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Born and raised in Elizabeth, N.J., Reyes was a prospect as a teenager playing high school ball in the Garden State. However, after his junior year in high school, he moved to the Dominican Republic to live with his grandmother, enabling him to become an international free agent and develop more as a pitcher than as an infielder. The Royals were considered the frontrunner for Reyes before the Cardinals signed him for $950,000 in December 2012, heading up a signing class that also included Dominican outfielder Magneuris Sierra and Panamanian shortstop Edmundo Sosa. Reyes began 2015, his third pro season, by missing part of spring training recovering from dental surgery before he reported to high Class A Palm Beach. He missed time (as well as the Futures Game) with a sore shoulder in late June and early July before finishing strong at Double-A Springfield. At his best, Reyes features closer stuff for six and seven innings at a time, with two pitches grading as at least double-plus. He makes throwing 100 mph look easy, and he does it regularly. He usually sits in the 96-97 mph range, and his fastball is difficult to square and heavy when it's down. He allowed only one home run in 22 starts in 2015, and his career rate is just 0.3 per nine innings. Hitters can't sit on Reyes' fastball because of his muchimproved breaking ball. It's a true hammer of a 12-to-6 curveball thrown with power that at times earns double-plus grades from scouts as well, and it has sharp, late break. It's the pitch he struggles to locate the most, though, and is generally a chase pitch at this stage. Reyes' changeup ranked ahead of his breaking ball when he signed, and it remains a strong pitch for him, flashing plus and sitting in the upper 80s. Reyes' fastball command could be better, and his delivery isn't perfect. He throws across his body a bit, but he lands under control, repeats his delivery fairly well and has a fairly sound arm action. So even though he walked 4.4 batters per nine innings in 2015, most scouts don't see red flags in his delivery that preclude him from throwing enough strikes to remain a starter. Reyes excels at missing bats (13.4 strikeouts per nine innings) and allowing weak contact (.197 opponent average), and he yields more groundballs than flyballs. He's a solid athlete who holds runners well for his age and experience level. Reyes is a bigger, stronger, but slightly less athletic version of Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez. If St. Louis needed him in the bullpen in the short term, then Reyes could provide St. Louis with a quality Dellin Betances imitation, but his kind of power arm is harder to find in a rotation, especially when you consider how well he maintains his velocity. Reyes isn't ready yet--big league starters don't walk as many batters as he does--and he appeared destined to head back to Springfield to start 2016 before an offseason suspension added a delay to his timetable. Reyes tested posititve for marijuana during the Arizona Fall League and was handed a 50-game suspension that will delay his 2016 debut til May. Reyes may not be all that far from Busch Stadium, where he eventually should be the ace for a contender, and if his command improves, he profiles as a true No. 1 starter.
A native of suburban Philadelphia, Cooney attended the Phillies' 2008 World Series championship parade and grew up a fan of Cole Hamels, honing his changeup along the way. After three workhorse seasons at Wake Forest, he made a fairly rapid ascent up the Cardinals' ladder, finishing 2014, his first full season, at Double-A Springfield before making his big league debut in 2015. Hit hard in his first big league start in April, Cooney adjusted when he got back to St. Louis, locating his solid-average 89-92 mph fastball, which has some sink and late life, to both sides of the plate. He's willing to pitch inside to batters from both sides of the plate and uses his above-average changeup to get swings and misses. Cooney started to mix in a low-80s slider and slightly harder cutter to go with his mid-70s curveball, and his mound savvy helps all five of his pitches play up. An appendectomy that ended his season in late July was his first injury as a pro and shouldn't be a long-term factor. Cooney would have exhausted his rookie eligibility if not for his appendectomy, but he didn't have enough time to rebuild his arm to get back into meaningful games. He has a shot to open 2016 in the big league rotation and profiles as a durable No. 4 starter.
