clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Viva El Birdos 2017 Top Prospects List, Part Four

New, comments

Prospects numbers 18-10 on our giant offseason list.

Minnesota at St. Louis Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images

In the last installment of this list, I wrote up Zac Gallen, the right-handed pitcher the Cards drafted out of North Carolina this past year, and in the Player Comp section I went to Woody Williams as a multi-pitch, thinking man’s hurler. Thinking over that comp since then, I’ve decided I tried too hard to pull a player from Cardinal history, rather than a pitcher who would probably be a more accurate representation of what Gallen brings to the table.

Thus, I think I’m changing my player comp for Zac Gallen to Jeremy Hellickson, the former Rays prospect and a control/changeup artist in his own right. The issue with Hellickson, of course, has been that he’s never struck out enough batters in his career to overcome the fact he’s also been fairly homer prone. I don’t know that I expect Gallen to be vulnerable to home runs, but I do think the question about how many hitters he’ll strike out as he moves up the ladder is a valid one.

Anyhow, with that out of the way, let’s jump right in to the list again, shall we? I expect this will be a very long post.

#18: Nick Plummer, OF

5’10, 200 lbs; L/L; 31 July 1996

Relevant Stats: Injured all 2016, Did Not Play

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Last year, Plummer came in at #14 on our countdown, and that felt a little light to many people. Including, admittedly, myself, as I struggled with wanting to put him higher, but having concerns over the iffy contact rate he showed in his pro debut, questions about the power projection, and future position. I might have liked Plummer better than a fourteenth-ranked sort of prospect, but when push came to shove, I found reasons to put other players higher in spite of his first-round pedigree and intriguing hitting ability.

One year later, and things haven’t really changed. Then again, they’ve changed quite a lot.

For Plummer, nothing has really changed. He still possesses the same tools, the same skills, the same pluses, and the same minuses. He is still, in fact, pretty much exactly the same prospect he was this time last year.

The reason he’s exactly the same is the thing that has changed, and the one really big negative in his profile: Plummer didn’t play in 2016. At all. He missed the entire minor league season with a wrist injury that eventually required surgery, and wasn’t even able to participate fully in instructional league in the fall due to continued rehab.

The one positive for Plummer this past year was the fact he showed up in spring training, got into some games on the major league side at just nineteen years old, and collected a couple hits. That’s great. Beyond that, though, it was just a lost year.

So now we have a prospect who is a year older, missed an entire campaign’s worth of development time, and now finds himself having not appeared above the GCL level despite turning 21 this upcoming season. Those are all definite negatives.

Nonetheless, it isn’t all bad. Plummer still has the same blend of tools and skills he possessed before, and so long as the wrist/hand issue doesn’t become chronic, one would hope he can continue to develop physically and up that power output a bit. He still possesses one of the better batting eyes in the organisation, plus bat speed, and enough athleticism to potentially handle center field in the long term. I personally think it’s a little more likely he ends up in left, but he projects as a plus defender in a corner.

I tried not to overreact to one bad injury, and one lost year, by dropping Plummer too far down on this list. Plenty of other very good prospects have joined the organisation over the past year, though, and so he had to fall down at least some. The lost development time is maybe my biggest concern at this point. It’s easy to simply think it’s okay, time is still on his side, but we’ve also seen plenty of players who miss out on vital development time at a critical point due to injury or whatever, and it seems to just short-circuit their growth. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen to Plummer, and he assumes his rightful position much nearer the top of this list come next offseason.

Player Comp: I’ll stick with the comparison I made last year and go with Bobby Abreu, as a moderate-power slasher with outstanding plate discipline and surprisingly impactful speed. Abreu put up some fairly big home run totals in the early 2000s, playing in Philly’s small ballpark, so scale those numbers down a bit and you have the kind of player I think Plummer could potentially become.

via Brian Sakowski:

#17: Bryce Denton, 3B/OF

6’0”, 190 lbs; R/R; 1st August 1997

Relevant Stats: 8.9% BB, 16.4% K, 109 wRC+, 18 years old (Johnson City)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

I admit, I initially had Denton higher when I began this list a couple months ago (at least the doodling phase), owing to the fact he put up a better than league average line at just eighteen years old and flashing some very intriguing tools.

