With the 2017 MLB draft completed, many of those players selected will be playing for a short season club this summer. The St. Louis Cardinals have three domestic short season clubs, the State College Spikes, the Johnson City Cardinals, and the Gulf Coast Cardinals. The Spikes open play Monday June 19th while the Johnson City Cardinals begin their season Thursday June 22nd.
The Cardinals have several top prospects who will begin their 2017 seasons at the short season level. Here are five of those players I will be watching.
Perez, 18, had a pretty successful rookie season with the Gulf Coast Cardinals in 2016 where he slashed .294/.352/.393 over 180 plate appearances. Over those 40 games at short stop, Perez made 17 errors, a number that should get better. For 2017, many were surprised to not see his name on the opening day roster of the Low-A Peoria Chiefs, but Perez has been working with the Cardinals instructors in Florida since then. I would expect him to either join the State College Spikes or the Johnson City Cardinals in the next week.
Oviedo, 19, had a strong debut in 2016 with the Cardinals’ affiliate in the Dominican Summer League. He struck out 29 batters over 21.2 innings while holding opponents to a .232 batting average against. He also had an impressive 1.61 ERA over that time. Oviedo had a strong spring and was another one who almost broke camp with a full season club. Since he has not pitched in the states yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start in the GCL. If that’s the case, he should dominate.
Seijas, 18, will be linked with Oviedo over the next few years, but that’s probably not a fair assessment. Seijas is more advanced at this current moment as he pitched in the GCL last season and had solid success. At just 17 years old, Seijas had a 3.06 ERA over 50 innings. He should be moving on to Johnson City or State College for 2017. At 5’8″, Seijas may have a limited ceiling with Oveido the likely better prospect, but currently Seijas is more advanced.
Machado, 18, was a big international signee from Cuba last year and played just 17 games with the Dominican Summer League Cardinals. Machado should begin the 2017 season with the Gulf Coast Cardinals and will likely be patrolling center field. With the additions and successes of fellow Cubans Adolis Garcia and Randy Arozarena, Machado has time to develop in the minors, however his style is much different from the others.
Victor Garcia and Terry Fuller
I have combined these two because of one word, POWER. Cardinals fans have been clamoring for the middle of the order power bat and these two may have the best raw power in the Cardinals organization and Fuller hasn’t even joined it yet. Garcia is currently playing in the Dominican and was rated as the best power prospect from last year’s international class in all of minor league baseball. Fuller was rated as having the third best power of any high school prospect in this recent draft by Baseball America behind two first rounders. Both of these power prospects are huge risks (like many young players), but if Cards fans want raw power, here you go. Fuller will start his pro career with the GCL Cards but don’t be surprised to see him struggle this year as many high schoolers do (he was just playing high school baseball a month ago).
There are others like J.D. Murders, Brady Whalen, Walker Robbins, and Sam Tewes I will be watching as well. Who else will you be watching when short seasons start next week?
Thanks for reading!