2014 St. Louis Cardinals

C – Carson Kelly – LoA Peoria –  19 yo;  –  (2012 – 2nd round) –
  • .248 – 6HR – 49RBi – 41R –  .326/.366/.692 slash    – PAG: 2.66
  • BA   –  MLB Pipeline-NR   –  Baseball Prospectus-NR
  • Yesterday you read in my Pirates O.A.S. post how 21 year old farmhand Wyatt Mathisen made the transition from catcher to third base in order to even out overall prospect depth in the system. For 2012 – 2nd rounder Carson Kelly, the transition was the opposite.  In 2014, the 6’2 – 200 lb. Chicago native made the switch from third base to behind the plate in 2014 and so far the results have been very positive. As a third baseman, Kelly posted PAG scores of 2.57 (2012 – Rookie Johnson City – his pro debut) and 2.49 (for Short Season State College and LoA Peoria in 2013.)  You might be thinking those PAG’s don’t really jump out at you, but Kelly has yet to log a season where he hasn’t been one of the youngest players in his respective league. Kelly repeated LoA in 2014 and the fact that he posted his highest PAG total yet is a very encouraging sign of what might come as he becomes more comfortable at his new position. He has the skills both mentally and physically to possibly see a breakout season coming soon. 
1B – Louis Voit  – HiA Palm Beach  – 23 yo;  – (2013 – 22nd round)
  • .276 – 21 2B  –  9HR –  51RBi – 57R –  .342/.442./.783 slash   – PAG: 3.18
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • To say the Cardinals minor league first base situation is mediocre at best would be a compliment.  For those who have followed the UTR trek since our beginnings (2009) with Jason Martinez over at MLBDepthCharts (now RosterResource) you already have it tatooed in your brain that Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams was a favorite of mine since his 2009 debut with Rookie Johnson City (all the way to the majors).  I tabbed Adams as the next every day first basemen even before Albert Pujols left town. Now that the Slippery Rock University draftee has cemented himself in the middle of the major league lineup, I don’t think he has to worry about any minor leaguer sneaking up on his playing time anytime soon. Voit, however, put together a nice season for HiA Palm Beach. The 6’3 – 225 lb. Voit is another positional transplant. He was a catcher for Missouri State and for Short Season State College Spikes before transitioning to 1B full-time in the 2014 season. Voit has power to spare and needs to continue working on his defense in order to successfully take his game to Double A Springfield. 
2B – Breyvic Valera  – HiA Palm Beach/AA Springfield – 22 yo;  – (2010 – International FA-VE)
  • .313 – 0HR – 57RBi – 67R – 17SB  – 40BB:35K –  .361/.367/.728  slash  –  csPAG: 2.81
  • BA-NR(2014)  –  MLB Pipeline/#18(2014)  –  BP-NR
  • Usually when Jim and I sit down to complete the pre-season “Breakout” lists, the aim is to successfully tab someone who could potentially carve out a nice career as a major leaguer and/or fantasy star. When I chose the 5’11 – 160 lb. Venezuelan as my 2014 Cardinals Breakout Prospect of the Year at MLBDepthCharts, it was crystal clear that the bating average only, multi-positional monster’s future role is of a top utility player. I chose Valera based on his skills and how they could translate within the system he plays for. However, Valera’s definitely no pushover. He possesses a career 152:151 BB-to-K ratio and led all Cardinals minor leaguers in hits with 163.  He stole 17 bases, but needs work on his base running as he also led the organization after being caught stealing 15 times. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Valera in Triple A Memphis this season or maybe as a late season sip of coffee in the majors.  
3B – Jacob Wilson – HiA Palm Beach/AA Springfield  – 23 yo;  –  (2012 – 10th round)
  • .302 –  25 2B –  5HR  –  41RBi  – 33R  –   .362/.460/.822 slash   – csPAG: 3.27
  • BA/#29(2014)  –   MLB Pipeline/#18(2014)  –  BP-“Factors on the Farm (2015)
  • The 5’11 – 195 lb. righty reminds me in a few ways of Breyvic Valera above. Both prospects carry a bat-first profile and can play several positions defensively. I love Valera and Wilson and even though the University of Memphis draftee Wilson posted more games at second than third, I wanted to use that as a way to place both hitters on the O.A.S. list. Wilson is viewed as a power hitting middle infielder as some scouts have used “Dan Uggla” comparisons. Each year as a pro, Wilson’s PAG numbers have increased. In 2012 he logged a 3.02 for Short Season Batavia. This season he posted a 3.27 PAG, but what he did in 2013 seems more indicative of what we could expect from Wilson moving forward. Across three levels  (the Arizona Fall League, LoA Peoria and HiA Palm Beach) his PAG score was 3.21. Wilson recorded 142 games, batted .302 with 30 doubles, 19 home runs, 95 RBi’s and 78 runs scored, 61 walks and 72 strikeouts. That’s an every day player in the majors in my humble opinion. Wilson is the type of player that in hindsight you’d kick yourself for not landing him in later rounds in fantasy drafts.  
SS – Edmundo Sosa  – GCL/Short Season State College –  18 yo;  –  (2012 – International FA signee/Panama)

