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Profiling the Cardinals' minor league system

how are the Cardinals' top prospects dispersed through the system?

Bader adjusted well to his first taste of pro baseball
Bader adjusted well to his first taste of pro baseball
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Baron has done an amazing job ranking the CardinalsTop 21(ish) prospects this year. What I wanted to do today was categorize those players by level in a way that gives us an overall picture of how the talent in the Cardinals' prospect pipeline is distributed. I'll be including the seven players Aaron listed in the "Just missed" section as well, and each of them will share the prospect rank of "JM".

Of course, Spring Training hasn't started, let alone full season minor leagues, so I'll be making educated guesses on where these players will start the year based on their playing time last year and how well they did at the last level they played at in 2015. Feel free to disagree with me as I certainly won't be correct on where everyone ends up. I just thought this might be a fun early preview of where the Cardinals' various prospects will be playing in 2016, and by proxy when we might expect those players to be in the majors, if they continue to progress. Let's get started!


Here we see several prospects and several of the top 10, but generally that's the way it should be. Unlike a lot of prospect writers, The Red Baron values proximity to the minors highly even if most likely the player won't be in an everyday role. I think that's the correct way to go about it personally, and the concepts of NPV and a linear valuation of WAR both agree with Aaron.

With the obvious exception of Alex Reyes though, who won't even start the year at Triple-A due to his suspension, we don't really see any future Opening day starting pitchers or starting position players here. I think Tim Cooney and Marco Gonzales will be great depth starters until they run out of options, then they'll be moved to the bullpen (or in trade). Diaz is usually considered a future utility player but a good one, and the most to hope for Ohlman is to be a good back-up catcher. Tui has some chance at being a late-inning force.

I'd be surprised to see anyone here start lower than Triple-A. Everyone here has had a good amount of time or performance at Double-A or has already reached the Triple-A (or major league) level except for Reyes. Reyes has just under 35 innings at Double-A but did add on 15 innings in the AFL, a league filled with prospects somewhat close to the majors. He also should be working hard to progress during those 50 suspended games.


This group is much thinner than Triple-A. Luke Weaver had a great season at High-A followed by good K and BB numbers in the short sample of just under 20 innings in the AFL. Corey Littrell also had a good season at High-A. Kelly spent the whole year at High-A and struggled a bit at the plate to a 80 wRC+, so he's a bit of a borderline case for making the big jump to Double-A. If I had to bet, I'd say he starts there but we shall see.


Some fun names in this group. Flaherty's profile has raised a lot in the last year. Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong both had great showings in their first professional experience after the draft last year. Darrin Seferina had a strong first year in full season leagues but also is already 22 entering the season. Assuming these players are all make it, Palm Beach should be a good team to keep track of once the season starts


This is where I had to make some guesses, thus we're looking at the possibilities between two leagues here. Outside of 5 PA for Edmundo Sosa, an early promotion that went horrendously for Magneuris Sierra, and 6 2/3 IP for Junior Fernandez, none of these players have experience above rookie ball. I think the safe bet for any of these players to start at Short Season ball. But, I think the Cardinals will probably try to push a prospect or two that they really like to Full-Season A in order to fast-track them. If I had to guess, Sosa and Fernandez seem the most likely to get that type of promotion.


These last four I think have no chance to start in full-season. All were drafted as high school talent and all except Williams was drafted just last year, with Williams drafted in 2014. Williams I think is the most likely to start out in Short Season A rather than a rookie league, and maybe the org promotes one of the other remaining three who they think is up to the test.

So, Triple-A is generally always the most important level, as those players could very well be helping out the Cardinals this year, even if only in part-time capacity. There's not much there exciting though. I personally am most excited about the talent that currently projects to be in one of the three Single A leagues, with A+ my favorite. How does VEB feel? Which group of players are you looking forward to the most? Where do you think I will be wrong on where players end up? Boy do I miss actually watching baseball. February is the worst.