The reason he appears lower than I had ranked him back then is found right next to his name up above there. See the bit that says 3B/OF? Well, that’s an indication that, while Denton played at the hot corner the entire season this year for Johnson City, he was moved to the outfield in postseason instructional league. I’m holding out hope something will happen to push him back to third, but for now all indications are the move is permanent.

And that’s a real shame, because I think it’s premature. Much as the Cardinals did when moving Tommy Pham off shortstop so early in his career, I think they’re giving up on the tougher road before they need to. Denton’s error totals in the Appy League this year were rough, but he has the tools to improve, I think. For now, though, it looks like the organisation has chosen the path of least resistance, and while I understand why, I disagree with the move all the same.

As for the offensive part of the scouting report, though, Denton showed marked improvement this year moving up to Johnson City after struggling in his debut in the GCL last season. He improved his walk rate, improved his strikeout rate, hit for more power (though still far less power than I expect down the road), and in general made very loud contact.

The downside to that loud contact is that too much of it came in the form of groundballs, particularly early in the season. Pitches worked him at the bottom of the zone, and Denton pounded the ball into the ground reliably. As the season went on, he began to adjust and hit more balls on a line or in the air, but he’ll need to learn better where to look for pitches to lift and drive going forward.

Denton’s best quality is still his elite batspeed, which gives him one of the higher offensive ceilings in the entire organisation for me. He’s a slightly above-average runner, features a strong enough throwing arm to play right field instead of left, and comes across as a kid dedicated to the game to a level that’s notable, even by prospect standards.

The move to the outfield means the bat will have to play better, and that bumps Denton down a bit in my estimation. He’s still one of my guys in the system, though, that I believe in more than the rational part of my brain might counsel.

Player Comp: The move to the outfield actually makes this comp even more apt; I think there’s potentially a Justin Upton type bat in Denton’s physical tools.

#16: Jake Woodford, RHP

6’4”, 210 lbs; R/R; 28 October 1996

Relevant Stats: 21 GS, 108.2 IP, 3.31 ERA (Low A Peoria)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

After making his debut in the Gulf Coast League last summer by rolling up a huge ground ball total, Woodford made the jump all the way over the two short-season affiliates of the Cardinals, going straight to full season Peoria. The numbers were good, but not spectacular, as he struck out a middling number of hitters, kept the walks down but not to an amazing degree, and actually didn’t show nearly as much of a groundball tendency in 2016 as he had in 2015.

However, Woodford did throw a full season, averaged over five innings per start, and just generally held his own as a teenager in full season ball. That’s certainly something, even if the results were more solid to good than great.

The scouting report on Woodford honestly hasn’t changed a whole lot since last year, and I really don’t expect it to change that much going forward, either. He throws a sinker, and it’s good. He throws it a lot.

Okay, to be fair, Woodford did experiment with his offspeed pitches a little more this season, trying to develop the feel for his changeup and gain some consistency with a below-average slider, but his bread and butter is always going to be that bowling-ball sinker. He locates it well already, and has the sort of low-maintenance delivery that I could see lending itself to plus command down the road. How well he can develop those offspeed pitches will probably have a lot to say in what his ceiling ends up being, but the bulk of what matters for Woodford is probably always going to come down to how well that sinker is sinking on a given day.

Player Comp: I know I threw out both Doug Fister and early-career Rick Porcello (before Porcello really started to add to his arsenal), as comparables for Woodford, and both still stand well enough. Derek Lowe comes to mind as the most sinker-dependent of all the sinker-slider guys, maybe.

via minorleaguebaseball:

#15: Magneuris Sierra, OF

5’11”, 160 lbs; L/L; 7 April 1996

Relevant Stats: .307/.335/.395, 115 wRC+, .367 BABIP, 3.9% BB (Peoria)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Two years ago, Magneuris Sierra won the 2014 Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year award, becoming the youngest ever such honouree, and the future looked incredibly bright for the Dominican speedster.

Since then, reality has thrown a bucketful of harsh, cold water on the promise of that spectacular season, and my own personal hopes for Sierra have taken a fairly strong turn downward. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty to still like about him, of course; only that I’ve had to temper my enthusiasm for him quite a bit.

There are things Magneuris Sierra does very, very well. He runs quite well. (Probably a 70 grade runner.) He tracks down fly balls very well. (Potentially a 65-70 grade fielder in center.) He steals bases very well, though perhaps not quite as efficiently as you might hope to see. (He stole 31 bases this year, but was thrown out 17 times, a touch too high.) He also slashes line drives around the field and runs like hell very well.

