2019 St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat

Image credit: Alex Reyes (Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

To see the Cardinals top 10, click here. 

Kyle Glaser: Hey everybody, Happy New Year and thanks for joining me in the Cardinals chat. I’m still a little (ok, a lot) jet-lagged from being on the other side of the world for the past two weeks, so bear with me if my answers seem a bit scrambled at times. Anyway, let’s dive in.

Matt Boozan (Sarasota, FL): 

    Tyler Oniell looks ready for everyday ABs in 2019 do you see him succeeding as a everyday player if D. Fowler struggles out the gate or will his strike out rate hinder him making him a similar player to Randal Grichuk? Thanks for the Chat!

Kyle Glaser: My pleasure Matt, thanks for joining. I do expect O’Neill to emerge the Cardinals everyday right fielder this season. Strikeouts will always be a large part of his game, but he’s shown improvement the more reps he gets at every level and that’s always a good sign. Eventually I do think he’ll make enough adjustments to be a perennial 30+ home run hitter and better than Grichuk, but don’t expect O’Neill’s average to ever be much higher than .250 or so.

Adam (Wisconsin): 

    Ivan Herrera: How far from the list was he and anything new to report?

Kyle Glaser: Herrera is a name to know but he wasn’t really in the Top 10 discussion yet. He’s still a really impressive pure young hitter with potential for double-digit home run power once he matures physically. Defensively he was quite a bit worse than expected however – overall game awareness was pretty poor, arm was fringy, seven passed balls in 20 games, it wasn’t pretty back there at all. He’s still just 18 and has all the leadership qualities you want to see out of a young catcher, but he’s got a long, long way to go defensively, even taking his age into account.

Frank (Indianapolis, IN): 

    How many of these guys are likely to make the next BA 100 list?

Kyle Glaser: I expect the top 5 to be on there.

Mike (St. Louis, MO): 

    How far off was Helsley, and is his best role a SP or RP?

Kyle Glaser: Helsley was close, as in you’ll see him in the top 10 as soon as the top two guys on this list graduate. His best role with the Cardinals is as an RP, but he’d fit as a starter on some teams with lesser arms at the big league level.

Eric (Detroit, MI): 

    What can you tell us about Jonatan Machado?

Kyle Glaser: Machado was probably the Cardinals prospect that got crushed the most by evaluators this year, including some internal ones. He’s even smaller than his listed 155 pounds – he’s closer to 140 – and just extremely physically weak. Scouts saw a free swinger with so-so bat speed and zero ability to impact the ball. He was also pretty rough in CF and his plus speed played slower in games. It really wasn’t good, in any regard.

John (NJ): 

    Kyle, thanks for the chat. How close was Alvaro Seijas to the top 10? Was it a lost season for him, or is there something else left in the tank? Has his ceiling decreased at all?

Kyle Glaser: Hey John, my pleasure. Seijas was not anywhere near the top 10 discussion. In fact, he didn’t make the top 30. When you’re that hittable in Low A, no one is going to think much of you. You’ll notice he was pretty hittable at Johnson City too in 2017. From holding his stuff to sequencing to locating, Seijas is pretty far behind where he needs to be, even in the context of his age and level. This current offseason and the 2019 season will be critical for him to take some much-needed steps.

John (STL): 

    I was a little disappointed to not see Jhon Torres sneak in the end of the Top 10. I presume this is because he needs more exposure? He’s my pick across the minors to skyrocket into national consciousness. What are your thoughts on him?

Kyle Glaser: Torres isn’t far off and would’ve been Top 10 in a lot of weaker systems. He missed only because the Cardinals have so much upper-level talent, and you’ll see when you get your Prospect Handbook that the ceiling grade on Torres is higher than many who ranked ahead of him, although his risk grade is also much higher because he’s a corner bat yet to play above Rookie ball. If it all clicks at Peoria, you’ll see him on the Cardinals Top 10 by midseason without a doubt.

