Every September, the United Cardinal Bloggers run their top 7 Cardinal Prospects; they were due last week and I completely forgot. So, rather than missing out, here are my Top 7.
I looked at their numbers and went with my gut on the rankings. These could be completely different when I analyze the system over the winter and rank my top 50.
Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver would obviously be 1 and 2 if I included them. Reyes is on the edge of eligibility right now and Weaver is close also. They might be included in the 2017 list based off how much more they pitch.
1. Harrison Bader, OF – From drafted in 2015 to Triple A in 2016, Bader has been on the move. He did struggle slightly at Memphis, but that should be expected for a 4th round draft pick that made it that far in little over a year. He’ll get another shot at the level next season (after a stop in the Arizona Fall League) and I think he could force himself into MLB consideration by the end of the season.
2. Junior Fernandez, RHP – Fernandez reminds me of the Alex Reyes profile; triple digit heat with control problems. Those control problems come from his secondary pitches – a changeup with good feel, and a slider with tight spin. The development of those secondary pitches will determine his future role as a pitcher. After splitting the year between the A Levels, I think he’ll spend most of next season in Springfield.
3. Delvin Perez, SS – Perez was a top 5 pick prior to failing a PED test, which caused his stock to drop. He fell to #23 overall when the Cardinals took a gamble. He’s a toolsy shortstop that will stick at the position in the long run; he’s got the speed, arm, and glove to stick. The question is his bat. He did well in his debut, but cooled off quickly after a hot start. He’ll probably never hit for power but shows enough to get extra bases. Perez will probably start next year in Short Season ball, but could end up in Peoria.
4. Jack Flaherty, RHP – While his record didn’t show how good he was in Hi A this season, his other numbers were solid. He struck out just under a batter an inning, held opposing batters to a .254 average, and a 3.56 ERA. All solid numbers. He sports an average fastball, a plus change, and a developing slider and curve. If the slider or curve gets to the average level, he’s got #2-3 starter spot for the Cardinals. Flaherty will see time in Double A in 2017.
5. Carson Kelly, C – Finally, Kelly took a step forward. The converted third baseman looks like a natural behind the plate; he works with pitchers well, frames pitches, and runs out baserunners. His bat might not develop like the Cardinals hoped; he doesn’t show the power that was considered a raw plus when drafted. The good news is he’s hitting for a decent average and getting on base. I expect he’ll be return to Memphis for a full season and could see some backup time to Yadier Molina if Brayan Pena has more problems staying healthy.
6. Magneuris Sierra, OF – After struggling with full season baseball in 2015, Sierra looked a little more comfortable at Peoria in 2016. Right now, his calling card is his speed; he stole 31 bases this season. It’s also good enough to keep him in center. The question will be his power; can he develop in game power and put a few balls out of the park? He hasn’t shown it yet, but he’s still young. Palm Beach looks like his next destination.
7. Edmundo Sosa, SS – Before Perez makes it to the show, Sosa should have his chance. He’s a glove first defender who’s still a work in progress with the bat. His season was up and down during his first taste of full season ball; he got extra bases on almost 20% of his hits, but he only had 20 walks in 385 at bats. He won’t have much long-ball power, but he’ll be able to get doubles. He’ll move to Palm Beach next season (after a cameo this year), and could possibly end the year in Springfield.
And just to round out a top 10…
HM: Sandy Alcantara, RHP; Dakota Hudson, RHP; Nick Plummer, OF