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Weekly Prospect Update: St. Louis Cardinals

It’s official: The 2017 Major League Baseball season is finally in the books. The Houston Astros are world champions for the first time in their franchise history, and their success can be attributed to their young core of stars. Many of today’s biggest stars are 27 and younger, and new top prospects are waiting for their shot. For the St. Louis Cardinals, the season has been over for quite some time. They missed out on the playoffs this year, but the young players they have waiting in the farm are ready to make an impact.

10. Junior Fernandez, RHP

  • Age: 20
  • Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 – STL
2017 stats: (High-A Palm Beach): 90.1 IP, 5-3, 3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 58 K, 39 BB.  

The Cardinals’ young righty has electric stuff. His fastball sits in the high-90s and occasionally hits triple digits, while his changeup and slider excel at getting hitters out. His secondary pitches greatly improved this season compared to last. They were still being hit more often than he’d like but did a great job complementing his fastball. Fernandez took another step in the right direction after spending 2017 at High-A, and the 20-year-old still has plenty of time to put things together.

9. Sandy Alcantara, RHP

  • Age: 22
  • Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 – STL
2017 stats: (Double-A Springfield): 125.1 IP, 7-5, 4.31 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 106 K, 54 BB. (MLB St. Louis): 8.1 IP, 4.32 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 10 K, 6 BB. 

Alcantara threw 125.1 innings at Double-A before finishing the season off at the Major League level. In 22 starts, he posted a 4.31 ERA and 1.43 WHIP while striking out 106 batters. His command improved from last year, and his electric stuff is all starting to come together. Alcantara showed enough at Double-A to prove to the Cardinals that he could be a valuable bullpen piece in the Majors. He completely skipped over Triple-A and made his debut on September 3. He gave up just four earned runs in 8.1 innings and struck out at least one batter in all but one outing. Alcantara is destined to be a starter, but his brief time as a reliever acted as great exposure to Major League talent.

8. Dakota Hudson, RHP

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 1(34) – STL
2017 stats: (Double-A Springfield): 114 IP, 9-4, 2.53 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 77 K, 34 BB. (Triple-A Memphis): 38.2 IP, 1-1, 4.42 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 19 K, 15 BB.  

In a system that’s full of pitching prospects, few have as dynamic an arsenal as Hudson. He can throw all four of his pitches for strikes and has added velocity to each of them over the past couple of seasons. Hudson started the 2017 season at Double-A, where he pitched great in 18 starts. The 23-year-old posted a 2.53 ERA and 1.27 WHIP while keeping batters batting .255. Hudson pitched his way to a promotion to Triple-A, where he continued to perform well. His ERA spiked in his seven starts, but he was still able to limit hard contact as well as the long ball. Hudson has had some trouble maintaining his velocity deep into starts, so some think he may be heading toward a career in the bullpen.

7. Delvin Perez, SS

  • Age: 18
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 1(23) – STL
2017 stats: (Rookie Ball): 34 games, .203/.314/.271, 9 RBI, 14 R, 5 SB, 17 BB, 24 K. 

The Cardinals took Perez late in last year’s Draft and were impressed by his raw tools as a teenager. He already makes consistent hard contact and has great speed, though he’s learning to utilize both. Perez was limited to just 34 games in two different Rookie Leagues in 2017. He didn’t perform very well, batting just .203 over those 34 games, but he’s just 18 years old and has plenty of time to develop.

6. Magneuris Sierra, OF

  • Age: 21
  • Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 – STL
2017 stats: (High-A Palm Beach): 20 games, .272/.337/.407, 9 RBI, 16 R, 3 SB, 7 BB, 15 K. (Double-A Springfield): 81 games, .269/.313/.352, 1 HR, 35 RBI, 32 R, 17 SB, 20 BB, 59 K. (MLB St. Louis): 22 games, .317/.359/.317, 5 RBI, 10 R, 2 SB, 4 BB, 14 K.

Sierra has come a long way since the Cardinals signed him in 2012. He had a bumpy start to his professional career but broke out last season in the Midwest League. He carried that success into 2017 and played his way all the way up the ladder and to the Majors. Sierra made four different stints with the Cardinals in 2017 and batted .317 across 22 games. He tallied 19 hits, all singles, and limited his strikeouts while working four walks. At just 21 years old, Sierra has already shown he can handle himself at the Major League level, and it may earn him an extra look come Spring Training.

