Midseason Prospect Update: Cardinals

The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues as of June 22 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2016 draft and July 2, 2016 signees are also not eligible.

SEE ALSO: Midseason Top 100

Most baseball pundits saw the Cubs returning to the postseason in 2016—but few picked them to run away with the NL Central title the way they had at the start of July.

C  Carson Kelly
1B Matt Adams
2B Kolten Wong
3B Matt Carpenter
SS Aledmys Diaz
LF Harrison Bader
CF Magneuris Sierra
RF Stephen Piscotty
No. 1 Starter Alex Reyes
No. 2 Starter Michael Wacha
No. 3 Starter Carlos Martinez
No. 4 Starter Luke Weaver
No. 5 Starter Marco Gonzales
Closer Trevor Rosenthal

The Cubs’ hot start—combined with the Cardinals’ surprisingly poor record at home—put St. Louis in an usual hole. The Cardinals were seven games behind the Cubs, a gap they likely cannot overcome. However, despite the poor record at Busch, St. Louis was still squarely in the wild-card mix.

The Cardinals suffered through a seven-game home losing streak—their longest skid at Busch since 1983—that ended July 1. The Cards’ subpar play at home was stunning. In Mike Matheny’s four seasons as manager, the Cards had won at least 50 games at home each year, and the club hasn’t had a losing home season since 1999.

The home woes are easily traceable. The Cardinals are slashing .254/.325/.425 at home, which ranks in the middle of the pack in baseball, but on the road it’s .267/.341/.466, which is the best in baseball. The ERA is 3.85 on the road, sixth best in baseball, and 3.99 at home, again middle of the road.

Still, the season hasn’t been without its share of successes—and surprises. Aledmys Diaz, the Cuban shortstop outrighted off the roster a year ago, rose from marginal 25-man roster player to starting shortstop and all-star, one who has made major contributions at bat and in the field. Diaz leads regulars in batting while slugging higher than .500. Jeremy Hazelbaker was an early-season star before falling off. The pitching has been a disappointment as free agent Mike Leake and stalwart Adam Wainwright have been inconsistent and Trevor Rosenthal lost his closer job to “The Final Boss,” Seung Hwan Oh.

The farm system, however, again has produced positive results, including first-half titles for Double-A Springfield and low Class A Peoria. Most of the pitching staff at Peoria was picked for the Midwest League all-star game, outfielder Harrison Bader has hit his way to Triple-A in his first full season, while third baseman Paul DeJong has reached Double-A in his.

With Trevor Rosenthal’s struggles, the Cardinals are reportedly in the market for relief help. With the depth of their pitching, especially in the lower levels, they appear to have the necessary inventory to get a bullpen arm, such as the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman should New York decide to trade the pending free agent.


1. Alex Reyes, rhp

Reyes showed no sign of rust from his 50-game marijuana suspension, thanks largely to the Cardinals having him take innings in extended spring training. But although Reyes has struck out 13.5 batters per nine innings at Triple-A, the Cardinals are pumping the brakes on a big league debut. The organization believes Reyes is getting valuable innings at Triple-A and that developing pitch efficiency is more important than late-season big league time.

2. Luke Weaver, rhp

A broken wrist shagging balls in spring training set back Weaver’s season, but he’s more than made up for it. After dominating at high Class A last season, he’s doing the same at Double-A. Weaver’s fastball sits 93-94, but he’s touched as high as 98. He’s also picked up a cutter while still exhibiting above-average control.

3. Jack Flaherty, rhp

Taken seven picks after Weaver from Harvard-Westlake—Lucas Giolito’s high school—Flaherty doesn’t currently have Weaver’s velocity but possesses an above-average changeup and present advanced control. The projectable righthander has room for strength gains and velocity increases.

4. Harrison Bader, cf

Bader began the season as one of the youngest players in the Texas League. He quickly got to the level and met it, needing little time to adjust. Bader has put himself on the Cardinals’ radar as someone who could help this season. He has good balance at the plate, if a bit too aggressive. He’s playing center field and profiles better there, but has enough power and arm strength to slide to a corner.

5. Carson Kelly, c

The bat is finally catching up to the glove. The repurposed prep third baseman came a long way to win a minor league gold glove, but now the Cardinals are seeing the benefits of their work with him at the plate. Carrying over the gains he showed late last season, Kelly is driving the ball and using the whole field.