Wes (Wautoma, Wisconsin): 

    I’ve read some promising analysis of Jhon Torres. I’m hoping to see him play in person for Peoria this year. What are your thoughts on 2019 and his future impact?

Kyle Glaser: Piggybacking off the last question, what you have a chance to see at Peoria is a massive lefthanded hitter with a beautiful swing, impact power, more speed than you think for a guy his size with good baserunning instincts and a mature feel to his game, from his approach at the plate to his outfield jumps and instincts. There are a lot of reasons to be really high on Torres, but the jump from Rookie ball to full-season is a big one, and he’ll be tested by the uptick in pitching. If he handles it as most think he should be able to, he’ll skyrocket.

Zac (NYC): 

    How far away from the top 10 is Delvin Perez? What is his ceiling right now? A big league regular?

Kyle Glaser: Delvin Perez didn’t even come close to being in the top 30, let alone the top 10. His ceiling right now is a minor leaguer. It’s bad. It’s really bad.

Zac (NYC): 

    Did Griffin Roberts just miss the top 10? Do you think he can stick as a starter?

Kyle Glaser: Roberts is in the 11-20 group but didn’t really get much consideration for Top 10. Neither internal nor external evaluators saw him in that tier. He has a chance to stick as a starter, but it’s 90-10 he ends up a reliever.

Mike (Quebec): 

    Where would you and where do you think Montero, Gorman, and Nunez will start the season?

Kyle Glaser: HiA, LoA, and Johnson City in that order, although Nunez has an outside shot to begin at Low A in Peoria.

Jake (Peoria): 

    Do you think a Joey Gallo with less power and a higher average is a good Gorman comp?

Kyle Glaser: Think more Mike Moustakas, although Joey Gallo is certainly an outcome available for Gorman, but not one the Cardinals (or anyone) really wants.

Art Rowe (Iowa): 

    Where 1-30 would you rank the Cardinals farm system? Is their Latin American focus yielding results?

Kyle Glaser: Our org talent rankings will be out soon, and you can see for yourself then. They are comfortably in the top half of all farm systems. Their Latin American focus is yielding results, as you can see with a third of their top nine guys being signed directly from Latin America and a lot more interesting guys (Garcia, Arozarena, Herrera, etc) behind them.

Mark (San Antonio): 

    Encouraged by the Genesis Cabrera ranking. Does it reflect encouragement that he has a decent shot of being a rotation piece or just that his floor of reliever is high? Super curious to whether you think he can actually improve his control.

Kyle Glaser: It reflects the value of having a potential lefthanded power reliever/closer. Think about just how good Felipe Vasquez is and how valuable having an arm like that is at the end of games, and it’s not hard to justify having Cabrera that high. His control probably won’t ever be good enough to get through a lineup three times every fifth day, but it’s enough to get 3-5 outs at the end of games

Dan (Augusta, ME): 

    Does Ivan Herrera have enough tools to projects as a potential starter eventually, or was his case one of a polished/physically mature kid being too good for the GCL? Thanks!

Kyle Glaser: Herrera absolutely has the offensive tools to be a potential starter. It’s just a matter of him developing defensively to get there.

Ryan (Abingdon, MD): 

    Andrew Knizner has shown an ability to barrel balls amd control the strike zone, but his pop did decline as he reached the upper levels last year. Do you think he can rediscover that part of his game?

Kyle Glaser: As you said, he has the ability to barrel balls and control the strike zone. If you have those two traits, with how the major league ball has been flying out, home run power will happen. Really, nothing about Knizner’s offensive game is a concern. It’s just his defense that the Cardinals internally are lukewarm on.

Cards1 (St. Joseph, MO): 

    What kind of upside does Joerlin De Los Santos have? He’s an OF now right?

Kyle Glaser: De Los Santos is really interesting. He can fly and covers a lot of ground in center, and although he’s short he’s pretty strong and can really sting the baseball. He was a 17-year-old in the DSL so he’s a long, long way away, but you can see the makings of a center fielder hitting either at the top of bottom of the order if everything clicks.

