The Cardinals had the top farm system one year ago. The system is now downgraded a bit by the graduation of players like Kolten Wong, Carlos Martinez, and Michael Wacha. Still, the minor leagues feature a number of talented players who could contribute to the big league club soon. Below is a report on the team’s top prospects which includes statistics accumulated through games played yesterday. Links to the top scouting publications for each player are also provided.
Legend: BA = Baseball America, MLB = Major League Baseball Website, BP = Baseball Prospectus, KL = Keith Law of ESPN, JS = John Sickels, VEB = Viva El Birdos (outsider rankings are from the beginning of the season)
#1 - Oscar Taveras, OF (Rated #3 by BA, #3 by MLB, #3 by BP, #1 on Team by JS, #1 on Team by VEB)
Last Season: 46G, 186 PA, 5 HR, 25 R, 32 RBI, 5 SB, .306 AVG, .341 OBP, .462 SLUG (AAA)
This Season (April 10): 7 G, 28 PA, 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI, 3.6% BB Rate, 21.4% K Rate, .192 AVG, .250 OBP, .462 SLUG (AAA)
This Season (April 22): 18 G, 73 PA, 3 HR, 12 R, 12 RBI, 6.8% BB Rate, 13.7% K Rate, .299 AVG, .356 OBP, .493 SLUG (AAA)
This Season (May 2): 25 G, 103 PA, 5 HR, 15 R, 18 RBI, 1 SB, 6.8% BB Rate, 11.7% K Rate, .316 AVG, .369 OBP, .526 SLUG
This Season (Current): 39 G, 166 PA, 6 HR, 25 R, 31 RBI, 1 SB, 7.2% BB Rate, 13.3% K Rate, .289 AVG, .343 SLUG, .493 SLUG
Trending: Sme. Taveras started the year rough as evidenced by his April 10 stats, but since then has returned to his normal hitting self. The high point of the season for Taveras was early May, since that time he has cooled off a bit, but his stats are still extraordinarily impressive for a 21 year-old playing in AAA.
Notes: The only thing that has been able to slow down Oscar Taveras ascension up the Cardinals’ system has been a high ankle sprain which has robbed him of most of last year. When he has played Taveras has put up excellent numbers for a 21 year-old at the AAA level. This year Taveras has struggled to make consistent contact, but when he has made contact the ball has gone far. Rumors of Stephen Piscotty taking over Taveras as the top prospect are overrated for now. Give him time and, assuming health, Taveras will hit.
#2 - Stephen Piscotty, 3B, OF (Rated #70 prospect by BA, #66 by BP, #57 by KL, #97 by MLB, #4 on Team by JS, #10 by BA, #3 by VEB)
Last Season: 49 G, 207 PA, 6 HR, 17 R, 24 RBI, 7 SB, 9.2% BB Rate, 9.2% K Rate, .299 AVG, .364 OBP, .446 SLUG (AA)
This Season (April 10): 6 G, 27 PA, 0 HR, 5 R, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 7.4% BB Rate, 18.5% K Rate, .375 AVG, .444 OBP, .458 SLUG (AAA)
This Season (April 22): 17 G, 69 PA, 2 HR, 9 R, 10 RBI, 2 SB, 5.8% BB Rate, 14.5% K Rate, .328 AVG, .377 OBP, .484 SLUG (AAA)
This Season (May 2): 26 G, 104 PA, 2 HR, 13 R, 15 RBI, 3 SB, 3.8% BB Rate, 14.4% K Rate, .293 AVG, .327 OBP, .424 SLUG (AAA)
This Seasons (Current): 41 G, 169 PA, 4 HR, 23 R, 25 RBI, 5 SB, 4.7% BB Rate, 14.8% K Rate, .296 AVG, .337 OBP, .440 SLUG (AAA)
Trending: Up. Piscotty has rebounded in May after slumping a bit through late April. Pistcotty lacks Taveras power, and it would be nice to see his BB rate go up, but Piscotty is still a solid hitting prospect as evidenced by his AAA numbers so far this season.
