St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 25 Prospects
There’s no doubt that the St. Louis Cardinals have been one of the most successful and prolific franchises in Major League history. Their 11 championships rank 2nd all-time and two of those 11 have come this century in 2006 and 2011. In fact, the Cardinals only have one losing season this century (2007) and still won 79 games that season. You can’t maintain this level of success without producing talent from your farm system. And while that has been true in the broader sense, lately, the Cardinals haven’t been considered a top farm system in terms of both talent and player development. This top-25 Cardinals prospects list has three big names at the top, but after that, there are more question marks than proven talent.
Overall System Grade: C
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Memphis (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Springfield (Texas League)
Advanced Single-A: Palm Beach (Florida State League)
Low Single-A: Peoria (Midwest League)
Short Single-A: State College (NY-Penn League)
Rookie: Johnson City (Appalachian League), Gulf Coast League (1), Dominican Summer League (2)
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
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Top-25 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – 2020
1. Dylan Carlson, OF, AAA, 21
Rewind 12 months and I had Nolan Gorman #1 in this system and Dylan Carlson #2. My how 12 months can change rankings. While Gorman struggled in full-season ball, Carlson thrived in the upper minors and has vaulted up well with my top-20 overall, even pushing the top-10 thanks to a .292/26/20 showing. Carlson’s rise is similar to Matt Manning’s in a sense that Manning and Carlson were considered good prospects but the progression of one area of their game in 2019 cause them to rise quickly up prospect lists to elite territory. With Manning is was his changeup/command, and with Carlson, it was the development of his power. And yes, running more didn’t hurt either.
Dylan Carlson’s shot from last night pic.twitter.com/OzMe64X7lw
— Kyle Reis (@kyler416) April 23, 2019
From 2018 to 2019, Carlson’s ISO jumped from .147 to .250, slugging from .394 to .544, and he increased his estimated flyball distance more than 10 feel while hitting more fly balls and fewer grounders. Carlson has always flashed his plus raw power, but 2019 was the first time it translated consistently into game-power. His swing is quick from both sides of the plate and Carlson hasn’t shown any glaring platoon issues, hitting for average and power from both sides. I’d throw a 55-hit, 60-power combination on him with around average footspeed. Don’t expect 20-plus steals going forward, but something in the area of .275-.290 with 25-30 homers and 10-15 steals is in play here with Carlson. He’s nearly ready to contribute with St. Louis too.
2. Nolan Gorman, 3B, A+, 20
Alright, so the 2019 season didn’t go quite as I anticipated for Nolan Gorman. For the most part, Gorman and Carlson traded spots in my overall rankings following two very different 2019 campaigns. Following a strong professional debut in 2018, Gorman wasn’t able to build off it and even regressed in certain areas. His plate discipline worsened which also put a damper on his in-game power production. There’s no doubting Gorman’s mammoth raw power, but his plate approach is going to need to improve if he wants to tap into that power consistently and post the 35-plus homer seasons he’s capable of.
In 2018, Gorman posted a 12.4% walk rate and a 27.7% strikeout rate across 274 plate appearances in the Appalachian League (RK) and Midwest League (A) combined. Those swing and miss concerns only grew in 2019 with Gorman’s strikeout rate rising to 29.7% and causing prolonged slumps throughout the season starting in May. Not to mention, his walk rate dropped to a lower, but still respectable, 8.8%. Gorman actually had a dominant April, slashing .325/.389/.650 with six home runs and had a slightly-improved 25.6% strikeout rate when the month of May concluded. But from June 1st on, Gorman struck out in 32.4% of his plate appearances and struggled mightily in June with a .148 average in 25 games.
100 MPH, 70 MPH, or anywhere in between.
It doesn't matter how fast or where the ball is pitched.
— Palm Beach Cardinals (@GoPBCardinals) March 4, 2020
The roller coaster of a season and approach issues made Gorman’s final stat line look very displeasing for a prospect I had ranked inside my top-20 going into the season. Many aspects of Gorman’s game haven’t changed. The bat speed is still there with a swing that generates natural loft from the left side of the plate. The raw power is still easily double-plus and could lead to some 40-homer seasons down the road. But with all that said, Gorman’s contact skills are currently below average and the approach needs tinkering as I mentioned above.