Flaherty was a sophomore third baseman at Harvard-Westlake High when teammates Max Fried (Padres) and Lucas Giolito (Nationals) were 2012 first-round picks. He added pitching duties the next spring to help replace them, and though he was committed to North Carolina to play third and pitch, the Cardinals loved him on the mound. He joined Fried and Giolito in becoming a first-round pick and signed for $2 million in 2014. Flaherty is more polish than stuff and has excellent pitchability. He pounds all areas of the strike zone with a 90-92 mph fastball and projects to have above-average command, with advanced present control. He has shown the ability to manipulate the movement on his fastball as well, cutting it or giving it run or sink, and he maintained his velocity better as the year progressed. Flaherty's best secondary pitch, a changeup, earned some future double-plus grades when he was an amateur, though it was more above-average in his first full pro season in 2015. He'll have to tighten his slurvy breaking ball, but he throws it for strikes. If Flaherty's velocity improves, he has a chance to be a front-line starter. If not, he still has the pitch mix and command to pitch in the middle of a rotation. He'll move up to high Class A Palm Beach for 2016.
Weaver developed into Florida State's ace as a sophomore, earning a spot on USA Baseball's star-studded 2013 Collegiate National Team. His fastball backed up a bit as a junior, but he still pitched his way into the first round, signing for $1,843,000, then started five combined shutouts in his first pro season. Weaver earns Tim Hudson body comps, but he pitches more like Jered Weaver (unrelated) as a flyball pitcher. At high Class A Palm Beach in 2015, he took advantage of Roger Dean Stadium, pounding the strike zone with a 92-93 mph fastball that can bump 96 on his best days. Weaver pitches aggressively off his fastball, which earns above- Safe PAUL GIERHART average grades. His above-average changeup has good sink at times as well, though he needs to locate it better. He has improved his curveball to be a solid-average pitch at times, and it's more consistent than his slider. Both breaking balls play up because he throws them for strikes. Weaver fields his position and holds runners very well. If Weaver hadn't shown up to spring training less than ready, he likely would have moved quicker. He'll start 2016 at Double-A Springfield but could move quickly if the Cardinals need the pitching depth.
A prep star who won four state championship games for Rocky Mountain High in Fort Collins, Colo., Gonzales was a two-way All-American at Gonzaga who reached the majors at the end of his first full season, even going 2-1 during the 2014 postseason. However, two bouts of shoulder soreness/weakness, neither of which required surgery, conspired to sap Gonzales' stuff and limit him to 14 starts at Triple-A Memphis in 2015. Gonzales wasn't at his best in 2015, either in terms of velocity or command, and his lack of margin for error was exposed. Even at his best, he pitches with an average 88-91 mph fastball that he must locate with precision to set up his go-to pitch, a circle changeup that has earned double-plus grades at its best. Gonzales plays it off his sinker at times or complements it with a solid, if a bit slow, low- to mid-70s curveball with good depth. He is a fine athlete who repeats his delivery well when he's at full strength. All his stuff was flatter and less lively for much of 2015, leaving him quite hittable. Strength and conditioning in the offseason will be crucial for Gonzales to reclaim a spot on the Cardinals' depth chart, and he's fallen behind Tim Cooney, with Alex Reyes gaining quickly. He still has a shot to be a No. 4 starter if he regains his past firmness.
The Cardinals' 2012 international signing class produced three of their Top 10 Prospects, including No. 1 Alex Reyes and Sierra, who signed for $105,000. While Reyes signed for $950,000, Sierra signed for just $105,000 that July. He dominated the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in his U.S. debut in 2014, winning the batting title, but struggled significantly with a jump to low Class A Peoria in 2015 before regaining momentum following a demotion to Rookie-level Johnson City. Sierra plays with a confidence that wasn't significantly shaken by his Midwest League struggles. He's a top-of-the-scale runner and pure center fielder with advanced defensive ability who has the effortless range. He also has a plus arm. Sierra has added strength and is no slap hitter, with a short, compact swing and gap power. His raw offensive approach left him often swinging at pitcher's pitches, and he must improve his pitch recognition to reach his ceiling as an aboveaverage hitter. His speed could allow him to boost his average with infield hits and make him a premium basestealer, though his jumps and instincts need development. If it all works out, Sierra will be a Gold Glove center fielder and table-setting leadoff hitter. He'll return to Peoria in 2016.
