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The state of the Cardinals farm system

A look at the Cardinals’ top prospects by minor league level

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

We’re smack dab in the middle of Spring Training. At first, it’s exciting. Baseball is back on TV for the first time in months, and we get to see baseball players do baseball things. Eventually though, we start to crave real games that mean something. We get to see prospects play though, and that’s pretty fun. Prospects are on people’s minds a lot around this time of the year, as most outlets are coming out with their own prospect lists. Recently, I looked at seven Cardinals top prospect lists, and used them to create an aggregate Cardinals top prospect list.

What we’ll do today is look at that aggregate list, and break it down by minor league level. Of course the season hasn’t started, and these players haven’t been assigned to a team yet. A good chunk of players won’t even be assigned to a team once Spring Training ends, instead heading to extended Spring Training before being assigned to a short season league team later in the year. These are my estimated guesses, and with 55 players, I’m bound to get some of these wrong. There were 56 players originally, but Kendrys Flores failed a physical, voiding his minor league deal.

To start, we’ll look at Triple-A, ranked by their average rank across seven prospect lists:

I had to put Alex Reyes somewhere, so I decided to put him here. Triple-A holds three of the best six remaining. After that though, it turns sharply into mostly depth pieces, organizational guys that fill out the 40-man roster. Those five players at the end all were only ranked by John Sickles’ list at Minor League ball, who gave them all a “C” grade. Catcher Gabriel Lino is new to the organization and will be competing with Eric Fryer for the backup catcher spot.

There’s a full rotation here between Luke Weaver, Austin Gomber, John Gant, Marco Gonzales, and Mike Mayers. Marco may not begin the year healthy, so that could leave one of the guys at Double-A with an opening in Memphis. Some may get moved to the pen, because there’s six starting pitchers that make sense to be at Double-A:

Jack Flaherty spent the whole year at High-A, he’s certainly ready for Double-A. Alcantara only spent 30 innings there, but was impressive. Chris Ellis actually spent about half the year at Triple-A with the Braves before coming over this winter in the Jaime Garcia trade, but unless the Cardinals move him to the pen it seems unlikely to begin the year there in 2016. Poncedeleon had an okay year in AA in 2016 but not good enough to push anyone out of the way at Triple-A. Matt Pearce spent most of the year at High-A, but had cups of coffee at both AA and AAA.

Outside of starting pitchers, Rowan Wick looks to continue his conversion from position player to reliever, and Darren Seferina attempts to put a rough 2016 behind him.

And on to High-A:

This should be an interesting bunch of players to watch in 2017. Magneuris Sierra is one of the team’s better rated prospects, but is so more out of projection and tools than results. As he climbs higher in the system, his actual performance is going to become more important. That goes double for Junior Fernandez and Edmundo Sosa, though at least Fernandez is only 20. Eliezar Alvarez is the opposite, with good results the last three years but a lack of prospect pedigree.

Dakota Hudson was one of the team’s three first round picks last year, and combines exciting stuff with a lack of command and mechanics that make some worry about future injuries.

Next up, Full Season-A:

Some recent draft picks here as well, plus the last player involved in the Jaime Garcia trade. No one near the front of the list, but there are several players that could improve their stock a lot over the course of the year.

Low-A is another level I find very interesting. Most the top rated names were mentioned several levels higher, so Delvin Perez sticks out like a sore thumb here. He’s got quite a few compelling players that are also several years away, but are easy to dream on all the same. These players all had decent seasons in rookie ball, so it seems natural to bump them up. Perez was the youngest player in GCL last year, but Alvaro Seijas and Dylan Carlson were also some of the youngest players at the level while holding their own.

Here we see a lot of the most recent international amateur signings. These players are several years away and have high bust rates, so your not going to see many highly rated players here. If these players have stats, it’s at the Dominican Summer league, so there’s no expectation that’s they’d be as high as say, Low-A.

Most of the best prospects are near the top levels. That’s natural though, those players have longer track records, and are closer to actually contributing at the major league level. High-A for instance has a ton of players that could take a step forward in 2017. Sierra, Hudson, Fernandez, and Jake Woodford are all players that have decent shots at being consensus top 100 prospects a year from now.

In the lower third of the system, Delvin Perez headlines an interesting chunk of high-ceiling prospects. Many them will likely be busts, but hopefully a few work out and join Perez near the top of future lists.

The point is, this is a pretty solid farm top to bottom. Once the season starts, we’ll again start our Daily Farm Reports. Each level should have players that are worth checking out. Prospects break your heart, but the future continues to look bright in St. Louis.