Evaluating the Prospects: St. Louis Cardinals

Evaluating the Prospects: Rangers, Rockies, D’Backs, Twins, Astros, Cubs, Reds, Phillies, Rays, Mets, Padres, Marlins, Nationals, Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Braves, Athletics, AngelsDodgers, Blue Jays, Tigers, Cardinals, Brewers, Indians, Mariners, Pirates, Royals & Giants

Top 200 Prospects Content Index

Scouting Explained: Introduction, Hitting Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6

Draft Rankings: 2015, 2016 & 2017

International Coverage: 2015 July 2nd Parts One, Two & Three, 2016 July 2nd

The Cardinals have their own way of doing things, from the types of pitchers they draft, how they develop them and their recent history of turning unheralded prospects into productive big leaguers.  For a team that hasn’t spent big in the international market and always picks in the back half of the first round, this is a nice, balanced system with upside/certainty, pitching/hitting, domestic/foreign and depth at each tier of talent and level of the minors.

There’s a lot of solid infielders, specifically shortstops, at the lower levels, but Cardinals personnel told me that was more outcome than plan. There’s also a lot of young big league talent, evident from the list a couple paragraphs down. This may seem like an intro full of vague generalities, but this is another workmanlike effort of a farm system from an organization with a a farm in the middle third of the game.

Here’s the primer for the series and a disclaimer about how we don’t really know anything. See the links above for the ongoing series about how I evaluate, including the series on the ever-complicated hit tool.

Most of what you need to know for this list is in the above links, but I should add that the risk ratings are relative to their position, so average (3) risk for a pitcher is riskier than average risk (3) for a hitter, due to injury/attrition being more common. I’d also take a 60 Future Value hitter over a 60 FV pitcher for the same reasons. Also, risk encompasses a dozen different things and I mention the important components of it for each player in the report. The upside line for hitters is the realistic best-case scenario (a notch better than the projected tools, or a 75% projection while the projected tools are a 50% projection) and the Future Value encompasses this upside along with the risk rating for one overall rating number.

Below, I’ve included a quick ranking of the notable MLB players 27 and under that aren’t eligible for the Cardinals prospect list and Dave Cameron shares some general thoughts on the organization. Scroll further down to see Carson Cistulli’s fringe prospect favorite. Up next is the Brewers.

27 & Under Big League Assets
1. Jason Heyward, RF, Age 25, FV: 70
2. Lance Lynn, RHP, Age 27, FV: 60
3. Michael Wacha, RHP, Age 23, FV: 60
4. Carlos Martinez, RHP, Age 23, FV: 60
5. Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, Age 24, FV: 55
6. Kolten Wong, 2B, Age 24, FV: 55
7. Matt Adams, 1B, Age 26, FV: 50
8. Peter Bourjos, CF, Age 27, FV: 50
9. Jordan Walden, RHP, Age 27, FV: 45
10. Pete Kozma, SS, Age 26, FV: 45
11. Tyler Lyons, LHP, Age 27, FV: 45
12. Seth Maness, RHP, Age 26, FV: 45
13. Kevin Siegrist, LHP, Age 25, FV: 45

Organizational Overview by Dave Cameron

While the A’s and Rays are the most often cited examples of franchises who were smart enough to build consistent winners despite their payroll restrictions, the Cardinals are the franchise that seemingly everyone in baseball is trying to emulate. They’re an annual contender with a pipeline of talent that rarely dries up, and when it does, they just turn non-prospects into stars anyway. The current core is starting to get a little long in the tooth, but their player development staff has ensured that there’s a wave of talent not far off to keep the Cardinals from falling too far. With the Cubs and Pirates making a strong push, St. Louis probably won’t own the division like they have the last decade, but they should be able to avoid any kind of full tear down even once this group ages out of contention, and any retooling shouldn’t take too terribly long.

50+ FV Prospects

1. Alex Reyes, RHP
Current Level/Age: Low-A/20.6, 6’3/185, R/R
Signed: IFA at age 16 on December 3, 2012 out of Dominican by STL for $850,000 bonus
Fastball: 60/65, Curveball: 50/60, Changeup: 45/50, Command: 40/45+

Scouting Report: Reyes grew up in New Jersey then moved to the Dominican, where he signed with the Cardinals for an $850,000 bonus after he emerged later in the signing period.  Reyes showed signs of the pitcher he could be as an amateur, but has taken another step forward in pro ball.