If he can improve the approach and focus on making more consistent contact, Gorman has what it takes to hit plenty of dingers from the middle of the order down the road with .260/35+ upside.
3. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, A, 20
There were so many dynamic arms in the Tampa Bay farm system, you could ask four people who their favorite pitching prospect was and you might’ve gotten four different answers. For me, it was Matthew Liberatore, who now moves into a system where he’s the no-doubt top pitching prospect. The Cardinals acquired Liberatore back in December from the Rays along with catching prospect Edgardo Rodriguez and a Competitive Balance B pick in exchange for OF/DH Jose Martinez and OF Randy Arozarena.
A first-round pick in 2018 out of the Arizona prep ranks, Liberatore attacks hitters with four pitches that grade as above-average or plus. All four pitches play up due to his plus command and Liberatore doesn’t shoot himself in the foot by giving up too many free passes or home runs (0.2 HR/9 in 2019). Currently, he is command over control though.
Matthew Liberatore, Soul Stealing Curveball. pic.twitter.com/oO5PfbaBWn
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 24, 2020
He’ll usually sit in the low-90’s on his fastball out of a 3/4 arm slot with armside run and tops out around 95-96. At 19 years old, 6’5, and 200 pounds, there’s still projection on his frame, so Liberatore could add another tick or two to his heater before he’s done developing. Out of his three secondaries, the best of the group is his mid to upper-70’s curveball. The pitch is easily a plus offering with good shape and depth. He’s also shown a good feel for his changeup and slider, with both grading as future 50 or 55-grade pitches. His clean mechanics and repeatable delivery allow Liberatore to get the most out of his entire arsenal.
When you wrap it all up and throw a bow on top, Libertore has the makings of a bonafide #2 starter or maybe even a future ace. Assuming he can add some bulk to his frame and remain durable, the name Madison Bumgarner pops to mind. Exciting, isn’t it?
4. Jhon Torres, OF, A, 20
After the top three, there’s a discernable drop off in this system, but still plenty of intriguing names. Jhon Torres gets the nod for me here at #4 as I believe he has the best all-around offensive skill set with the highest upside out of the top trio above. Signed back in 2015 by the Cleveland Indians, Torres was one of two pieces the Cardinals received in the Oscar Mercado trade, accompanied by fellow outfield prospect, Connor Capel.
Torres is a big 6’4/200 corner outfielder with plus raw power already and the potential for even more. He struggled mightily to begin 2019 in the Midwest League but was able to find his footing after being demoted to the rookie-level Appalachian League and getting some time in the extended spring training in the middle. After only 44 games combined in the Arizona and Gulf Coast Leagues the previous season, the Appy is probably where he should’ve been assigned to begin with. Following the demotion, Torres hit .286 with six homers in 33 games.
As mentioned above, Torres’ raw power is his calling card, but far from the only thing he brings to the table. From the right side Torres generates plenty of loft and can really drive the ball hard in the air to his pull side. Although, he does get pretty pull happy often and will need to learn to go the other way and chase fewer pitches outside of the strike zone if he wants to hit for a respectable average to go along with that power. If he can make those adjustments, I believe he has the contact skills to hit around .270 or so with 25-plus homers and enough speed to flirt with some double-digit steal seasons. Torres is still raw, but possesses intriguing upside.
5. Elehuris Montero, 3B, AA, 21
The 2019 season was one I’m sure Elehuris Montero would really like to wipe from his memory banks. Monteto slashed a mere .194/.245/.316 in his 63 games and didn’t fare much better out in the Arizona Fall League either. This is a prime example of when we can’t make judgments on prospects due to stats or one poor season in general. Montero simply couldn’t get any positive momentum going last season.