There are a couple things Sierra does not do very well, though, and the problem is that both are doozies. He does not hit for power (.088 ISO in 2016), and he does not draw walks (see above in the ‘relevant stats’ section).

With all that being said, as well as noting the fact Sierra strikes out a bit too much (17.3% K rate), for a player with his particular profile, I have to admit to being a bit down on Magneuris at this point. I have real doubts about his ability to get on base consistently enough to be an impact player — or even a starter period — at the big league level, and the complete lack of power development we’ve seen from him has been very disheartening.

On the other hand, there are still plenty of positives, and ways one could see Sierra contributing at the highest level. He rates as probably the best outfield defender in the whole system, and that ability to play lockdown defense in center alone could propel him to the majors as clubs continue to try and gain value from the gloves of their players. His speed could make him a late-inning weapon both in the field and on the basepaths. And considering he has yet to turn 21, there’s still time he could physically develop a little further, adding strength, and perhaps learning a more patient approach at the plate as well.

Player Comp: The good version of Sierra probably looks something like Jacoby Ellsbury the non-30-homer-outlier version), but just as interesting a comp is the outfielder many of us on this blog were hoping the Cardinals would trade for this offseason: Jarrod Dyson.

via thePeoriaChiefs:

#14: Ryan Helsley, RHP

6’2”, 205 lbs; R/R; 18 July 1994

Relevant Stats: 28.8% K, 5.0% BB, 95.0 IP (Low A Peoria)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

I mean, do you really need to ask, looking at that strikeout to walk ratio? That’s what’s so great about Ryan Helsley.

There’s also the fact Helsley features some of the best natural velocity in the system, peaking at 98 with his heater and sitting easily at 94-95. The pitch rides when it’s up, but looked a little straight to me at times when he worked low with it. He complements the fastball with a curve and changeup, both of which are still very inconsistent but have flashed at least plus quality at times. The curve is probably a little further on than the change at this point, and there are days it’s a true swing and miss hammer. I haven’t seen him able to locate the curve in the zone for a called strike very often yet, but with a little more refinement perhaps that will come as well.

For my money, the changeup is the most interesting of Helsley’s pitches, as it features tremendous drop and some fade as well. Right now, he slows his arm way too much when he throws it, and so the pitch is fairly easy to recognise. Still, the movement is enough to make if effective, and if he can learn to sell the pitch without losing movement, it could easily grade out a 60 or even better.

There’s the potential in Helsley’s repertoire for three pitches with 60s or better on them, and he at least fiddled around with trying to throw a sinker this year as well. It’s an interesting notion, but I don’t know how that’s going to turn out.

Mechanically, I like Helsley better than I did at the time he was drafted out of college, but he’s still a bit stiff and deliberate in his delivery. Still, the arm swing is better than what I saw when he was drafted, and while I would prefer to see him not pointing the ball toward center as long as he does, he doesn’t have any of the really fatal flaws some pitchers seem to possess. I would try to get him to move through his delivery a little more quickly and fluidly, utilising his body and momentum more, but what he’s doing is working for him, and I would hesitate to really change too much for now.

Where Helsley starts 2017 is a really interesting question. He was too good for Low A this past season, and probably would have moved up already had he not missed time with biceps tendinitis during the season. Palm Beach is the likeliest spot, of course, being one level up, but as good as he was in 2016, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Cardinals challenge him with a jump to Double A.

Player Comp: The changeup isn’t quite as devastating as this pitcher’s splitter/change/knuckle/whatever, but Rich Harden is the guy Helsley calls to mind for me.

via JW Fisher:

#13: Dakota Hudson, RHP

6’5”, 215 lbs; R/R; 15 September 1994

Relevant Stats: 19:7 K:BB ratio in 13.1 innings

So, what’s so great about this guy?

If Nick Plummer was my ranking that felt low to some people last year, Hudson will almost certainly be that guy this year. And I’m okay with that. There’s a chance that Hudson comes out in 2017, pitches to his ability, and blows past half a dozen players I have rated more highly right now. But I have doubts about him, and they’re strong enough to push him down this list for me.

