Before we get into our top 30 prospect countdown, Kyle and I wanted to throw out some names that just missed our list. In fact, these players may have appeared in our personal top 30 but did not make the group total. We had about the same names inside the top 20 and maybe even 25, but after that we went in separate directions.
In this post, we will each throw out three names of players we like who did not make the combined top 30.
Kyle’s “Best of the Rest”
John Kilichowski , LHP, 11th round of the 2016 Draft
Welp, here we are. All alone. Just me and that guy who let up the home run to Tim Tebow in his first career professional at bat.
Admittedly, I am higher on the 22-year-old than most. I completely understand the lack of love from other outlets. It’s easy to be apprehensive about the 5th pitcher that the Cardinals took during the 2016 draft. Plus, he’s coming off of a collegiate season wasted to injury. And he might not do anything spectacularly.
Let me tell you what I see: A 6’5 210 pound lefty from Vanderbilt, a school with a recent pedigree of developing major league arms. Then, I see a kid that the Cardinals had to give $100,000 above slot to sign. Then, I see a kid who made it to, then started frequently at, a full season level. Not only did he make it there, but he was successful there, averaging nearly a strike out per inning with an ERA of 3.74 and a WHIP of 1.07.
One last note about his time at Vandy: every season there his control, command, and MPH on all four of his potential above-average offerings increased. That trend continued in Peoria…
Dennis Ortega, C, 2013 International Signing
For the first time in a long time the Cardinals have a very solid amount of catching depth. Even more encouraging, the 19 year old Ortega might have the highest upside of the group, Carson Kelly included. In his first season stateside he made a name for himself in the Gulf Coast League. While there, Ortega slashed (I always substitute OPS for SLG in slash lines) 357/439/865 with 6 extra base hits and a strike out to walk rate of 13/15 in 115 at bats. Ortega also gunned out 41.4% of would-be base burglars and, as of now, has the potential to be an above average defensive back-stop.
Andrew Knizner, C, 7th round of the 2016 Draft
Knizner is another potential catching prospect, albeit with serious questions about his game calling abilities. That should not distract from just how good Knizner was offensively after being drafted. For Johnson City, the 21-year-old slashed 319/423/915 in 222 plate appearances while hitting 6 home runs, 12 doubles, and driving in 42. My favorite stat? Knizner walked and K’ed an equal 21 times, making both rates an excellent 9.5%. I’m glad that he split time catching and playing first after being drafted. He’ll move quick through the organization as a first baseman, which is where he profiles best.
John’s “Best of the Rest”
Jeremy Martinez, C, 4th round of the 2016 Draft
Jeremy Martinez becomes the third straight catcher profiled in this post, which should show you how deep the position has become in the last couple of seasons. Martinez, out of the University of Southern California, played his 2016 season with the State College Spikes, an assignment that was probably below his level of play and it showed. For the Spikes, Martinez had a wRC+ of 157 and struck out only 16 more times than I did. So, you can’t really look much at his stats to get a sense of his prospect status.
Martinez’s peak is that of a back up catcher, in my opinion. This means his upside is limited, but his risk is also limited. With his peak as a back up, I don’t have Martinez quite in my top 30, but a strong season at either Low-A Peoria or Palm Beach (which would be preferred) will move him up.
Ian Oxnevad, SP, 8th round of the 2015 Draft
It can be really hard not to like a 6’4″ left-handed pitcher with good “pitchability”. That is exactly what the Cards have with Oxnevad. When thinking of Oxnevad, I want you to think of a taller Rob Kaminsky. Neither pitcher has an over powering fastball, but they can command the strike zone and have good curve balls.
Oxnevad pitched with Rookie Level Johnson City in 2016 and finished with a 3.38/4.05 ERA/FIP split. His strikeouts increased from 2015, while his walks decreased. He did nothing to take away some of the luster he had after the 2015 season.
Oxnevad is risky in that he is more of a pitch-to-contact pitcher. He has good upside for a young arm, while at the same time not as much risk as some of the other young pitchers in the Cards system. To make the top 30, he would have to begin the season with Low-A Peoria and keep improving,
Tommy Edman, IF, 6th round of the 2016 Draft
If prospects were ranked by statistical performances, Edman would be a top 10 prospect. Last year with the State College Spikes, Edman slashed .286/.400/.427 and struck out just 29 times while walking 48 times. His wOBA was near .400 and his walk rate was nearly double his strikeout rate.
While Edman, the Cards 6th rounder last year, finds his name on some prospect lists, he just barely misses ours. For me, his stats are slightly watered down because he was 21-years old last year playing at a Short Season level. After playing collegiate baseball at Stanford, Edman should have at least been in the Low-A Midwest League with Peoria, but depth got in the way.
Edman should open the season at either Peoria or High-A Palm Beach. The higher up he goe sin the system, the higher up he goes on the prospect list, assuming the performance doesn’t take too big of a hit. Edman can hit and does an incredibly great job of getting on base. He can play multiple infield positions. Those are all things you look for in a solid prospect. We just want to see it at a higher level.
We will begin our top 30 countdown on Friday with prospect #30. Stay tuned!