As mentioned, he was limited to 63 games due to a couple of hand and wrist injuries and those always seem to limit power production for a bit afterward. But if anything good came from Montero’s tough 2019, it’s that it likely opened a nice buy-low window in dynasty leagues. Montero remains one of the top offensive-prospects in this system and he showed that before 2019. Just one season prior, Montero slashed .315/.371/.504 with 37 doubles and 16 home runs in 123 games.
Listed at 6’3/215, Montero has a strong frame, especially through his hips and lower half. He’s flashed above-average to plus raw power throughout his professional career, but his swing path doesn’t generate a ton of natural loft. In fact, Montero’s flyball rate has been trending down while his groundball rate has subsequently risen. Not a good sign for a player with well-below-average speed. Montero will also have a rather deep hand load which creates a lengthier swing at times. He’s been able to overcome that for the most part due to his above-average bat speed, but Montero will need to clean that up moving forward.
If Montero is going to make a fantasy impact, it’s 100% going to be due to his bat. With average or better contact skills, a solid approach, and above-average to plus raw power, Montero has a chance to develop into a .270/25 type of hitter at peak if he can drive the ball in the air more consistently. Will that be at the hot corner? I’m not sold. Montero’s below-average speed and range there might force a move over to first of maybe to a corner outfield where he can unleash his strong throwing arm.
6. Zack Thompson, LHP, A+, 22
We switch from a couple of raw, high-upside types to a more polished collegiate arm that I’d consider more of a safer floor type of prospect. Previously drafted in the 11th round in 2016 as a high-schooler by the Rays, the Cardinals used their first selection of the 2019 draft on Thompson, nabbing him with the 19th overall pick. A 6’2 southpaw, Thompson did deal with shoulder and elbow injuries coming out of high school and in his first couple of seasons at Kentucky, but those appear to be behind him now.
Thompson will attack hitters with a solid four-pitch arsenal with all four pitches projecting as Major-League average or better offerings. His delivery is smooth with repeatable mechanics out of a 3/4 arm slot and Thompson is able to generate a nice downward plane on his fastball thanks to plus extension in his delivery. He’ll sit in the low 90’s with his fastball, touching 95-96 at times with life, but the command of the pitch has been inconsistent for him. Out of his three secondaries, I like his slider the best, a sharp low-80’s offering with two-plane break that projects as a plus pitch. The curveball will flash 55/60 at times as well with depth while the changeup is a tad behind, but still projects as average with some solid fade.
Thompson isn’t going to be an arm that ever dazzles or heads a rotation, but he has the stuff to develop into a nice mid-rotation starter for the Cardinals and a nice fantasy option if he can continue to miss bats like he has.
7. Ivan Herrera, C, A+, 19
If we rewind to 2018/2019, Andrew Knizner would be considered the top catching prospect in this system. Not anymore. Sure, you’ll still see him ahead in some real-life rankings, but for fantasy purposes, Ivan Herrera is the better backstop option in this system as far as I’m concerned. Signed out of Panama back in 2016, Herrera is a well-rounded catching prospect with the chance to develop four above-average tools, with the lone exception being his well below-average speed.
— I miss baseball (@mdthompFWFB) November 28, 2019
After back to back seasons hitting well north of .300 in rookie ball with little power, Herrera finally began to drive the ball in the air more consistently, showcasing his above-average raw power. His estimated flyball distance rose six feet while his flyball rate jumped from 25.0% to 38.1%. Herrera uses a closed stance and slightly hunches over during load with fluid hand movement through his swing. There’s plus bat speed here with a slight uppercut swing path. Herrera has really advanced as a hitter over the last two seasons as he’s advanced into full-season ball and that is noticeable when you see his oppo% rising every season along with a walk rate that jumped over 10% in 2019.
At peak, we could be looking at a 55-hit, 55-power backstop that pushes .280/20 annually. Herrera is the catcher to own in this system.