Sosa's $425,000 bonus was the largest for a Panamanian player in 2012 and the third-largest in St. Louis' fruitful 2012 international signing class, fronted by Alex Reyes. The Cardinals have moved Sosa slowly despite good present hitting ability, which allowed him to earn a postseason all-star nod in the Rookie-level Appalachian League after he hit .300 with seven homers at Johnson City in 2015. An offense-first shortstop, Sosa started slowing the game down on both sides of the ball, improving his strike-zone judgment and consistency of his at-bats and preparation. He has an above-average arm and enough range for shortstop along with good footwork. He has the instincts, body control and leadership qualities to stick at the position, where his bat would make him a real asset. Sosa has a chance to hit for average power down the road and has added polish to his offensive approach. He's an average runner with sound baserunning instincts. While his body lacks much projection, Sosa has a chance to have average tools across the board and to play a premium position, which could make him one of the Cardinals' most valuable prospects in the end. He's the system's latest best hope for a homegrown shortstop, and he will make his full-season debut at low Class A Peoria in 2016.
Michigan's prep ranks have produced the likes of Hall of Famer John Smoltz and future Cooperstown immortal Derek Jeter, but Plummer in 2015 became the first Michigan prep picked in the first round since Ryan Anderson (1997) and the first position player since Jeter ('92). He did so despite a bout of mononucleosis in the spring that helped push him to St. Louis at No. 23, but he signed for $2,124,400, the fifth-largest draft bonus in franchise history. Despite his background, Plummer stands out as a polished hitter with an advanced approach. For example, he led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with 39 walks (and 43 runs scored) in his debut. That approach stood out in the summer of 2014 on the showcase circuit, where his above-average bat speed, short swing and pitch recognition helped him dominate some of the best arms in the 2015 draft class. Plummer will have to keep adjusting to advanced velocity and breaking balls, but he has the skills to hit for both average and power. He must work hard to maintain his body and slightly above-average speed to have a chance to stick in center field, and his below-average arm means his fallback position is left field. The first high school hitter St. Louis has drafted in the first round since Pete Kozma in 2007, Plummer may hit his way to an assignment at low Class A Peoria in 2016.
Like Alex Reyes, Fernandez signed out of the Dominican Republic but has roots in the U.S. He attended Miami's Varela High and played prep baseball before his entire family moved back to the D.R. in April 2013. He signed a year later for $400,000 and pitched well enough to finish his first full pro season at high Class A Palm Beach. The Cardinals had Fernandez "jump the fence" from their Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team to Palm Beach because of his fastball. Multiple reports have Fernandez reaching 100 mph thanks to his fast arm and twitchy athleticism. He's still raw, though he's much more controlled in his delivery now than he was prior to signing, and he has improved his feel for the strike zone. Fernandez's changeup flashes plus thanks to its excellent late tumble, with some scouts giving it future double-plus grades. His slider is his third-best pitch but has short break and enough tilt to be a solid-average breaking ball. Fernandez pitches with energy and emotion that he must harness to remain a starting pitcher. Fernandez has a starter's pitch mix and athleticism with a reliever's energy and aggressiveness. The Cardinals will give him every chance to start, though, and if he continues to refine his delivery, he could dominate at low Class A Peoria in 2016.
Kelly was drafted and signed for an above-slot $1.6 million in 2012 as a third baseman before the Cardinals decided to shift him behind the plate prior to the 2014 season. He struggled through most of 2015 before a hitting five home runs and 10 doubles in his final 48 games. His younger brother Parker was drafted in 2015 by the Cardinals but didn't sign and is attending Oregon. Kelly's glove is ahead of his bat, and he picked up plenty of pointers in spring training when he spent time in big league camp learning from manager Mike Matheny and Yadier Molina. Kelly has an above-average arm that plays up thanks to his accuracy, and he threw out 36 percent of basestealers in 2015. He's a solid receiver with good hands who handles velocity well. At the plate, Kelly adjusted after being overmatched most of the season and started driving the ball more in the second half, using the whole field more. He uses a strength-based swing, and he needs to keep working to improve his approach, balancing between aggression and working more walks. He's a poor runner. A backup catcher at worst if he continues to develop, Kelly has defenders in the organization who believe his glove will buy time for his bat will develop. He'll move up to Double-A Springfield in 2016 and has a clear path to become Molina's successor--if he hits enough.