Mostly, though, this lower ranking is a simple matter of him barely having pitched in pro ball so far. He compiled less than fifteen total innings between the Cards’ Gulf Coast League complex team and their Palm Beach High A affiliate (remember Palm Beach also plays at Roger Dean Stadium, so basically the Cards just kept him at the facility down there), and while he pitched quite well, he did walk seven hitters in just nine innings at High A. That could, of course, be a simple matter of wearing down late in the longest year of his pitching life so far coupled with better competition laying off a tired arm’s stuff, but throwing strikes was also a concern for Hudson in college, and so I’m a little cautious about the notion he’s as close to ready as some people seem to think.

I’m also worried by Hudson’s arm action, which pushes him down in my personal rankings a bit. I always struggle with how much to weigh potential mechanical concerns in ranking pitchers, because while I believe it really is a big contributing factor in injury, quantifying how much risk is added, or when said risk could manifest, etc, is just so nebulous. In Hudson’s case, though, the longer I watch him, the less I like the mechanics, and I’m going to factor that in. He’s been healthy so far in his career, though (he did relieve his first two seasons at Mississippi State, just as a point of order), so grains of salt and all that.

Stuff-wise, there’s really nothing not to like about Hudson. He features two true plus pitches, both of which rate among the best of their kinds in the system already. His fastball cruises at 92-95, and it features armside run and sink that are actually more impressive than the velocity. It’s a 55-60 pitch right now, and if he could improve his command of the pitch it could play up another full grade. Perhaps his most impressive offering is his cutter, which serves as his primary offspeed pitch and grades out at least a 60 already, if not better. The pitch is actually an interesting hybrid, somewhere between a true cut fastball and a full-on slider, which leads to a bit of a conundrum when discussing said pitch. Call it a slider if you like, call it a cutter. The problem, of course, is the ‘slurve’ naming convention for a curve/slider hybrid, which would naturally make Hudson’s breaker a ‘slutter’. Rail against my social conscience if you must, but I don’t feel very comfortable using that term.

Nomenclatural isues aside, Hudson’s cutter (or whatever), gives him a weapon the likes of which very few other pitchers in the system can match. He could probably transition to the professional ‘pen and fly through the system in a blink, based on the strength of his two best offerings. If he’s to remain a starter, however, Hudson will have to improve the rest of his arsenal as well.

He features a curve that can flash plus grades, but tends to be sort of big and lazy much of the time. It’s a college curveball, is what I’m saying. His changeup is also that of a collegian, as the pitch shows intriguing depth and movement, but is often telegraphed. The most important refinement or improvement Hudson will make with his third and fourth pitches is conviction, rather than completely changing the pitches in some way.

The biggest question for Hudson — aside from my personal reservations about his health long term — is how much he can improve his command. He made big strides this past year at Mississippi State in controlling the strike zone better, but there were times when his feel for location still almost completely deserted him. The stuff is so good (at least the primary two pitches), that he could probably survive in a big league relief role as soon as this year, even without really making big improvements. His ceiling is much, much too high, though, to relegate him to that kind of role without exhausting every possibility of him fulfilling his maximum potential.

Player Comp: It is, of course, hyperbolic, but Hudson’s sinker/cutter combo has the potential for Roy Halladay levels of dominance. We all know, though, that what made Halladay who he was was not the quality of the stuff, but the precision with which he deployed it. It’s hard to see Hudson getting to that sort of level, but the foundation of stuff really is that good.

via Adam McInturff:

#12: Edmundo Sosa, SS

5’11”, 170 lbs; R/R; 6 March 1996

Relevant Stats: 90 wRC+ in 88 games, 20 y/o (Peoria)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Overall, 2016 was a banner year for the Cardinals’ farm system. They saw multiple top prospects enter the system through the draft and international signing period, and saw some other prospects already in the fold take steps forward, moving closer toward the spotlight.

However, there were a couple notable exceptions. Specifically of note, both of the top positional prospects in the Cards’ system as of last year had rather forgettable 2016 campaigns. Magneuris Sierra had the sort of letdown season you don’t notice so much, on account of the elevated BABIP, and we just talked about him a moment or two ago.

Now let’s talk about Edmundo Sosa.

This time last season, Sosa was the top shortstop prospect in the Cards’ system, and it wasn’t particularly close. And considering Magneuris Sierra had already begun to show signs of no-power and no-walks, it seemed fairly clear (at least to this author), that Edmundo Sosa was, in fact, the king of the mountain as far as hitting/position player prospects in the Cardinals’ system went.