5. Harrison Bader, OF

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2015, Round 3(100) – STL
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#89) 
2017 stats: (Triple-A Memphis): 123 games, .283/.347/.469, 20 HR, 55 RBI, 74 R, 15 SB, 34 BB, 118 K. (MLB St. Louis): 32 games, .235/.283/.376, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R, 2 SB, 5 BB, 24 K.

It took just two seasons for Bader to break into the Major Leagues, making his debut in 2017 and spending 32 games with the Cardinals. Bader may not have one standout tool, but he’s one of the better all-around players in the system. In 123 games at Triple-A, he batted .283 and had a nice combination of power and speed with 20 homers and 15 stolen bases. He provided extra outfield help down the stretch for the Cardinals and could be of some use at the start of next season.

4. Tyler O’Neill, OF

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2013, Round 3(85) – SEA
  • Acquired by trade in 2017
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#86)
2017 stats: (Triple-A Tacoma): 93 games, .244/.328/.479, 19 HR, 56 RBI, 54 R, 9 SB, 44 BB, 108 K. (Triple-A Memphis): 37 games, .253/.304/.548, 12 HR, 39 RBI, 23 R, 5 SB, 10 BB, 43 K.

O’Neill was one of the Mariners’ top prospects before they dealt him to the Cardinals in July. He has some of the best power in the farm system, and it’s been on display the past few seasons. In 130 games between the two systems, he hit 31 homers and knocked in 95 runs despite getting off to a slow start. O’Neill has to refine his approach and be more selective at the plate, but when he makes contact, you can bet on the ball is going a long way. He’s right on schedule as far as development goes, and with a whole season at Triple-A, O’Neill should absolutely see time at the Major League level early next season.

3. Jack Flaherty, RHP

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2014, Round 1(34) – STL
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#47)
2017 stats: (Double-A Springfield): 63.1 IP, 7-2, 1.42 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 62 K, 11 BB. (Triple-A Memphis): 85.1 IP, 7-2, 2.74 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 85 K, 24 BB. (MLB St. Louis): 21.1 IP, 0-2, 6.33 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 20 K, 10 BB.

Flaherty has progressed nicely through the Cardinals’ system since being drafted in 2014. He pitched the entire 2017 season at 21 years old, making stops at Double-A, Triple-A and finally reaching the Majors for a brief stint. He was dominant in 25 starts at the Minor League level this year, posting a 2.18 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 148.2 innings. More impressively, Flaherty walked just 35 batters while striking out 147 across the two levels. He made five starts with the Cardinals and posted a 6.33 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 21.1 innings. Expect Flaherty to compete for a rotation spot come spring training.

2. Carson Kelly, C

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2012, Round 2(86) – STL
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#31), Top 10 C Prospects (#2)
2017 stats: (Triple-A Memphis): 68 games, .283/.375/.459, 10 HR, 41 RBI, 37 R, 33 BB, 40 K. (MLB St. Louis): 34 games, .174/.240/.217, 6 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB, 11 K.

As Kelly has developed behind the plate, the Cardinals have hoped he could be the successor to their longtime franchise catcher. The No. 2 catcher prospect in baseball made his Major League debut last year and spent 34 games with the club again this year. With Yadi Molina’s contract set to expire after this season, Kelly’s time seemed to be coming, but Molina’s extension through 2020 has blocked him once again. Kelly has shown all he’s needed to show at Triple-A and could fall into a bench role with the Cardinals next season.

1. Alex Reyes, RHP

  • Age: 23
  • Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 – STL 
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#14), Top 10 RHP Prospects (#4)
2017 stats: Did not play.

Reyes was on his way to being another top-level starter at the Major League level for the Cardinals before needing Tommy John surgery back in February. When healthy, Reyes is easily one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. His fastball sits in the high-90s, while his curveball and changeup are both above average. While his walk rate was a bit high the past few seasons, Reyes looked to be improving his command before hitting the DL. He didn’t play at all this season but has a spot waiting for him in the Cardinals’ rotation when he returns to full health.

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