Prospect season rages on. Most the usual suspects have released their prospect lists, and we as fans continue to chew them over. My project for today is simple: let’s get a better idea of the scouting industry’s opinion of the Cardinals’ prospects. I enlisted the help of seven sources that have released Cardinals top prospect lists this off-season. There’s Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, Minor League Ball, Fangraphs, ESPN, MLB pipeline, and our own VEB. I figure if we use every list to form an average, then that gives us a good overall idea of how scouts value Cardinals players, relative to themselves.
When a scouting source gave grades in addition to a ranking, grades were used instead. Those tell more of the story than individual rankings. When multiple players were given the same grade by a source, they all get an averaged rank on the list. For instance, if five players all received a Future Value (FV) of 50, and those players occupied the 6 through 10 spots, then they all received a ranking of 8 from that scout. If two players received the same grade at 13 and 14, then both received a 13.5 ranking. When a scout also names “Just missed” players, they are added on to the end of the scout’s list and all given the same averaged ranking.
Of course, these lists come in all different sizes. Every player that was ranked at least once by a scout gets an implied ranking from every other source. All players that were named on at least one list, but not the list in question, are added on to the back of the list and given an averaged rank. Then, with either explicit or implicit ranks for each player from each of the seven scouting outlets, we score an average ranking for each prospect. In total, 56 different player were mentioned in one way or another. Here are links to the seven sources:
And here is the aggregate Cardinals Top Prospects list for 2017:
Aggregate prospect ranking.txt
|1||Alex Reyes RHP||1.0||1||1||1||1||1||1|
|2||Carson Kelly C||3.5||4||4||3||4||5.5||2|
|3||Delvin Perez SS||3.9||3||3||6||6||2.5||4|
|4||Sandy Alcantara RHP||5.9||2||6||9||9||2.5||6|
|5||Harrison Bader OF||6.4||8||7||6||3||10.5||5|
|6||Magneuris Sierra OF||7.6||5||5||6||14||10.5||7|
|7||Luke Weaver RHP||7.9||7||2||2||2||5.5||3|
|8||Dakota Hudson RHP||8.4||6||9||6||13||5.5||9|
|9||Jack Flaherty RHP||10.3||10||33.5||6||5||5.5||8|
|10||Junior Fernandez RHP||16.7||33.5||33.5||13.5||8||10.5||10|
|11||Edmundo Sosa SS||17.7||33.5||8||13.5||12||10.5||13|
|12||Paul DeJong 3B/SS||20.9||33.5||33.5||13.5||11||10.5||11|
|13||Eliezer Alvarez 2B||21.1||33.5||10||24.5||24||10.5||12|
|14||Austin Gomber LHP||22.0||33.5||33.5||13.5||7||19||14|
|15||Jake Woodford RHP||23.6||33.5||33.5||13.5||15||19||17|
|16||Dylan Carlson OF/1B||24.1||33.5||33.5||13.5||20||19||16|
|17||Connor Jones RHP||25.3||33.5||33.5||13.5||22||19||22|
|18||Randy Arozarena OF/2B||25.7||33.5||33.5||24.5||21||19||15|
|19||Nick Plummer OF||26.4||33.5||33.5||24.5||18||19||23|
|23||Ronnie Williams RHP||28.6||33.5||33.5||24.5||10||40||25|
|24||Ryan Helsley RHP||29.1||33.5||33.5||24.5||16||19||43.5|
|25||Zac Gallen RHP||29.7||33.5||33.5||24.5||19||40||24|
|26||Bryce Denton OF/3B||29.7||33.5||33.5||24.5||17||40||26|
|27||Jeremy Martinez C||31.1||33.5||33.5||24.5||23||40||30|
|29||Tommy Edman INF||33.5||33.5||33.5||24.5||26||40||43.5|
|30||Jonatan Machado OF||33.8||33.5||33.5||42||25||40||29|
|31||Victor Garcia OF||34.4||33.5||33.5||24.5||32.5||40||43.5|
|43||Ian McKinney LHP||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|45||Chris Chinea C-1B;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|46||Luke Dykstra INF;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|47||Matt Fiedler OF;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|48||Mike Mayers RHP;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|49||Anthony Garcia OF;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|50||Jose Godoy C;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|51||Derian Gonzalez RHP;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|52||Gabriel Lino C;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|53||Luke Voit 1B;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|54||Matt Pearce RHP;||39.1||33.5||33.5||42||47.5||40||43.5|
|55||Darren Seferina 2B||40.9||33.5||33.5||54.5||47.5||40||43.5|
*When I first published this, I had Carson Kelly’s ranking from Minor League Ball incorrect. It has since been fixed, making Kelly the second best prospect
If you notice, ESPN’s list isn’t featured here. Their list is hidden behind paywall, and I’ll respect that by not showing it here. Some of the other sites have paywalls, but that’s the only one that goes to the effort of hiding the actual ranking. They’re included in computing the average rank, so if you feel like doing some algebra, I guess you can figure them out. I imagine you probably have better things to do though. A more interesting way to get an idea of his feelings on Cardinals prospects can be found in Craig’s interviews with Law here and here. My commentary will stick to things that can be figured out from reading those interviews.