He checks all the boxes as a young power arm, with a projectable 6-foot-3/185 frame, a solid delivery, and easy plus fastball that sits 92-95 and hits 97 mph along with a curveball that flashes plus in nearly every outing. Reyes is still learning the finer points of his craft, with his command and consistency of his off-speed stuff varying start-to-start.

His changeup will flash average in many outings but still comes and goes and there’s still the night when his feel deserts him for innings at a time.  This is the kind of pitcher where 5.0 BB/9 early in his career doesn’t bother you, because all the elements are here for a breakout and it could click at any point. Reyes has mid-rotation upside as is and the physical projection could possibly turn him into a frontline type arm.

Summation: Reyes will be 20 almost all of next season in High-A and could be on the fast track to the big leagues with some key adjustments.

FV/Role/Risk: 55, #3/4 starter or Closer, High (4 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: High-A, 2016: AA, 2017: AAA/MLB

2. Stephen Piscotty, RF
Current Level/Age: AAA/24.2, 6’3/210, R/R
Drafted: 36th overall (sandwich round) in 2012 out of Stanford by STL for $1.43 million bonus
Hit: 45/55, Raw Power: 55/55, Game Power: 35/50, Run: 45/45+, Field: 50/50, Throw: 60/60,

Scouting Report: Piscotty was a name prospect at Stanford for the 2012 draft that had three years of good performance, a chance to play third base in pro ball and the excuse of the Stanford Swing to potentially pull more out of his bat. He’s been a steady performer in pro ball and settled in at right field, but still hasn’t tapped into his above average raw power in games consistently.

Piscotty is a fringy runner with a plus arm that should be at least average defensively. He has a good swing and advanced feel for the strike zone, with comically low strikeout rates. He will hit enough to be a big leaguer of some impact, but the Cards would like to see him trade some strikeouts for home runs so he can more traditionally profile in right field. Piscotty hit nine homers in a full Triple-A season last year, so with little progress and in today’s muted offensive environment, that’s one of the top 60 corner outfielders in the game, but the raw power is there for 20 homers, which would make him a middle of the order type bat.

Summation: Piscotty will almost certainly open the year in Triple-A, but will have a chance to break into the big leagues if Bourjos or Grichuk falters. Particularly Piscotty and Grichuk are both the reason Jason Heyward was acquired, since neither were ready for full-time right field duty, but may also be the reason St. Louis is okay letting Heyward walk if one or both of them takes a big step forward in 2015.

Upside: .275/.335/.450, 15-20 homers
FV/Risk: 50, Low (2 on a 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AAA/MLB

Video Credit to Baseball Instinct

3. Marco Gonzales, LHP
Current Level/Age: MLB/23.1, 6’1/195, L/L
Drafted: 19th overall (1st round) in 2013 out of Gonzaga by STL for $1.85 million bonus
Fastball: 50/50, Slider: 45/50, Curveball: 50/50, Changeup: 55/60, Command: 45/55

Scouting Report: In the 2013 draft, Gonzales was seen as a quick-moving college lefty with above average command and a plus changeup, but probably just #4 starter upside. Different teams value that type of player in different ways, so there were a handful of teams on him in the middle of the first round, while others saw him as a later 1st round or sandwich round option while they opted for more upside.

Gonzales pushed his way to the big leagues in his first full season and had some trouble with his command for the first time in his career in the big leagues. Scouts don’t see that as a long-term concern, as the delivery, athleticism and feel to pitch are all there for the command to come back in his next big league look.

Gonzales sits 88-91 and hits 92 mph with life down in the zone, along with an average slider and curveball and a knockout plus changeup. Gonzales normally shows above average command, though breaking pitches are still developing more consistency, so another half-to-full year in Triple-A may be what he needs to further polish his stuff. It’s hard to see more than a #4 starter here, but he may reach his upside by midseason this year and could end up the type of guy whose command helps him perform higher than his traditional scouting ceiling.

Summation: Gonzales looks like a longer shot to win the #5 starter job out of camp and in that case would likely head back to Triple-A to wait for a chance to join the big league rotation.