Notes: Piscotty was drafted out of Stanford in the first round of the Cardinals 2012 draft. Piscotty was seen as an advanced hitter, but there were questions about the power. Piscotty displayed power in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, and earned a promotion to AA just a year after being drafted. He hit well at AA and then had an excellent Spring Training. Piscotty has raked so far in AAA this year, and it now is an open question as to which prospect will get the call should the big league club need some more offense.
#3 – Alexander Reyes – RHP (Rated #97 prospect by BP, #5 prospect on team by JS, #4 prospect on team by VEB)
Last Season: 6 W, 4 L, 12 G, 12 GS, 58.1 IP, 10.49 K/9 IP, 4.32 BB/9 IP, 3.39 ERA, 2.74 FIP (R)
This Season (April 10): 1 W, 0 L, 1 G, 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 10.8 K/9 IP, 12.60 BB/9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5.00 FIP (A)
This Season (April 22): 1 W, 0 L, 3 G, 3 GS, 12.1 IP, 11.68 K/9 IP, 9.49 BB/9 IP, 2.19 ERA, 4.09 FIP (A)
This Season (May 2): 2 W, 0 L, 4 G, 4 GS, 17.1 IP, 12.46 K/9 IP, 7.27 BB/9 IP, 2.60 ERA, 4.01 FIP (A)
This Season (Current): 3 W, 1 L, 6 G, 6 GS, 29.1 IP, 11.97 K/9 IP, 6.14 BB/9 IP, 2.45 ERA, 3.53 FIP (A)
Trending: Same. Reyes has demonstrated his dominant stuff with a high K-rate, but unfortunately it has been accompanied by an unacceptably high BB-rate. Reyes best start was May 5 when he pitched six innings, struck out eight, and walked two while giving up only one earned run on five hits. Reyes returned to his wild ways on May 13, walking four over six innings but escaping to give up only two earned runs with seven strikeouts.
Notes: Reyes could very well be the next “steal” of the Cardinals from the Dominican Republic. The Cardinals signed Reyes for $950,000 in December of 2012. Reyes grew up in the United States, but moved to the Dominican so he could sign at earlier age. The Cardinals took advantage by giving him the equivalent of first round money for a Dominican player. Reyes reportedly features a fastball that sits in the mid 90’s and is well developed relative to other Dominican pitchers. His first four professional games have featured a very high strikeout rate, but also an unacceptably high walk rate. In his only start of this year Reyes managed to walk seven hitters, but also strike out six while giving up no runs. Despite the dearth of numbers, his potential gets him on this list.
#4 – Aledmys Diaz – SS (Unrated by an publications as he was just signed this Spring Training)
Last Season: No stats
This Season (April 10): 6 G, 19 PA, 0 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI, 0.0% BB Rate, 26.3% K Rate, .412 AVG, .389 OBP, .647 SLUG (AA)
This Season (April 22): 15 G, 59 PA, 2 HR, 5 R, 13 RBI, 2 SB, 1.7% BB Rate, 22.0% K Rate, .296 AVG, .316 OBP, .519 SLUG (AA)
This Season (May 2): 20 G, 80 PA, 3 HR, 8 R, 16 RBI, 4 SB, 1.3% BB Rate, 23.8% K Rate, .307 AVG, .321 OBP, .520 SLUG (AA)
This Season (Current): 20 G, 80 PA, 3 HR, 8 R, 16 RBI, 4 SB, 1.3% BB Rate, 23.8% K Rate, .307 AVG, .321 OBP, .520 SLUG (AA)
Trending: Same. Diaz has demonstrated some power, but the BB-rate is too low accompanied by a fairly high K-rate to bring down his OBP. He is getting away with it at AA but it is hard to see him sustaining it over the long-term against more advanced pitchers. Diaz was placed on the disabled list with a back strain on April 29, and has not returned to action since.
