Welcome to the first leg of our three-part deep-dive into the Cardinals’ minor league system. Today, we offer to you the back-third of our Top 30 Prospects in the organization. On Thursday you will get the middle grouping of prospects, numbers 20-11, and on Friday we will have prospects 10-1 for you.
As you will see, there is a lot of turnover at the back end of our list. There have been so many good individual seasons so far in 2017 that I wanted to reward some of those prospects with a place on the list. However, I would also like to point out that those are the spots on the list that are most vulnerable to change.
They’ll have to keep up their 2017 level of success with very little leeway for failure to maintain their spot.
So, without further Ado, we present:
The St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospects: Prospects 30-21
30. OF Terry Fuller: Age 18 – 15th Round, 2017
2017 Stats, GCL Cardinals: 7 Games, 21 AB, 2 Doubles, 0 Triples, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO, 2 SB, 0 CS, 333/417/571/988. 12 Total Bases
Preseason Ranking, Not Ranked
I honestly hemmed and hawed over putting Fuller on the list. He is clearly the prize of the 2017 draft class and his tools and athleticism are as robust as his 6’4, 220-235 lb frame. But putting him on the list kept guys like catchers Dennis Ortega and Andrew Knizner off of the list, and that was difficult for me to do.
Alas, I could not keep the player with the best raw power off of the list. He gets spot #30 because, as the pecking-order mandates, he has the most work to do to prove his stardom. Right now the Cardinals have him playing center field in the GCL, but he is destined for a corner outfield spot. With any luck he’ll follow the same path of last years 1st round pick Dylan Carlson, meaning that he’ll start in CF during his first taste of short season baseball then transition to a corner spot as he starts full season ball next year.
Also, because people seem to be confused by this, Fuller fell to the 15th round mostly due to his potential to commit to play football in the SEC and because he struggled mightily when hitting against advanced talent. It had very little to do with his body type or what his potential position was going to be. So please rest those comparisons to Albert Pujols and his fall during the 1999 draft. Also, the current draft-pool structure makes that comparison foundation-less.
29. RHP Mike O’Reilly: Age 22 – 27th Round, 2016
2017 Stats, Peoria: 12 Appearances, 9 Starts, 6-2, 64.2 IP, 58 K, 9 BB, 8 HR Allowed, 1.95 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, .172 Batting Average Against
Preseason Ranking, Not Ranked
If the Cardinals 2017 minor league season was a book, it’s first line would be “Who is Mike O’Reilly?”
It’d be a frustrating book, because I still have no idea who in the hell this guy is. I’ve studied up on him. I’ve read up on him. I’ve watched him. He’s solid, but nothing about his dominance of The Midwest League makes any sense to me! Which is AWESOME! He’s taken a no-no 8.1 Innings into a game, he’s thrown the “Greg Maddux” complete game shutout, and he’s K’ed 10 in an outing. His game score of 90, which came during the 8.1 innings of hitless baseball, is the top Gsc in the system this year.
I don’t know if O’Reilly will be on this list a year from now. hell, I don’t know if he’ll be on it at the end of the season. However, I do know that there isn’t another pitcher in the organization that has continuously dominated his level the way that O’Reilly has. He might turn out to be more Nick Petree than Zac Gallen on the prospect scale, but right now this is a fun ride to watch.
I will be keeping a close eye on those 8 HR’s allowed in 64.2 innings…
28. UTIL Andy Young: Age 23 – 37th Round, 2016
2017 Stats, Peoria & Palm Beach: 73 Games, 261 AB, 70 H, 12 Doubles, 4 Triples, 14 HR, 46 RBI, 24 BB, 63 SO, 6 SB, 2 CS, 268/353/506/859. 132 Total Bases
Preseason Ranking, Not Ranked
After watching Andy Young, I do not believe that this will be the last time that he find his name on our list.
I have Young listed as a Utility player, but his best position so far has been third. Personally, I think he’d be a fine 2B if third doesn’t work out and he’s athletic enough to play a corner outfield position.
But Young isn’t on the list because of his defensive prowess, he’s here because he rakes. His overall stats have be brought down, as he has struggled since his promotion to Palm Beach. However, for a month and a half Andy Young was the most dangerous hitter in the Cardinals system, aside from Paul DeJong and before DeJong received the call to the majors.
But what I like best about Young is what happened before the Cardinals drafted him. As a senior at Indiana State he doubled his walk totals and slightly cut down on the strike outs without compromising any of his slugging stats. Then he tore through the GCL after being drafted and held his own at State College. He’ s been up for every challenge that he’s faced so far and now that he is finally at an equally talented level we’ll finally get to see what he’s made of.
I just hope he’s more Paul DeJong than he is Jacob Wilson because the latter is too obvious of a comparison to be true. Hopefully.
