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Catching up with a few of my favorite St. Louis Cardinals prospects

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With the big-league Cardinals looking lifeless the last few games, let's take a look at some Future Redbirds.

Dennis Sievers/Peoria Chiefs

With this being my 100th post for Viva El Birdos, I made the executive decision to write about something enjoyable, especially after last night's snoozefest by the Cardinals. Though I am not an official contributor to Future Redbirds, I still keep a very close eye on the farm system and have done my best to provide the VEB community with some unique prospect interviews. In this post, you will find one prospect from each level (excluding Triple-A Memphis) that I pay particularly close attention to when reading scouting reports, watching video, and sifting through box scores.

Breyvic Valera (2B/3B/OF, Double-A Springfield Cardinals)

Player Profile:

  • Bats: Switch
  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 5'11"
  • Weight: 160
  • Born: August 1, 1992 (Age 22)
  • Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent (May 2010)
Why I like him so much:

All Valera does is hit. In 1,805 minor league plate appearance, the 22-year-old has posted a .316/.369/.398 slash line. He has walked more times (133) than he has struck out (126). In fact, his 2014 K% is a ridiculously minuscule 5.8%. Okay, he does more than just hit. According to Baseball America, Valera was rated this season's best defensive second baseman in the Florida State League (High-A). He has received time at third base (26 career starts), in the outfield (63 career starts), and at shortstop (43 career starts), but offensively and defensively, he projects as a second baseman at the higher levels.

He does not have much power (3 career home runs), but he doesn't need it in order to provide value to the organization given his unbelievably high contact rate, his ability to get on base (.369 OBP), and his plus glove at second base. Look for him to start 2015 with Triple-A Memphis, but I would not be surprised if he made an appearance in St. Louis as a utility player at some point next season as well.

Chris Perry (RHP, High-A Palm Beach Cardinals)

Player Profile:

  • Throws: Right
  • Bats: Left
  • Height: 6'2"
  • Weight: 215
  • Born: July 15, 1990 (Age 24)
  • Acquired: Round 17 of 2012 MLB Draft
Why I like him so much:

Perry carved up Midwest League hitters while with Peoria (.162 BAA, 2.20 FIP), and he has been just as good since his promotion to Palm Beach (.135 BAA, 2.32 FIP). His performance in the month of May was so good (19.2 IP, 40 K, 3 BB, 0.46 ERA) that it led to his recognition as the Cardinals official minor league pitcher of the month.

The statistic that stands out most when looking at Perry is his K%, which is a good thing considering he is a relief pitcher. While with Peoria, it was a ridiculous 41.2% and since being promoted to High-A, it has dropped off slightly but is still an awesome 31.0%. At 24 years old, this offseason will be a pivotal one for Perry as he looks to advance in the farm system. At this point in the season, it is unlikely, but an appearance or two in a notorious hitters' league (Double-A Texas League) could provide valuable experience going into the offseason. Plus, given his performance and age, Perry is a prime candidate for the Arizona Fall League as well.

Alex Reyes (RHP, Low-A Peoria Chiefs)

Player Profile:

  • Throws: Right
  • Bats: Right
  • Height: 6'3"
  • Weight: 215
  • Born: August 29, 1994 (Age 19)
  • Acquired: Signed as an international free agent (December 2012)
Why I like him so much:

His repertoire (specifically his fastball) and his build. I met him for the first time on my trip to South Bend, and goodness, Mr. Reyes is one big, strong dude. He is the most highly-touted prospect in this post, and a big reason for this is because the sky is the limit with a right arm like this one. Tackle Box, a long-time member of the VEB community, put together a terrific scouting post (including video) of Reyes earlier this month, and if you have yet to check it out, I strongly recommend you do so in the very near future.

The one big knock on Reyes this season has been his lack of consistency. Some nights he looks like a future MLB ace, and other nights, he just cannot find the strike zone. At 19 years old, this is not necessarily surprising, but his last five starts, especially last night's, have been encouraging on that front. When I spoke with Reyes back in July, he said he would like to see some time in Palm Beach before the end of the 2014 season. With 90.1 innings under his belt in 2014, it appears the Cardinals are starting to limit his workload (two weeks between his last two starts). That being said, and especially after last night's outing, I wouldn't be entirely shocked if the Cardinals promoted him to High-A for a spot start or two in the coming weeks. Is it likely? No, not really, but after speaking with Reyes, I believe it would do a great deal for his confidence moving forward.