  • .274 – 1HR – 23RBi – 37R – 8SB –  .338/.373/.710 slash   – csPAG: 3.00
  • BA/#25(2014)   –   MLB Pipeline-NR(2014)  –  BP-“On the Rise” (2015) 
  • Considered a dynamic player, the 5’11 – 170 lb. Panamanian excited the organization and fans alike in his 2013 debut in the Dominican Summer League. He posted a 47 game PAG of 3.51 batting .314 with 27 RBi’s, 33 runs scored and showed great plate discipline with 22 walks to 15 strikeouts. His sophomore season showed continued development even though his PAG decreased. He logged time in the Gulf Coast League  (52) games then a short three game stint for State College in the New York-Penn League. When you combine Sosa’s smooth defense, advanced bat and plate discipline, age/level and system competition, another substantial year of growth could help separate him from the pack making him one of, if not, the top shortstop prospects in the entire system; and eventually in all the minors. 
LF – Anthony Garcia – HiA Palm Beach –  22 yo;  –  (2009 – 18th round)  –
  •  .227  – 20 2B  –  10HR  – 44RBi  – 56R  – SB –  .320/.385/.705   – PAG: 2.73
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • My choice of Anthony Garcia is proof of the downside of UTR criteria. HiA and below is where we go to help determine the under-the-radar prospects. Yet, that doesn’t always mean a future major league candidate will always be there waiting in the wings. Garcia came to the Cardinals in 2009 and since then has never posted a PAG score of more than 3.43 (for Rookie League Johnson City; and 7 games in the Puerto Rican Winter League.) I mean, Garcia is a strong, power-first hitting outfielder, but that’s the glut of his profile. I have to be honest and say that with Tommy Pham, Mike O’Neill, Randal Grichuk and All-Star Matt Holliday ahead of the 6’0 – 180 lb. righty on the depth chart, I believe Garcia’s role could be that of organizational filler. 
CF – Magneuris Sierra – GCL Cardinals –  18 yo;   (2012 – International FA/DR) 
  • .386  – 2HR – 30RBi – 42R – 13SB  –  .434/.505/.939   – PAG: 3.90
  • BA/#10(2015)  –   MLB Pipeline-NR(2014)  –  BP/”On the Rise” (2015) 
  • When Sierra signed to play with St. Louis he was assigned to the Dominican Summer League. In 63 games, the teenaged Dominican batted .269 with 1 home run, 21 RBi’s, 44 runs scored and 15 bases. He posted a 2.87 PAG and showed above average pate discipline with 29 walks to 33 strikeouts. Not a bad debut for a wiry framed teen nearly two years younger than median league competition. Well, whatever Sierra did to prepare for his sophomore season in 2014, hitters across the land would like to know. Usually when teenaged prospects advance to the next level, they tend to struggle, but not Sierra. The 5’11 – 160 lefty exploded on the state side scene. He led the Gulf Coast League in batting (.386), runs scored (42), hits (78) and total bases (102). An aggressive player, Sierra possesses plus-plus skills across the board with power being his only below average tool. He has the goods to become the top position prospect in the entire system; and could make a serious claim to that title as early as this season. 
RF – Rowan Wick  – Short Season State College/LoA Peoria  –  21 yo;  –  (2012 – 9th round)
  • .292 – 20HR – 60RBi – 51R – 5SB –  .383/.608/.990   – csPAG: 4.15
  • BA-NR(2014)  –  MLB Pipeline/#16(2014)  –  BP-NR(2015)
  • The lefty slugging Wick is another in the line of prospects who’ve made a position switch after already turning pro. Drafted out of Cypress College (CA) as a catcher and then struggling to adjust to pro ball, the organization decided to shift the 6’3 – 220 pounder to the outfield full time; and his game erupted.  His debut in 2012 was shaky at best posting a 1.91 PAG in 21 games in the Gulf Coast League. He received a promotion to Rookie Johnson City to start 2013 and made significant improvment batting .256 with 11 doubles and his 10 home runs were tops in the Appalachian League. With Wick’s power game in check, he took it to a whole new level in 2014. He split time between Short Season State College and LoA Peoria.  Wick played in only 47% of the New York-Penn Leagues 75 games this season posting an eye-popping PAG of 5.31.  After logging only 35 games, amazingly, he ended the NYPL as the season leader in batting (.378), homers (14), on-base percentage (.475), slugging (.815), and OPS (1.290).  Of course the Canadian-born Wick saw a bit of a slow down upon his promotion to LoA Peoria logging a 3.10 PAG score. What Cardinals fans have is an exciting young slugger who could advance as quickly as his obvious power, improving defense and work-in-progress plate discipline can take him. 

