A few days ago, at the bottom of his article Debating and ranking Hall of Fame candidates Derrick Goold mentioned that the Cards top ten prospects list will be released by Baseball America on January 14th. This important tidbit of information inspired me to create my own list, (see below) but before we get into the juicy details let me lay out some general parameters.
As far as my list goes, I am not including Kolten Wong, Carlos Martinez, Randal Grichuk, Sam Tuivailala or Marco Gonzalez because they have all seen time in the big leagues. I know that Grichuk, Tuivailala and Gonzalez are still considered prospects, but in my opinion once someone plays in a major league game they can no longer be considered a prospect. So, I guess my list should be called the Cards top ten prospects who have never ever played in the majors list, but let’s not get too technical.
CardsBlog’s Top Ten 2015 Prospects (who have yet to see big league time) List
1: Alexander Reyes RHP
The 20-year-old Reyes easily has the highest ceiling out of all the Cards pitching prospects. Reyes has an electric fastball, which can reach 97 mph, and an above average curveball to complement it. He averaged 11.3 K/9 innings last season and struck out an incredible 137 batters in only 109.1 innings for the Cardinals single A affiliate. While control is an issue, (Reyes averaged 5 BB/9 innings last year) as he progresses through the minor leagues and fills out his lanky 6’3 185 pound frame, Reyes will become a more polished pitcher. Look for Reyes to get promoted to double A at some point this season and continue to excel.
2: Stephen Piscotty, OF
The soon to be 24-year-old Piscotty (whose birthday is coincidentally on January 14th) is the Cardinals most major league ready prospect. He is the most polished hitter in their minor league system (.288/.355/.406 with 9 home runs and 32 doubles in 500 at bats last season with the Cards triple A affiliate) and he has the potential to be a .300 hitter in the majors. He won’t be a huge power threat, but his line-drive swing will result in a lot of doubles and minimal strikeouts. Piscotty is also a capable right fielder with an above average arm. Look for him to be brought up to the big club during the 2015 season and contribute as an important right-handed bat off the bench.
3: Rob Kaminsky, LHP
The 20-year-old Kaminsky had a fantastic 2014 season in which he posted a 1.88 ERA in over 100 innings with the Cardinals single A affiliate. Though he’s only 5’11, scouts love Kaminsky’s competitiveness, his ability to throw strikes, and the fact that he’s a lefty. If Kaminsky produces at the level he did last season, don’t be surprised if he has been promoted to double A by the season’s end.
4: Jack Flaherty, RHP
The Cardinals farm system is stocked with young arms (see above) and the 19-year-old Flaherty is one of the best of the bunch. While he is still a few years away from seeing MLB action, Flaherty has above average control, (he walked 4 batters in 22.2 innings last season with the Cards GCL team) and can throw strikes with his fastball, curveball, slider and change-up. His slider and curveball need work if he wants to be a competitive pitcher, but his change-up is already an above average pitch and he projects to add more velocity to his fastball as he fills out his 6’4 205 pound frame.
5: Luke Weaver, RHP
The 21-year-old Weaver projects to be a number three starter. Although he does not have as much raw talent as other Cards pitching prospects he still has a promising future. Weaver possesses exceptional command of his fastball, which sits in the low 90’s, and an above average change-up. Weaver has a mediocre slider at best, but if he works to tighten its break this 2014 first round draft pick will breeze through the minor leagues and be with the big club in no time.
6: Charlie Tilson, OF
The speedy and athletic Tilson is a very capable defensive center fielder with good instincts and the potential to be the Cardinals leadoff hitter of the future. The 22-year-old Tilson will never hit for power, but he did hit .289/.333/.389 in over 500 at bats between single A and double A last season while playing exceptional defense. The Cardinals currently have a lot of talented outfielders at the major league level, but if Tilson shows more patience at the plate he may force the Cards to promote him sooner rather than later.
7: Tim Cooney, LHP
Cooney will never blow anyone away with his fastball, but he has solid control and a deceptive change-up, which allowed him to win 14 games for the Cards triple A team last season. This 24-year-old southpaw projects as a number 4 starter, but he will probably break in with the Cardinals as a reliever in 2015.
8: Aledmys Díaz, SS
Now this is where it starts to get tricky. Díaz is already 24 years old and has only one injury plagued season of double A baseball under his belt, but he has the potential to be a power threat at shortstop, which is a rarity these days in the MLB. Although it was only in 161 at bats, Díaz hit .274/.324/.441 last season and during his time playing professionally in Cuba from 2007-2012 he consistently hit over .300 with power. Díaz has the arm to stay at shortstop, but dating back to his Cuba days he has never been a great fielder and he will really need to improve his defense if he wants to stay at his current position. If Díaz can log 500 at bats next season and improve defensively, look for him to fly through the minors and be with the big club before we know it.
9: Magneuris Sierra, CF
While Sierra may not be considered a top ten prospect by some, I think anyone who hits .386/.434/.505 and wins their organizations minor league player of the year award should be considered one. Sierra was a relative unknown entering the season, but became a hot commodity as it progressed earning high praise from everyone who watched him play. When Sierra’s Manager and former scout Steve Turco was asked about Sierra he referred to him as, “a potential five-tool player who will develop easy power.” Sierra is also one of the better defenders in the lower level Gulf Coast League and projects to be an above average defender in the future. All in all, Sierra is only 18 and has plenty of time to develop his already impressive skills. If he does, Sierra could be one the Cardinals most exciting prospects in recent memory.
10: Juan Herrera, SS
Herrera was acquired at the 2013 trade deadline and has all of the defensive tools to be a major league shortstop. He is not the most competent offensively, but he has always had the ability to get on base (career .347 OBP in the minors) and could be an effective bottom of the order hitter if he continues to progress. The 21 year old Herrera also racked up 28 steals last season and could be a base stealing threat in the future.
The Cards have some enticing prospects, but their farm system is weaker than it has been in recent years due to the graduation of prospects and trades the organization has made. With an abundance of young, talented pitchers, look for the Cardinals to focus on drafting position players to bolster their organization in the coming years.