Ryan (Abingdon, MD): 

    Is Ramon Urias a regular or a utility guy long term? Is there room for him in St. Louis?

Kyle Glaser: More of a utility guy. And with Greg Garcia gone, there is room for Urias to snag a bench spot in St. Louis in the next year or so. He’s going to have to show a little more than he did in AAA to get that spot, however. Right now the Cardinals internally like Tommy Edman a lot more as the guy to fill that utility role for the big league team.

Ryan (Abingdon, MD): 

    St Louis has a lot of arms who could follow Jordan Hicks from the minor league rotation to the big league bullpen (Reyes, Dakota Hudson, Ryan Helsley, Griffin Roberts, Junior Fernandez, Connor Jones, Stephen Gingery, and others I’m sure). Many of these players could profile quite well in the bullpen, but Alex Reyes aside, who do you think is most likely to stick in a starting role?

Kyle Glaser: I think all those guys probably end up in the bullpen if they remain with the Cardinals, but Helsley could start for some other teams. Hudson has a shot too. Gingery is TBD with his Tommy John surgery.

Nolan Gorman (Elite Prospect?): 

    The history of HS bats making it up to LoA in their draft year has been a good predictor of eventual success. I showed that I have some of the biggest power in the Minors even as a 18 year old. However, what do scouts think about my hit tool? Am I destined to be Joey Gallo or does my FV hit reach 50?

Kyle Glaser: Most see Nolan Gorman settling into a .240-.250 range, which is a 45 to 50 hit grade on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. However, some of the bad habits he showed in 2018 (chasing, lack of breaking ball adjustments, etc) have Joey Gallo on the mind of some, although he’s got a lot more feel to hit than Gallo and a sub-.200 average isn’t something anyone sees yet

Alex (Bay Area): 

    Happy new year and thanks for chatting with us today! Tyler O’Neil and Nolan Gorman are #2/#4, however is it fair to say Elehuris Montero has the best combination of hit/power between the 3? What do scouts think of his FV hit/power? Does 55 hit / 60 power seem reasonable? If so, with his positional value playing 3rd, aren’t those signs of a prospect who could break into the top 100 in 2019?

Kyle Glaser: You are indeed correct that Montero has the best combination of potential average and power. He’s actually more hit over power, so flip your grades and that gets you a little closer. You won’t have to wait long to see him in the Top 100 in 2019, if you catch my drift.

Elehuris Montero (Future Star?): 

    Nolan Gorman took the rookie league by storm and gained most of the attention in the Cardinals farm system. I was actually the MVP of the Midwest League and ended the year in HiA. Being only 20 for most of the 2019 season and potentially playing my way into AA, what is my ceiling? Is it fair to say my offensive ceiling is just as high if not higher than top 40 prospect Austin Riley?

Kyle Glaser: Riley has more power and is quite a bit better defensively at 3B, but Montero certainly is showing himself to be a prospect to watch in his own right. If two years from now Montero is in a similar place Riley is now – No. 1 prospect in his system, knocking on the door to the majors – no one should be surprised.

Moe (Chicago): 

    At what point do the Alex Reyes injuries start to lower his status as a prospect? And at what point does he become known as “injury prone” and start to tumble down the Top 100?

Kyle Glaser: This is a debate we’ve had in our office quite a bit. To be honest Reyes would have tumbled down with this latest injury, except before this one he looked the best he’d ever been. His control sharpened up big time, his slider jumped to give him a fourth above-average pitch, and everything about him from his body to his mound presence just improved tremendously. He wasn’t the same Alex Reyes as pre-TJ – he was markedly better, and ultimately those improvements kept him No. 1 in the system even with his alarming injury history.

Jason (Grand Rapids): 

    Who is better defensively at 3B? Montero or Gorman? How do you see that working out as each gets closer to the Majors?

Kyle Glaser: This was an interesting discussion I had with a lot of evaluators. Ultimately the nod went to Gorman because he gets a little better first step and has better instincts and reads. At the end of the day, the expectation is 3B will be Gorman’s as long as he stays fit, with Montero moving to 1B or possibly LF. Either way, Montero will hit enough that he’ll be just fine wherever he plays.