FV/Role/Risk: 50, #4 starter, Very Low (1 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: AAA/MLB

Video Credit to Cubs Prospect Watch

4. Rob Kaminsky, LHP
Current Level/Age: Low-A/20.5, 5’11/190, R/L
Drafted: 28th overall (1st round) in 2013 out of New Jersey HS by STL for $1.785 million bonus
Fastball: 50/50+, Curveball: 55/60, Changeup: 45/50+, Command: 40/50

Scouting Report: Kaminsky stood out on the showcase circuit before the 2013 draft, showing an average fastball, some feel to pitch and a knockout plus curveball from a smallish frame. His velocity ticked up a bit in the spring and his changeup emerged, helping him stick in the late first round.

Kaminsky isn’t the typical 1st round high school pitcher as he’s listed at 5-foot-11/190, but the stuff is big and there’s advanced feel to pitch. He sits 89-92 and hits 95 mph now and his changeup took a step forward in his first full year, now flashing solid average pretty regularly. Kaminsky fearlessly attacks both sides of the plate and can add and subtract well from his fastball. His plus curveball is still the separator and is a now-weapon that could get big leaguers out.

Summation: The Cardinals have a good track record with developing young pitchers and Kaminsky is about as advanced as cold-weather bred 20-year-old arm can be, so he may move quickly after a nice full-season debut.

FV/Role/Risk: 50, #4 starter, Medium (3 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: High-A, 2016: AA, 2017: AAA/MLB, 2018: MLB

5. Jack Flaherty, RHP
Current Level/Age: RK/19.4, 6’4/205, R/R
Drafted: 34th overall (1st round) in 2014 out of California HS by STL for $2.0 million bonus
Fastball: 50/55, Slider: 50/55, Curveball: 40/45+, Changeup: 50/55, Command: 40/50+

Scouting Report: Flaherty was a sophomore on the same high school team as Lucas Giolito and Max Fried in 2012 and Flaherty was seen as a a high-profile and often scouted two-way prospect that early in his career. Last summer on the high school showcase circuit, Flaherty was seen as a top-three round caliber third baseman with a athletic and projectable with plus speed despite his 6’4/205 frame along with a silky smooth swing. Scouts knew he also pitched, but he didn’t throw over the summer and he had fringy to average stuff often times as a junior.

In his senior year, Flaherty took a big step forward on the mound, flashing three above average pitches and above average command with a clean delivery, that same a projectable athletic frame and limited miles on his arm. There isn’t a plus pitch right now and he hasn’t thrown a ton in the last year, but Flaherty has just about everything else going for him. He sits 90-92 and hits 94 mph, working both sides of the plate, mixing in an above average slider and changeup and a 4th pitch curveball that’s fringy. Both the slider and changeup have flashed plus at times for some scouts, but the separator is the advanced feel to command and set up hitters with so little experience on the mound.

Summation: He may hang back in extended spring training to get more reps in a controlled environment, but Flaherty should get a good look at Low-A this year and the talent may dictate a faster timetable that St. Louis intends.

FV/Role/Risk: 50, #4 starter, Medium (3 on 1-5 scale)
Projected Path: 2015: Low-A, 2016: High-A, 2017: AA, 2018: AAA/MLB

45 FV Prospects

6. Magneuris Sierra, CF: Sierra was thisclose to being a 50 FV on this list and may get an early bump with a strong start in Low-A this season, after signing for just $105,000 in July, 2012 out of the Dominican. At the same age as a high school senior, Sierra had a massive season in the GCL last year and allows scouts to dream, as he flashes five above average tools, unusual to see in a 5’11/175 frame.

Sierra is strongly built, so some think his plus speed may go down a tick with maturity, but he profiles in center field for now. One scout said you can see some Carlos Gonzalez in Sierra on the right days, but looks still widely vary this early in Sierra’s career. The L/L outfielder already shows the ability to hang in versus tough lefties, has incredibly strong wrists and forearms for his age and has above average raw power and arm strength. The tools are here to hit along with some sense of the strike zone, so keep a close eye on him in 2015 as the big breakout could be coming.

7. Randal Grichuk, RF Video: Grichuk was the Angels 1st rounder that they took one pick ahead of Mike Trout in 2009, though Grichuk has turned into a solid prospect in his own right. They inexplicably basically gave Grichuk away in the Peter Bourjos-David Freese deal in 2013 and now Grichuk is knocking on the door of the big leagues. The tools are everyday quality, with above average bat speed and raw power to go with solid average arm strength and fringy speed that’s better underway.

