The Case for CJ McElroy as a Top Prospect

CJ McElroy is a speed merchant for the St. Louis Cardinals minor leagues. The 2011 draftee is still 19 and has been tearing up the basepaths for two years and has the potential to become a future major league basestealing threat.

CJMcElroy is my "just missed" prospect of the year, I had him ranked 19th out of 20, but when the rankings were tabulated he fell just on the outside looking in. McElroy was just drafted in 2011 out of Clear Creek HS in League City, Texas and is still quite a raw product with lots of potential, but the skills that are there indicate the potential of a very valuable player.

No discussion of CJMcElroy starts without his father, former major league pitcher ChuckMcElroy, whose presence most likely guided the two-sport star to a career in baseball over running back for the University of Houston. CJ is still nineteen years old and has not yet gotten to full season minor league baseball, playing only in the GCL in 2011 and short season Florida State League in 2012.

He is a plus plus runner, although he hits from the right-side he is still able to turn deep ground balls into hits. His speed also makes him a potentially elite base stealer as well. He had 24 stolen bases in 29 attempts in just 61 games. Baseball America graded McElroy the fastest runner in the Cardinals system after the 2011 season. He’s not a home run threat, but his speed will keep up his slugging percentage going forward through his triples.

His speed also allows him to play a good centerfield with the ability to get to balls in the gap other players may not be able to. We will need more time to truly evaluate his play in centerfield, but needless to say, his offensive profile fits more in center where less power is necessary.

The Cardinals outfitted McElroy with a new swing this year and eager (or over eager) to use it, McElroy did not take a lot of walks that would have given him opportunities to steal and put a lot of noise in his numbers, which are not overwhelming. .271/.332/.646 BA/SLG/OPS for the year to be exact. But, McElroy is a player that works beyond the numbers with increasing skill in center and speed on the basepaths to take the extra base or break up a double play or cause an error. But, you have to get on base to steal and McElroy will have to increase his on base percentage to become a viable speed threat in the top of the order going forward.

However, as every coach in every sport has said for hundreds of years, "you can't teach speed" and CJ McElroy has it. He's got the potential to put together his other skills to become a major league player as well.

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