Clayton (Galveston): 

    I don’t know what to make of Tyler O’Neill. Some days he reminds me of a young Larry Walker: raw but bursting with potential. Other days he reminds me of Joey Gallo. Does he ultimately end up falling somewhere in-between? Or what’s his realistic ceiling and, perhaps more importantly, his floor?

Kyle Glaser: There is a very real risk Tyler O’Neill becomes a righthanded Russell Branyan and never tamps down his strikeouts enough to be more than a bench player. But as discussed earlier, his long history of improving the more reps he gets provides some hope he’ll eventually settle into a low-average, big-power middle of the order bat, with the ultimate hope being a guy like Khris Davis.

Angie (Denver): 

    So Nolan Gorman is pretty much just Jim Thome, right?

Kyle Glaser: Let’s not compare teenagers to Hall of Famers shall we…

Clayton (Galveston): 

    I was surprised the Diamondbacks ended up with Carson Kelly instead of Andrew Knizner. Who would you have preferred?Kelly’s ceiling seems lower, but his floor higher. Is that fair?

Kyle Glaser: I’m always taking the bat, and that would’ve have been Knizner.

Frank (South Chicago): 

    Would you take Alex Reyes over Jack Flaherty? Or would Flaherty’s lower risk trump the higher upside of Reyes? I love these chats and can’t wait to get my pre-ordered Prospect Handbook!

Kyle Glaser: Oh man. That’s a tough one. Um….gosh. I honestly need to sit on this. Flaherty is a dude who is absolutely real. But I also think Alex Reyes can be a true No. 1 starter with his improvements. Man. I don’t know – but it’s a great problem for the Cardinals to have.

Eric (Lexington, KY): 

    Of the three 3B prospects (Gorman, Montero, and Nunez), who do you give the best chance to be a long-term, franchise type player in the majors?

Kyle Glaser: The guy ranked highest is ranked highest for a reason. That said, there are only maybe 10-12 potential franchise players in the entire minors at a given time. None of these guys are in that tier.

Matt (STL): 

    Thanks for chatting Kyle! Tyler O’Neil and Nolan Gorman are the big name bats but Elehuris Montero’s big 2018 break out was overshadowed by Gorman’s post draft production. What are scouts now saying about Montero’s FV tools? He hit for both average and power all while showing some patience and keeping his K% below 20%.

Kyle Glaser: You’ll have Elehuris Montero’s hit and power grades (as well as all his other grades and the tool grades for every organization’s top 10 prospect) in the Prospect Handbook. Go ahead and get that pre-order in now

James (Peoria): 

    What is your take on C Brian O’Keefe? Put up big power numbers in 2017 then scuffled this past season with only 7 homeruns and reduced playing time.

Kyle Glaser: He’s 25 years old and has played one game above A-ball. Neither the Cardinals internally nor any scouts externally consider him part of their future.

Will (St. Louis, MO): 

    Do you see Harrison Bader as a future fourth outfielder when pitchers figure him out, or has he progressed as a player to where he’ll be a starting outfielder for the foreseeable future? What do you think are the most likely scenarios for third base prospects Montero, Nunez, and Gorman? Who’s most likely to move to first base or outfield?

Kyle Glaser: Bader has some very serious offensive shortcomings (read: he can’t touch anything that spins) but with his defense, speed and ability to crush lefties and survive against righties will keep him starting, at least for a bit. I think the most likely scenario is Gorman ends up at 3B and Montero is at 1B, both hitting in the middle of the Cardinals lineup for a good chunk of the 2020s. Nunez is a little more wait and see.

Paul Ivice (Jensen Beach, Florida): 

    At which position is the Cardinals minor-league system weakest, either in depth or strength of better prospects?

Kyle Glaser: They are very, very weak in the middle infield. With the trade of Andy Young, no one outside of Tommy Edman is really even considered more than an up-and-down guy at either 2B or SS.

