Minor league players acquired for cash considerations rarely turn out to be valuable major league pieces, and Michael Ohlman doesn't look particularly likely to be an exception, but he looks like a smart acquisition at a minimal cost for the Cardinals anyhow.
Ohlman has real power in his swing and put together a .313/.410/.524 line in 2013 at A+ ball as a 22 year-old. He then popped up heading into last spring as a B- prospect from John Sickels, who said "I love his bat." (read the rest here). He was actually nearly as good in A ball in 2012, but it was a season shortened by a 50-game suspension for recreational drugs.
However, his 2014 season at AA was disastrous. He continued to walk a bit, but his batting average and slugging plummeted to a .236/.310/.318 line. Furthermore, it is no sure thing he can stick at catcher. He struggled blocking pitches and lacked accuracy in his throws despite an arm that's good enough for the position, as his CS% has dropped with each level of the minor league ladder he's climbed, down to 27% last year. Nevertheless, the skills he displayed in 2013 keep him interesting. If you have access to baseball prospectus, read this thorough scouting review from Tucker Blair, which praises his make-up and athleticism, and pegs him as a potentially solid bench player. Even after this rough season, Sickels dropped him just to a C+, and he remained the #10 Orioles prospect for MLB.com.
According to our SBN brethren at Orioles' blog Camden Chat, Ohlman, who was on the Baltimore 40-man roster, was DFA'd and then traded by the Orioles because of a 40-man roster crunch and a strong batch of young catchers brewing in their system rather than simply because they had no hope of Ohlman ever producing. He joins the St Louis 40-man roster, so he will likely need to show real improvement in 2015 to remain in the system.
Michael Ohlman's not a bad prospect reclamation project. A lot of natural strength, good swing balance.— Nathaniel Stoltz (@stoltz_baseball) February 3, 2015