Coming into the draft it looked like a couple of upper level prospects for the Cards would probably be on their way out the door. While prospects like Max Schrock and Junior Fernandez stayed put, pitchers Chris Ellis and Winston Nicasio are moving on down the road.
If you don’t remember, Chris Ellis came to the Cardinals in the Jaime Garcia trade prior to the 2017 season. Ellis was the 17th ranked prospect in the Braves system at that time, but didn’t even crack the top-30 with the Cardinals. One of the issues Ellis struggled with was command, but that had improved last season, with Ellis dropping from 87 walks in 146.1 innings during 2016 down to just 37 in 132.2 innings during 2018. That also caused his WHIP to drop over that same two-season stretch from 1.428 to 1.168 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio to jump from 1.45 to 3.35.
When it comes to Winston Nicasio, prior to last season, The Red Baron did a pretty good write-up on him that you can check out here. He summed up Nicasio pretty perfectly heading into the 2018 season.
The more promising addition was shortstop Alberto Triunfel. Triunfel had been in the Angels organization the last few seasons and with the Rangers before that, going back to 2011. He split his season between High A and Triple A and put up some okay numbers at the plate. He strikes out a bit much, but also hit .274 and had a wRC+ of 98.
The other player taken was more of a project, pitcher John Fasola. He’s been used primarily in relief in the minors, and is coming off a tough last couple seasons. Fasola sat out the 2017 season after Tommy John surgery, came back last season and had an okay start, but then suffered a season-ending ACL injury in July. Before that, he had been projected as a potential late-season call up last season.
Max Schrock was high on the list of prospects expected to move yesterday, but once the draft unfolded, the AAA prospect found himself still with the Cardinals. Schrock had a down 2018 in Memphis, which saw him put up career low numbers in most offensive categories. Max did improve on his strikeout percentage and overall put more balls in play last season, but the overall drop-off had to scare teams away from him. Schrock struggled defensively at times last season, but should be able to bounce back and put up numbers overall similar to where he had been as he rose through the system.
Junior Fernandez will probably spend most of his season at Palm Beach, but should see some time in Memphis if he can improve on his command. He’s still not getting enough batters out. Fernandez posted a 1.67 WHIP last season to go with a 1% strikeout-to-walk ratio. His inability to keep people off the bases in his 16 relief appearances last season at Palm Beach, led to giving up 12 earned runs in 21 innings, but 5 of those came in one appearance. When Fernandez was a starter his strikeout and walk numbers were much better than his relief work last season, and that will need to drastically improve if he’s going to keep progressing through the system.
Wadye Ynfante also still has some work to do. He’s still striking out way too much and it’s getting worse. He struck out at a 27.3% clip in 2017 and it ballooned up to 35.3% in 2018. Ynfante’s Steamer projections see it going up this season even more to 37.4%. Overall, Steamer has him hitting .160/.201/.228 in 2019. For Wadye to have a future with the club he needs to get more selective at the plate, and stop swinging the bat so much.