Even though the Cardinals lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS, Cards fans have it luckier than they even know. The Cardinals are an exceptionally well-run baseball team and manage to make the playoffs year after year (five out of the last six to be exact). They have won eleven world series, nineteen National League Pennants and twelve division titles making them the second most winning franchise in MLB history after the New York Yankees. Anyways, if being a lifelong fan of baseball has taught me one thing its that the future of any team rests in the hands of its farm system, so without further adieu here are, in my opinion, the top three Cardinals prospects to made an immediate impact in 2015.
Piscotty was a first round supplemental draft pick out of Stanford who was converted from third base to right field before the 2013 season. Although he isn’t fast enough to play center field, his strong and accurate arm makes him a capable right fielder.
Piscotty only hit 9 home runs this season, but his flat, line drive swing gives him gap power, showcased by his 32 doubles, and results in few strike outs. Many scouts believe Piscotty has the potential to be a .300 hitter in the major leagues, but he may need a positional change due to the Cardinals investment in players like Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk.
Piscotty is a major league ready player, and his willingness to learn as well as gritty play mesh well with the rest of the personalities on the Cardinals major league roster. With the cardinals general lack of production this year offensively, they should be able to find playing time for him in 2015.
Gonzales was the nineteenth pick in the 2013 MLB draft and quickly escalated to the big leagues, making his debut on June 25th of this year. He only appeared in sixteen games for the Cardinals (including the post season) and had some control issues during the regular season, walking 21 batters in 34.2 innings with a 1.53 WHIP.
Although Gonzales is not overpowering, with his fastball usually sitting between 88 and 91 mph, and struggled at times this season when facing major league hitters, his changeup is what makes him an intriguing piece of the Cardinals 2015 roster. His changeup is a tremendous swing and miss weapon and his control of the pitch is impeccable. Both Gonzales’s changeup and control have been graded between a 60 and 70 on the 20-80 scale by numerous scouts too, which are well above average grades.
With frequent comparisons to Kansas City Royals pitcher Jason Vargas, Gonzales has the stuff to develop into a dependable number three pitcher for years to come or at the very least an effective lefty out of the Cardinals bullpen.
Grichuk was taken with the 24th pick of the 2009 MLB draft and battled his way through five injury plagued seasons in the minor leagues before finally getting a taste of the big leagues this year. He has defensive value and can play all outfield positions, making up for his lack of speed by taking great angles when hunting down fly balls. His hard work in the outfield earned him the equivalent of the minor league gold glove award in 2013.
On the offensive end of the spectrum, Grichuk impressed many by slugging .400, but he struck out 31 times and walked only 5 in 110 regular season at bats. He also hit a underwhelming .171 during the postseason and struck out in over 33% of his at bats. Regardless of his major league numbers, Grichuk still slugged 25 home runs for the Cardinals triple A affiliate this season, but although many scouts are impressed by his power, his aggression at the plate will probably be exposed by pitchers at the professional level.
Grichuk has been given the opportunity to be the everyday right fielder, but with Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty lurking he has no room for error. If he gets off to a hot start Grichuk will be the everyday right fielder, but if he doesn’t he will probably become the teams fourth outfielder and may potentially be sent back down to triple A.