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St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospects: #22

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 #22: Bryce Denton – 2nd Round, 2015

2016 Stats: Johnson City: 282/356/376, 202 AB, 7 Doubles, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 20 Walks, 37 Strike Outs

Kyle Reis (Ranked #16 On Personal List)

Good luck trying to find someone else that is as high on Denton as I am. I’m perfectly fine with that and I’m excited to explain why.

At first glance, Denton’s numbers might seem good, but unimpressive. That would probably be a fair characterization. But you need to dig a little deeper.

First, Denton is young. He’s spent the majority of his second season in the farm system as an 18 year old playing in a league that was, on average, 2.5 years older than him. As a matter of fact, he only had 4 plate appearances against pitchers younger than him. The way he performed against older talent should not be overlooked.

The jump from high school to the professional ranks is so tough. So much so that I don’t believe it can be quantified. That’s why you don’t put too much stock into how a player performs after being drafted out of high school in his draft season. Sometime you just have to wait for a sign during their second season of pro ball and use that as your starting block for evaluating.

On August 14th, such a thing happened for Denton. What follows is a failed retweet, but a prediction nonetheless.

Leading into that game, Denton was slashing 273/343/347 with 1 HR in 145 AB. But over his last 15 regular season games, including the game that he hit his 2nd HR, Denton slashed 333/406/526 with 3 HR in 57 AB. Then, during the playoffs, Denton went 9-20 with 1 HR and 4 doubles, leading Johnson City to the Appy League Championship. If you’re playing along at home, that means that over his last 20 games, playoffs included, Denton slashed 364/424/597 with 4HR and 22 RBI in 77 AB while striking out 11 times and taking 8 walks.

Denton didn’t just end the year strong. He destroyed the end of his season. If you are like me and have trouble counting, that’s an OPS of 1.021.

When the Cardinals drafted Denton, some thought that he might end up as a pitcher in the organization, but the Cardinals kept him at 3rd. Choosing to let the bat develop was the correct move, it would appear. Making big strides after focusing on one position isn’t uncommon, especially for a high school draftee.

Unfortunately, Denton hasn’t progressed nearly as well defensively at 3rd base. The good news is, that doesn’t really matter anymore because Denton is now an outfield prospect, contrary to what Keith Law tried to tell you when he did his organizational rundown of the Cardinals. That wasn’t the only mistake he made either, but I digress…

Denton posses elite bat speed, quick hands, and an arm that profiles well for a corner OF. I could see him budding into a hitter similar to Danny Valencia or David Peralta. So, think something similar to 280/340/460 with 15-20 HR. He still needs to strike out less often, but he did only strike out 13% of the time over those last 20 games. Another good sign is that his walk rate continued to get better. It’s a leap, but I wouldn’t be surprised if by this time next year we are talking about Delvin Perez and Bryce Denton as the two best hitting prospects in the organization.

 

John Nagel (Ranked #27  On Personal List)

Per usual, Kyle did a great job breaking down Bryce Denton, but you can see that we differ significantly on where the young prospect ranks in the Cards system. Kyle has his at #16, while I have him 11 slots down at #27.

I agree with what Kyle said in that you can’t really look too much into his numbers, but even with that they weren’t too bad. For Johnson City, Denton had an impressive 16% strikeout rate, which is pretty low and he had a wRC+ of 109, which is solid for a third baseman, maybe slightly above average for a corner outfielder.

Positioning is the main reason I rank him much lower than Kyle does. As a third baseman, I think Denton is a top 20 prospect. There aren’t many big hitting third sackers in the league and he could have been that but there were obvious questions about his defense.

With the lack of third base depth, you have to wonder how bad Denton really was at third? After Jhonny Peralta, there really isn’t a third base prospect to be found in the organization. Denton could have been the guy, but the club decided to move him.

For Denton to rise on my list, he needs to start the season at Low-A Peoria and hit well while playing solid defense in the outfield. For me, the jury is still out on what type (if any) major league career Denton will have.

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: 2/21
#20 Propsect: 2/23
#19 Prospect: 2/25
#18 Prospect: 2/27
#17 Prospect: 3/1
#16 Prospect: 3/3
#15 Prospect: 3/5
#14 Prospect: 3/7
#13 Prospect: 3/9
#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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