John (Missouri): 

    What’re the realistic ETAs for the big corner guys Gorman and Montero? Likelihood their both every-day guys in the bigs?

Kyle Glaser: You’ll see Montero before Gorman. A 2021 debut for Montero and 2022 for Gorman isn’t unreasonable. We project them both to be everyday big leaguers, but note that neither have played above A-ball, and the odds are stacked against both of them making it. Just the way baseball is.

Archie (Rhode Island): 

    Does the quality of all the young OFs in the system make Carlson more of a piece they can use to upgrade the ML roster through a trade?

Kyle Glaser: Keep in mind Carlson is still very young and not nearly as ready as all the other guys (Bader, O’Neill, Thomas, Garcia, Arozarena) who have either reached the majors or are knocking on the door. He’s more insurance for when some of those guys inevitably don’t reach their ceilings, get hurt, etc. The Cardinals internally like Carlson a lot, more than other teams do, so his value to them as a potential part of their future is greater than what they would get in a trade at this point.

Jacob (Busch Stadium): 

    Any hesitance to having Reyes top the list again? Is his ceiling just as high or is it all based on his potential stuff? I’d love to eventually see the guy we, a few years ago, hoped was on his way. Happy new year!

Kyle Glaser: Happy New Year to you too Jacob. The thing is it’s not potential stuff with Reyes. It’s present stuff. Right now he showed four above-average big league pitches, two of them easy plus offerings with a third flashing plus, and improved control. The stuff he is showing right now is that of a No. 1/2 starter. It’s just health, which is huge with him. But the improvements he made kept him at No. 1 in this system, and for me, he’s still one of the top 10 prospects in baseball.

Jon (Olympia, WA): 

    On BA’s twitter in the fall they mentioned that O’Neil had officially graduated from the prospect list do to playing 61 games. What happened since then for him to be back on the prospect list?

Kyle Glaser: It wasn’t games that would have graduated him, it would have been ABs. And the reason for that mistake announcement of his graduation is on me. I counted his PAs instead of his ABs and removed him from the Top 100 as having “graduated”. Just a dumb mistake on my part, and I own it. So he’s officially now at 130 ABs. With one more, he will graduate.

Brandon (St. Louis): 

    I’m a little confused by prospect/rookie status. Last year BA said O’Neill graduated from their top-100, and he appears to have been on the roster for more than 45 days last season. Can you shed light on what I am missing? Do those days need to be prior to September? Was BA quick to jump the “graduation” gun, or is the top-100 different than individual top-10 lists? I was surprised to see him on the list!

Kyle Glaser: See previous answer. I messed up and counted his PAs instead of his ABs. Our marker is 130 ABs. Once they get past that, they graduate.

Mike (St. Louis, Mo.): 

    I’m obviously intrigued by the eye-popping numbers that Malcom Nunez provided in the DSL last year as a 17-year old. I understand patience is going to be key here, and the organization might not want to push him too much. Where do you realistically see him starting/finishing the 2019 season? And if you had to slap a comp on him right now, who comes to mind? Thanks!

Kyle Glaser: The Cardinals actually wanted to move Nunez to the GCL last year but ran into visa issues. Some in the org think he’s advanced enough as a hitter to begin 2019 at low A Peoria right away. We’ll see in spring training if he holds up to that, but I think he ends up in Peoria at some point in 2019, whether it’s at the start or the finish. And let’s hold off on comping 17 year olds, now and forever, and let them just be them

Jason (Milwaukee): 

    What’s Montero’s upside in terms of bat and power? Is he really that good of a hitter to warrant such a high ranking?

Kyle Glaser: Montero has a chance to hit .280 with 25-plus home runs, and maybe even more on both counts. So yes, he is that good of a hitter

Paul (St. Louis): 

    This year and long term, do you think Alex Reyes is better suited to be a closer or does he have top of the rotation talent?

Kyle Glaser: He has No. 1-stuff. You don’t put that in the bullpen except as an absolute last resort. Keep running him out as a starter as long as you can.

