Just yesterday, the Cardinals front office released the finalized rosters for each Minor League affiliate. With opening day arriving tomorrow, here is a reminder regarding the importance of Minor League ball.
In the latest Cardinals press release, the communications department released the rosters for all Minor League clubs above rookie ball. This list includes the Memphis Redbirds (AAA), the Springfield Cardinals (AA), the Palm Beach Cardinals (A), and the Peoria Chiefs (A).
Being truthful, the press release itself is fairly bland. It is simply a roster breakdown of each team, outlining the pitchers, infielders, outfielders, and catchers on each squad. Why should we care?
From an informational standpoint, yes, this information is fairly boring. Especially considering the fluidity of Minor League rosters, should anyone really care about who starts where? Probably not. To me, though, this information serves as a reminder. The Minor Leagues are locked and loaded, ready to begin.
As I see it, the average fan should pay more attention to Minor League baseball. As such, I feel obligated to publicize this roster announcement, to remind the fans that something is happening beneath the MLB level.
For this reason, I am going to run through every level, cherry picking some interesting aspects of each roster. Hopefully, such an exercise will incite more loyal following of the Cardinals farm system.
Especially during the 2017 season, the Minor Leagues will play an integral role, influencing the big leagues and vice versa. With a stacked AAA roster, players will constantly push for MLB promotions, thus motivating players who may be struggling at Busch. Specifically, the likes of Harrison Bader, Luke Weaver, Luke Voit, Breyvic Valera, and others will all look to realize their dreams.
In a similar vein, such depth at the AAA level could also bring about trade opportunities, something that will blindside fans should they neglect the minors. Most notably, Carson Kelly’s future has become extremely interesting in the last week.
After signing Yadier Molina to an extension, the Cardinals could be justified in looking to obtain some starting pitching for the talented Kelly. Considering the lack of left-handedness at the MLB or AAA levels, this may become a bittersweet reality.
Overall, look for the AAA Memphis Redbirds to thrive this upcoming season. With talent across the board, the only thing that will hold them back is Major League promotions.
In AA Springfield, there are numerous players on the roster who warrant much excitement. Specifically at pitcher, Springfield has many intriguing young arms, players with much to prove in 2017.
First and foremost, Jack Flaherty will get a chance to prove himself after his latest promotion. If all goes well, hopefully Flaherty will seize this opportunity and begin to thrive, finally dominating in the way his potential suggests.
In much the same way, Sandy Alcantara’s improvement will be on full display at the AA level. If all goes well for these two studs, don’t be surprised to see them sneaking up to AAA in the near future.
With that being said, however, please do not panic should either of these prospects faltar. AA is a big jump, and these guys are still very young. Remain patient regardless of the outcome, as both are still a couple years out.
Aside from Flaherty, the pressure is on for Austin Gomber, a left handed pitcher who could really turn some heads this season. If all goes well, look for Gomber to shoot up towards AAA by the end of the year.
At the A level, things are not quite as exciting as with AA or AAA. Quite simply, though, there just aren’t enough players with sufficient experience to make serious judgements. Taking a slightly different point of view, I am looking at the single A level as a completely blank slate, a chance for relatively unknown players to burst onto the scene.
In my opinion, second baseman Tommy Edman has the potential to do just this. Perhaps overshadowed by Delvin Perez, an infielder also taken in last year’s draft, Edman has the polish and grit to fight his way up the Minor League ladder.
Although he will begin the season in Peoria, don’t be surprised to see Edman gain a couple promotions this year. As a college draft pick, he has the mindset and maturity to navigate the mental and physical struggles of the minors. Given this fact, I predict that Edman will flourish in A ball during the 2017 season.
Aside from Edman, look for Ronnie Williams (P), Junior Fernandez (P), Edmundo Sosa (IF) and Magneuris Sierra (OF) to make a name for themselves as quality, promising prospects.