27. SS Tommy Edman: Age 22 – 6th Round, 2016
2017 Stats, Springfield, Palm Beach, & Peoria: 65 Games, 261 AB, 67 H, 11 Doubles, 7 Triples, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 28 BB, 46 SO, 8 SB, 3 CS, 257/328/387/715. 101 Total Bases
Preseason Ranking, Not Ranked
I swayed back and forth while trying to decide if Edman or Young should be higher on the list. I settled on putting Edman higher than Young because Edman can play a real shortstop, has an advance-Stanford reared approach, and he is playing at more advanced level at a younger age.
Like Young, Edman’s stats are lowered as he has struggled to adapt to a promotion. However, unlike Young, Edman’s promotion was to a level, Double A, that he wasn’t remotely ready for. Edman earned his promotion to Palm Beach after only 38 games of great play at Peoria. However, 18 Palm Beach games later Edman was called up to play 2B/SS for Springfield. He has really struggled there which is to be expected.
Edman will reclaim his rightful spot playing shortstop for Palm Beach when Sosa comes off of the DL, and that’s when we’ll be able to get back to properly evaluating him. One thing that I do know is that his defense hasn’t faltered at all as he’s moved up the ladder, and that wasn’t supposed to happen. It was believe that Edman would have to eventually switch to 2nd base, but his range at SS has increased and his arm is as strong as ever, and I feel confident in saying that he’ll stay there.
26. 1B Luke Voit: Age 26 – 22nd Round, 2013
2017 Stats, Memphis & St. Louis: 79 Games, 274 AB, 89 H, 26 Doubles, 1 Triple, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 29 BB, 55 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS, 325/407/569/976 . 156 Total Bases
Preseason Ranking, Not Ranked
Luke Voit was one of the last names that I kept off of our “Best of The Rest” list in the preseason and I couldn’t be happier that the local kid has made me look stupid for doing it.
By this point you already know how this fairy tale about the local boy goes, so I’ll spare you that. Instead, I’ll tell you that Voit is the example of what happens when a players takes control of his career.
There is a confidence right now from Luke Voit and his game that I don’t think know if I’ve ever seen from him before. As you’ve seen constantly since the Cardinals purchased his contract, he is a guy that loves playing baseball and his infectious personality can spread like fire. Entering the season, he knew that he had to get better at first base. Drafted as a catcher, Voit had been below average, at best, at first and the only way he was going to play there in the majors was if he could play an average first base, at least.
Well, he’s average now. At least.
During the off season he also seemed to realize that he needed to put the ball over the fence at a higher rate if he wanted to make the majors. He’s always had the power, and he was showing more and more of it with every passing year and at every passing level, but it need to be more consistent, more frequent, and more threatening.
And he’s shown all of that.
This has been a magical season for Voit and I hope it stays that way. He’s earned this spot on the list and he’s worked hard for so much more.
25. OF Bryce Denton: Age 19 – 2nd Round, 2015
2017 Stats, State College & Peoria: 30 Games, 106 AB, 18 H, 5 Doubles, 0 Triples, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 BB, 31 SO, 4 SB, 2 CS, 170/252/274/529. 29 Total Bases
Preseason Ranking: 22nd, Down 3 Spots
This one hurts. After an amazing finish to his 2016 season for Johnson City, I was expecting HUGE things for Denton. As a matter of fact, I had Denton closer to the middle of my list entering the season and it was John’s sensibility that kept Denton in the back 3rd.
And that’s where Denton should be.
This has been a miserable season for the third baseman turned outfielder. He was poised to break out at Peoria, but he came down with a case of Appendicitis just days before the season was supposed to start which shelved him for nearly the entire first month of the season.
Then he struggled in the 19 games he appeared in following his return to the Peoria lineup, slashing 157/200/257/457. He played his last game for Peoria on May 20th before being sent back to the Cardinals extended spring training facility to catch his breath and get a little pitch recognition work in. It wasn’t until the State College season started on June 19th that Denton’s name found it’s way onto a lineup card again.
Unfortunately, things haven’t been much better for him in the great state of Pennsylvania. in 33 at-bats he’s slashing 212/350/333/638. It appears that the pitch recognition training is working, but the pop that Denton possess has yet to manifest itself. He’ll need to tap into that to move back up the list. One huge positive for Denton has been his defense in the OF, particularly RF. He has a cannon of an arm and good range, and there’s no doubt that he’ll be just fine out there.
There is still plenty of time for him to tap into his tools, especially at such a young age. Of course, the sooner the better…
24. RHP Alvaro Seijas: Age 18 – International Free Agent, 2015
2017 Stats, Johnson City: 2 Games, 2 Starts, 1-0, 8.1 IP, 8 SO, 4 BB, 1 HR Allowed, 6.48 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, .294 Batting Average Against
Preseason Ranking: 26th, Up 2 Spots
The first thing that I want you to know about Seijas is that he is not 5’8. Everyone is wrong. He’s closer to 6’2, which, alone, helps change and clarify his ceiling as a prospect because one of the hits on him is that his size makes him hard to project. So, throw that criticism out.
Seijas was considered one of the, if not THE best pitcher in the 2015 J2 International Free Agent class. Seijas hasn’t exactly been dominant, but we have seen glimpses and teases of future success, especially for a pitcher that is still so young.
