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St. Louis Cardinals: A look at rising and falling prospects

With Spring Training about a month away, top prospects lists are coming out weekly, it seems. At The Redbird Daily, Kyle Reis and I will be beginning our top prospect list at the beginning of February and will bring you a prospect every other day up until Opening Day.

Looking through my completed top 30 Cardinals prospect list, there appear to be several prospects who have steadily climbed through the rankings over the past year. Conversely, there are prospects who are slowly dropping down my list.

I wanted to highlight three prospects who are rising up my list and three who are falling. Again, this is my opinion and not necessarily Kyle’s.

Rising Prospects

Eliezer Alvarez

Alvarez was on a 2016 Peoria Chiefs team that also featured Magneuris Sierra and Edmundo Sosa, both who will appear in this article later, and had the best season of the three. Alvarez, a second baseman, finished the season with a 159 wRC+ and an on base over .400. In a previous post for KangarooCourtSTL, I compared Alvarez to Jason Kipnis. Alvarez, who probably wasn’t in the top 20 a year ago, will land in our top 15 for 2017.

Ryan Helsley

Helsley had one of the best pitching seasons of any minor league pitcher. For Peoria, he went 10-2 with a 1.61 ERA over 17 starts. Maybe more impressive were his strikeout rate (28.8%) and walk rate (5.0%). The danger here is that Helsley has had one good season over only 95 innings. While he brings the heat, we have to be careful over-projecting. To be a top 10 prospect, Helsley needs to continue his success at the higher levels, which should come quickly in 2017.

Jordan Hicks

At just 19-years old, Hicks had a strong season with the State College Spikes of the Short-Season New York-Penn League, which is an “A” level affiliated league. Hicks’ best pitch is his curveball, which has been rated a 70 on the 20-80 scale by a scout familiar with him. Derrick Goold has been quoted saying that he would not be surprised if Hicks is a top 10 prospect next year. If he can start the 2017 season with the Low-A Peoria Chiefs and succeeds, he will move even quicker through the system.

Falling Prospects

Magneuris Sierra

A couple of years ago, Mags Sierra was considered the top hitting prospect in the Cardinals system after a really impressive year with the Gulf Coast Cardinals in 2014. Sierra was once compared to Carlos Gonzalez, and that probably wasn’t fair. To date, his power hasn’t developed yet, considering his ISO hasn’t been above. 100 since that great ’14 season. Defensively, Sierra is a great defensive center-fielder, probably MLB ready. If he can get on base more and flash more power, he will climb back up. My comp for him is Ender Inciarte.

Edmundo Sosa

Some of the falling that Edmundo Sosa has done is not because of him, but more because of 2016 draftee Delvin Perez. Perez, also a shortstop, has a much higher ceiling than Sosa, although there is much more risk involved with Perez. Sosa had a down year with Peoria in 2016 as his strikeouts were up and his walks were down. Defensively, he will be able to stick at short but it’s not Gold Glove quality, yet. I’ve comped Sosa to Brandon Crawford, while Perez gets a Francisco Lindor comp.

Nick Plummer

Like Sosa, much of Plummer’s free fall isn’t because of his doing as he missed the entire 2016 season. After Kyle and I release our top 30 prospect list, I will probably tell you that Plummer has a great chance to rise up the list. Many of the hitters above Plummer on the list have had breakthrough seasons, like Harrison Bader, Carson Kelly, and Alvarez. Something else that will help Plummer is his defense in center-field. If he can play average to above-average defense, he will rise.

While these prospects haven’t falling completely of the map, they’ve taken a hit over the past year. With that said, each of them have a great shot at rebounding in 2017.

Who else should be on either of these lists? Comment below!

Thanks for reading!

John Nagel
@CardinalsFarm

John

Father, husband, teacher who currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Grew up in St. Louis and has been a huge Cards fan as long as I can remember.

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  • John Baker

    I agree on all of your takes for the players you’ve mentioned here. Especially the risers, and more especially on Alvarez who I see as a guy whose bat is underestimated and whose glove may be slightly overrated. He seemed to have some improvement during the season after a disappointing first half defensively. Way too many errors both fielding and throwing, Hopefully, he has that more under control. The lack of solid middle infielders on the levels ahead of him should find him advancing rapidly.

    I see from other ratings that there is some widely differing grades for Ronnie Williams. I’m waiting to see where he winds up here, but judging from your 12-20-16 rating of Card’s prospects, it won’t be anywhere near VEB’s #10, but somewhere closer to Sickel’s #19.
    Apparently, Williams is a tough one to nail down. A bit confusing….. same player, different positioning. Some love, some not so much.

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