The Cardinals rewarded Tuivailala with a September callup in 2014 as a reward for his successful transformation from a third baseman to a pitcher, and he reached the majors in just his third season on the mound. The Southern California prep product, who is of Polynesian ethnicity, earned his callup in different fashion in 2015--he was among the first relievers at Triple-A Memphis on call to St. Louis. Tuivailala earned promotions in May and July, though he couldn't quite stick, and was called up again in September. Physical and athletic, Tuivailala always has stood out for his size and velocity, averaging 97 mph with his heater and brushing 100 with late sinking life at his best. He has thrown a curveball and changeup as his secondary pitches in the past, throwing the curveball with power, and he incorporated a hard cutter in 2015, giving him a pitch other than his fastball that could find the strike zone. Tuivailala still doesn't throw enough quality strikes to challenge for high-leverage innings in St. Louis, but as soon as he does, he has a closer's repertoire. He'll enter 2016 camp with a strong chance to earn an Opening Day spot in the St. Louis bullpen.
For the first time since he left Cuba in 2012, Diaz played a full season, with mixed results. Signed for a four-year, $8 million contract in March 2014, Diaz had been barred from signing for a year due to misrepresenting his age, then missed much of 2014 because of shoulder injuries. Diaz was healthy in 2015 but still was removed from the 40-man roster in July to make room for 35-year-old journeyman Dan Johnson. His performance after he passed through waivers, unclaimed by the other 29 clubs, was much stronger. He homered in the first game after the move at Double-A Springfield and hit .328 with 10 of his 13 home runs hit after that date. The Cardinals noted his improvement and higher energy level, as well as an improved approach at the plate, which helped him get to his power more consistently. Defensively, Diaz is more solid than flashy with average arm strength and range to play shortstop adequately, but few scouts consider him a long-term everyday option there in the big leagues. He's athletic enough to move around the diamond, and that seems like the most likely outcome for Diaz, who was added back to the 40-man after a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League. He'd have to hit his way onto the big league roster in 2016. Otherwise, he will head to Triple-A Memphis.
Finally, Tilson stayed healthy for a full season. He missed his first full season, 2012, with a shoulder injury, and a foot fracture in 2014 kept him out of the Arizona Fall League. He played a full season at Double-A Springfield in 2015 and led the Texas League in hits (159), triples (9), stolen bases (46) and caught stealing (19). Tilson has not developed much power and likely will wind up with 30 power on the 20-80 scale. He sticks to his all-fields approach and has a knack for making contact that may have more value in today's high-strikeout context. He's going to have to draw plenty of walks and steal bases more efficiently to provide enough offense to be a regular. Tilson's plus speed is his best tool, which suits him in center field, where his range helped him lead the TL in total chances. His below-average arm may make it tougher for him to stick as a fourth outfielder. He may hit his way to being an everyday regular but the reserve role makes more sense. He should jump a level to Triple-A Memphis in 2016, and after being added to the 40-man roster, he's poised to make his big league debut in a crowded Cardinals outfield in 2016.
Gomber was just 14-14 in three seasons at Florida Atlantic, though he was the staff ace in 2013 when the Owls went to NCAA regional play. He had a strong first full season at low Class A Peoria in 2015, though he was handled carefully and skipped a turn in August. He came back to finish strong, picking up a victory in the Midwest League playoffs. Gomber led the circuit in wins (15), winning percentage (.833), WHIP (0.97), opponent average (.196) and strikeouts (140). He won his last 14 decisions, dominating less-experienced competition by pitching with angle and location on his 89-92 mph fastball. He pitches inside effectively with his heater to both righthanded and lefthanded hitters. His curveball has advanced from below-average to average with a new grip, and his feel for the pitch helps it play up. He has several varieties of the pitch, including one with low-80s power that gets swings in misses, while he also showed the ability to locates a slower, early-count curve. His changeup, his go-to secondary pitch in his amateur days, remains an average offering. Gomber's a fringy athlete who needs to improve at holding runners and fielding his position. Gomber lacks projection, but if he continues to locate three average pitches, he has a chance to be another Tim Cooney and become