Notes: Yes, it is very early and the sample size is unbelievable small. Having said that, Diaz has done nothing but impress in his very short time in professional USA baseball. The Cuban defector was signed to a 4-year, $8 million contract in March by the team. Little was known of Diaz at the time of the signing. Some reports had him as a regular Major League player who would provide average to above-average offense at shortstop. Other reports had Diaz as utility player whose range would not play at shortstop and whose offense would be below average at other positions. Reports on his defense in Springfield have been positive, and he is clearly not struggling with AA pitching so far.
#5 – Robert Kaminsky, LHP (#100 by KL, #4 on team by MLB, #7 on team by JS, #7 on team by VEB)
Last Season: 0 W, 3 L, 8 G, 5 GS, 22.0 IP, 11.45 K/9 IP, 3.68 BB/9 IP, 3.68 ERA, 2.61 FIP
This Season (Current): 0 W, 1 L, 3 G, 3 GS, 13.2 IP, 6.59 K/9 IP, 5.27 BB/9 IP, 2.63 ERA, 3.89 FIP (A)
Trending: Same. Kaminsky pitched well in his short time in pro ball last year. This year Kaminsky will try to push up the single-A levels. At his age (19) anything above A- will be a huge accomplishment for Kaminsky. So far, Kaminsky has put up respectable numbers in A, especially given his age.
Notes: Kaminsky earns a spot on the top 10 thanks to reports on his repertoire, which includes a fastball which sits at around 92 MPH and the most developed breaking ball of all high school left-handers. If Kaminsky were three inches taller (he is 5’11”), he may have been a top 10 draft choice. Instead, the Cardinals drafted him in the first round, number 28 overall. Kaminskly does not have the floor of fellow first rounder Marcos Gonzales (see below), but he has a much higher ceiling. Stay tuned.
#6 – Marco Gonzales, LHP (#6 on team by JS, #6 on team by VEB, #5 on team by MLB)
Last Season: 0 W, 0 L, 4 G, 4 GS, 16.2 IP, 7.02 K/9 IP, 2.7 BB/9 IP, 1.62 ERA, 3.32 FIP (A+)
This Season (April 10): 1 W, 0 L, 5.0 IP, 12.6 K/9 IP, 0.00 BB/9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.40 FIP (A+)
This Season (April 22): 1 W, 1 L, 2 G, 2 GS, 11.2 IP, 9.26 K/9 IP, 2.31 BB/9 IP, 2.31 ERA, 1.95 FIP (A+)
This Season (May 2): 1 W, 1 L, 4 G, 4 GS, 23.2 IP, 8.75 K/9 IP, 2.28 BB/9 IP, 1.90 ERA, 2.77 FIP (A+)
This Season (Current): 2 W, 2 L, 6 G, 6 GS, 37.2 IP, 7.65 K/9 IP, 1.91 BB/9 IP, 1.43 ERA, 2.51 FIP (A+)
0 W, 0 L, 1 G, 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 9.00 K/9 IP, 3.60 BB/9 IP, 1.80 ERA, 2.24 FIP (AA)
Trending: Up. Gonzalez has been promoted to AA after dominating A+ early this year. His first AA start was respectable enough. Gonzalez is now zooming up the system juts a year after being drafted, and could be the left-handed version of Michael Wacha (though he lacks Wacha's velocity)
Notes: Gonzales does not have Kaminsky’s stuff, as his fastball reportedly sits in the high 80’s. Still, Gonzales features the best changeup from the 2013 draft, a pitch that reportedly has great arm action and moves like screwball. Some scouting reports said Gonzales was the most developed college arm in the draft. Gonzales does not have a high ceiling, but he is a good bet to be at least a back of rotation starter should he stay healthy.
