Baseball

Top 35 Prospects: St. Louis Cardinals

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the St. Louis Cardinals. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been meaningfully altered begin by telling you so. Each blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report if there were any. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside of a given org than those within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there, and the context of that data, in my opinion, reduces how meaningful it is. Lastly, in an effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both on my lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher.

For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of Future Value’s merits and drawbacks, read Future Value.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here.

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Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Catching Depth
Julio Rodriguez, C
Pedro Pages, C

Rodriguez, 23, has some power and arm strength, and aside from a bad 2018, he’s always performed. He missed 2021 spring with a wrist injury. Pages, 22, is similar but faces an uphill climb as far as visual evaluations are concerned because he’s closer to Alejandro Kirk on the physical spectrum. Both of these guys have good minor league stat lines.

Young Arm Strength Fliers
Levi Prater, LHP
Luis Ortiz, RHP
Logan Gragg, RHP
Yordy Richard, RHP
Alvaro Seijas, RHP
Luis Tena, RHP
Nathanael Heredia, LHP
Leonardo Taveras, RHP
Tyler Statler, RHP

Had the Cardinals had instructs, a couple of these guys probably would have shown enough improvement to be on the main section of the list. Alas, they did not. Prater is a super loose, athletic lefty drafted late during the shortened 2020 affair. He sat just 88-92 in 2020 but has great breaking ball and changeup command. If you think his looseness is a sign he’ll throw harder, he could break out in 2021. Seijas and Taveras are the oldest names in this group (they’re 22). Seijas gets up to 97 and has a good changeup, but for last year’s list I also spoke with someone who saw him sit 90-92. He has relief projection if the velo can settle into the 94-plus area. Taveras has a live arm (up to 98), and he’s somewhat projectable at 6-foot-5. His mechanical inconsistency impacts his control and breaking ball quality. He also has relief ceiling. Ortiz, 20, is the most projectable of the group at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds. He was up to 94 with lots of spin and some curveball feel in 2019. Gragg’s velo was up after he was the Card’s eighth rounder in 2019. He’s 92-94, touching 95, with a slider that could use some tweaking. Yordy Richard is only 18 and up to 94 with an advanced changeup. His frame is a little more stout. Tena’s is, too. He’s 21 and has been up to 96, though the secondaries are fringy. Heredia is 19, projectable, and up to 95; the delivery is a little less good than others here. Statler is purely a physical projection lottery ticket. He’s a very wiry 6-foot-6, and up to 93 with a sinker.

Various Kinds of UTM (Up The Middle) Bats
Chandler Redmond, 2B
Franklin Soto, SS
Albert Inoa, 2B
Nick Dunn, 2B
Joerlin De Los Santos, CF
Ramon Mendoza, 2B

Redmond is a huge guy with huge power who is in the Muncy/Shaw non-traditional second base mold. Go peep his 2019 Appy League line. His exit velos from that year are obviously sky-high. Soto, 21, has plus bat speed and a good build, but his in-the-box footwork is rough right now. Inoa, 19, is a contact-oriented second baseman with a medium build and some speed. Dunn also has contact skills, but he’s a 40 athlete who needs to perform, and he didn’t last year. Mendoza is similar but a few levels behind Dunn. De Los Santos lacks physical projection but is twitchy and athletic.

Conversion Arms and Older Dudes
Ben Baird, RHP
Edgar Escobar, RHP
Evan Kruczynski, LHP
Angel Rondon, RHP
Mitchell Osnowitz, RHP

Escobar is 23, and has a swing-and-miss heater up to 96 and an average slider. Kruczynski’s velo and command backed up in 2019 but I liked him as a four-pitch, No. 5-7 starter before that happened. He’s now at the alt site. Rondon is also an arm strength-only relief type who shoved at the Cards’ alt site last year. His velo was back down in the low-90s this spring. Osnowitz is 29 but might pitch in the big leagues. He’s up to 98 with other bat-missing fastball traits (backspin, mostly). Baird was a 2015 Perfect Game All-American as a position player. He was into the mid-90s early during his 2019 conversion but that’s all we know at this point.

System Overview

My geographic proximity (or lack thereof) to Southeast Florida and all of the Cardinals’ affiliates makes their org one of the toughest for me to write up every year. But because they didn’t have instructs and many of their alt site players either appeared in the big leagues or were 2020 draftees, they were actually one of the easier teams to do this year. It also means they’ll likely have among the most volatile and active in-season updates since that whole group of young pitchers in the honorable mention section will be seen for the first time in a while, some of them for the first time in the States.

Note that this org seems to be zigging while everyone else zags on fastball shape. The org is full of sinker-oriented guys rather than ones with cut and carry; that they dealt Zac Gallen is further evidence of this. In the draft room, the Cardinals have been able to snag falling, high-profile high schoolers a couple of times over the last few years. Nolan Gorman unexpectedly fell into their laps after a bad senior spring; Jordan Walker did too, and Masyn Winn’s stock was likely impacted because he didn’t really pitch during his pre-draft summer. When it comes to the trajectory of a player’s multi-year, pre-draft narrative, it can be tough to decide what you should classify as recency bias and what you should classify as actual skill progression or regression. I think it’s clear this org is more apt to look at a player’s bigger picture in the draft room than they are to extrapolate performance.

Scouting Director Randy Flores was at Chase Silseth’s start last Thursday, for you mock draft nerds. This year’s mocks are going to be really tough because masks make it harder to recognize executives, but ex-big leaguers stand out.

We don’t know much about St. Louis’ pro scouting because they’ve been so consistently competitive for the last long while that they’ve not had to rebuild. Any of the prospects they’ve acquired from other clubs have typically been a part of larger trades. They have whiffed on some internal assessments, though (Luke Voit, Randy Arozarena, arguably Gallen).

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