8. Trejyn Fletcher, OF, RK, 19
Do you want toolsy? I’ll give you toolsy! Well, Trejyn Fletcher will, not me. Drafted out of the beautiful state of Maine (Yes, we play baseball up here with Moose as umpires, Lobsters as fans, and potatoes as baseballs), Fletcher was the Cardinals 2nd round pick this past June and is the definition of a boom or bust prospect. Outside of Carlson, Fletcher might just have the best all-around offensive tools in this Cardinals system, but at the same time, he’s incredibly raw and has lightyears to go before he reaches his ceiling.
First and foremost, Fletcher is a phenomenal athlete with plus or better speed. In my live looks at him last year he moved well on the bases and in the outfield with a solid jump and baserunning acumen. There’s not much question in my mind that he’s going to be a force on the bases with 30-plus steal potential if he can get on base enough. That’s the key right there. Fletcher as a hitter is very much a work in progress. While he’s flashed above-average or better raw power, his overly-aggresive approach limits his in-game power quite a bit. He also has had issues recognizing spin and chasing too many pitches outside the zone.
If you like upside, Fletcher is a good target in leagues where 300+ prospects are rostered. He’s one of those toolsy types where getting stock now makes a ton of sense. If he doesn’t progress as a hitter, just move on.
9. Justin Williams, OF, MLB, 24
From draft day in 2014 to the present has been quite a ride for Justin Williams. He’s been traded twice (ARI to TB, TB to STL), found varying levels of success in the minors, and received an extremely brief cup of coffee with Tampa Bay in 2018. Actually, it was more like a shot of coffee as he received just one at-bat. Listed at 6’2/215, Williams is a strong, corner outfield type with a good feel for hitting and above-average to plus raw power. With the exception of a .252 average in 2018, Williams has hit north of .275 in every other season and checks in just under .300 (.296) for his professional career that now spans 601 games.
While his contact skills and hitting for average have not been an issue, Williams’ in-game power has been very capped by a severe groundball heavy approach. However, that approach has gotten better after getting into the St. Louis system. Williams used to drop his hands during load and stay low throughout the zone. That caused him to drive the ball into the ground a ton and register groundball rates well above 50%. The Cardinals noticed this and had him adjust his hand a bit, setting higher pre-load and creating more of a fluid whipping motion through the zone.
The result of this moved Williams’ groundball rate below 50% for the first time in his professional career while increasing his estimated flyball distance nearly 20 feet up to 319.1 feet in 2019. If Williams can continue these gains and drive the ball in the air more consistently, there’s 20-25 homer power here to pair with his above-average contact skills.
10. Andrew Knizner, C, MLB, 25
Although I talked up Herrera quite a bit and consider him a better fantasy option than Andrew Knizner, that doesn’t mean Knizner isn’t a decent option himself. One thing is for certain with Knizner; the guy can hit. His power isn’t nearly on the same level as Herrera’s is, but the hit tool is of similar quality with the potential to hit for a average north of .270 annually. Knizner has always hit for a high average throughout his professional career, hitting over .300 in three of four seasons with a career .303 mark in 308 games.
With that said, I can’t see more than 10-12 homers being added to that batting average. While Knizner has shown the ability to use the entire field, his swing is quite linear and doesn’t generate a ton of natural loft. He’s more of a gap power type than one that’s going to crank a bunch of baseballs over the fence. With a lower offensive ceiling and lesser defensive skills than Herrera, Knizner looks to be ticketed for a backup role in St. Louis longterm. Although, I do believe he could be a decent second-division regular if traded out of town.
11. Johan Oviedo, RHP, AA, 22
After signing with the Cardinals for $1.9m out of Cuba in 2016, Johan Oviedo has endured a tumultuous professional career. His below-average command and control is a major reason for that. As a bigger 6’6 right-hander, Oviedo has had troubles repeating his delivery despite fairly clean mechanics. This has caused inconsistency in both his command and control which has limited the overall effectiveness of his entire arsenal.
The arsenal itself is impressive with fastball in the low to mid 90’s with nice armside run with a trio of secondaries playing off of that. Both the curve and changeup flash above-average to plus in any given start, but again, Oviedo has had problems consistently establishing those offerings from start to start. He’ll also mix in a less-effective slider as a show me 4th offering. If Oviedo can reign in his command, there’s some solid upside to be had here as a future rotation piece. But as of now, a future in the bullpen should not be ruled out.
