Cardinals Minor League Preview: State College Spikes

Short season baseball is now in full swing, so here's a list of players to keep an eye on when combing over boxscores or Daily Farm Reports from the Cardinals' Penn League affiliate.

Position Players:

Rowan Wick, OF

This seems quite obvious after his first 11 games of 2014 in which he's hitting .361/.465/.972 with 7 home runs (the next best team in the Penn League heading into play yesterday had 7 home runs). Wick was a ninth round selection out of British Columbia in 2012 as a catcher, but moved out from behind the plate at the tail end of last season with Johnson City and will be a right fielder going forward and is agile enough with a cannon arm that he can likely be at least average if a not a tick above defensively.

His biggest attribute is obviously his bat, and he's got plenty of power from the left side as well as a good approach at the plate, walking 30 times in 207 PA's last year in the Appy League. Wick turns 22 in November, so he's age appropriate for league currently but if he continues on this tear he'll be in Peoria or Palm Beach in short order.

Ronnierd Garcia, 3B

Garcia had a quick cup of coffee with Peoria before the Penn League started up, and I got to see him on MiLB.tv during a series against the Quad Cities a few weeks back.  Looks quite a bit like a young Jhonny Peralta, honestly, but doesn't have the range to play SS. Nimble feet and a good throwing arm make him a prime candidate to stick at the third base position.

Signed out of Venezuela as a teenager, where the Cardinals are more and more active each and every season, Garcia is entering his third season stateside, putting up a .286/.362/.442 line in 261 PA's with Johnson City last year.  In a system seemingly bereft of corner infield talent, Garcia could move as quick as his bat allows.

Adam Ehrlich, C

A 6th round selection out of high school back in 2011, Ehrlich looked like a promising prospect after putting up a .329/.404/.409 line across two rookie levels in 2012 before injuries limited him to just 14 games a year ago. Now fully healthy, the 21 year old will start out in the Penn League and hopefully be able to recapture that stroke he had a couple of years back.

I've yet to see him play, but scouts love his defense behind the dish and he joins Steve Bean as another left handed hitting catcher...and left handed hitting catchers get every opportunity to prove they cannot play catcher or hit a baseball. While the organization doesn't look as poor at the catching position as it did a few months ago, nobody is going to be upset if Ehrlich has a big breakout and forces his way onto the roster at Peoria or Palm Beach in August.

Others:

Danny Diekroeger, 1B/3B, (10th round, 2014, Stanford)

Brian O'Keefe, C, (7th round, 2014, St Josephs)

Andrew Sohn, SS, (6th round, 2014, Western Michigan)

Nick Thompson, OF (8th round, 2014, William and Mary)

Pitchers:

Luis Perdomo, SP

Signed out of the Dominican-Republic in 2011, Perdomo struggled in his first full season stateside a year ago, allowing 25 ER and 59 hits in just 41.2 innings pitched in 10 starts and 2 relief appearances with Johnson City. He did strike out 29, however, and he's got solid stuff: A fastball sitting in the mid-90's and a good breaking ball. No real third pitch to speak of, which might indicate a move to the bullpen at some point.

Perdomo gets a ton of outs on the ground, a ratio of just over 2-1 GO/AO last season, which might indicate some heavy sinking action on his fastball (or just a lot of weak hitters, which is not evidenced by his ERA). Couple that with solid control (only 14 walks in 41 innings last season) and there some intrigue here for sure. Definitely a pitcher to keep an eye on.

Steven Farinaro, SP

The Cardinals 12th round pick a year ago, the club went above slot to sign him out of high school and were met with disappointing results in his first year of pro ball, allowing 36 hits and 17 ER in 24.1 innings in the Gulf Coast League. He was a bit of a project to begin with, so this isn't surprising, but he had one of the better curveballs in the draft last year (and the Cardinals also got the pitcher with the best one, Rob Kaminsky) and low-90's velocity on a fastball.  Farinaro has solid command of both pitches, walking only 6 hitters in those 24 innings while striking out 21. He's currently working on developing a changeup as well, and if he's able to add a bit of velocity as he matures he'll climb into the 92-93 range as a three pitch starter and with his already solid command that could take him places.

Fernando Baez, RP

Fernando Baez throws hard, Really hard. Which made him nearly unhittable in the Appy league last year, striking out 47 while allowing just 15 hits in 33 innings. He walked 23, so we can temper expectations a little bit, but Baez has the dominant fastball/slider combo that we've seen time and again from right handed bullpen specialists if he can just find a way to harness his control and limit the walks he could move through a couple of levels this season.

Others:

Kyle Grana, RP

Daniel Poncedeleon, SP

Josh Lucas, SP

Dewin Perez, SP

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