Delvin Perez is just 18 years old and he’s the Cardinals’ second best prospect! That’s some big shoes to fill. Interestingly, he did that without placing second (or first) on any individual list. Luke Weaver had the most second places with three (as well as third on MLB’s list) but his ranking got killed by Law’s exclusion of him from his Top 10. He would have been second, without Law’s ranking. With it, he falls to seventh.
Carson Kelly is right behind. Among the young, mid-minors pitchers, Sandy Alcantara beats out Jack Flaherty and Junior Fernandez, though all three could see time at Double-A this year and who knows who will look the best just a few months from now. Harrison Bader and Magneuris represent the best future bets in the outfield right now, and are side-by-side in the rankings. This is a big year for both. As one of last year’s first round picks, Hudson makes an appearance at 8th. There’s some separation after Flaherty in the ninth spot, going from an average ranking of 10.1 to 16.6 for Fernandez.
That’s a fun result, but unfortunately it lacks application outside of ranking Cardinals prospects relative to each other. To get a better idea of their quality compared to the MLB prospect landscape, we’ll look at how Cardinals prospects ranked on MLB Top 100 prospect lists. Not each of the above sources has released an overall top prospect list, but here’s four that have:
We’ll combine the Cardinals’ rankings on these lists with the Surplus Values calculated by The Point of Pittsburgh’s excellent research on top prospects. They calculated average Surplus Values for different range’s on Baseball America’s Top 100 lists. Here’s the results:
This just concerned Baseball America’s lists, as they have the longest history. Still, for fun we’ll apply those values to other lists as well. For players that were named on at least one list but not another, they receive a Surplus Value half of the 76-100 range for that list. Players that made a “Just Missed” portion, are assigned 3/4th of that value. Again, we won’t show ESPN’s list, but they were used in calculating the average valuation. Here’s the results:
Unfortunately, you have to adjust Reyes’ value down quite a bit now. He’ll burn a year of control at the league minimum on the D.L. Carson Kelly and Delvin Perez have similar valuations though get there with vastly different profiles. Perez made all four lists, and is the only one besides Reyes to do so. That Perez is now a consensus top 100 prospect is quite the coupe for the Cardinals, who used a pick that on average is only worth about $10M or so in Surplus Value to acquire the potential star.
These represent the Cardinals biggest trade chips, should they decide to trade for MLB talent at the deadline. While these values don’t necessarily represent how MLB teams will value these players, the Top 100 lists used as sources are often made by former team scouts, and they also typically seek out input from scouts currently employed by teams. So it may not be all that far off.
These seven also make up the bulk of that top nine referenced earlier. Dakota Hudson made no Top 100 list, but did beat out Jack Flaherty in terms of average rank. Sierra actually placed sixth, beating out Weaver as well as Flaherty. It seems like those players should be considered the main plausible trade chips should the Cardinals need to get a deal done. Of course, every fan prefers their teams keep their own prospects, but even for teams like the Cardinals who clearly value the long-term, sometime you need to make a short-term move in a play-off race.
Outside of considering trade chips though, this paints a convenient picture of how Cardinals’ prospects are valued throughout the industry.