Grichuk can play center in a pinch but fits in right field, while the question is how much he’ll hit and how much he’ll get to his raw power in games. He can get aggressive and chase out of the zone, but he’s been young for his last three levels and he’s hit 65 homers in that span, though his strikeout rate has risen at each level. He’s big league ready and got an extended look last year, likely splitting the reserve outfield duties this year with Bourjos while Piscotty heads back to Triple-A. With a big year, Grichuk would make it easier to let Heyward walk after this year.

8. Luke Weaver, RHP Video: Weaver popped up in his sophomore year at Florida State when the skinny 6’2 right-hander’s average velocity flashed plus, which helped his changeup play even better. He stood out for Team USA last summer, sitting 91-95 and hitting 96 mph with life, a 55-60 changeup and a slider that was a 55 at times. Weaver regressed a bit during his draft spring, sitting mostly 90-93 and hitting 95 mph with the same changeup but a slider that only flashed 50 every now and then.

He slipped from mid first round into the 2nd round for some teams, but the Cardinals saw the athletic pitcher with feel for an out-pitch that they covet and popped him 27th overall last summer. St. Louis loves his makeup and that he’s changeup over breaking ball, like Gonzales and Wacha, who they were able to help with their breaking balls. He was tired after signing due to a heavy workload with the Seminoles, so he only threw 9.1 innings after signing. The expectation is that he’ll open 2015 in High-A at age 21, turning 22 at the end of the season.

9. Sam Tuivailala, RHP Video: His name is pronounced tui-va-LAYLA, though most call him “Tui.” He was an intriguing, late-rising two-way talent out of the California bay area in the 2010 draft that St. Louis took in the 3rd round and sent out as an third baseman for two summers, but the hitting wasn’t going so well and he was converted back to the mound. In his first two summers back on the mound, Tui threw 48.1 relief innings at the lower levels and had some trouble with command, but racked up a lot of strikeouts, while his velo steadily grew with physical maturity and more experience on the mound.

He took off last year in his third year on the mound, sitting 95-99 and hitting 100 mph, jumping from High-A to the big leagues as a 21-year-old. Tui compliments his 80 fastball with a 55 curveball that sometimes flashes better, and a rarely used but below average changeup. His command has improved at every level, so he would be a closer if that continues and he’s only thrown just over 100 pro innings, so there should be more growth in there.  Even with no progress, he should be a solid setup guy that can rely on his big fastball.

10. Tim Cooney, LHP Video: Cards execs call Cooney a poor man’s Marco Gonzalez, as the stuff is pretty similar, but there isn’t quite as much impact.  Cooney was drafted in the 3rd round in 2012 out of Wake Forest and has moved quickly through the system to where he’s big league ready now and will get a look for the 5th starter job, but will likely break camp in Triple-A waiting for a spot to open in the rotation. Cooney works 89-92 mph with good life, a fringy to average curveball, a below average slider and an above average changeup. His control and command are both above average and the life on his heater along with plane from being 6’3/195 help his ground ball rate, with hopes to reach his 4th starter upside in 2016.

11. Carson Kelly, C Video: Kelly got $1.6 million in the 2nd round out of an Oregon high school in 2012 and moved from an amateur shortstop to a pro third baseman and then last year converted to catcher. He’s taken well to the conversion so far and posted a 100 wRC+ in Low-A last year (league average with the bat) as a 19/20 year old that was learning how to catch at the same time. Kelly has a plus arm, a chance to be an average defender and he has a good swing with average raw power and good bat speed, so all the tools are here for an everyday player.

12. Jacob Wilson, 2B Video: Wilson was an under-the-radar senior sign in 2012 out of Memphis that got $20,000 in the 10th round as a 5’11/180 infielder with some tools and solid numbers. The Cards moved him to second base in the last few years and the below average runner has made strides to where he’s now average at the position, but he can also fill in at all four corner positions with a solid average arm. Wilson has above average bat speed and solid average raw power, and had a big year as at age 23/24 last year, hitting well in High-A, Double-A and the Arizona Fall League.  He projects around average with the hit and power tools along with the defense; average across the board at an up-the-middle position is hard to find these days. He should play in the upper levels this year with a chance to contribute in 2016.

