As most of you probably know, I’m currently in the midst of writing a series of posts covering the performances of those Cardinals prospects who were featured on the VEB Top Some-Number-or-Other Prospects list this past offseason. And as part of that project, it occurred to me I should really do an end-of-season (or at least late season), update on the performances of the Redbirds’ most recent class of draftees. After all, many of them will make the top prospects list this coming offseason (in fact, it’s possible one of them could potentially take over the top spot in the system, depending on whether or not a couple other players end up exceeding their rookie eligibility limits), but were not even in the system last winter, and so aren’t being covered in the updates.
I wrote up an early stat update a while back, but considering we’re coming up on the end of the minor league season relatively quickly (particularly the lower levels, where the playoffs are generally beginning within the next four or five days), it seems like a good time to take another look, particularly since I’m already in a wrapping-up mood anyway. I considered putting this post on a Sunday, since I’ve tried to stick to minor league content there, but that would mean either pushing back the list players in review post back a week, or recapping these guys after the playoffs of their respective leagues are long done. So, I’m sticking this in the middle of my offseason list updates.
I won’t be covering every last player drafted this year, of course; this is strictly players I consider notable, or, conversely, performances I consider notable.
Delvin Perez, SS — Rd. 1, #23
Relevant Stats (GCL): 180 PA, .294/.352/.393, 6.7% BB, 15.6% K, 123 wRC+, 12/13 SB
Starting off with the player who might very well be considered the jewel of the system as soon as this offseason, if Luke Weaver and Alex Reyes were to play themselves out of prospect status (which is not likely, but worth at least noting the possibility), we find one of the more impressive performances in the whole of the draft class.
After coming back from a short-term leg injury, Perez slumped slightly early in August, but has picked right back up more recently, pushing his overall season line to nearly 25% better than the average for his league. And this from a player who is both extremely young, even for the low level at which he is currently playing, but also was known coming into the draft as a player with an intriguing offensive ceiling, but not much in the way of developed skills already.
Perez will be in the top five this offseason. Maybe higher.
Dylan Carlson, OF/1B — Rd. 1, #33
Relevant Stats (GCL): 201 PA, .251/.313/.404, 8.0% BB, 25.9% K, 3 HR, 114 wRC+
Consider for a moment that Dylan Carlson, a player who mans a much less challenging position than Delvin Perez and whose bat was seen as his carrying tool coming into the draft, has actually been a lesser hitter than his Gulf Coast League teammate, and it throws Perez’s start to his career into even slightly sharper relief.
This isn’t about Perez, though; this is about Carlson, who has had his own very strong opening campaign to his professional career. He’s actually seen his walk rate decline quite a bit the past few weeks; he was right around 10% for the majority of the season. The power is already starting to manifest in the form of extra bases, if not huge over the fence numbers; Carlson collected thirteen doubles and three triples to go along with his dingers. He managed his contact rate decently well, and showed an ability to drive the baseball already. What’s not to like?
Dakota Hudson, RHP — Rd. 1, #34
Relevant Stats (High A): 7.1 IP, 26.5% K, 17.7% BB, 6 H, 1.23 ERA, 3.24 FIP
Hudson, after dominating short-season competition, was aggressively bumped to the Florida State League, not unlike Michael Wacha in his draft year. Unlike Wacha in 2012, though, Hudson has shown signs of tiring in Palm Beach. He’s still striking out plenty of hitters, but the command has been shaky. Basically, at this point, you’re just trying to get him through the rest of the season and into fall instructs healthy and moderately rested, so he can head off into the offseason to prepare for his real debut season in 2017.
Connor Jones, RHP — Rd. 2, #70
Relevant Stats (SS): 8.2 IP, 15.8% K, 5.3% BB, 5.19 ERA, 2.59 FIP
Jones came out of the gate swinging in much the same way as Hudson, outclassing rookie league competition, but since being promoted to Johnson City he’s gone somewhat the opposite way of the earlier pick. Jones has shown a remarkable stinginess with the free passes, but not much in the way of strikeout potential (unsurprising, if you look at his college numbers), and has been a bit more hittable than you would like to see. Really, though, he’s in the same boat as Hudson, in that the main goal for this year is to get some work in and be healthy and ready for an offseason of work.