a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Bader was a late signee to Maryland when coach Erik Bakich left the Terrapins' program to become Michigan's coach. When the Gators swooped in with a late offer, Bader headed to Gainesville, where he became a three-year starter and helped lead Florida to the 2015 College World Series. He hit the first home run to center field at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, and after signing for $400,000 as a thirdround pick, he impressed the Cardinals' staff with a .311/.368/.523 pro debut. His 11 home runs ranked first among 2015 draftees. Bader has solid-average power and a tick above-average speed, and he's earned at least average grades on all his tools, with above-average marks for his throwing arm. Bader's ceiling rides on his ability to stay in center field, where his bat would profile better. He entered pro ball with a solid hitting approach--he works counts, draws walks and drives the ball as well. Bader's center-field defense impressed club officials and he showed closing speed and impressive range after playing left field in the spring for the Gators. Bader's power numbers could suffer at high Class A Palm Beach in 2016, but he has the all-around game to help that team win a lot of games and could eventually do the same in St. Louis. DeJong signed for $200,000 as a 2015 fourth-round pick and immediately became one of the Cardinals' top power hitters. He hit 20 home runs in the wood-bat Northwoods League in 2014, when the Pirates failed to sign him as a 38th-round pick, then hit 14 more in the spring for Illinois State to lead the Missouri Valley Conference. DeJong's power comes from solid strength, an aggressive swing and strike-zone judgment. He is not afraid to take a big cut, which leads to some swings and misses, but the Cardinals will take the trade for the power. Knee injuries prompted him to take a redshirt year as a freshman in 2012. While he played catcher occasionally as an amateur, including six games in 2015, he likely won't reprise the role as a pro thanks to his knees. He played second and third base as well as the outfield corners on occasion for Illinois State and profiles best at third base as a pro because he has arm strength and good hands and below-average speed. He should be agile enough to handle the hot corner, however, and should join fellow 2015 draftee Harrison Bader in the 2016 lineup at high Class A Palm Beach.
DeJong signed for $200,000 as a 2015 fourth-round pick and immediately became one of the Cardinals' top power hitters. He hit 20 home runs in the wood-bat Northwoods League in 2014, when the Pirates failed to sign him as a 38th-round pick, then hit 14 more in the spring for Illinois State to lead the Missouri Valley Conference. DeJong's power comes from solid strength, an aggressive swing and strike-zone judgment. He is not afraid to take a big cut, which leads to some swings and misses, but the Cardinals will take the trade for the power. Knee injuries prompted him to take a redshirt year as a freshman in 2012. While he played catcher occasionally as an amateur, including six games in 2015, he likely won't reprise the role as a pro thanks to his knees. He played second and third base as well as the outfield corners on occasion for Illinois State and profiles best at third base as a pro because he has arm strength and good hands and below-average speed. He should be agile enough to handle the hot corner, however, and should join fellow 2015 draftee Harrison Bader in the 2016 lineup at high Class A Palm Beach.
Woodford has grown accustomed to hitters around him getting all the attention. At Plant High--alma mater of Hall of Famer Wade Boggs and current Orioles righthander Mychal Givens--Woodford played with Kyle Tucker, the 2015 High School Player of the Year and Astros first-round pick. In the Cardinals' draft class, he was the lone pitcher among St. Louis' top four selections, and while he had a strong debut, it wasn't as electric as those of college picks Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong. Those players are much closer to the majors than Woodford, but Woodford has the higher ceiling. He has an excellent pitcher's body at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and showed aptitude in his pro debut, improving his changeup and curveball as the season went along. His final Rookie-level Gulf Coast League start went for five shutout innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Woodford pitches with an average fastball that has touched 94 mph, and he stays tall in his delivery, throwing downhill. He'll have to maintain that, because his fastball is true. He also throws a slider, but none of his three secondary pitches grades as above-average. Woodford will try to emulate Jack Flaherty's feat and show enough progress this offseason and in spring training to make the rotation at low Class A Peoria in 2016.