40 FV Prospects

13. Charlie Tilson, CF Video: Tilson got over $1 million as a 2nd rounder out of an Illinois high school in 2011 and has performed the whole way, though he missed the 2012 season with a right shoulder injury. He’s an easy plus runner that profiles well in center field with an average arm and uses his speed on the bases, getting almost as many triples as doubles for his career, though he’s still learning how to steal bases more effectively. Tilson has very little power, but solid plate discipline and contact skills. He’ll be an age-appropriate 22 in Double-A this year with a chance to become a table-setting leadoff guy, but, unless he really hits, will be more of a 4th outfielder and defensive replacement.

14. Zach Petrick, RHP Video: Petrick was signed as an undrafted free agent out of NAIA Northwestern Ohio in 2012 that put up huge number that summer, jumped from Low-A to Double-A in 2013, then was in big league spring training in 2014. He sits 89-92 and touches 94 mph, a couple ticks higher than college, which adds contrast to his above average changeup and improved his now-average curveball. Petrick excels with pitchability, fastball movement and location; he should be a 4th/5th starter and maybe as soon as 2015, after a nice 2014 in Triple-A.

15. Austin Gomber, LHP Video: The 6’5/205 lefty came on early last spring, jumping from the mid-80’s in high school to sitting around 90 mph at Florida Atlantic, all while being over 6 months younger than most of his peers. His stuff and command wandered a bit down the stretch and he had some arm soreness that pushed him to the 4th round, where he was a great value. Gomber sits 89-92 and hits 94 mph with some life, a 55 changeup and an inconsistent slider that’s usually around average but also flashes 55 at times. He’s a strike thrower with good control that’s still adjusting to his new velo, particularly with fastball command, but the elements are here for a 4th starter with physical projection for a little more.

16. Aledmys Diaz, SS Video: Diaz is a Cuban defector who got four years and $8 million after buzz he would get more than double that, due in part to a depressed market by signing during Spring Training last year. His 2014 was marred by a shoulder injury, which limited him to DH when he played and also affected his swing. Diaz is healthy and will head out as a shortstop this year, with enough tools that there’s a chance it works, though most scouts thought he would be a long-term second baseman when he signed. Diaz is an above average runner with a solid average arm and good hands that allow him to play up the middle and put the ball in play, with a chance to hit 10 homers at maturity. Diaz is 25 and will likely open the season at Double-A, with a chance for a big league look late in the season if the season goes to plan.

17. Juan Herrera, SS Video: Herrera was acquired from the Indians at the deadline in 2013 for LHP Mark Rzepczynski, then got his first real shot at Low-A in 2014. He’s a glove-first shortstop with a flashy glove and plus arm, but can stick at shortstop due to only fringy because of his quick first step and good instincts. Herrera has very little power, but has good bat-to-ball skills and a gap-to-gap contact approach.

18. Edmundo Sosa, SS Video: The Panamanian shortstop got $425,000 on July 2, 2012 and raked in the DSL in 2013, but is the skills over tools type of middle infielder the Cardinals seem to target. Opinions still vary on wether Sosa can stick at shortstop, as he doesn’t have huge defensive tools, with solid average speed and arm strength, and his well below average raw power in a 5’11/170 frame doesn’t help that profile. Sosa has excellent defensive instincts and general feel for the game that extends to the plate, where he makes lots of contact gap-to-gap and rarely strikes out.

19. Ronnie Williams, RHP Video: Williams was just another athletic pitcher with fringy stuff worth monitoring entering last spring, then his arm speed exploded and he sat 92-95, hitting 97 mph for much of the spring. He faded a bit down the stretch to 90-93 mph, but there’s some projection in his athletic 6’0/170 frame with a very clean arm action and solid delivery. Late last spring, his curveball progressed from fringy to flashing above average while his changeup had flashed above average before his arm speed improved, though he could get all three pitches and his command to click at the same time. Williams has 3rd/4th starter upside and checks all the boxes except for height, but it’ll probably take a few years to put everything together.

20. Patrick Wisdom, 3B Video: Wisdom went 52nd overall out of St. Mary’s in 2012 and the 6’2/210 athlete has easy everyday tools, but his performance has gotten worse at each level. The Cardinals see a guy that needs some time at each level to adjust to the higher level of pitching, while some scouts see a guy that a 45 bat at best. The raw power is above average to plus, the arm is a 70 and the defense is at least average at third base, with a similar profile to Matt Dominguez, who stalled out once he reached the big leagues. Wisdom’s swing isn’t bad, but it can get long and open up holes when he tries to hit for power, so he’ll likely have to choose to hit for contact or power.