At the time, Sosa was coming off a sterling season in which he showed off at least average defense at shortstop and an extremely intriguing offensive profile for said position. Playing at Johnson City in 2015, Sosa posted a .185 isolated slugging percentage, hit seven homers, and overall in 223 plate appearances collected nineteen extra-base hits. His wRC+ for the season was 137, and all seemed right with the world. This was a live wire middle infielder with surprising thunder in his wrists, and it was easy to put him up near the top of the list.

This season, Sosa advanced to Peoria for his first crack at full-season ball. And things did not go as planned.

The one real positive on the year for Sosa was this: he solidified himself as a bona fide shortstop. He’s not quite the potential wizard at the position someone like Delvin Perez is, with absolutely electric raw ability, but Sosa is a shortstop. He’s at least average, probably a tick or so above, and there’s no reason to think he’ll be anything but an average-or-a-tick-or-so-above shortstop for a good while to come. So there’s that.

The bad news is that Sosa’s offense backed up badly in 2016. The intriguing power he showed in 2015 virtually disappeared, as he went from those nineteen extra-base hits in 223 plate appearances last year to just seventeen XBHs (and only three homers), in 378 Midwest League PAs this past season. His walk rate declined by almost two percentage points, and his strikeout rate increased by almost two percentage points. Pitchers challenged Sosa, and he failed to make them pay.

Altogether, the downturn in Sosa’s production from 2015 to ‘16 amounted to a fall from that 137 wRC+ of ‘15 to a 90 this year. That’s not brutally bad or anything — it’s still a better mark than any produced by Oscar Mercado at any level — but it’s not great, either. It’s discouraging, at the very least.

However, there’s still plenty of value in an above-average defensive shortstop who can hit for anything close to a league-average line. Quite a lot of value, in fact. Sosa may have fallen behind both Perez and Allen Cordoba for me in the pecking order of players I see as making an impact at the position, but he’s still a very, very valuable piece to have around.

Player Comp: Alexei Ramirez seems sensible, as a solid defender at the toughest position on the field who didn’t embarrass himself with the bat most years.

via Baseball America:

#11: Paul DeJong, 3B/SS

6’1”, 195 lbs; R/R; 2 August 1995

Relevant Stats: .200 ISO, 123 wRC+ (Double A)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Paul DeJong, drafted out of Illinois State in 2015, was one of the real pleasant surprises of that draft class for me. I knew who he was ahead of time, having looked at him as a catcher when he was a junior in 2014, but had kind of lost track of him somewhere along the way. When the Cardinals selected him, I took a look at the numbers, checked in on what positions he was playing, and thought he was very interesting. His pro debut made me even more interested, as he showed off above-average raw power and an intelligent, patient approach at the plate I couldn’t help but love.

After April of this year, I was wondering if I hadn’t made a huge mistake getting so excited about what was clearly a strikeout machine, at least at the Double A level. The Cardinals challenged DeJong with an aggressive assignment to Springfield to begin his first full pro season, and early on it looked as if they may have pushed him faster than he was ready to go.

There’s a silver lining to every cloud, though, and there’s some good news in this story: DeJong, after a brutal start to the season that saw him striking out over 30% of the time, improved. By the end of the year, he had pulled his batting average up to .260. and lowered his strikeout rate to just over 26%. Still higher than you want to see from a top prospect in Double A, of course, but for a college senior draftee making his Double A debut less than a year after being drafted, it’s not the worst thing in the world. And there was still that power.

DeJong clearly had a tough time adjusting to the higher level pitching he faced in Springfield, as his walk rate dropped to just 7.2%, but that was also better at the end of the season than at the beginning. He went to the Arizona Fall League and, just to prove it’s not all sunshine and lollipops, put up a miserable 50 wRC+ in prospect finishing school. Ergo, he’s probably not quite finished just yet.

There’s one other really interesting thing about Paul DeJong at this point: after playing a fairly solid third base in both his debut and first full seasons, the Cardinals made the decision this autumn to move him over to shortstop. I honestly don’t know quite what to make of the move; at the time of his being drafted, I know I commented on his positional versatility from college and posited the Cards might be looking for their own Ben Zobrist-y sort of super utility guy. But a move to shortstop feels like a very strange decision. I’m not sure I buy it; taking a college catcher and turning him into an average third baseman, then continuing the vector on to shortstop, seems too unusual a trajectory to me. If pressed, I would still expect the move is to try and build versatility for DeJong as he pushes toward the big leagues. But, if there’s any real chance at all he could play even a passable, slightly below-average shortstop every day, then he immediately becomes a very different kind of prospect....