Mark (Durham, NC): 

    Any early thoughts on Mateo Gil?

Kyle Glaser: Gil really, really impressed with his athleticism and mature play on the field. A lot of other people in the chat are asking for a potential breakout in 2019, Gil may be the guy.

Ken (Lakewood CA): 

    Is Knizner thought to be the next Cardinal catcher? Is he good enough defensively to become their #1 guy behind the plate?

Kyle Glaser: I’m glad you asked this Ken. The deal is other teams think Knizner is fine behind the plate. The Cardinals, however, have very, very high standards after nearly 15 years of Yadier Molina. I found it very interesting during the course of my reporting how unsure the Cardinals internally are of Knizner defensively, to the point it actually knocked him down a few spots on this list from where I initially had him. They acknowledge they have high expectations for their catchers, and aren’t sure if Knizner can get there. Average doesn’t cut it for them, whereas other teams would be fine with it. This coming year, and what Knizner does to make strides defensively, will be crucial in terms of the Cardinals deciding whether they’d feel comfortable riding him for 110-120 games a year behind the plate or want to pair him with someone else in more of true timeshare.

Kyle (St. Louis): 

    Is Nick Plummer still alive?

Kyle Glaser: He’s alive. He’s just playing with no energy and swinging from his shoes when he takes the bat off his shoulder. He’s been a non-prospect for two years now with every evaluator I speak with, Cardinals internal sources included.

Ken (Lakewood CA): 

    Do you see Hudson as a SP in 2019? 2020? Or is he destined to be a quality RP?

Kyle Glaser: If I were a betting man, I think Hudson spends the bulk of his career in late relief. That said, he’ll get the chance to start some in 2019, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he figures out enough command to survive as a solid, durable back-end starter. Either way, he’s a quality major league arm who will help the Cardinals win games for years to come.

Moe (Detroit): 

    Where would Andy Young have ranked? Also, where you did fly in from that was half-way around the world? You jet-setter you!

Kyle Glaser: Andy Young would have been in the 11-20 range. He can absolutely, legitimately hit. And I was in India the last few weeks for one of my best friend’s weddings. It was awesome, but the nearly 12-hour time difference is definitely screwing with me as I get adjusted back here in the U.S.

Kyle (Jacksonville): 

    Jake Woodford make his big league debut in 2019?

Kyle Glaser: It will depend on how many injuries hit. Woodford isn’t next man up right now, but he’s in the line. Throwing his fastball with more command and conviction will be key in 2019. If he shows he can do that in AAA, that will move him up the pecking order for a callup.

Jeff (St. Louis): 

    Who is a lower level, potential breakout pitching and hitting prospect we should keep our eye on?

Kyle Glaser: Keep an eye on Carlos Soler. Some thought he had the highest upside of anyone on their talented DSL team in 2017 – Ivan Herrera included – and he started to click in 2018. Another step forward and the Cardinals might have something special. Pitching-wise, Jesus Cruz seems not all that great on paper – older for level, more of a reliever than starter – but a lot of scouts like his stuff and moxie and think he’ll be a big leaguer.

Bryan (Columbia): 

    Of all the prospects in your Top 30, who would you consider the most likely to be a perennial All-Star candidate?

Kyle Glaser: Alex Reyes

Ryan (Abingdon, MD): 

    No questions about Luken Baker yet? Please shed some light on this mountain of a man. Where does he start next year?

Kyle Glaser: I was surprised we made it this far without a question about Baker too. But Paul Bunyan Jr. starts next year as the starting 1B at Palm Beach in all likelihood. It will be really interesting to see what kind of shape he shows up in and how well he’s moving, because that will be key in whether he just becomes kind of a righthanded Dan Vogelbach or actually is mobile enough to run out there at 1B on a semi-consistent basis.

Roger (Springfield): 

    Late to the chat, so I’m sorry if this is redundant. Where do you see Leandro Cedeno playing defensively, long term? And has any teenager ever received less attention after batting .336/.419/.592? Thanks, Kyle!