21. Rowan Wick, RF Video: Wick is a Canadian that got $75,000 as a 9th rounder out of a SoCal JC in 2012 and the 6’3/220 monster has 65 arm strength and 60 raw power to all fields. He’s a former catcher that’s moved out to right field, where he should be average. The issue is how much contact he’ll make, as he can get too aggressive chasing off-speed stuff and will need time at each level to adjust, as Low-A was a big jump for him last year and he looked overmatched at times.

22. Breyvic Valera, 2B Video: Valera fits the mold of skills over tools Venezuelan middle infielders of the past, though Valera fits best at second base. He signed for only $1,000 in May of 2010 and has an uncanny ability to make contact, with comically low strikeout rates along with a solid walk rate and BABIP, all at an age appropriate for a prospect at each level. There isn’t much power and he’s more of a utility fit defensively that’s played all over the field, but he’s getting close to big league ready: another grinder utility infielder in the Cardinals mold.

23. Malik Collymore, 2B Video: Collymore was an overslot 10th rounder that got $275,000 in 2013 as a Canadian prep standout that came on in his draft spring. He’s surprisingly well built for a 5’11/190 second baseman and has double digit homer raw power if his line drive game stroke allows him to get to all of it in games. Collymore is an above average runner with a below average arm that fits best at second base and is making progress there defensively. He had a big year with gap power in the GCL last year and, while he isn’t Mookie Betts, there’s feel to hit and a good shot he steadily moves up this list in the coming years.

24. Bryan Dobzanski, RHP Video: The Cardinals gave $700,000 to Dobzanski in the 29th round last summer out of a New Jersey high school. He’s even more raw than the typical northeastern arm as the 6’4/220 athlete was a two-time state champion wrestler that has limited miles on his arm. At his best, Dobzanski sits 90-93 and hits 95 mph with sink and a curveball that’s a 55 at times, but the command, changeup and consistency all varied for obvious reasons. The delivery needs some work to avoid a move to the bullpen, so he won’t be a quick mover, but all the raw tools are here.

25. Oscar Mercado, SS Video: Mercado has mid-first round hype leading into his draft spring (2013), but bad body language, focus lapses and a subpar performance at the plate caused him to slip to the 2nd round, where St. Louis gave him an overslot $1.5 million bonus. He hasn’t really added any weight to his 6’2/175 frame since his junior year in high school and some question his work ethic, but it’s hard to walk away from his average average speed and arm strength along with his silky smooth plus glove. The power isn’t a factor now and he needs a lot of reps at the plate, but the ingredients are here.

26. Vaughn Bryan, RF Video: Bryan signed for $100,000 as a 35th rounder in 2013 out of a Florida JC with big tools and questions about polish, but he’s performed more than expected so far. He’ll head to High-A next year as a 22-year-old after a league average performance in Low-A last year, but the tools say there may be more coming. He has solid average raw power and arm strength along with above average speed that’s enough to play center field for now, though he’s a right fielder long term. Bryan is still raw at the plate and he needs more reps, but he’s showing some signs, so he’s someone to watch closely in 2015 for a breakout.

Cistulli’s Guy

Tommy Pham, CF

Well-known bully Kiley McDaniel has endeavored to bully the author into selecting right-hander Dixon Llorens for the distinction of Cistulli’s Guy in the Cardinals system. Llorens’ low ceiling is made lower still, however, by the fact that he’s confined merely to a relief role. Moreover, there exists throughout the organization what Cotton Mather would have likely called a “frigging surfeit” of other compelling fringe prospects. Shortstop Dean Anna and utility-type Ty Kelly, both acquired this offseason, are both well acquitted by the projections. Outfielder Mike O’Neill recorded just an 8.8% strikeout rate in 2014 — which figure somehow represented a decline from his 2013 campaign. The catching triumvirate of Ed Easley, Cody Stanley, and Louis Voit all also merit some attention. As for Pham, however, he possesses enough of speed and power to almost resemble a major leaguer. And regard: in every level since 2010 at which he’s recorded at least 100 plate appearances, he’s also posted a .333 BABIP or higher. Steamer and ZiPS regard that as an actual skill for him, projecting him for a .317 and .333 BABIP, respectively, in 2015.

