The St. Louis Cardinals minor league system has had some severe turnover that is currently fueling the major league club. MinorLeagueBall, our sister website through SB Nation, had the Cardinals as the top farm system in 2013 thanks to the likes of Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, the late Oscar Taveras, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, and many more. With all of those graduations, the system has taken a hit and has had to rebuild. In 2014, the system fell to 6th and this year it was ranked 15th.
A change in approach was needed.
For three years, the Cardinals took a "safe" approach when drafting the likes of Stephen Piscotty, Marco Gonzales, Michael Wacha, and Luke Weaver. The organization was about to be top heavy, meaning too many prospects at the upper levels and not many high upside prospects down low. That changed in 2015 when the Cardinals selected three straight high school players, Nick Plummer, Jake Woodford, and Bryce Denton. A risk, for sure, but one that needed to be taken.
Before I look at prospects 11-20, I want to take a second and explain my process for ranking these players. First of all, I am not a player evaluator or scout, so I rely on those types and their reports when available. That does not mean I don't try and watch the prospects I am ranking. The more information, the better. For me, the challenging part is weighing upside vs closeness to the major leagues or Rob Kaminsky vs Marco Gonzales. Ideally, my prospects are ranked by future MLB careers.
Here are prospects 11-20 in a countdown format. On Thursday, I will bring you the top 10. I hope you enjoy
20. Darren Seferina, 21
I featured Seferina in my third VEB article that focused on underrated minor league players for the Cardinals. If you check the comments, you will find a mention from Red Baron on how Seferina has some similarities to Kolten Wong. I believe he is probably referring to the short, compact swing, defense, extra base hit ability, but lets not pretend that Seferina has Wong's ceiling. With that said, I still wonder if the organization will look at moving him to shortstop to see if they can add that position to his repertoire.
ETA to Majors: 2018
19. Arturo Reyes, 23
The last Cardinals' selection in the 2013 draft has made quite the impression on many people, including scouts. Reyes likely profiles as a back of the rotation starter and could stick in the rotation thanks to a solid set of pitches. He is not going to strike out many (7.26 K/9), but he also does not give up home runs. In the homer happy Texas League, Reyes has allowed just one home run over 79 innings this year. Reyes could follow Zach Petrick and get stuck at Triple-A thanks to the starter profile.
ETA to Majors: 2016
18. Jake Woodford, 18
Woodford becomes the first high ceiling prospect to enter the rankings. The 18-year old, supplemental pick has a nice physical profile that could get better. At 6'3", 210 lbs, Woodford has a great build which allows for plenty of arm strength. The Cardinals were able to lure Woodford away from the University of Florida with a nice, over-slot bonus. The way the organization develops arms, Woodford looks like he could become a #2 of #3 starter at his peak.
ETA to Majors: 2019
17. Edmundo Sosa, 19
Many (including myself) were wondering/hoping for Edmundo Sosa to start the season with the Low-A Peoria Chiefs, which would have been a pretty aggressive promotion. The team decided to promote Magneuris Sierra to that level, which did not work out as the two are currently teammates in Johnson City. I believe Sosa's prospect status is tied to his ability to stay at shortstop, meaning if he has to move to second base or the outfield, his stock will plummet.
ETA to Majors: 2018
16. Austin Gomber, 22
Gomber is one who slipped past me last season. I never really had him ranked very high at the end of the season last year or the beginning of the season this year. There is a lot to like out of the 6'5" lefty. John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall had a good write up on Gomber back in May and projects Gomber to be a #4 starter, which I would agree with. Gomber is an innings eater who doesn't walk many. Look for him to move quickly through the system and he should hit Palm Beach before this season is over.
ETA to Majors: 2017
15. Anthony Garcia, 23
Anthony Garcia was in my top 10 a few years ago after a really strong season with the Low-A Quad Cities River Bandits when he had a 143 wRC+ and 20 home runs over 109 games at the age of 20. Since then, Garcia has struggled in two seasons with the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals. In 2013 he had a 90 wRC+ and last season a 103 wRC+, plus he has battled injuries over the years. Garcia appears to have found his plate discipline as his walks are way up and his power is back. This may be an aggressive placement, but there is a lot to like. I think Garcia could be a strong candidate for the Arizona Fall League.
ETA to Majors: Late 2016
14. Carson Kelly, 21
Carson Kelly has had a really rough year for the Palm Beach Cardinals. My first post for VEB broke it down, but his defense behind the plate appears to be coming along nicely. Small sample size alert, but Kelly's July slash line of .254/.302/.441 is a huge improvement. At 21-years old, Kelly is still young enough to figure it out and he has received high praise from the pitchers he has caught. The good news is, his bat isn't needed as much behind the plate as at third base, as long as he continues to improve defensively.
ETA to Majors: Late 2017
13. Patrick Wisdom, 23
If you follow me on Twitter @CardinalsFarm, you know that I discussed Patrick Wisdom in length the other night. He has had a very interesting season that started out like the last couple of years, very poorly. From the beginning of the season to May 4th, Wisdom slashed .236/.295/.400 and had a wRC+ of 90. At that point, the Cardinals shipped Wisdom to Florida for an extensive look at his swing, and it appears to have worked. Since that trip, Wisdom is slashing .286/.332/.517 and a 134 wRC+, plus his strikeouts are down. With a strong defensive profile and continued success at the plate, Wisdom could reach the top 10 by the end of the season. Like Anthony Garcia, Wisdom is a strong candidiate for the AFL.
ETA to Majors: Late 2016
12. Sam Tuivailala, 22
When ranking prospects, I have a negative reliever bias. I hate ranking relievers (notice, there will only be 1 in the top 20) as their ceiling is limited. With that said, Tuivailala has a bright future in the major leagues. He profiles as a future closer who has a nasty fastball to go with an ever improving slider. Tuivailala is currently throwing his slider almost as frequently as his fastball, which is not ideal. The former infielder is a prime example of why the Cardinals value athleticism so high when drafting.
ETA to Majors: 2015
11. Luke Weaver, 21
Luke Weaver was the last of three straight college arms taken in the first round for the Cardinals, following Marco Gonzales and Michael Wacha. Weaver was probably and unfairly tied to their successes in the major leagues. However, like Gonzales and Wacha, Weaver has a strong change up, which is his best secondary pitch. He is not a big strikeout guy, but is also not going to walk many.
ETA to Majors: 2017
This group of prospects, 5 pitchers and 5 hitters, is a good mix of high upside prospects and relatively safe picks. The Cardinals have done an incredible job of scouting and developing these prospects. On Thursday, I will bring you the top 10 prospects.
If you polled ten followers of the minor leagues, you would get ten different lists. I would love for your feedback below!
Thanks for reading!