, but, like many other college level pitchers the Cardinals have taken the last few years, like Michael Wacha or Luke Weaver, they get to the big club in a hurry, and Jones could take a similar path. At 20 is another International Signee, this time from 2016. Johan Oviedo. Oviedo is 19, and despite being so low on the prospect list, he has a very high potential. Oviedo lights up the radar gun, though has some control issues. He pitched pretty well in 2017, going 4-3 with a 4.68 ERA. Oviedo’s ETA is 2020, but could be delayed with his age.
Coming in at number 21 is Jonathan Machado. Machado is an 18 year old left handed outfielder, that was signed out of Latin America in 2016. Machado played in the GCL and did well, batting .323 and 2 home runs. Machado is smaller, only 5 foot 9 and 155 pounds, and his ETA is 2021. Ryan Helsley is at number 22, and he is close to the big leagues. Helsley is a 23 year old right hander, that stands at 6 foot 1. He pitched up to the AAA level in 2017, having success at each. Helsley can be expected to be up by 2019. At 23 is Tommy Edman. Edman reached the AAA level, but didn’t have the best average, hitting .261 with 5 home runs. An average fielder and runner, and a below average hitter, Edman could be up with a bench spot as soon as this season. At 24 is Zach Jackson. Jackson is 19 years old and was drafted by this year in the 6th round, and is a catcher. Jackson played in the low levels of the minors, and struggled mightily with the bat, only hitting .098.
Getting close to the end now at 25 is Nick Plummer. Plummer has been in the organization for 2 years, and hasn’t played above Peoria. However, Plummer is only 21. His ETA is 2020, but there is some worry about him within the organization. Andrew Knizner ranks at 26, but is quickly flying through the ranks of the minors. Knizner was drafted in 2016, but is already at AA Springfield, and he batted .302 over two levels of the minors this season. He’s only 22, and is expected to be up by 2019, but is a name to look out for. At 27 is Scott Hurst, who was an early draft pick of the Cardinals in 2017. Hurst is a L/R outfielder at A Short Season this year, and did rather well, batting .282 with 3 home runs. He’s 21, and could be in the majors by 2020. At prospect 28 is Bryce Denton who has been in the organization for two years. He is 20, and played on the State College Spikes. Denton is a 6 foot outfielder, and could be up by 2020.
Kramer Robertson comes in at 29. Robertson impressed in Peoria this season after being drafted highly, batting .270 with 3 home runs. Robertson is a shortstop and has a good chance of being in the majors by 2020. Coming in at 30 is the return for Aledmys Diaz is JB Woodman. Woodman is an outfielder, something we have lots of. He stands at 6 foot 2, and is 23 years old.
Long story short, the Cardinals future is very, very bright, and looks to be for many years.