#7 – Randal Grichuk (#9 team prospect by JS, #8 team prospect by VEB)
Last Season: 128 G, 542 PA, 22 HR, 85 R, 64 RBI, 9 SB, 5.2% BB Rate, 17.0% K Rate, .256 AVG, .306 OBP, .474 SLUG (AA)
This Season (April 10): 6 G, 28 PA, 1 HR, 8 R, 5 RBI, 0 SB, 7.1% BB Rate, 21.4% K Rate, .308 AVG, .357 OBP, .500 SLUG
This Season (April 22): 17 G, 77 PA, 3 HR, 15 R, 17 RBI, 1 SB, 7.8% BB Rate, 20.8% K Rate, .357 AVG, .403 OBP, .629 SLUG (AAA)
This Season (May 2): 21 G, 94 PA, 3 HR, 16 R, 17 RBI, 1 SB, 6.4% BB Rate, 18.1% K Rate, .310 AVG, .351 OBP, .529 SLUG (AAA)
3 G, 7 PA, 0 HR, 0 R, 0 RBI, 0.0% BB Rate, 57.1% K Rate, .143 AVG, .143 OBP, .143 SLUG (MLB)
This Season (Current): 30 G, 134 PA, 8 HR, 27 R, 26 RBI, 2 SB, 8.2% BB Rate, 20.1% K Rate, .328 AVG, .381 OBP, .623 SLUG (AAA)
9 G, 22 PA, 0 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 4.5% BB Rate, 31.8% K Rate, .143 AVG, .182 OBP, .286 SLUG (MLB)
Trending: Up. The question going into the season was whether Grichuk could display discipline and keep his average up since he struggled to make consistent contact before. Grichuk has proven that he can handle AAA pitching especially after being sent back down to Memphis May 8. The question now is whether Grichuk will learn to hit at the MLB level, where pitchers largely owned him with breaking balls in the strike zone and fastballs outside of it.
Notes: Grichuk was part of the compensation in exchange for sending David Freese to the Angels in the offseason. Many were surprised that the Angels were willing to part with Grichuk in addition to giving up Peter Bourjos. Grichuk has great power, but has struggled to make consistent contact through his career with an excessively high K rate. Following form, early this year Grichuk has shown off some power, but also struck out at a high rate which may eventually catch up with him.
#8 – Tim Cooney, LHP (Rated #10 prospect on team by MLB, #8 prospect on team by JS, #5 prospect on team by VEB)
Last Season: 7 W , 10 L, 20 G, 20 GS, 118.1 IP, 9.51 K/9 IP, 1.37 BB/9 IP, 3.80 ERA, 2.47 FIP (AA)
This Season (April 10): 1 W, 0 L, 1 G, 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 13.5 K/9 IP, 1.50 BB/9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP (AAA)
This Season (April 22): 3 W, 0 L, 4 G, 3 GS, 23.2 IP, 7.61 K/9 IP, 2.66 BB/9 IP, 2.28 ERA, 4.33 FIP (AAA)
This Season (May 2): 3 W, 1 L, 6 G, 6 GS, 35.2 IP, 7.57 K/9 IP, 2.27 BB/9 IP, 3.28 ERA, 4.67 FIP (AAA)
This Season (Current): 4 W, 3 L, 9 G, 9 GS, 53.0 IP, 6.79 K/9 IP, 3.40 BB/9 IP, 3.74 ERA, 5.64 FIP (AAA)
Trending: Down. Since an outstanding start to the season Cooney has cooled down with a few bad starts to increase his ERA. Cooney's K rate is now pedestrian, and his walk rate has gone up, all of which adds up to a very high FIP.
Notes: Cooney does not have the stuff of the pitchers ranked above him. His fastball reportedly sits in the 89-92 MPH range. He compliments that with a curveball, slider, and changeup, all of which are average to above average. The key to his success has been location and a great deal of skill in mixing up his pitches to keep hitter off balance. So far it is working, and if he continues to perform he will get a chance to prove it works at the highest level.
