We are one month into the minor league season and there have been a lot of positives in the Cardinals minor league system, as I wrote about yesterday. But the good must be taken with the bad, so I wanted to take some time to highlight some of the under-performing prospects in the system.
Remember, we are only one month into the season. By the end of May these gentlemen could be the four hottest prospects in the system. Still, a slow start is a slow start, and these guys are struggling.
Also, I kept the list confined to members of our own ” Top 30 Prospects” List and our ” Best Of The Rest” List. There are plenty of other players struggling. Let’s focus on the names worth keeping an eye on.
Sandy Alcantara: Springfield – RHP, Age 21 – Preseason Prospect #5
April Stats: 4 starts, 21.1 IP, 14 ER, 4 HR Allowed, 5 BB, 17 K, .323 Average Against, 5.91 ERA
Alcantara is learning the harsh reality of pitching as you climb up the minor league ladder. He did a great job of cutting the walks down in April (although, he almost doubled his season walk total in his Monday start), but the advanced hitters at the Double A level are showing him that his 100 MPH heater can be hit if it’s left over the middle of the plate.
The promotion to Springfield was an aggressive promotion for a kid that had only made 6 starts above low A prior to this season. And that goes double for a kid with preexisting control problems. The hitters at double A are smarter, more advanced hitters that have seen 100 MPH before. Alcantara is going to have to learn how to be crafty in order to be dominant at this level.
Eliezer Alvarez (pictured):Springfield – 2B, Age 22 – Preseason Prospect #14
April Stats: 62 AB, 4 Doubles, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 8 BB, 22 SO, 3 SB, 242/347/355/702
Before we dissect Eli, take a second to look at that .347 OBP. That will do just fine. Even if he struggles to hit the ball with authority, he has the eye to keep that OBP right around .340. He has the kind of approach that, alone, will help him keep his prospect status.
Here we are again with the broken record of all struggling hitters; striking out 30+% of the time is synonymous with struggle. another small concern I see so far with Alvarez is that he doesn’t seem to be hitting the ball hard regularly. He’s never been one to show above average HR power, but he certainly has shown gap power in the past, and that just isn’t something that he is doing regularly at Double A yet. I count at least 2 of his 4 doubles as singles that his speed turned into doubles. Which, by the way, is awesome.
Alvarez spent a lot of time working on his D in the offseason, and that extra work has yielded mixed results. Alvarez is still making a lot of flashy plays (he turns a double play as good any second baseman you’ll see these days), but he is struggling with the rhythm of a standard ground ball. That is something that we are going to need to see improve very very soon.
Ronnie Williams: PEORIA – RHP, AGE 21 – Preseason Prospect #17
April Stats: 4 Starts, 17.1 IP, 14 ER, 4 HR Allowed, 10 BB, 15 K, .284 AVG against, 7.27 ERA
It’s been a tough start to the season for the 21 year old. As we mentioned in our write up of Williams in his prospect report, he surrendered 7 HR in 35.2 innings after being promoted to Peoria to finish the 2016 season. Now, just four starts into the 2017 season, Williams has already allowed 4 HR in 17.1 innings. I usually have trouble adding numbers past the ten digits on my two hands, but that means that Williams has allowed 11 HR 53 innings. That is an incredibly high rate. His fastball velocity is right where you need it to be, sitting in the mid 90’s, but he is leaving it high too often and the Midwest League hitters are sitting on it. Then, you add in the 10 walks and you get the full picture of a kid that is really struggling with his command.
I’ll be keeping an extra close eye on Williams. I think that there is a chance that his struggles might continue. I sure hope they don’t.
Dylan Carlson: PEORIA – OF, Age 18 – Preseason Prospect #18
April Stats: 56 AB, 1 Double, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 11 BB, 26 SO, 179/329/357/686
Right now I feel like a 19 year old senior bully that was held back a year, picking on a 11 year old prodigy that is already a freshman in high school by naming Carlson an under-performer.
It is a bit of a reach.
The fact that Carlson started the season in Peoria (a promotion that was even more aggressive than when the Cardinals rushed a minor league player of the year award-winning Mags Sierra to Peoria in 2015) was a great sign. As a matter of fact, his struggles aren’t unexpected. there aren’t a lot of 18 year old’s with only 201 professional plate appearances that could enter a full season club and light the league on fire.
Obviously, the K’s are a concern. There isn’t a player in any league that can strike out nearly that much and still be considered effective. But let’s focus on the positive. his OBP of .329 is pretty solid when weighing it against his batting average. I love that he’s taken 11 walks. The kid has an eye for hitting, he just needs time to get up to speed with the league he is in. His 3 HR is a nice touch, even when you consider that one of those HR was an inside the park job.
Give him a little time. He’ll be fine.
Nick Plummer: Peoria-ish – OF, Age 20 – Preseason Prospect #25
April Stats: 15 AB, 1 Double, 0 HR, 3 BB, 6 SO, 200/368/267/635
I just wanted to take a second to let you know that Plummer is hurt again. While his past has been haunted by wrist injuries, this time he’s been out since April 14th with a strained oblique. You know, the injury that comes with virtually no time table for recovery.
It’s the same story with Plummer. I’d like to stay optimistic about his future, but right now it’s tough to find the sunlight in the rain clouds.
Who has caught your eye as an under performer in the system? How dumb am I for picking these three as under performers? Let me know!
Thanks for reading!