12. Malcom Nunez, 3B, A, 19
Malcom Nunez is one of the hardest prospects to rank in this system. A 2018 international signing out of Cuba, Nunez turn heads to the level of severe whiplash when he annihilated the Dominican Summer League in 2018 to the tune of a .415/.497/.774 slash line with 16 doubles and 13 home runs in 44 games. People were losing their freaking minds last offseason ranking this kid. Now, following a disappointing 2019 campaign, those Nunez ranks are falling fast. Needless to say, a .229 average and two homers in 52 games weren’t what the Nunez supporters were expecting as an encore. Or what anyone was expecting for that matter. But we also can’t forget that Nunez dealt with a bank injury as well and those have a knack for hindering one’s power.
Is he 2018 good? Of course not. Is he 2019 bad? Also no. At least, I’m not ready to totally write him off. Nunez has displayed plus raw power and solid bat speed as a pro, but a groundball and pull heavy approach has limited how much of that has translated into game power. With the right approach, I believe there’s 25-homer upside in this bat. But how much average he hits for is the real question. Nunez doesn’t strike out much and puts the ball in play regularly, but again, that approach I mentioned above doesn’t usually lead to a ton of hits, especially with below-average speed. The 2020 season will be very telling for Nunez and his prospect stock.
13. Luken Baker, 1B, A+, 23
If Luken Baker is going to make an impact in the Majors and/or in the fantasy world, it’s going to be due to his power potential. At 6’4/265, Baker is a beast at first base with easy plus or better raw power from the right side of the plate. It’s typical for bigger hitters like this to have some added length to their swing, but not Baker. His swing and setup are fairly simple without any added unnecessary noise. The bat speed is above-average and his swing path through the zone creates some nice natural loft and he began driving the ball more in the air last season. If he can continue to do so, there’s 25-plus homers annually in this bat without a doubt.
While the power is nice, Baker has displayed average contact skills at best so far. He doesn’t strike out a ton and has a 10.4% walk rate in the minors, so I’m not expecting the AVG/OBP to crater, but this is likely a .250ish hitter moving forward. Due to his size and below-average defense, Baker is a 1B/DH type moving forward that will need to hit for power to make an impact.
14. Genesis Cabrera, LHP, MLB, 23
One of the hardest prospect types to rank in fantasy for me is the pitcher with good stuff but an uncertain future role. That’s Genesis Cabrera in a nutshell right there. The good stuff is an electric mid to upper-90’s fastball with armside life and a pair of secondaries that flash above-average to plus at times, but not consistently. That’s one of the reasons I believe Cabrera is a bullpen arm longterm. Cabrera’s below-average command and control have limited his effectiveness throughout his minor league career.
Génesis Cabrera strikes out the side in the 2nd inning! pic.twitter.com/CBCrlppWYR
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 30, 2019
The second reason is the fact that Cabrera’s delivery is high-effort, especially in the finish. Both of those factors smashed together makes a future in the rotation look very bleak. In the bullpen, Cabrera’s fastball sits in the 95-99 range (averaged 96.3 mph with STL in 2019) and he’s shown enough feel for both of his secondaries to continue incorporating them into his pitch mix going forward. I’m just not sure there’s 9th inning upside in his future.
15. Mateo Gil, SS, A+, 19
This is likely going to be the most boring writeup you’ll see in this top-25. In no way does Mateo Gil stand out. The Cardinals 3rd round pick in 2018 is a capable shorstop with enough range and arm strength to remain at the position longterm. At the plate, he’s displayed average to above-average contact skills with an all-fields, line-drive approach.
While there’s some power in his bat, Gil’s combination of below-average power and his swing path doesn’t lead me to believe there’s more than 10-12 homers annually in his future. The same can be said about his speed which is around average. With Gil, his all-around skills give him a chance to advande up the organizational ladder to St. Louis, but a .270/10/15 projection isn’t very appealing for fantasy purposes.
