The St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league full season affiliates have been playing for over two months now and the top flight prospects like Jack Flaherty and Carson Kelly have performed up to expectations. However, there have been a couple of 2016 draftees who were selected late that are having nice seasons. Earlier this week I profiled a forme top prospect who is having an incredible year, Oscar Mercado. These prospects were widely unknown before now.
Drafted way back in the 37th round in 2016, Andy Young was an after thought of the Cardinals 2016 draft class. The former Indiana State product started his professional career with the Gulf Coast Cardinals but quickly earned a promotion to the State College Spikes in July of 2016. For the Spikes, Young played in 42 games and ended the season with a 115 wRC+ thanks in large part to five triples over that span. It wasn’t an impressive stat line, especially for a 22-year old, but it got the job done.
Fast forward to 2017 and Young got a full season placement on the Low-A Peoria Chiefs and he went 2-for-5 in his first game and never stopped hitting. For the Chiefs, Young played in 58 games and had a wRC+ of 157, which is incredible. He also raised his slugging percent over 100 points while also walking more. This hot start earned Young a well deserved promotion to High-A Palm Beach.
What does the future hold for Andy Young? A versatile, power hitting, middle infielder is hard to find and if Young can be that guy he may have a nice future ahead of him. At 23, Young has some catching up to do and needs to handle Florida State League pitching pretty well. If he can, a late season promotion to Double-A Springfield would not be out of the question.
Mike O’Reilly heard his name called long before Andy Young did. However, he was selected in the 27th round, which about the time many people turn off the draft or it has moved to internet only and picks are made every five seconds. The Cardinals took O’Reilly out of tiny Flagler College in Florida. Like Young, he began his pro career in the GCL and flourished, as any 21-year-old should do, really. O’Reilly went 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 40 innings for the GCL Cardinals. Unlike Young, O’Reilly never received a promotion.
For 2017, O’Reilly began the season with the Cardinals Extended Spring camp back in Florida. However, on April 20th Dailyn Martinez was promoted from Peoria to Palm Beach, which opened up a roster spot on the Chiefs for O’Reilly. His first three appearances for the Chiefs were out of the bullpen and they were good.
On May 9th, the season changed for O’Reilly as he was moved to the Chiefs’s starting rotation. Since then he has made 7 starts and has gone 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA and 41 strikeouts over 43 innings. Amongst these starts, O’Reilly has pitched into the 9th inning twice working 8 1/3 on May 20th and throwing a complete game 2-hit shutout on June 7th.
There are a lot of similarities between Andy Young and Mike O’Reilly. If he keeps pitching like he has, O’Reilly will be joining Young in Palm Beach. Like Young, the 22-year old O’Reilly needs to continue to perform above expectations if he wants to have a future as a legit prospect.
Credit goes to John Mozeliak and his staff for finding these college players, but also for putting them in positions to succeed early in their professional careers. The odds are stacked against Young and O’Reilly, but for 37th and 27th round picks, they are already performing above expectations.
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