Kyle Glaser: Hey Roger, no problem, and you actually are the first one to answer this question. Cedeno is a pure first baseman long-term. The Cardinals just played him in the outfield this year to try and keep him agile. Because of that, there is some hesitation on him, but he has as much raw power as anyone in the system (Gorman included) and when he hits it, it’s jaw-dropping. He’ll be in the top 30, and we’re watching him. The path is just difficult for righthanded hitting, 1B only types.

Nat (Iowa): 

    I know he’s not really a prospect anymore, but since you mentioned him earlier I’ll ask. Where do see Jack Flaherty in 3-5 years? Are we talking about him in Cy Young conversations? Or is he a solid 2/3 starter?

Kyle Glaser: I think the answer is solid 2/3 starter, but with his aptitude it wouldn’t shock me if Flaherty makes another adjustment and jumps into another tier. He’s special, both his arm and his makeup.

Harry (Davenport): 

    Hey, Kyle! Evan Kruczynski didn’t look like anything special until he got to AA, where he made 6 starts with a 2.50 ERA, 2.95 FIP, and maybe more importantly required just 12.8 pitches per inning. So…is the big lefty a potential #4 starter long term? And what if anything actually changed for him upon arriving at Double-A? Thanks for chatting, Kyle!

Kyle Glaser: Hey Harry, thanks for checking in. Kruczynski certainly started getting some love as a potential back-end starter with his performance at AA and then in the Fall League. There’s not any big velo or a nasty swing-and-miss secondary anywhere there, but he throws four pitches for strikes and really manages his fastball well in the zone, getting good angle on it with his 6-foot-5 frame. It’s hard to see him jumping some of the Cardinals other arms and getting into the rotation, but he’s certainly put himself on the map as a potentially useful big league arm, whether that’s as a swingman or up-down guy working north-south with his fastball and curveball

Hansford (Mansfield): 

    Will dennis ortega make the top 30? What did scouts have to say about him?

Kyle Glaser: Ortega was one of my last cuts from the 30, mostly because he was 21 in low A with mediocre offensive numbers. That said, he’s a good athlete behind the plate – lean, muscular, mobile – and has a cannon for an arm. He just has never projected to hit and isn’t hitting, and guys who don’t hit at low A don’t become consequential big leaguers – even catchers.

Hansford (Mansfield): 

    Is arozarena an extra outfielder at this point or is there more there?

Kyle Glaser: Randy Arozarena has the skills to be an everyday outfielder, but not the approach or feel for the game. Just too many wasted ABs and bad mistakes made on the bases to be an everyday player on a contending team as the Cardinals are. He probably fits as an extra OF for them, maybe a starter on a second-division team.

Trevor (Jerseyville, IL): 

    Are the Cardinals looking to trade any of their OF depth in the high minors such as Thomas, Arozareno, Garcia or Justin Williams? Definately not enough room for everyone. Also we know their system is thin on pitching below AA.Who is a good sleeper pick for next year?

Kyle Glaser: You are correct the Cardinals have a tremendous amount of OF depth and can trade from it however they see fit. I would imagine if they trade it though, it will be for big league reinforcements, not for more minor leaguers. Keep in mind this was an 88-win team a year ago – and that was with the bullpen imploding, the manager getting fired, big contract guys not performing, etc. They aren’t far, especially after adding Paul Goldschmidt. It will be for big league talent they trade for, not low-level pitchers, which you are correct they do need, however. As for a sleeper, check out my answer earlier in this chat

Dave (Grand Rapids): 

    Jhon Torres was pretty good in 2017, then pretty good again in 2018 — until he got traded to the Cards, then his hitting exploded. Did St. Louis materially change something about his approach/stance at the plate? Because everything got better. Strikeouts dropped by 20%, isolated slugging nearly doubled, walks increased, BABIP jumped by over 100 points. Any insider insights? Thanks much, Kyle!