Will Anderson (RHP, Short-Season A State College Spikes)

Player Profile:

  • Throws: Right
  • Bats: Right
  • Height: 6'3"
  • Weight: 205
  • Born: August 26, 1992 (Age 21)
  • Acquired: Round 26 of 2013 MLB Draft
Why I like him so much:

Anderson, the ace of the State College pitching staff, has had a superb season (11 games (10 starts), 61.1 IP, 54 K, 9 BB, 2.20 ERA), and it has been rewarded with an appearance in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game. Other than the previously listed 2014 statistics, one thing to note is that Anderson has allowed only one home run all season. One thing he will need to work on as he progresses through the system is his performance against left-handed hitters—lefties boast a .298 average against him while righties are hitting just .229.

From a scouting standpoint, his high-80's/low-90's fastball won't overpower many hitters, but this really doesn't matter all that much considering he can throw it basically wherever he wants (aka supreme command). His repertoire also contains a late-moving changeup and a nifty slider. His command of all three pitches is polished for a 21-year-old. His ability to successfully mix pitches is most appealing, and I expect pretty big things from him next season.

Chris Rivera (3B/2B/SS, Rookie League Johnson City Cardinals)

Player Profile:

  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 6'
  • Weight: 200
  • Born: March 10, 1995 (Age 19)
  • Acquired: Round 7 of 2013 MLB Draft
Why I like him so much:

The combination of his bat and ability to play multiple infield positions makes Rivera so appealing as a prospect. In 178 plate appearances with Johnson City, he has managed a .343 wOBA and a 112 wRC+. Considering Rivera told me he is "hitting pretty well," these numbers are especially promising because it means he believes he has not quite reached his potential at the plate.

Drafted out of high school as a shortstop who was then converted to second base during last offseason's instructs, it was surprising to see that the majority of his time has been spent at third base this season. Given that his glove played extremely well at second base, I think the move to third should be seen more as a sign of the organization lacking depth at the position than his inability to stick at second long-term.

If he is able to develop more power at the plate, which I believe he will, he will find himself moving up the organization's third base depth chart very quickly over the next few seasons. When I asked him about his 2014 season, he said, "It's going well. I'm having a lot of fun." In case you missed it or would just like to revisit it, Rivera is the prospect who dedicated over an hour of his time to participate in an AMA/Q&A with the VEB community.

Magneuris Sierra (CF, Rookie Gulf Coast League Cardinals)

Player Profile:

  • Bats: Left
  • Throws: Left
  • Height: 5'11"
  • Weight: 160
  • Born: April 7, 1996 (Age 18)
  • Acquired: Signed as an international free agent (July 2012)
Why I like him so much:

Being named the organization's official minor league player of the month (July 2014) despite being down in the Gulf Coast League will certainly turn some heads. My buddy John Nagel over at CardinalsFarm.com has been telling me about this guy for a while now, and I will admit that he has been quite a surprise this season. At this stage in his career, Sierra has gap-to-gap power (11 doubles, 2 triples) and is capable of stealing bases pretty regularly (13/15 on SB attempts), but I believe there is a chance that he harnesses some over-the-fence power as he grows as a human and develops as a hitter.

Sure, Edmundo Sosa is the biggest name on the GCL Cardinals, largely because he is a young shortstop with pop, but Sierra and Malik Collymore (2B) have both made their presences felt in 2014. Sierra's placement on the minor league ladder next season is largely up in the air, but I think the Cardinals are quite aware that he has the potential to be a special one, so they will likely be quite careful with his development.

Other non-top-10 prospects to keep a close eye onSam Tuivailala (RHP), Tyrell Jenkins (RHP), Mitch Harris (RHP), Jacob Wilson (2B), and Kurt Heyer (RHP)