 

 

Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. RHP Nick Petree – (12) SP/TPS .101
  • 23 years old – (LoA Peoria / HiA Palm Beach / Double-A Springfield)
  • 9th round – 2013
  • We end the NL Central with the most sound organization in baseball, in my opinion. Sound…not just in talent, but top to bottom in all aspects, they just get it done right. Mad respect for the Cardinals…that’s coming from a Pirates fan at heart. I always look forward to the post-season breakdown of the Cards. There’s always a pitcher in the system that I circle and keep close tabs. Most recently it was Trevor Rosenthal (2012) who I quickly drafted on my keeper team in 2013. Petree was then circled in 2013 and was my 2014 Breakout selection back in March. He zipped through 2 levels and saw a third in getting one start at Double-A Springfield in 2014. Petree went through the levels and kept his ERA below 2.00 for a majority of the season. Its all about pitchability with the right-hander, as his stuff isn’t eye-opening, but he’s able sequence his pitches to keep hitters off-balance. John Sickles at minorleagueball.com referenced Petree with the “most overpowering 89  mph fastball you’ll ever see”. He accomplishes this by using deception in his delivery.
2. LHP Jimmy Reed – (10) SP/TPS .122
  • 23 years old – (LoA Peoria / HiA Palm Beach)
  • 6th round – 2013 
  • Reed took the same path as Petree but got to make two starts at Double-A. He had a solid season though was found to be hittable in surrendering 150 hits over 138.1 innings. Displayed good control (1.8 BB9) but would like to see more strikeouts from the left-hander. Reed throws a low 90’s fastball, plus curveball, a cutter, and above-average curveball…all from a repeatable delivery.
3. RHP Alex Reyes – (9) SP/TPS .068
  • 19 years old – (LoA Peoria)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • Ranked #7 by Baseball America / #4 MLBPipeline / #4 Baseball Prospectus
  • Reyes is heads above in the organization as a top prospect. He has ace type stuff in a 97 mph fastball, a buckling curveball which once he becomes more consistent with it…it will be mind-blowing. With a pitcher like Reyes about to rocket through the system, it was no wonder that it was easy for the club to part ways with Shelby Miller. He’s still raw and needs to work out his control issues (5.0 BB9), so he has a ways to go. The Cards know how to develop pitchers, so they will be no hurry. Look for Reyes to stay at HiA Palm Beach for the 2015 season.
4. RHP Artie Reyes – (9) cSR/TPS .106 
  • 22 years old – (LoA Peoria)
  • 40th round – 2013
  • Information is limited on the last pick of the 2013 draft. Most the attention was drawn toward his Gonzaga teammate and top pick in 2013, Marco Gonzalez. Reyes drew consideration for his outstanding mechanics and delivery. He had a solid season with Peoria going 6-8 with a 3.67 ERA and striking out 104 over 122.2 innings while issuing 34 walks.
5. LHP David Oca – (7) cSR/TPS .084
  • 19 years old – (DSL Cardinals)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • Oca doesn’t have the frame for a starting pitcher, but had an outstanding season in the that role in the DSL. He had the lowest ERA while making the most starts amongst DSL Cardinal pitchers. He has a 88-91 mph fastball with life, a decent curve, and change-up. CardinalNation.com selected Oca as the top organizational pitcher in the DSL for 2014. He went 3-3 with a 2.22 ERA and a K:BB rate of 67:13 in 65 innings and could project as a solid bullpen arm.
 