Zac Gallen, RHP — Rd. 3, #106
Relevant Stats (GCL): 9.2 IP, 41.7% K, 0.0% BB(!), 7 H, 1.86 ERA, 0.24 FIP
Dakota Hudson dominated the GCL and was pushed to Palm Beach. Connor Jones dominated the GCL and was promoted to Johnson City. Zac Gallen dominated the GCL and just...stayed there. And continued to dominate.
It appears Gallen has been shut down for the season at this point, but while he was pitching he was untouchable. His debut really couldn’t have been any more encouraging, and I look forward to hearing about his progress this fall.
Jeremy Martinez, C — Rd. 4, #136
Relevant Stats (SS State College): 209 PA, .331/.428/.442, 163 wRC+, 13.9% BB, 6.2% K
Jeremy Martinez is awesome. That is all.
Okay, so he could maybe hit for a little more power. This is a catcher with a walk-to-strikeout ratio of well over 2:1. Quit complaining. He’s awesome.
Walker Robbins, OF/1B — Rd. 5, #166
Relevant Stats (GCL): 115 PA, .185/.226/.194, 4.3% BB, 27.0% K
Things have been tough getting started for Walker Robbins. He’s struggled badly to command the strike zone the same way he did as an amateur, and both his on-base and slugging numbers have suffered for it. Still plenty of time, though.
Tommy Edman, SS — Rd. 6, #196
Relevant Stats (SS State College): 279 PA, .296/.409/.452, 15.4% BB, 9.3% K, 23 XBH, 16/19 SB, 160 wRC+
Tommy Edman is also awesome, and also in a similar way to Jeremy Martinez in that he is a premium position guy with outstanding plate discipline who does a little bit of everything else right, too. He can keep up this Greg Garcia impersonation for as long as likes, though the fact he’s already shown wheels beyond anything Garcia has ever really mustered is certainly an intriguing point in Edman’s favour.
Andrew Knizner, C — Rd. 7, #216
Relevant Stats (SS Johnson City): 214 PA, .317/.416/.489, 8.9% BB, 9.3% K, 152 wRC+
Andrew Knizner is angry I called two other guys awesome already and haven’t mentioned him yet. He’s been nothing short of spectacular as well, playing in the Appalachian League, and pretty young for the league as well. (He doesn’t turn 22 until February.)
He’s shown a bit more power and a bit less patience that Martinez, but otherwise he’s putting up numbers every bit as good, if shaped a little differently. It’s nice to suddenly have interesting catching prospects.
John Kilichowski, LHP — Rd. 11, #346
Relevant Stats (State College/Low A): 48.1 IP, 22.7% K, 7.5% BB, 44 hits allowed
Kilichowski was too good for short-season ball, putting up a sub-1.00 ERA at State College in a little less than 20 innings. Since being bumped up to Peoria, he’s been bitten by the homer bug a bit (four home runs in just under 30 innings), but has maintainted a strong strikeout rate while keeping his walk rate at 3.5% in the Midwest League. He’s appeared almost exclusively as a starter in his professional career (nine starts out of ten total games), and has made up for quite a bit of time he lost this spring at Vanderbilt after struggling to make it back onto the roster after an early injury. As with the other pitchers on this list, it’s so early that it’s tough to really say much about Kilichowski’s performance so far, though he does at least have some sample size to speak of. Just get him his work, get him to the fall, and then let’s see where we stand after an offseason spent preparing.
Vincent Jackson, OF — Rd. 14, #436
Relevant Stats (State College): 279 PA, .242/.326/.373, 8.2% BB, 17.9% K, 113 wRC+, .131 ISO, 16/23 SB
While the raw stat line may not be quite as impressive for Jackson as some of the other college players we’re looking at here, the fact is that for the type of player he is, it’s not at all a bad outcome so far. Remember, Jackson is a former two-sport guy with less actual baseball experience under his belt, in spite of him already being 22.5 right now. The swing still needs some work, and those stolen bases are more a function of 65+ grade speed than refined skills as a base-stealer, but he’s kept his strikeout rate under 20% playing in his first pro season, and has shown at least a little of each one of the tools that made him such an intriguing later-round bet.
Ugh. It’s getting very late. As always. So, I’m going to call this here, and perhaps try to sneak a few more notable stat lines, with or without commentary, into the prospect list update this coming Sunday.
Have a great day, everyone.