6. Magneuris Sierra, cf

A skilled defender, Sierra moves well into the gaps and has an above-average throwing arm. His offense is developing; he’s skilled with the bat but needs more repetitions, especially against lefthanders (.214 average). The learning curve has shortened for the 20-year-old Dominican.

7. Edmundo Sosa, ss

Part of the same 2012 international class as Sierra, Sosa’s on a similar development path. At shortstop, he has good actions overall. He has solid hands and plays instinctively with a lot of bounce. At bat, like Sierra, he’s still learning what pitches he can handle and what pitches he can truly drive.

8. Sandy Alcantara, rhp

Part of a promising staff at low Class A Peoria, Alcantara has passed up rotation-mates Junior Fernandez and Jake Woodford by leading the low Class A Midwest League in strikeouts. Alcantara is touching triple digits this season, especially since the weather warmed up, and still has projection in his long, lanky body. Command of all of his pitches will be the most important factor as to whether he can remain a starter long term.

9. Junior Fernandez, rhp

Fernandez has sat 93-95 mph with his fastball this season, touching 96. He also has showed an above-average changeup and a slider that has good tilt but is inconsistent. Fernandez is a bit more polished than Alcantara, having earned a July promotion to high Class A Palm Beach, but lacks his projection.

10. Charlie Tilson, cf

Tilson has some of the best speed in the organization and a knack for making contact. His hit tool is at least average, but he has close to bottom-scale power. Still, he sticks to his strengths at the plate. In center field, his speed plays well and he has good range. He’s at least a solid fourth outfielder candidate.


Righthander Ryan Helsley, who is just the third member of Cherokee Nation to be drafted, has been the best of the Peoria staff, but lacks the projection of his rotation-mates. Still, his combination of elite velocity and feel for a curveball overwhelms low Class A hitter . . . Righthander Derian Gonzalez, another member of that talented Peoria staff, shows a good breaking ball and improving fastball command . . . Second baseman Eli Alvarez, part of a great-fielding keystone with Sosa, shows great feel for the barrel and terrific zone awareness . . . Converted catcher Rowan Wick has above-average velocity and an electric curveball as a righthanded reliever.


Righthander Artie Reyes put himself on the map with a tremendous stint at Double-A a year ago, during which one manager said hitters got worse swings off him than another Reyes—Alex. This season, the righty has struggled at Triple-A, although a terrible June skewed those numbers . . . Third baseman Paul DeJong was a revelation a year ago as a fourth-rounder from Illinois State and ranks fourth in the Texas League in homers—but also in strikeouts while hitting below .250.


The Cardinals have not had three of their preseason Top 10 prospects—and two key major league depth pieces—at all this season. No. 2 prospect Tim Cooney has yet to throw a pitch in earnest because of shoulder soreness. Lefthander Marco Gonzalez, the No. 5 prospect, had Tommy John surgery. Outfielder Nick Plummer, the No. 8 prospect, had surgery to have a piece of his hamate bone removed from his hand. The Cardinals hope he’ll return for instructional league.


Korean righthander Seung Hwan Oh, the No. 9 prospect, has assumed the closer’s role after Trevor Rosenthal’s struggles. Nicknamed “The Final Boss,” Oh has struck out more than 12 batters per nine innings and walked just 2.8 per nine. Diaz reached the All-Star Game while Hazelbaker was an early revelation as a fourth outfielder. Rule 5 pick Matt Bowman has been a reliable middle reliever, replacing Seth Maness as St. Louis’ groundball go-to guy.

COMING ABOARD (Check Draft Database for all picks)

The Cardinals’ first five picks of the 2016 draft. (s-supplemental round)

1. Delvin Perez, ss, International Baseball Academy, Ceiba, P.R. The Cardinals jumped on the chance to grab the Puerto Rican shortstop, a top-10 rated talent who fell to 23

1. Dylan Carlson, of, Elk Grove (Calif.) HS. Carlson’s the son of a coach and has impeccable makeup to go with solid athleticism, growing strength and a sound swing from both sides of the plate.

1. Dakota Hudson, rhp, Mississippi State. The Mississippi State ace was at one time projected to go in the first 20 picks and has an impressive fastball, though his velocity at times was erratic this spring.

2. Connor Jones, rhp, Virginia. Another pitcher who at one time was a projected top-20 pick. Jones has a heavy 90-92 mph sinker that he commands well.

3. Zac Gallen, rhp, North Carolina. The Cardinals like college performers and the UNC alum fits the bill. He added a cutter and now has a solid four-pitch mix.

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