 
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
 1. RHP Chris Perry – (16) RP/TPS .050
  • 23 years old – (LoA Peoria / HiA Palm Beach)
  • 17th round – 2012
  • Ranked #20 by MLBPipeline
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (May 19thMay 28th)
  • Perry came from a small college in North Carolina (Methodist College) and led all NCAA pitchers with 14.0 K9 rate in 2012. He didn’t pitch after being drafted and after starting over 2 levels in 2013, he repeated the same K9 rate in 2014,  pitching in 41  relief appearances. He garners the strikeout with the command of live low 90’s fastball which is about to become a plus pitch. With the success at HiA Palm Beach, the organization sent Perry to the Arizona Fall League, but the long season may have contributed to some control issues while there.
 2. RHP Dixon Llorens – (12) RP/TPS .050
  • 21 years old – (HiA Palm Beach / Double-A Springfield)
  • 25th round – 2012
  • UTR Mention (August 4th)
  • Michael Wacha….back in 2012 with only 11 appearances for the season, shutdown hitters working in the relief role. It appeared that the Cardinals had the makings of a future closer. This was before Trevor Rosenthal came on the scene, which then moved Wacha into the starting role. Knowing the latter at the time and prior to the 2013 season, I predicted Llorens as a breakout candidate who would someday be setting up Wacha in St. Louis. With the advent of Rosenthal, nothing has changed for Lloren, except who will follow him from the Pen.  Llorens is a hard throwing (95 mph) sidearm submarine pitcher that is moving up the organization quickly, already hitting Double-A at 21 years old. The unorthodox delivery plays-up his fastball/slide combo which hitters only managed a .167 batting average against. He did suffer with some control issues, but still struck out 80 batters in 47.2 innings.
 3. RHP Sam Tuivailala – (12) RP/TPS .053
  • 21 years old – (HiA Palm Beach / Double-A Springfield / Triple-A Memphis)
  • 3rd round – 2010
  • MLB September Call-Up
  • An improbable journey for Tuivailala….. from a third baseman who lacked any type of batting tool for a corner infielder to a power right-handed relief pitcher. The organization made the conversion over to the mound in 2012 and within 3 seasons, the 21 year old found himself making 2 appearances for the Cardinals in September. In the minors, Tuivailala recorded a system-high 97 strikeouts over 60 innings. He went on to the Arizona Fall League and led the league in saves. He throws a 97-99 fastball with consistency along with a plus curveball. There’s work to be done regarding refinement to his command and control of his heater. The system is stacked with relief arms, so there’s no hurry to rush him. But with how quickly the tide can turn for late-inning guys….Tuivailala is just a knee-jerk decision away from returning to St.Louis.
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers
 