#9 – James Ramsey (Rated #7 Team Prospect by MLB, #11 team prospect by JS, #11 team prospect by VEB)
Last Season: 93 G, 416 PA, 15 HR, 61 R, 44 RBI, 8 SB, 12.7% BB Rate, 26.0% K Rate, .251 AVG, .356 OBP, .424 SLUG
This Season (April 10): 6 G, 24 PA, 1 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 12.5% BB Rate, 12.5% K Rate, .476 AVG, .542 OBP, .762 SLUG (AA)
This Season (April 22): 17 G, 74 PA, 5 HR, 14 R, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 9.5% BB Rate, 24.3% K Rate, .359 AVG, .446 OBP, .672 SLUG
This Season (May 2): 26 G, 115 PA, 6 HR, 22 R, 17 RBI, 2 SB, 11.3% BB Rate, 20.9% K Rate, .313 AVG, .409 OBP, .545 SLUG
This Season (Current): 40 G, 173 PA, 11 HR, 34 R, 28 RBI, 2 SB, 11.0% BB Raate, 19.1% K Rate, .305 AVG, .393 OBP, .583 SLUG (AA)
Trending: Up. After seeing his numbers go down in late April Ramsey has bounced back. It is clear now that Ramsey has little to nothing to learn in AA, and he may be in line for a promotion if one of the Grichuk, Taveras, Piscotty trio can ever managed to get promoted from AAA.
Notes: Ramsey was a controversial pick among some Cardinals analysts when he was drafted in the first round in 2012. Many believed Ramsey, who was drafted as a senior out of college, had limited potential and at best projected as a Skip Schumaker type of player. While it is very early, Ramsey has thus far been a success, rising to the AA level. Ramsey best tools is likely his ability to hit and play centerfield, but it is believed his other tools (power, speed, arm) are just average to above-average for his position. The bad news for Ramsey is that he is blocked by the trio of Taveras, Grichuk, and Piscotty at the AAA level.
#10 - Carson Kelly, C (Rated #9 Team Prospect by MLB, #12 by JS, #9 by BA, #13 by FR)
Season: 43 G, 168 PA, 2 HR, 18 R, 13 RBI, 7.7% BB Rate, 14.9% K Rate, .219 AVG, .288 OBP, .301 SLUG (A)
This Season (April 10): 5 G, 22 PA, 0 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, 9.1% BB Rate, 18.2% K Rate, .300 AVG, .364 OBP, .450 SLUG (A)
This Season (April 22): 13 G, 59 PA, 2 HR, 11 R, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 8.5% BB Rate, 6.8% K Rate, .294 AVG, .356 OBP, .549 SLUG (A)
This Season (May 2): 19 G, 84 PA, 2 HR, 13 R, 13 RBI, 1 SB, 7.1% BB rate, 7.1% K Rate, .243 AVG, .298 OBP, .419 SLUG (A)
This Season (Current): 32 G, 145 PA, 2 HR, 19 R, 19 RBI, 1 SB, 6.9% BB Rate, 10.3 % K Rate, .234 AVG, .299 OBP, .367 SLUG (A)
Trending: Down. Kelly was converted to catcher this year and so far has hit well at single-A. If he can stick at catcher and put up those numbers he will move up this list quickly. After a hot start to the season Kelly is struggling to make hard contact, but his low K-rate is very encouraging.
Notes: Kelly was drafted as the player with perhaps the highest ceiling from a 2012 draft that included Michael Wacha. The team was thrilled to lure Kelly away from a commitment to Oregon with a $1.6 million signing bonus. Kelly was two-way player who featured a fastball in the low 90’s and impressive power as a hitter. Early on Kelly’s power has failed to show up, but he is still just 20 years old which is quite young for the single-A level he is playing at. This year the team converted Kelly to catcher and the reports on his receiving and throwing ability in Spring Training were positive. If he can hit at all this year Kelly could zoom up the list.