Acquired: Draft, 2010: 1st round Compensation A, 50th overall
Jenkins was selected as the last pick in the first compensation round, a pick the Cardinals received after Joel Pineiro signed with the Angels. A four-sport athlete in high school, Jenkins also had the option to play QB at Baylor University. After signing, Jenkins made a couple of appearances at Johnson City before the end of the season. He picked back up there in 2011, and had a pretty successful season, pitching 56 innings with a 3.86 ERA, eighth in the Appalachian League, while also leading the league with an 8.84 K/9 rate. He also managed to keep his walk rate down to 5.5%, less than a fourth of his K-rate of 23.4%.
He advanced to full season A ball the next year. While he continued to strike out batters a good rate (22.3%), his walk rate jumped to 10%. That and a .336 BABIP, though down from .373 in 2011, stuck Jenkins with a 5.14 ERA. His FIP, however, remained pretty respectable at 3.47, before Jenkins missed the last month of the season to rest a strained shoulder.
This past season did not have positive results for Jenkins. While his ERA dropped to 4.74 while repeating at Single A, his K-rate dropped to 15.6% and his BB-rate remained high at 11%, bringing his FIP up about a run to 4.40. These probably were not the results the Cardinals wanted to see from a prospect repeating a level. Nonetheless, he was promoted to High-A in June after taking a couple weeks off to rest his shoulder, which he had again strained. Unfortunately his shoulder problems persisted, as he exited his third start for Palm Beach after facing one batter. He later underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.
Jenkins was drafted mostly based on his phenomenal athleticism. At 6'4" he has the height teams like to see in a starting pitcher. In addition to being a college recruit in football, and a MLB draft pick, he also played basketball and ran a 49-second quarter mile. For a high school player with so many athletic commitments, he had a pretty good feel for pitching. From the MLB Draft Tracker in 2010, "He's still a little raw on the mound, though he commands the baseball better than you'd think considering how little he's focused on the craft. He has a very high ceiling to go along with an above-average fastball, a breaking ball that's solid, and even a feel for a changeup." With a fastball in the mid-90s, a good curve, and a developing changeup, there's a lot to like here. I suspect his shoulder troubles are related to inconsistent mechanics, as he's learning how to pitch.
It's hard to know what to think of Jenkins. He seemed to be making good progress in 2012, despite the high walk rate, before struggling in 2013, and then also having shoulder surgery. The most important thing is for him to come back and pitch a healthy season, but he also needs to find consistent mechanics and lowering his walk rates and rediscovering the strikeouts he had in 2011. The best thing he has going for him is that he's still a great athlete -- BAnamed him Best Athlete in the system from 2010 to 2012, and he's still fairly young. A healthy season while showing some success at High-A would put him back on the prospect track
After shoulder surgery, I wonder if he'll start at High-A right away. It's more likely he'll make a few appearances for the Peoria Chiefs before being quickly promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals. I don't anticipate him being ready for AA before 2015.
Acquired: Draft, 2012: 1st round -- Supplemental, 51st overall
Wisdom was drafted after a down year as a Junior at St. Mary's College in California. A relatively quick sign, he got 65 games in for the Batavia Muckdogs in the NY-Penn League with good results. He hit .282, while on-basing at a .373 rate, and slugging .465.
In 2013, Wisdom was assigned to full season A-Ball, where he had mixed results. His power was still there, but his average plummeted to .231. With a good walk rate he posted a .312 OBP before being promoted to High-A for the last month of the season. He had a similar set of results there, posting a .250/.317/.359 line over 102 PAs in 25 games.
Wisdom is a power hitter with contact issues. From his draft report in 2012, "Wisdom has shown the ability to hit the ball out to all fields when he makes contact. He has plus power to the pull side. The issue is that he hasn't been able to show an ability to make consistent contact to tap into that strength."
So far, his professional numbers have backed up that assessment, as he has struck out over 20% of the time as a pro at every level, with an ISO of .180 in the Midwest League (his largest sample size).
Defensively, Wisdom is solid. He's not an elite defender necessarily, but he has good hands, a strong arm, and quick enough feet to field the position without issues. He'll have no problems sticking at third in the majors, should he advance that far, and has the potential to be a plus defender.
I think a lot of prospect watchers got too optimistic about Wisdom following his showing in Batavia. He posted good numbers there, but they're the numbers you'd expect from an early pick coming off his junior year at a four-year college. Additionally, he benefited from a .346 BABIP in what amounts to a bit less than a half-season's worth of PAs.
Wisdom's power is real enough, and he draws a very healthy, if unremarkable, amount of walks. That might be enough to keep pushing him through the system, but contact will always be an issue for him to the point that he'll struggle to get above average on-base percentages despite that solid walk rate.
Wisdom will start at third for the Palm Beach Cardinals this year. His power rates will likely be down, as Palm Beach is typically a dead zone for home runs. His contact rates will likely determine his success there and whether or not he moves up to the AA Texas League, which shouldn't happen until late in the year, if at all.