The Cardinals thought they may have drafted their future outfield in the first 10 rounds of the 2015 draft, with first-rounder Nick Plummer, Denton in the second round and Kep Brown--who wound up not signing--in the 10th round. Denton grew up a Cardinals fan, and the $1.2 million bonus he received made him a bigger fan and kept him from going to Vanderbilt. Denton started out at third base in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but he likely will wind up on an outfield corner. He has one of the higher upsides in St. Louis' draft class thanks to his power potential, which for now is pronounced to his pull side. He has a compact 6-foot, 190-pound frame with some present strength and above-average bat speed, and club officials are confident he just needs time to adjust to top-level pro pitching. He's got lateral movement and range at third base to go with an above-average arm, but some scouts have doubts that he has the footwork to stick there. Denton was just 17 when drafted and was one of the youngest players in his draft class, so he may move slower than his fellow 2015 draftees. He appears ticketed for extended spring training in 2016 before a move to either Rookie-level Johnson City or short-season State College.
Alcantara trained with Felix Liriano, who also trained Junior Fernandez. The duo teamed together in the Dominican Summer League in 2014 and again in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2015. Alcantara, who signed for $125,000 as a 17-year-old, is more raw than Fernandez despite the fact that he's two years older. Alcantara has electric arm strength and excellent size at 6-foot-4, 170 pounds. He's loose-armed and lean with a fastball that has reached 102 mph at its best and sat as high as 97-98 at times in the GCL. He doesn't consistently repeat his delivery and throw fastball strikes, but his ability to overpower is obvious. Alcantara started throwing a curveball after throwing a slider earlier in his career, and he made progress with the pitch as well as his changeup. He has room to gain strength that would help him maintain his delivery better, but already he has shown durability, leading the GCL with 12 starts and 64 innings. Alcantara has a starter's delivery, and if the Cardinals can be patient with him, he could deliver a significant payoff. If he shows enough polish in 2016, he could jump to the rotation at low Class A Peoria.
Kolten Wong's old college teammate at Hawaii, Garcia has rejoined Wong by reaching the major leagues in consecutive seasons, and the confidence gained from getting there in 2014 carried over to 2015. After playing primarily second base in 2014, he shifted back to shortstop for 2015 at Triple-A Memphis and played more there than at second base in St. Louis. Garcia is a steady defender with smooth actions whose biggest shortcoming is a fringe-average arm that forces him to be perfect when he's on the left side of the infield. He fits the reserve infielder profile well with a quick lefthanded bat, defensively versatility and solid-average speed. He also showed an ability to adapt to a part-time role, going 9-for-26 (.346) as a pinch-hitter in the big leagues. Garcia was clearly more comfortable in his second big league stint, hitting a pinch-hit, game-tying home run on June 26 and eventually earning a spot on the Division Series roster. He should factor into the 2016 roster as a reserve infielder.
The Cardinals lack power bats in their system, which helps Garcia stand out by comparison. Drafted as a 17-year-old catcher out of Puerto Rico in 2009, Garcia has had his moments in the minors, ranking second to Miguel Sano in home runs in the low Class A Midwest League in 2012. That was his first shot at full-season ball, and he lost his prospect momentum when he spent the next two seasons as high Class A Palm Beach's left fielder. Garcia has two above-average tools--power and his throwing arm. He's a modest athlete who's a below-average runner and fringy defender who fits better in left field but has the arm for right (he had a career-best 10 outfield assists in 2015). However, he has improved his selectivity at the plate and gets to his power more consistently than any Cardinals farmhand. He feasts on modest velocity and dominated the Pan Am Games for Puerto Rico, hitting five home runs and driving in 17 runs. Garcia finished 2015 at Triple-A Memphis and should report back there to start 2016. Added to the 40-man roster in November to keep him from becoming a minor league free agent, Garcia looks blocked by a crowded Cardinals outfield, but his power makes him a good insurance policy as a corner bat.
Reyes is used to toiling in the shadows of others. His older brother Jorge was Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 College World Series for Oregon State and has reached Triple-A, and at 6-foot-3, Jorge got the pitcher's body in the Mexican-American family. Artie, at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, is far from the Cardinals' best Reyes (that would be No. 1 prospect Alex), and he had to shine in the West Coast Collegiate League to receive a late NCAA Division I offer from Gonzaga after two years at Columbia Basin (Wash.) CC. He pitched behind future Cardinals first-rounder Marco Gonzales in the Zags' rotation. Reyes reunited with Gonzales in 2015 when he reached Triple-A Memphis at the end of his second full pro season. Reyes has thrived by keeping the ball in the ballpark, yielding four home runs in 25 starts in 2015 and just 15 in 305 pro innings. He has big hands with long fingers that enable him to impart good sink on his 90-94 mph fastball, which has touched 96, and his slider is a solid-average offering that also helps him Safe get groundball outs. Reyes also throws a fringy curveball and changeup, but lefthanded hitters have been his bugaboo (they hit all four homers off him in 2015). He could be a back-end starter if he solves them with an improved change or by adding a pitch, but he profiles more as a Seth Maness-style groundball reliever at this point. He's ticketed for Memphis' 2016 rotation.
