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St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospects #8

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 #8: Jack Flaherty – 2014, 1st Round

2016 Stats: Palm Beach – 5-9, 3.56 ERA, 134 K, 45 BB

Kyle Reis (Prospect #8 On Personal List)

The back-half of the Cardinals top 10 prospect list is kinda weird, huh? Magneuris Sierra, Edmundo Sosa, and Jack Flaherty are all one year removed from being near consensus top 5 prospects entering 2016. The good news is, with a solid rebound 2017 season, all three could easily find their way back into the top 5 discussion.

My favorite thing about Flaherty has absolutely nothing to do with his skill set. As you may have heard before, Flaherty was part of a stacked pitching staff at Harvard-Westlake HS in Los Angeles as a Sophomore. That pitching staff was headline by Lucas Giolito and Max Fried. That just seems unfair. I don’t understand how that team lost any games. Also a part of that team? Former Cardinals 10th round pick and current Cardinals Rule 5 pick Austin Wilson. But, as is baseball, that team did not win the California High School Baseball Championship back in 2012. Still, what a stacked roster.

Flaherty had a roller coaster 2016 season. The first two months of his season were absolutely terrible. Batters hit .295 against him with an OPS against of .738 and an ERA of 5.08. Then, In 4 June starts spanning 26 innings, Flaherty struck out 25, walked 3, had an ERA of 1.04, and held hitters to a slash line of 209/250/503.  But, in July he was hit harder than in any other month, allowing a staggering .921 OPS against over 25.1 IP with an ERA of 6.04. So, of course, Flaherty finished as strong as you possibly can. Over his last 6 starts spanning 38.1 IP he struck out 36, walked 13, and held hitters to a slash line of .165/.242/.201. His ERA was a sparkly 1.88, and those numbers easily represent the best two month stretch of his brief minor league career.

I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen out of the 21-year-old so far this spring, and I think the roller coaster 2016 season is well behind him. Some times a player with that much talent needs to struggle a little bit to reach his full potential. He possess a solid four pitch mix, and all four of his pitches profile as average/above average. I’d imagine that much of his struggles in 2016 were a result of toying with how and when to use his full and advanced repertoire. The sky is the limit for Flaherty.  The obvious comp that you’ve heard and probably made yourself is to current Cardinal Adam Wainwright. I think he is more Michael Wacha than he is Waino, but it’s still the same type of pitcher.

Flaherty hasn’t pitched in a league less than 2.4 years older on average than he is. That’s incredible to me.  If such a thing as a “breakout” season can happen to a highly touted prospect, then Flaherty is who it’ll happen to.

 

John Nagel (Prospect #8 on Personal List)

Like Kyle alluded to in the beginning of his part, Flaherty really has not done much to find himself sliding down the list. It is kind of unfair, but I think it shows the strength of the Cardinals minor league system. Here is a little insight as to why I ranked him 8th.

when ranking the top pitching prospects, I would always compare two and try to predict who would have the best major league career. I compared Flaherty to Austin Gomber, Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, and Sandy Alcantara. In each case, I thought the other pitcher would go on to have a better major league career. Thus why Flaherty is ranked behind them.

With that being said, Jack Flaherty is an impressive pitching prospect. The one thing that did concern me was the lack of consistency that Kyle mentioned. However, if the August Jack Flaherty continues in 2017, he could rise up the prospect list.

For 2017, I wonder if Flaherty gets stuck behind some other rising arms and returns to Palm Beach. It appears that Sandy Alcantara could start at Double-A Springfield and there already is a long line of starters at the AAA and AA levels. The Cardinals could cut ties with a few of them to make room. If Flaherty does indeed start at Palm Beach, that is not an indictment on his future. It simply means the starting position looks like a Scottrade restroom during intermission.

I think Jack Flaherty’s ceiling is that of a #2 starter, but his floor is in the bullpen. It’s that wide range that keeps him behind Austin Gomber, who does not have quite as high of a ceiling.

 

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: Dakota Hudson
#11 Prospect: Junior Fernandez
#10 Prospect: Magneuris Sierra
#9 Prospect: Edmundo Sosa
#8 Prospect: Jack Flaherty
#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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