Kyle Glaser: The Cardinals didn’t really change anything. What has happened to Torres is he’s grown into his body at an incredibly rapid pace. Back when he was playing for Colombia in youth tournaments, he was a tall gangly kid without any real tools who was a long, long, long projection. And as it does with some of those guys, they fill out, get coordinated, and it all clicks. From month to month almost, you could see Torres getting more confident, getting stronger, getting more sure of his ability to crush anything or anyone he faces. The Cardinals snagged him right as he was really getting into it, and we saw it in how he exploded afterward

Bill (Detroit): 

    Dumb question here. Why is a righty-hitting 1B materially less valuable than a lefty-hitting one? Thanks, Kyle. Oh, also: Can you tell me anything about Elvin DeJesus? Any 16-year-old middle infielder who posts an above-average hitting line in the DSL gets my attention. Thanks a million, Kyle, and have a great 2019!

Kyle Glaser: Hey Bill, not a dumb question at all. Generally speaking, lefthanded power is harder to find than righthander power. Finding that lefthanded power at a power position like 1B is generally what teams try to do, although at the end of the day, home runs are home runs and teams will take them wherever they come from. As far as Elvin De Jesus, Ben Badler will have a complete scouting report on him in his international reviews, which should be released in the coming months, so keep an eye out for those.

Samuel (Birmingham , AL): 

    Will Lane Thomas be a major league player next year? If so, what is his role?

Kyle Glaser: Thomas should make his debut next year, and it will be as a fourth OF/bench OF to start.

Frank (Champaign): 

    Happy New Year, Kyle! I’ve heard that Adanson Cruz plays excellent defense, and the (very limited) publicly available metrics concur. But can you tell me anything about his hitting potential? Looks like he showed some ability to hit for both average and power…but, 17 years old or not, he fanned so much for a kid in the DSL, it makes me leery. Thanks for your time, Kyle.

Kyle Glaser: Happy New Year to you as well Frank. Cruz is kind of lanky and long-armed at the plate and is trying to find the balance a little between being an all-fields contact hitter and getting some lift into his swing to generate more power. He’s shown the ability to do both, and just needs to grow and find what kind of hitter he wants to be. Once he does that, I think we’ll see the strikeouts come down and the rest of his game stay pretty solid. He kind of got lost behind Nunez and De Los Santos in the DSL, but Cruz is a good one in his own right

Ben (Houston): 

    Hey, Kyle! Johan Oviedo has been a disappointment since signing for a bundle. But the hulking 20-year-old was actually very effective over the second half of 2018, if short of dominant (3.06 ERA, 68 K’s in 71 IP). Is he perhaps just growing into his huge 6′ 7″ frame, getting his coordination together? Thanks for the chat, Kyle.

Kyle Glaser: Hey Ben, thanks for checking in. Evaluators both internally and externally actually liked Oviedo quite a bit even when he wasn’t going so hot, and his second half turnaround really strengthened their belief that he could be a potential back-end starter someday. As you mentioned, Oviedo is absolutely huge and is still figuring out his timing and coordination with his long limbs, which affects both his control and the consistency of his stuff. He’ll show you 96 and flash both a plus breaking ball and a plus changeup, but never at the same time. Another thing that has come up with Oviedo is he really struggled with the culture adjustment coming to the U.S., but he started to figure it out. Showing up on time and preparing in between his starts better were two specific improvements highlighted by the org to me, so there is a mix of growing maturity as well as growing stuff. His 2019 will be very, very interesting to watch, and I think he’s got a chance to really pop

Matt (seattle): 

    Hi Kyle, Thanks for giving such a long post-holiday chat! What do you think of Connor Capel, i.e. the other outfielder the cardinals got in the Mercado trade?

Kyle Glaser: Hey Matt, to be honest the reports on Capel weren’t all that great this year, either from his time with the Indians or Cardinals. There’s some speed and some power there, but there’s not really a sense he’ll hit enough for it to matter. Torres is the main guy in that trade, consider anything Capel gives a bonus.

Kyle Glaser: Alright Cardinals Nation, that will do it for today. Thank you for all your questions, and hope you all have a great rest of your week.

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