A $20,000 senior sign in 2012, Wilson has reached Triple-A Memphis and given the Cardinals solid value for their investment as an organization player. To take the next step as a part-time infielder, he'll have to make more consistent contact and improve his defense. The righthanded-hitting Wilson fits in the scheme of St. Louis' present infield, which prominently features lefthanded hitters Matt Carpenter at third base and Kolten Wong at second. Wilson makes up for fringy range with soft hands and an accurate, solidaverage arm that plays well at third and helps him turn the double play well at second. A below-average runner, he supplies solid-average power when the makes contact, and his 18 home runs led all Cardinals minor leaguers. He has a short, quick swing with strength but hasn't advanced with his plate approach or strike-zone judgment enough to profile offensively as a regular. He played in the Arizona Fall League for two years (2013 and 2014), so pro scouts have a good read on his abilities. The Cardinals neglected to add him to the 40-man and shield him from the Rule 5 draft, but he profiles as an extra infielder in the Ryan Roberts mold.
Perdomo broke through in 2015 but still was left off the 40-man roster, as his results continued to lag behind his raw stuff. An outfielder as an amateur, Perdomo shifted to the mound prior to signing as a 17-year-old, with a fastball in the upper 80s. He didn't reach full-season ball until 2014 and struggled with a late-2015 promotion to high Class A Palm Beach. He has grown since signing, standing at least an inch taller and 15-20 pounds heavier than his listed height and weight, and he has grown into a lively repertoire. Perdomo's fastball has hit 97 mph, including in his two-out stint during the Futures Game, where he replaced the injured Alex Reyes. He sits 93-94 mph and gets more groundouts than flyouts. Perdomo's slider gives him a second pitch that earns occasional plus grades, because at its best it is tight with late vertical break at 84-85 mph. He gets more swings and misses from it than his fastball, and if he can locate it, it's his best pitch. Perdomo also throws a firm changeup and an early-count curveball in the low 80s. He lacks feel for his stuff and deception-a Class A pitcher with his stuff shouldn't give up a .273 opponent average. If his changeup comes around, Perdomo may yet have a future as a starter but he's more likely a low-leverage reliever. He's ticketed for a return trip to Palm Beach to start 2016.
Cordoba earns frequent comparisons in the organization with Edmundo Sosa because both hail from Panama and both are Rookie-level shortstops. Sosa has bigger tools and more experience, but Cordoba established himself as a legitimate prospect in 2015, earning MVP honors in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Cordoba has added considerable strength to his swing since signing, but he impressed the Cardinals as an amateur with his bat control and knack for contact. He played third base in extended spring training in deference to Sosa, but he slid to short in the GCL, where he was erratic defensively but has the tools to stay in the infield. He has a plus if inaccurate arm, short-area quickness that produces strong range and improving footwork. Cordoba's offensive game is more polished than his defense thanks to his approach and strike-zone judgment, and he has above-average speed that helps him steal bases and leg out infield hits. His power will be below-average but should play to the gaps. Cordoba is a middleinfield prospect with some offensive ability, and he has the bat to jump to low Class A Peoria for 2016.
