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St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospects: #13

Every other day over the next two months, John Nagel and Kyle Reis will announce a new prospect on The Redbird Daily’s Top 30 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect List. For each prospect, John and Kyle will reveal where that prospect landed on their personal lists and also few thoughts on the prospect. We hope you enjoy!

Prospect #13: Jake Woodford – 1st Round, 2015 Draft

2016 Stats:  Peoria – 5-5, 3.31 ERA, 108.2 IP, 82 K, 37 BB

Kyle Reis (Prospect #13 On Personal List)

Another day, another prospect from the 2016 Peoria Chiefs’ roster. Another starting pitcher from that rotation, too. How about that? “We gonna bring that back? How about that whole deal?”

Woodford is now the 3rd straight (and 4th in total) prospect from Peoria to make our list. While the last two prospects, #15 Ryan Helsley and #14 Eliezer Alvarez, played relatively near the Midwest League’s average-age in 2016, Woodford was almost 3 years younger than the competition. He was also a full year younger than Sandy Alcantara was for the league. So, while the 82 K in 108.2 IP might not seem all that impressive on the surface, it’s a pretty damn good number in context. The walks BB/9 of 3.1 is high, but it’s largely tainted by an accelerated walk rate down the stretch of the 2016 season.

There are three pitching prospect in they system that are basically the same guy to me, but with varying levels of excitement, polish, and potential. I view them as three versions of the type of pitcher. The 3rd Version is #23 prospect Zac Gallen. He’s the Bore. The Second Version is Woodford. He’s the Worker. And, to spoil it a little bit, The Top Version is Jack Flaherty. The Craftsman. All three are united because they are pitchers not throwers, they throw strikes first and pitches second, they aren’t flashy, they all have the ability to throw four potentially above average pitches, and they’ve all seen their velocity tick-up as they’ve progressed.

Woodford commands a 2 seam fastball, 4 seam fastball, and a change-up about as well as you’d expect a 19-year-old pitcher to be able to. His ability to max-out his potential will come down to how that slider continues to develop. I will bet my life that this kid turns out to have a career similar to either Chris Tillman or Ian Kennedy if he learns to command that slider.

Woodford really fatigued down the stretch last year, and that’s what I’ll be keeping an eye on in 2017. I’m hoping that it’s just the high demand of a full season club wearing down the 19-year-old. He’s a bulldog, and I’m sure he’ll rebound unless there is some lingering arm issue.

John Nagel (Prospect #13 on Personal List)

Kyle and I appear in agreement on the future impact Jake Woodford could provide to the major league club. Kyle compares Woodford to Tillman or Kennedy, whereas I see similarities to a current Cardinal pitcher, Lance Lynn. More on that in a moment.

Kyle talks about how Woodford and Flaherty are connected, and I couldn’t agree with this more. It appears Woodford is following in Flaherty’s steps through the Cardinals system and should take his spot in the High-A Palm Beach rotation for 2017.

Woodford will play most of the 2017 season at just 20 years old, but pitches like he’s a 10 year veteran. He brings to the table a nice mix of pitches with a heavy sinking fastball being his go-to. As Kyle mentioned, he has a solid slider as well. Those last two traits are what tie him to Lynn, for me. I could see Woodford developing that “work-horse” mentality, similar to Lynn. His 6’4″, 210 lbs frame would support that as well.

Like many young pitchers, Woodford needs more consistency in his starts. As Kyle mentioned, he wore down late in the season. His last 5 starts saw outings of 3, 5, 3 2/3, 2, and 5 innings. While Woodford may not have been very efficient, he was healthy.

Like I said, Woodford is likely headed to the rotation of the Palm Beach Cardinals, which should be a star-studded rotation that could feature the likes of Sandy Alcantara, Junior Fernandez, and Ryan Helsley. I think Woodford’s peak is that of a #3 starter, but one who will throw 200 innings from season to season.

How we rank prospects: Click Here
Best of The Rest: Click Here
#30 Prospect: Daniel Poncedeleon
#29 Prospect: Jonathan Machado
#28 Prospect: Jeremy Martinez
#27 Prospect: John Gant
#26 Prospect: Alvaro Seijas
#25 Prospect: Nick Plummer
#24 Prospect: Jordan Hicks
#23 Prospect: Zac Gallen
#22 Prospect: Bryce Denton
#21 Prospect: Johan Oviedo
#20 Propsect: Randy Arozarena
#19 Prospect: Connor Jones
#18 Prospect: Dylan Carlson
#17 Prospect: Ronnie Williams
#16 Prospect: Paul DeJong
#15 Prospect: Ryan Helsley
#14 Prospect: Eli Alvarez
#13 Prospect: Jake Woodford
#12 Prospect: 3/11
#11 Prospect: 3/13
#10 Prospect: 3/15
#9 Prospect: 3/17
#8 Prospect: 3/19
#7 Prospect: 3/21
#6 Prospect: 3/23
#5 Prospect: 3/25
#4 Prospect: 3/27
#3 Prospect: 3/29
#2 Prospect: 3/31
#1 Prospect: 4/2

Kyle Reis
Kyle is a South City St Louis born and raised. He is 30 years old and grew up at old Busch Stadium. His favorite Cardinals player of all time is Ray Lankford. Kyle is an overly simple person who loves countable baseball statistics, following minor league baseball, and friendly discourse. He tends to not take people seriously that refer for the team that they root for as "we" instead of "them".
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