Player Comp: I’m hoping for DeJong to improve his plate approach back toward something more like what we saw from him in his pro debut, but the flexibility, right/right profile, and plus power map fairly well onto the Cards’ current super utility guy, Jedd Gyorko.

#10: Ronnie Williams, RHP

6’0”, 170 lbs; R/R; 6 January 1996

Relevant Stats: 3.7% BB (State College), 23.1% K (Peoria), 1.32 GB/FB (Overall)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

I’ve long been the high man on Ronnie Williams, and I remain so after this most recent season. In fact, I feel at least somewhat vindicated by some of the things Williams showed in his two-stop season this past year, even if he didn’t always put all those good things together at the same time.

Beginning the season at State College, Williams posted a ridiculously low walk rate and a very high groundball rate, attacking the zone mercilessly against New York Penn League batters with his sinking fastball. He didn’t strike out a huge number of hitters, unfortunately; his 17.6% whiff rate for the Spikes really isn’t anything to write home about. But the ability to control the zone and force hitters to swing was notable, and noted.

After 46.1 innings at State College, Williams was promoted up the ladder to Peoria. It was his first full-season ball assignment, and it was a bit of a relief to me. It’s not the end of the world for a raw high school pitcher to spend three full years kicking around short-season ball, but it’s not exactly what you want to see, either.

And a funny thing happened once Ronnie got to Peoria. I watched his Peoria starts, thanks to the magic of MiLB.tv, and he seemed to be throwing far more offspeed pitches than I expected. The curveball looked much better than it had in the past. The changeup was already good before, but it was even better. And Williams started striking out lots of Midwest League hitters.

He struck out nearly a quarter of the batters he faced as a Peoria Chief, in fact, which combined with that sub-4% walk rate would have put him among some elite company in the minor leagues. The only problem with that? He didn’t put up a sub-4% walk rate in Peoria.

In fact, he piled up walks almost as fast as he piled up strikeouts. He handed out free passes to nearly 11% of the hitters he faced in Peoria, a number much closer to his rather disappointing 2015 performance than the ultra-controlled new Ronnie Williams that had shown up in State College to start off 2016. He was also prone to giving up home runs in Peoria, though it was a run of such short duration that I’d really prefer not to read too much into it.

Overall, what we have in Ronnie Williams, the 2016 version, is a pitcher who seemingly dialed in his fastball command in State College, then expanded his repertoire once he got to Peoria. I would hazard a guess the organisation pushed him to throw more offspeed stuff in Low A, leading to both higher strikeout totals and also more walks, but I have no official confirmation on that. But what we saw from Williams this past season was the ingredients of a number 23 starter in the big leagues. We just didn’t see all those ingredients come together at once.

I remain extremely optimistic about Williams, due to his tremendous athleticism and what is probably my favourite delivery of any pitcher in the Cards’ minor league system. He has premium arm speed, and works his fastball from 92-95 routinely. He can take a little off and sink the fastball at 90-92, and I saw a few cutters this year as well. They weren’t good, necessarily, but they were recognisable, so that’s something.

The changeup is still his best offspeed pitch, and he sells it with good arm speed. The pitch has that split-finger downward action that gets an above-average number of swings and misses, and it seems equally effective against both right- and left-handed hitters. The curve is tighter now, and has better shape, though it still needs refinement. When he stays on top of the pitch and really pulls down as he extends out in front of the mound, it grades out as a 55-60 offering. When he doesn’t, it lollipops up there and probably gets a 40.

The fastball is an easy plus for me, and the change could pull a 60 in the future. If the curve continues to come along, Williams has the potential for three 55 or better pitches, and the kind the of athleticism I think bodes very well for his future strike-throwing abilities. I’m still on an island a little bit with my love for Ronnie Williams, but I’m pretty sure I can see the sails of ships making their way toward my island now.

Player Comp: I’ve said Kip Wells before, and I’ll say Kip Wells again. And yes, I mean that as a compliment.

via FanGraphs:

Whew. Alright, that one’s in the can. Just one more big list installment to go this coming Wednesday, and then next Sunday I’ll have all the wrapup thoughts and musings you could hope for about the Cardinals’ system as it stands at the beginning of 2017.