The Salt River Rafters' Cardinals

A look at the Arizona Fall League and its Cardinals' contributors.

After a good dose of Stephen Piscotty yesterday, it seems worth checking in on the Arizona Fall league class as a whole.  The Cardinals sent a mix of guys who needed additional coaching and fast movers this year with the outfielders leading the way.

Anthony Ferrara, LHP

Ferrara's been around since 2008 so he is by no means new to the organization. His presence in Arizona was representative of two things (1) the Cardinals were getting a better look at him as a reliever and (2) his days with the organization are coming to an end. Ferrara is lefty with moderate velocity who will touch 92 but sits 88-90mph. He's never been able to display sufficient command to indicate he could advance to the majors but has hung around in rotations for years. He pitched exclusively out of the pen in Arizona for 7.1 innings and allowed 7 walks while striking out 8. If there's a place in the bullpen of either Springfield or Memphis in 2014, Ferrara could hold on for another season but that's about it.

Sam Gaviglio, RHP

Gaviglio was a 2011 draftee who looked like he'd be on the slow but steady promotion path. Imagine him as Joe Kelly with less velocity but far better control. Gaviglio has a heavy sinker that is his bread and butter but he's got the repertoire to generate strikeouts as well. The whole package is a back of the rotation guy with some upside and one of those classically dependable but underwhelming type starters. Gaviglio's 2013 was cut short from injury so he found himself in Arizona. He started 6 games and pitched 27.2 innings. With 21 strikeouts against 8 walks, he was reasonably effective again displaying the dominant groundball results that will propel him to the majors in some capacity. Gaviglio is overshadowed by the high octane starters but he's part of the incredible depth the Cardinals have built in the minors. Expect to see him in Springfield next year.

Dean Kiekhefer, LHP

A lefty reliever that split his time between Palm Beach and Springfield in 2013, Kiekhefer has good control but lacks the strikeout stuff you'd like to see from someone who is confined to the bullpen. He's been with the team since 2010 and has progressed slowly. He pitched 9.2 innings of relief in Arizona with a 6:3 strikeout to walk ratio. Like Ferrara, Kiekhefer is a long shot to be a major league contributor barring an unforeseen advance in his repertoire. He could get some play in the majors should something go wrong (Sam Freeman keeps racking up major league innings) but his future isn't likely to be as a staple of the bullpen.

Lee Stoppelman, LHP

Stoppelman is a home grown Randy Choate. With a low three quarters arm slot, he's death on lefties and he's got the juice to not be embarrassed against right handers as well. Stoppelman was a workhorse in 2013 crossing three levels of baseball from High A to Double A to a couple innings in Triple A. He accumulated 78 strikeouts in 66 innings and was the Springfield closer for a period of time.  Stoppelman's control is usually solid but he struggled in Arizona walking 9 in 9.1 innings against 12 strikeouts. Stoppelman is likely to be a LOOGy in the majors and he'll be a flyball pitcher as well. He won't have the velocity of Kevin Siegrist but the pitching motion will give him a plenty long shelf life against lefties. Tyler Lyons and John Gast might have the first claim on third lefty (after Choate and Siegrist) but Stoppelman will get a chance in someone's bullpen soon.

Jacob Wilson, 2B

Wilson is an odd profile for a middle infielder. He's not a big guy at 5'11" and 180lbs but he brings real power to a position known for gamers and grinders. Wilson was named the 2012 Conference USA player of the year -- a conference the Cardinals are know to keep an eye on. In 2013, Wilson excelled in Peoria before struggling at Palm Beach in the last quarter of the minor league season. With an ISO around .170 in his professional career, he's got the pop in his bat to stick around for a while. He'll need to show the ability to hit for average like he did in Arizona posting a .304/.373/.413 slash line. Wilson isn't a sure thing to reach the majors but his skillset isn't often found at 2B. He's still at least 2 years away from the majors so Kolten Wong needn't look over his shoulder yet.

Stephen Piscotty, RF

Piscotty was the highlight of the Arizona delegation for the Cardinals. Posting a top-10 OPS in the league this fall, Piscotty hit .371/.430/.506. That's surely inflated by good luck but Piscotty is one of those hitters who (like Allen Craig and Matt Holliday) hits an inordinate number of powerful line drives. What's interesting to hear this year is how great Piscotty's arm has adapted to the outfield. After being moved off 3rd base, that makes him a candidate for either corner position and provides some versatility that other "bat" prospects lack. If the nature of Piscotty's hitting is underrated for being so consistently good but not flashy, his defense is as likely to surprise. While he could contribute as early as next year to the majors, 2015 is a more realistic plan. The Cardinals have been and will continue to be aggressive with his promotion as he comes up through the minors.

James Ramsey, CF

Ramsey was off to a hot start in 2013 at Palm Beach before a quick promotion to Springfield that dampened his offensive output. His centerfield defense was steady and reliable though he's unlikely to be a great defender he profiles as better than average. Ramsey was drafted, in part, for his character, which wowed Cardinals brass and quickly made converts out of those who would otherwise be underwhelmed by his raw athleticism.  In Arizona, he continued to hit along the lines of his 2013 performance with a .246/.384/.435 line for the season. Like Piscotty, Ramsey could continue in 2014 but that's more of a "something has gone wrong" scenario as opposed to something going right. His time in Arizona did nothing to dampen his prospect ranking though.

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