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Viva El Birdos 2018 Cardinals Top Prospect Rankings: Wadye Infante

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This outfielder is on the Just Missed List

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE

Wadye Ynfante, OF — As tooled-up a prospect as there is in the system, Ynfante could jump up this list in a big way next year if he has a strong season in 2018. He possesses easy plus speed, probably closer to a 65, and both covers a ton of ground in the outfield and wreaks havoc on the bases (11 of 14 stolen bases). He played most of the season at 19 for Johnson City and put up a 133 wRC+. He walked over 9% of the time. He slugged near .500.

Those are the good things. Now for my concerns, and the reason he’s here in the mentions, rather than sitting at #22 or something.

Ynfante struck out over 27% of the time in the Appalachian League this year. That...is problematic. Now, he did post a .192 ISO and put seven homers over the fence, which are both very good things, but his line was largely driven by a .394 BABIP. Now, low-minors BABIPs are weird, and exceptionally high figures are often actually positive signs that the player is simply too good for the level, rather than simply fortunate, but I admit I’m still worried about Ynfante regressing, hard, in the very near future.

The Cardinals have moved Ynfante along almost painfully slow so far; he spent two and a half years playing in the Dominican, and then came over to the big leagues for half a season in the GCL last year. This year they bumped him up only one notch, to Johnson City. The fact he struggled so badly to make contact against Appy League pitching scares me. He has outstanding bat speed, but a very complicated swing that seems tough to time up. (There’s a little Javy Baez to Ynfante’s game, for good and ill both.) The tools are undeniable, but a contact rate that low at such a low level is terrifying for his future.

I do believe Ynfante stays in center field, so that helps the floor. The glove and baserunning both could be real assets. I just don’t know if he’s going to swing and miss his way out of a career.