1. RHP Alex Reyes – SP/TPS .068
  • 19 years old – (LoA Peoria)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • Ranked #7 by Baseball America / #4 MLBPipeline / #4 Baseball Prospectus
  • Reyes is heads above in the organization as a top prospect. He has ace type stuff in a 97 mph fastball, a buckling curveball which once he becomes more consistent with it…it will be mind-blowing. With a pitcher like Reyes about to rocket through the system, its no wonder it was easy for the club to part ways with Shelby Miller. He’s still raw and needs to work out his control issues (5.0 BB9), so he has a ways to go. The Cards know how to develop pitchers, so they will be no hurry. Look for Reyes stay at HiA Palm Beach for the 2015 season.
2. RHP Daniel Poncedeleon – cSR/TPS .071 
  • 23 years old – (Short-Season State College)
  • 9th round – 2014
  • Poncedeleon travelled down a path that had many twists and turns until finally taking the exit towards the Cardinals. Its a road thats too lengthy to mention here, but its worth a search online. Anyway, several teams were interested in the right-handers wares, so there’s something there and it showed at short-season State College this season. He made  12 appearances (10 starts) going 3-3 with a 2.44 ERA and striking out 52, walking 14 over 44.1 innings. Poncedeleon made two starts to help carry the Spikes to the New York-Penn League title in 2014. Some say they don’t think the 6’4″ righty can throw a straight fastball if he tried. He has a nasty sinker that ranges in the mid-90’s along with a plus slider and above-average change-up. Its a pitch mix that will move him through the system quickly….faster than it took him to find his way to the Cardinals.
3. RHP Landon Beck – cSR/TPS .072
  • 21 years old – (Appy League Johnson City)
  • 25th round – 2014
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (August 2nd, August 14th)
  • The beat goes on….as the Cards might have another upside arm in Beck. He had a successful debut season at Rookie League Johnson City. He went 1-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 51 strikeouts, 19 walks in 42.1 innings. Its more how Beck responds to the club’s development as to how high his ceiling might go. He has the projectable pitcher frame at 6’3″ 215 lbs and given that I mentioned about the relief arms in the system, this should give the right-hander opportunity to become a starter. Will his stuff play-up to that projection or will he become a solid middle relief type?
4. RHP Jack Flaherty – cSR/TPS .074
  • 18 years old – (GCL Cardinals)
  • 1st round – 2014
  • 1st round pick, but a UTR considering he was overshadowed by two other highly touted picks from Harvard-Westlake HS (Cal.) Flaherty was an underclassman when Max Fried (SD/ATL) and Lucas Giolito (Wash) where drafted in 2012. He dominated in his 22.1 innings as a pro with a 1.59 ERA in 8 appearances along with 6 starts. He has a change-up that is already a plus-plus pitch. The now 19 year-old is still very raw and will need to improve his low’s 90’s fastball, which will come along as he matures.
5. RHP Derian Gonzalez  cSR/TPS .077
  • 20 years old – (DSL Cardinals)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • Has prospect pedigree and promise of advancement. Strikeout leader amongst DSL Cardinal pitchers.
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
 1. RHP Chris Perry – RP/TPS .050
  • 23 years old – (LoA Peoria / HiA Palm Beach)
  • 17th round – 2012
  • Ranked #20 by MLBPipeline
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (May 19thMay 28th)
  • Perry came from a small college in North Carolina (Methodist College) and led all NCAA pitchers with 14.0 K9 rate in 2012. He didn’t pitch after being drafted and after starting over 2 levels in 2013, he repeated the same K9 rate in 2014 pitching in 41  relief appearances. He garners the strikeout with the command of live low 90’s fastball which is about to become a plus pitch. With the success at HiA Palm Beach, the organization sent Perry to the Arizona Fall League, but the long season may have contributed to some control issues.
 2. RHP Dixon Llorens – RP/TPS .050
  • 21 years old – (HiA Palm Beach / Double-A Springfield)
  • 25th round – 2012
  • UTR Mention (August 4th)
  • Michael Wacha….back in 2012 with only 11 appearances for the season, shutdown hitters working in the relief role. It appeared that the Cardinals had the makings of a future closer. This was before Trevor Rosenthal came on the scene, which then moved Wacha into the starting role. Knowing the latter at the time and prior to the 2013 season, I predicted Llorens as a breakout candidate who would someday be setting up Wacha in St. Louis. With the advent of Rosenthal, nothing has changed for Lloren, except who will follow him from the Pen.  Llorens is a hard throwing (95 mph) sidearm submarine pitcher that is moving up the organization quickly, already hitting Double-A at 21 years old. The unorthodox delivery plays-up his fastball/slide combo which hitters only managed a .167 batting average against. He did suffer with some control issues, but struck out 80 batters in 47.2 innings.
3. RHP Kyle Grana –  RP/TPS .050
  • 23 years old – (Short-Season State College)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • Grana had the best performance amongst all Cardinals minor league pitchers. He was apart of the best bullpen in the New York-Penn League with the State College Spikes enroute to their 2014 title. The 6’5″ 245 lb right-hander is an absolute bulldog on the mound, unleashing a mid 90’s fastball and a splitter that he combos with his breaking ball. He held opposing hitters to a .181 BA / .089 ERA in 27 appearances, pitching 40.2 innings. He led the Spikes with 62 strikeouts, 8 saves, and earned a NYPL All-Star selection. The Cardinals are very,very healthy in the farm system with loads of outstanding relief arms.
 
2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
 SP Nick Petree –  The contining development of Petree could have him joining the long list of homegrown talent for the Cardinals. Though he didn’t make the Top TPS list above, he’s has posted stable TPS rates in the past two season since being drafted. Grade A-
 
RP Fernandez Baez – Baez was placed in the starting role in 2014 with mixed results. He is a converted catcher who has only been pitching for 3 season. His first two season out of the bullpen were very strong, thus earning the UTR Breakout moniker. Upside is there, but just where he will land is the question. Grade C
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