Others of Note

Five position players at the upper levels to keep an eye on: 2B Mason Katz (Video 2013 4th rounder out of LSU was underslot special as a 5’10/190 infielder with advanced feel to hit and fringy raw power; there isn’t huge bat speed, but he gets the most of his tools and has played every position, including an experiment behind the plate), 3B Ty Kelly (will be 26/27 this season, has no big league time, no clear position and below average speed, arm and power; he was acquired from Seattle this winter and his value is tied to his bat, like Katz, but Kelly is big league ready as a utility guy), C Cody Stanley (Video he’s a bit of a late bloomer as a defender that is now around average defensively, but he always could make contact and has some pull power; you’re looking for an offensive backup here),  2B Greg Garcia (Garcia got a cup of coffee last year and can fill-in at shortstop, but fits better as a utility guy; he has less pop than Kelly but a lot more defensive value and he also shares a name with the creator of My Name Is Earl) and 1B Mike Ohlman (Video he was picked up in a recent trade for cash considerations from Baltimore and still plays some catcher, but his 6’5/215 frame won’t allow it much longer; he’s a well below average runner that can only play first long-term, which wastes his above average arm, but the real concern is if he can corral his long arms well enough to make contact to get to his above average raw power in games).

Four position players at the lower levels to keep an eye on: CF C.J. McElroy (Video son of former big league reliever Chuck McElroy turns 22 this year, is still raw, is a natural righty hitter still tinkering with switch-hitting and has very little power, but the upside is still here since he’s an 80 runner; at this point you’re hoping for a solid 4th outfielder like Charlie Tilson), C Steve Bean (2012 sandwich rounder hasn’t made a ton of progress with the bat, but is an above average defender with an easy plus arm), CF Blake Drake (2014 18th rounder out of NAIA school has above average to plus speed and arm along with average raw power, so if he hits there’s a big league fit) and RF Ricardo Bautista (19-year-old lefty-hitting Puerto Rican outfielder got $150,000 in 2013 as a high schooler young for his class and has 4th outfielder type tools with an above average arm).

Three pitchers at the upper levels to keep an eye on: RHP Nick Petree (quintessential pitchability righty works 86-89 and touches 91 at times with fringy curveball and slider, but advanced feel and a plus changeup; it’s probably a swing man at best, but it’s hard to count him out), RHP Mike Mayers (6’3/205 righty was 3rd rounder out of Ole Miss in 2013 and reached AAA last season; he’s a potential fifth starter with a solid average sinker/slider combo but inconsistent fastball command and changeup) and RHP Chris Perry (the 17th round pick in 2013 from a D3 school sits 92-94 with a solid average curveball and enough command and deception to put up some ridiculous numbers in A-Ball, with enough stuff to think it might continue)

Six pitchers at the lower levels to keep an eye on: RHP Junior Fernandez (18-year-old 6’1/180 Dominican made his first American apperance in instructs this fall and saw his DSL velo jump from 88-90 to 94-96 mph; the slurve is solid average at times, the changeup shows some flashes and the command has improved, so there’s a chance he’s a starter), RHP Andrew Morales (5’11 righty was senior sign comp 2nd rounder last year and has solid average fastball/slider combo with usable changeup and lots of moxie; upside is limited to 5th starter), RHP Luis Perdomo (6’2/160 Dominican turns 22 this year and hasn’t had much full-season success, but sits 92-95 and hits 97 mph at his best, though his slider, changeup and command lag behind), RHP Jorge Rodriguez (20-year-old Dominican will head back to the GCL in 2015 and has similar stuff to Perdomo, with a plus fastball but a better chance to start due to more feel and a better curveball), RHP Juan Perez (Venezuelan 19-year-old sits 90-93 and hits 94 mph with a curve, changeup and command that all flash average at times, but he still may move to the pen) and LHP Ian McKinney (Video 5’11 lefty was 2013 5th rounder out of Orlando-area high school with fringy fastball and slider, but above average changeup and feel).

Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

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8 years ago

I’ve seen a few very positive reports on Frederis Parra. Any thoughts on him? Could he be a MLB SP down the road? Was he considered for the list?