That’s not bad. It’s not great…but it could be worse.
Keith Law, the writer for ESPN who scouts, researches and then ranks each individual prospect, believes there is a lot of depth in the system but not a lot of high end talent. Typically, the Cardinals have a few guys who surprise at the big league level as compared to what they profiled as in the minors.
Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig are two that come to mind. Both were solid prospects who profiled as average starters in the majors. Both exceeded expectations. Craig, obviously, has since declined due to injury.
Whether you understand the whole “grow your own” mentality or not, having a strong farm system is vital to the long term health of an organization. With prices on the free agent market going from insane to preposterous over the last decade it’s more important than ever to draft good players who don’t cost an arm and a leg until they’re well into their 20s.
If a team needs to go to the free agent market to find its core talent they’ve already lost.
No matter which publication you most subscribe to, whether its ESPN or Baseball America, it’s quite clear who the experts believe are the next cornerstone St. Louis Cardinals. Some will be ready for the big leagues in 2015. Some won’t be ready until 2018 at the earliest.
Either way here are the names to know:
Stephen Piscotty (OF): The 24-year old spent all of last year at AAA and hit .288 with a modest .761 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). The former third baseman is among the most intelligent guys (hey, he did go to Stanford) in the system and has a cannon for an arm in right. Piscotty’s always hit for a good average but power is the question. The worst case scenario, most believe, for him is still being a very nice player. But if he can develop a little more home run power (something he’s working on) then he has a chance to be great. At 24-year old, though, how much stronger is he going to get?
Alex Reyes (P): If there’s someone in the system who has a chance to be a superstar it’s this guy. At 20-years old, Reyes struck out 137 batters last season in just 109 innings for Class A ball. His problem? Walks. 61 of them to be precise. Reyes can hit 100 miles per hour with his fastball and has an absolutely hammer curve to go along with it. If his changeup develops then he has a chance to be a starter at the big league level. If that happens and he can cut down on the walks you could have something special with Reyes in a couple seasons. If the changeup doesn’t come you still have a dominant closer. He’s still young enough, however, for either outcome to occur.
Rob Kaminsky (P): At 5’10” and maybe 190 pounds you probably wouldn’t look at this kid and think he’s a top MLB prospect. But when you have as good of a curveball as Kaminsky has anything is possible. Just check out his numbers from last year in A-ball. 100.2 innings, 1.88 ERA, 79 strikeouts against only 31 walks. I’m a sucker for production and this kid has it. He may not throw as hard as Reyes does but that doesn’t always matter. Kaminsky is as polished as there is for someone only 20 years old. He might only be a couple seasons away from competing for a rotation spot in St. Louis.
There are others as well to keep an eye on in 2015. Pitchers Jack Flaherty and Tim Cooney come to mind. So do outfielders Charlie Tilson and Mags Sierra along with catcher Carson Kelly.
With Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright all well into their 30s it’s more important than ever for the next core group of Cardinals to emerge. It could be any one (or two) of these names listed above.