16. Patrick Romeri, OF, RK, 18
This is 100% an upside ranking. A 12th round selection in the 2019 draft, Patrick Romeri is a strong and athletic outfielder currently listed at 6’3/195. He impressed scouts with his power upside at IMG academy and that transferred over to the minors last season where he hit six home runs in 41 games in the GCL.
Romeri has displayed exceptional bat speed with solid barrel control as well. With his strong and projectable frame, it’s easy to see plus power here down the road as he matures. In turn, he’ll likely lose a step from his current above-average speed, but there’s enough athleticism here that he should at least be able to add in 5-10 steals over a full season. This is a prospect that could make a ton of noise and rise up prospect rankings in a big way moving forward if the hit tool develops. Keep him on your radar.
17. Junior Fernandez, RHP, MLB, 23
After six seasons in the Cardinals system, Junior Fernandez finally received the call to the Show, pitching 13 games out of the St. Louis bullpen last season. That’s where he’s going to stick moving forward as well after moving from the rotation to the bullpen fulltime in 2018. For me, Fernandez is a hard one to rank. As a reliever, his fantasy upside is already limited, and on top of that, he didn’t miss many bats during his minor league career up until 2019. With a plus fastball/changeup combination, Fernandez has two weapons for him to get hitters out with, but he’s going to need to develop his slider to put himself in a position to pit a high-leverage bullpen role.
18. Leandro Cedeno, OF/1B, A, 21
Leandro Cedeno checked in at #16 in my Cardinals list last offseason and a lot of what I wrote about him then still rings true here in 2020. Cedeno is a strong corner outfield/first base type with easy plus raw power but his approach at the plate really hindered his production in 2019, especially in the power department. Cedeno has never been one to walk much in general, but his walk rate plummeted during his first taste of full-season ball, dropping from 8.5% to 4.5%.
The approach prior to 2019 was passable, but 2019’s approach definitely is not. With below-average contact skills, Cedeno is going to need to fully tap into his power to have an impact offensively and in fantasy. The 2019 campaign marked his first in full-season ball so it will be interesting to see how/if his approach improved moving forward. Basically, he’s one to monitor, not target in dynatsy leagues.
19. Angel Rondon, RHP, AA, 22
Angel Rondon put himself on the dynasty league radar with a stout 2019 campaign that made him the St. Louis Cardinals minor league pitcher of the year. Rondon started in the Class-A Advanced Florida State League, dominated there, and finished in the Double-A Texas League where his 3.21 ERA was tops in the league. Even with this type of season, my longterm expectations for Rondon are still in the #4 starter or middle-reliever area.
Rondon works with a three-pitch mix (FB/SL/CH), with all three pitches grading as average to above-average, but lacks any plus pitches. In addition, while his long arm action in his delivery creates some deception, it’s also led to inconsistencies and repeatability issues with his delivery. That has caused sporadic command and control issues, limiting the overall effectiveness of his arsenal. This is a name to monitor in deeper dynasty leagues, but don’t go hog wild or anything.
20. Edmundo Sosa, INF, MLB, 24
You’re putting a guy that went .291/17 in Triple-A last season at #21? Yes, yes I am. And excuse me for not ranking a guy that didn’t show much offensive upside for several years higher after posting a good but not great stat line in the hitter’s haven known as the Pacific Coast League. Let me get this out of the way; Sosa projects as a utility infielder type of player in my eyes.
To start, there’s minimal speed potential here with slim chances that he ever even approaches double-digit steals. You can claim that he has at least an average hit tool with solid contact skills, but Sosa has never walked a ton and will likely be a low-OBP, bottom of the order type if he ever does become a starter. With a .275/15/5 profile, I’m not excited about Sosa for dynasty purposes.
21. Albert Inoa, 2B, RK, 18
Signed in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic for just $70K, Albert Inoa burst onto the scene in the DSL last season with an impressive showing. The 5’11 second baseman slashed .306/.455/.384 with 14 steals in 59 games while walking more than he struck out. No, that OBP and slugging aren’t backward either. Inoa walked a stellar 52 times in his 279 plate appearances for a whopping 18.6% walk rate. His approach at the plate and contact skills are what stands out the most currently, but it will be his power/speed blend or lack thereof, that determines if he can make a real fantasy impact down the road.