Time is on Mercado's side, and the Cardinals started to see progress from their 2013 second-rounder, whom they signed for $1.5 million. The progress side of the ledger included playing the full 2015 season as low Class A Peoria's shortstop, leading the organization and the Midwest League with 50 stolen bases (in 69 attempts) and improving as the season went on, with a higher OPS in the second half (.666 in 57 games) than the first (.610 in 60 games). The native of Colombia had various nagging injuries but still played more than 100 games, and he showed the plate coverage and bat control to make consistent contact. He's an average runner with aggressiveness and savvy on the bases who has all the tools for shortstop, with plus arm strength, agility and body control. Mercado's lack of strength affects him at the plate with too much empty contact, as well as in the field, where his inconsistent footwork leads to erratic, inaccurate throws. His 41 errors ranked second in the MWL. Some scouts see a move to center field in Mercado's future, but the Cardinals will keep him at shortstop, a position of organizational need. With Allen Cordoba and Edmundo Sosa among those chasing him in the system, Mercado will have to have a strong spring to earn the shortstop job at high Class A Palm Beach for 2016.
The Cardinals get the benefit of the doubt with pitchers such as Gonzalez, who has a more wellrounded repertoire than his higher-ranked teammates from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team. Unlike Sandy Alcantara and Junior Fernandez, Gonzalez has not pushed his heater up to triple-digits, but his fastball is a plus pitch nonetheless. He throws plenty of strikes with his heater from a good downhill plane, which is important because his fastball lacks much life. Gonzalez ranked fourth in the GCL with 55 strikeouts and among the leaders in lowest walk rate with 2.6 per nine innings. He has a chance to throw a plus curveball with tight spin and proper shape, and he has a feel for throwing the pitch for strikes or burying it as a chase pitch. His changeup is behind his curve, but he's shown some aptitude for the pitch. Gonzalez has moved slowly to this point, but will probably jump to low Class A Peoria in 2016.
The Cardinals' 2014 draft class started with six consecutive pitchers (five of whom signed), a group headlined by first-round righthanders Jack Flaherty and Luke Weaver and including lefty Austin Gomber. All three have much more polish and size than small, athletic, quick-armed Williams, who came late to pitching. He added polish in his first full season as a pitcher, though progress on the field proved intermittent at Rookie-level Johnson City in 2015. Williams must gain strength to bring his best stuff more consistently. His fastball has been his most consistent pitch, sitting 88-91 mph and touching 92 as a pro after reaching as high as 97 as an amateur. It's still a tough pitch to center thanks to its armside life, and he's hardly the first pitcher to lose velocity when first experiencing a pro workload. His curveball and changeup lag behind, as does his feel for pitching, but he showed the ability to grind through a pro schedule and retains impressive athleticism. Williams will have to have a big spring to earn a full-season rotation spot. More likely, he'll head to extended spring training and move up to short-season State College for 2016.
Kiekhefer split time between starting and relieving at Louisville from 2008-10 before signing with the Cardinals as a 36th-rounder, and after passing through the Rule 5 draft unselected in 2014, he earned a spot on the 40-man roster in 2015. Kiekhefer never has had the physicality in his frame to start as a pro and had to improve his breaking ball to earn the 40-man spot as a potential left-on-left specialist. He's a bit of a slinger with a fastball that peaks at 90 mph, usually sitting in the upper 80s with some sinking life, and his low-80s changeup helps him give righthanded hitters a different look. Kiekhefer's strength is keeping the ball in the park, filling up the bottom of the strike zone and attacking lefthanded batters with a 75-79 mph curveball. He improved the power on the pitch and his ability to locate it over the last two seasons, and he threw it well in the Arizona Fall League, where he walked only one in 15 innings while getting plenty of groundouts and striking out 14. Kiekhefer will vie for a bullpen specialist role in 2016.
The Orioles liked Ohlman enough to sign him for $995,000 out of high school in 2009 and to put him on their 40-man roster, but they lost patience with him in January 2015 and designated him for assignment. The Cardinals acquired him for cash and made him their everyday catcher at Double-A Springfield. Ohlman showed them enough to keep his spot on St. Louis' 40-man. Ohlman is the system's top catcher in the upper levels, with a combination of power potential and improved defensive chops. At 6-foot-5, he's tall for a catcher but worked in big league camp with manager Mike Matheny, trying to improve his footwork and transfer. He has above-average arm strength but threw out just 25 percent of baserunners in the Texas League, which he led with 11 errors. His receiving and blocking have improved enough to see him as a potential backup option, where his bat could make him a Mark Parent type. Ohlman has aboveaverage raw power, especially when he incorporates his lower half into his swing. Still just 25, Ohlman should be the starting catcher at Triple-A Memphis for 2016.
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