Seijas throws a curveball and a changeup, and both appear to have ceilings as plus pitches. Seijas is comfortable throwing all three pitches, as well, and it’s been said that he’ll often throw off-speed pitch after off-speed pitch without even allowing a hitter to see his fastball. I really really like that.
I have a tendency to lump Seijas and Jordan Hicks, a guy you’ll read about tomorrow, together because of their raw stuff, age as compared to opponent, and prospective ceiling. Make no mistake, they represent the next wave of pitching reinforcements after Flaherty, Weaver, and Hudson.
23. SS Edmundo Sosa: Age 21 – International Free Agent, 2012
2017 Stats, Palm Beach & Springfield: 43 Games, 162 AB, 43 H, 9 Doubles, 1 Triple, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB, 0 CS, 10 BB, 29 SO, 265/312/333/654. 54 Total Bases
Preseason Ranking: 9th, Down 14 Spots
Sometimes I forget just how young Sosa is because I’ve been following him for so long. I have to admit that I am devaluing him because of that familiarity. It has left me with a sense of unfulfilled promise and a small bit of disappointment and that is what’s steered me to dropping Sosa so far down the list.
That said, I’ve read and seen with my own eyes the step backwards that he’s taken in the field to start the Palm Beach season. It had gotten so bad that he was moved to second base for his last game with Palm Beach when Tommy Edman was promoted. Sosa, too, had to take a pause shortly after this, on May 31st, and was shelved for a little bit to work on his defense on the Palm Beach backfields. Sosa’s bread and butter is his defense, and it’s cause for concern when a player’s bread and butter takes such a drastic hit.
He was back in a lineup on June 16th, this time for Springfield and he was back to playing SS. Unfortunately for Sosa he hurt himself in that first game with Springfield and has been on the DL ever since.
I do like that Sosa has tinkered with his approach and is taking more walks and striking out less this season. Sosa is still so young and at a good point to refine his hitting skill. Now he needs to put it all together to move back up the list.
22. 2B Eliezer Alvarez: Age 22 – International Free Agent, 2011
2017 Stats, Springfield: 27 Games, 91 AB, 21 H, 4 Doubles, 0 Triples, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 5 SB, 1 CS, 10 BB, 34 SO, 231/324/341/664. 31 Total Bases
Preseason Ranking: 14th, Down 8 Spots
On the surface this looks like a helluva fall. But, to me, it’s not as far as it could be. I had Alvarez ranked as my 17 best prospect entering 2017, and the only reason that I’ve decided to drop him is because his suspect defense, which gets mixed reviews for its ability to be equal parts flashy and fundamentally terrible, wasn’t showing any signs of improving before he was placed on Springfield’s DL.
As his stat line shows, Alvarez wasn’t exactly hammering Double A pitching before he went on the DL. He was doing a solid job of being patient at the plate, but he was struggling to gain traction after a very difficult April.
The thing that I like most about Alvarez is his short and compact swing. It’s meant for extra bases. If he gets healthy, cleans up the defense, stays patient at the plate, and drives the ball like he did in 2016 he’ll find his way right back up the list. His speed is also plus, and I was really anxious to see what his stolen base total would have been had he been healthy all season.
He is close friends with Sosa and Magneuris Sierra, and it is believed that the three of them are at their best when they are playing together. The second half of the season should show us how true that is.
21. OF Jose Adolis Garcia(Pictured):Age 24 – International Free Agent, 2017
2017 Stats, Memphis & Springfield: 72 Games, 256 AB, 77 H, 18 Doubles, 0 Triples, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 21 BB, 60 SO, 9 SB, 7 CS, 301/356/453/809. 116 Total Bases
Preseason Ranking, Not Ranked
On February 24th the Cardinals signed Jose Adolis Garcia, a man that I refer to simply as “J.A.G”, to an entry level contract with a $2.5 million signing bonus. J.A.G had been an MVP back home in Cuba, but he really struggled in Japan after leaving Cuba. The Cuban league had been dripped-dry by Major League Baseball, so it was hard to tell exactly how his success there was going to play out, and his failures in Japan were skewed by the fact he was a man from Cuba living and learning in a culture that he wasn’t comfortable in.
Luckily, there have been way more positives so far during his time in America than there have been negatives. Also, we’ve learned some things about Garcia. First, he’s a really really really good RF. The 12 outfield assists that he has are not a mirage, as J.A.G might have the best outfield arm in the system. I surmise that it is just a half of a grade point behind the likes of Cespedes and Puig. He can play CF in a pinch, but I’ve never been more sure that there is player meant to play RF like I am with Garcia.
Garcia is still trying to figure it out at the plate. He’s still susceptible to looking silly on breaking pitches late in counts. He’s trying very hard to refine his approach and that has cost him a little bit of power. I expect the homers will come in spades as he gets more comfortable at the plate. He’s a streaky hitter, too. So there will be moments of frustration that might last as long as the moments of jubilation. If he’s still in the organization, he’ll be wearing the Birds On That by this time next season.
Thanks For Reading Part 1!!!