While Inoa stole 14 bases in 52 games, he’s considered an average runner and currently possesses below-average power with more of a line-drive-oriented swing path through the strike zone. His barrel control and ability to use all fields is an asset, but at this point, I’m not sure he’s more than a 5-10 homer threat that adds 15-20 steals at most. Keep him on your radar in deeper dynasty leagues, but he’s not a high-level target yet.
22. Kodi Whitley, RHP, AAA, 25
As a 27th round pick in 2015 out of the University of Mount Olive, Kodi Whitley wasn’t on any prospect radars following that draft. I mean, how many of you can honestly tell me you know where that university is or have heard of it? Exactly. But slowly, Whitley has been climbing the ranks and now has the Major Leagues in his sites a 25-year-old that reached Triple-A in 2019.
As a reliever, Whitley has worked in the mid-90’s with life on his fastball and pairs that with a mid-80’s slider. Both pitches grade as above-average to plus and give Whitley two legit out pitches. He’ll also mix in a changeup that has flashed Major league average potential, but the Fastball/slider combination is his bread and butter. Expect Whitley to move into the St. Louis bullpen before the end of the 2020 season.
23. Andre Pallante, RHP, A-, 21
A 4th round pick this past June, Andre Pallante has seen his name rise up prospect rankings, but I’m not sold on him as anything more than a back-end rotation arm or swingman. His arsenal is solid, but not overpowering by any means. Pallante will sit in the low-90’s with his fastball and mix in an above-average slider as his best secondary. Both the curveball and changeup are well behind and lack consistency. Pallante has found success due to above-average command, but he’s going to need to develop a consistent third offering if he wants to continue succeeding at the higher levels.
24. Tony Locey, RHP, A, 21
This ranking could prove to be too conservative come 2021/2022. The Cardinals 3rd round pick in 2019, Tony Locey is a big right-hander with two above-average to plus pitches in his mid-90’s fastball and sharp slider in the low-80’s. The fastball can even get up into the upper-90’s, albeit, with a lower spin rate than one might expect. Both pitches are lethal for Locey when he’s on, but outside of this combo, there’s a lot of work to be done.
The rest of Locey’s secondaries (Curve and changeup) need refinement and his command and control have both been inconsistent. The curveball flashes average potential but the changeup is still way behind. If Locey doesn’t make improvements in those areas, he’s likely a bullpen arm down the road where his fastball/slider combination would be very intriguing.
25. Delvin Perez, SS, A, 21
Here’s your token “defensive standout that will climb the organization ladder due to those skills” prospect. When you watch Delvin Perez in the field, it doesn’t take long to see that he could hold his own as a Major League shortstop for many years. But his abilities at the dish are well behind his defensive skills. He did show a tad more compentancy at the plate in 2019, hitting .269 in 118 Midwest League Games (Single-A), but overall, Perez has 45-grade contact skills at best, doesn’t walk much, and has almost zero power upside.
There’s average to above-average speed here, but that’s about it. At best, we’re likely looking at a #8 or #9 hitter that hits .240-.250 with a lower OBP and 15-20 steals or so. Nothing to really get excited about.
Others of Note
Julio Rodriguez, C: No, not THAT Julio Rodriguez. This one is a defensive catcher with much, much less offensive upside.
Griffin Robert, RHP: His slider is lethal, but beyond that, I haven’t been impressed. Roberts is more of a pen arm moving forward and not a back-end closer type.
Juan Yepez, OF/1B: A below-average athlete that will need to show a bit more with the bat to stick as a corner outfielder or first base type.
Jake Woodford, RHP: Both his stuff and velocity are improving, but Woodford is more of a back-ened starter than anything else at this point.
Media Credit: Minor Graphs, Kyle Reis, Palm Beach Cardinals, Rob Friedman, St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Thompson, Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire
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