*Monthly, thoughout the Major League Baseball season, the group of United Cardinal Bloggers participates in projects. The project for September was to craft a list of the top seven prospects in the Saint Louis Cardinals organization.
Over the last three years or so, I can vividly remember listening to announcers speak of the Cardinals’ farm system and the true depth of it. Seemingly every time the big league Cardinals were mentioned, their Minor League system was as well. And rightfully so. At this stage in the season last year, the Cardinals had perhaps one of the brightest horizons to look out upon. St. Louis’s heavy-hitting outfielder Oscar Taveras had been called up from the Memphis Redbirds for the first time about four months prior, and Allen Craig had been traded at the deadline to ensure that Taveras’s path to becoming an everyday player was one free of detours. Stephen Piscotty was in Triple-A Memphis, too, and hitting well but just couldn’t be any more of a hot commodity than Oscar was. It was during 2014’s World Series when one of life’s most unfortunate realities collided with the innocent world of baseball. News that no one could’ve predicted came out of the Dominican Republic. It was the news that Oscar Taveras, 22, had been killed in an automobile accident. It was after the calendar year transitioned to 2015 that people began to notice that the high and mighty thing that the Cardinals’ farm system once was had came back down to Earth dramatically. One thing still reigns true, nonetheless. The St. Louis Cardinals’ organization is still stocked heavily with young pitchers.
My choice of the top prospect would have to be Alex Reyes. Alex, 21, is a simply electrifying right-handed pitcher. And a good one at that. This year, one in which he pitched at three different levels of the system, Reyes posted an earned run average of 2.49. In twenty-two games, all of which were starts, he pitched a total of 101 1/3 innings and allowed only one home run. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is crazy good. It’s 151/49. How ’bout that? Reyes ended his season with the Double-A squad, and I expect for him to begin there in 2016. Perhaps he’s a ’16 September call-up? We’ll have to wait and see. Given St. Louis’s current pitching situation, his arm being 100% capable of Major League action isn’t a large necessity, meaning that he’s not needed in the rotation. His arm would, however, do nothing except help..And entertain the fans.
Prospect number two is righty Jack Flaherty. Jack pitched 2015 at Single-A Peoria. In his 95 innings of work (eighteen games), Flaherty’s ERA was a solid 2.84. He allowed just two homers this season, so, much like Alex Reyes, he does a swell job keeping the ball in the ballpark. His K/BB ratio is stellar, too. It’s 97/31. That means that for every walk Jack surrendered this season, he struck out three hitters. Mr. Flaherty is certainly someone to keep an eye on, thanks in large part to his pleasant changeup.
The third guy on my list and the first position player is outfielder Magneuris Sierra. Sierra, 19, had a bit of a sluggish year when in comparison to 2014. In 2014, Magneuris was awarded the Minor League Player of the Year Award by the Cardinals. He earned that award by hitting .386, the batting average that led the Gulf Coast League. In 2015, he started play with the Peoria Chiefs. Largely due to the fact that he hit just .191 and had only five extra-base hits in his 51 games with the Peoria team, he was later demoted to Rookie-level Johnson City. In 53 games there, Sierra hit .315 with eleven XBHs. Nine doubles, three triples, four homers, and twenty-two RBI usually aren’t the season batting statistics needed to crack a top prospect list, but I’ll make an exception. I wholeheartedly believe that the sky is the limit for this potent left-handed batter.
Marco Gonzales takes the fourth spot. (Yay, somebody we should all know!) The 23-year-old lefty is coming off of an injury-plagued season. During 2015’s Spring Training, Marco was in “competition” with Carlos Martinez and Jaime Garcia for the vacant fifth spot in the Major League team’s starting rotation. Jaime was injured, and the battle transitioned from one of three men to one of two. Martinez, who shined a bit brighter than Gonzales, won the battle and has tightly grabbed ahold of that once-vacant rotation spot. From there, Marco went to Memphis to pitch for the Redbirds. In May of this year, an MRI revealed that he had a shoulder impingement and a pectoral injury. Those injuries would limit Marco to only eighteen games (80 2/3 innings). He posted an earned run average of 4.64 in this time and started one game (9/1 against the Nationals) for the Cardinals this season.
Number five on my list is occupied by outfielder Charlie Tilson. For the Springfield Cardinals in 2015, Charlie batted .295 and drove in 32 runs. He doubled twenty times, tripled nine times, and hit four homers. Tilson, 22, is one of the “bigger named” outfield prospects in the Cardinals’ organization, but he’s not mentioned much. Stephen Piscotty is no longer a prospect. Neither is Tommy Pham..
Luke Weaver takes the sixth spot. The 22-year-old pitcher out of Deland, Florida possesses a build similar to Michael Wacha’s. At 6’2, 170 pounds, Weaver powered his way to an outstanding 2015 season. In nineteen games, he posted an earned run average of 1.62 and a WHIP of 1.11. He struck out 88 batters in 105 1/3 innings and walked nineteen.
The seventh and final prospect on my list is Sam Tuivailala. Sam made his Major League debut on September 9th, 2014. Most of his 2015 season was spent with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. In his 43 games at Memphis, “Tui” put up an ERA of 1.60. He recorded seventeen saves and allowed eight earned runs in 45 innings. The righty is currently with the Major League team, as he deserved (and received) a September call-up. Sam’s biggest and best factor is his fastball. His fastball, when controlled, is untouchable. It reaches the mid-to-late nineties and occasionally touches 100 MPH.
What do you think of my list? What’s yours? Talk to me!
All photos are credited to MiLB, except the one of Magneuris Sierra. That one is from scout.com.