With most of the Minor League All-Star games being played this week (AAA is the lone exception), it seems like a perfect time to review which players in the Cards’ farm system are having standout years. For the sake of new information, I’m excluding players who have already had their cup of tea at the Major League level, so you will not see Oscar Taveras or Randal Grichuk on this list.
However, the prospects that are included are by no means surprises, as all four rank in the top ten prospects in the Cardinals’ system. Rather these four guys are the prospects living up to their potential now and not faltering under the pressure like many of their peers. These are the players you will see on this team for years to come, taking over for the likes of Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday. So without further ado, here are the true All-Stars of the Cardinals’ Minor League system.
Stephen Piscotty was drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 draft as a third baseman out of Stanford. Since then, he has played nearly two full seasons in the Minors across four different levels and has dominated at each stop. This year for the Memphis Redbirds, Piscotty is hitting .310/.369/.435 in 68 games played. Piscotty is scouted as an above average contact hitter with decent power, projected by many to be a .300 hitter at the Major League level. The Cards converted Piscotty to the outfield when he started in the system, and the move has paid off thanks in large part to Piscotty’s cannon of an arm. Overall, if Piscotty keeps hitting this well at AAA, the Cards may have no choice but to promote him sooner rather than later.
Drafted 19th overall in the 2013 draft by the Cardinals, Gonzalez has put up incredible numbers in his first full year in the Minors. Pitching in 12 games across two levels, Gonzalez is 4-4 with a 1.77 ERA. Overall, Gonzalez has thrown 71 innings this summer, giving up only 61 hits while striking out 74. Perhaps most impressive though is that Gonzalez’s batting average against actually dropped when he was promoted from Single A to Double AA over roughly the same amount of innings. Gonzalez has incredible command of his fastball, and his change-up is a devastating swing-and-miss pitch likely to transfer to the Major League level. While he still may be a couple of years away, don’t be surprised if you see Gonzalez in spring camp next year or part of the September call-ups this fall.
Probably the best pure hitter outside of Taveras in the Cardinals’ organization, Ramsey has been raking against Double A pitching this summer. So far, he is hitting .320/.400/.575, proving to scouts that he does have the power most thought he lacked. Ramsey has already dinged out 12 home runs in 181 at-bats and draws walks for a decent OBP. While the stats may indicate a three-outcome hitter for Ramsey, he makes very good contact and his plate discipline compare him more to Joey Votto than to Adam Dunn. Both of those comparisons are probably stretching his true potential. Again, don’t be surprised to Ramsey in this September’s call-ups as his production is certainly worthy of time on the Major League club.
Ranked number ten in the Cardinals’ system by MLB.com, Tilson looks to be the Cardinals’ lead-off man of the future. With below average power but good contact at the plate otherwise, Tilson has been hitting .301/.363/.361 for the Single A Palm Beach Cardinals. Tilson also has well-above average speed, already stealing 12 bases this year and displaying his range in center field. The obvious comparison for Tilson is a Billy Hamilton type of player with a little less speed but a better bat. Brett Gardner is also a reasonable comparison if Tilson continues to hit as well as he has the past few months. With the Cardinals’ depth at outfield, Tilson will be given plenty of time to move through the system, but if he continues to play as well as he had we could see him in the bigs very soon.