50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Cardinals Prospects: 2018

photo: Jordan Hicks, Sandy Alcantara, Andrew Knizner (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

It only makes sense that the unveiling of the 13th annual The Cardinal Nation Top Prospect 50 List began on Monday, November 13.

During the period we call “50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Cardinals Prospects”, a new top St. Louis Cardinals prospect is disclosed each day, starting with number 50 and carrying us into the New Year and beyond.

Alex Reyes (USA TODAY Sports Images)

We will continue until the number one pick is identified on January 1 – our top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system coming into the 2018 season. Will Alex Reyes hold his crown for the third consecutive year or be unseated by the likes of Jack Flaherty or Carson Kelly as the king of the farm system?

As always, following the top 50 countdown will be our annual 10-pack of “best-of”, “just-missed” and in-depth analysis articles. This series will conclude as Winter Warm-Up’s arrival signals pitchers and catchers reporting in just four more weeks.

As has been the process in recent years, the final ranking representing the site is actually a melding of three individual prospect lists. Our 2017 voters return for another year: site owner Brian Walton, Springfield reporter Derek Shore and you, the readers.

Since starting just after Labor Day, the members of our free message board community have been conducting voting for their own Cardinals prospect list. This detailed annual ranking involves considerable debate and discussion. The fan voting process has been imitated but never duplicated, as our readers continue to be the some of the most knowledgeable people anywhere when it comes to the players in the Cardinals minor league system.

The Cardinal Nation community ranking is given its customary one-third weighting to yield the countdown order to be unveiled here. The community leader who led the voting process, “PadsFS,” aka Jeremy Byrd, will also speak for the group in the individual player capsules posted daily. Shore will provide his scouting-oriented commentary on each member of the new top 50 as well as on a handful of others who just missed out.

To follow the countdown, you can either read each new story when posted on our home page every morning or click on the individual players’ names, which will be listed below as they are unveiled. You can also return to this page daily to check the current status of our Top 50 countdown.

As always, readers can join in the debate at The Cardinal Nation’s free message board, where there will be discussion surrounding that day’s entry onto the top prospect list.

To check out the corresponding rankings from each of the past 12 winters, click here, or you can always access them the permanent link in the left column located underneath the site logo called “PROSPECT RANKINGS”.

The Cardinal Nation Top 50 Prospects – 2018

50. Breyvic Valera (free)
49. Rowan Wick (TCN members)
48. Derian Gonzalez (TCN members)
47. Mike Mayers (TCN members)
46. Nick Plummer (TCN members)
45. Andy Young (free)
44. Juan Yepez (TCN members)
43. Josh Lucas (TCN members)
42. Bryce Denton (TCN members)
41. Ryan Sherriff (TCN members)
40. Patrick Wisdom (free)
39. Coming November 24 (TCN members)
38. Coming November 25 (TCN members)
37. Coming November 27 (TCN members)
36. Coming November 28 (TCN members)
35. Coming November 28 (free)
34. Coming November 29 (TCN members)
33. Coming November 30 (TCN members)
32. Coming December 1 (TCN members)
31. Coming December 2 (TCN members)
30. Coming December 3 (free)
29. Coming December 4 (TCN members)
28. Coming December 5 (TCN members)
27. Coming December 6 (TCN members)
26. Coming December 7 (TCN members)
25. Coming December 8 (free)
24. Coming December 9 (TCN members)
23. Coming December 10 (TCN members)
22. Coming December 11 (TCN members)
21. Coming December 12 (TCN members)
20. Coming December 13 (free)
19. Coming December 14 (TCN members)
18. Coming December 15 (TCN members)
17. Coming December 16 (TCN members)
16. Coming December 17 (TCN members)
15. Coming December 18 (free)
14. Coming December 19 (TCN members)
13. Coming December 20 (TCN members)
12. Coming December 21 (TCN members)
11. Coming December 22 (TCN members)
10. Coming December 23 (free)
9. Coming December 24 (TCN members)
8. Coming December 25 (TCN members)
7. Coming December 26 (TCN members)
6. Coming December 27 (TCN members)
5. Coming December 28 (free)
4. Coming December 29 (TCN members)
3. Coming December 30 (TCN members)
2. Coming December 31 (TCN members)
1. Coming January 1 (free)

There’s more!

At the conclusion of the countdown, a 10-part series follows, as we drill down into the details behind the top 50. Most of these articles will be exclusively for TCN members.

We will analyze each voter’s individual top 50 lists, year-to-year changes and the top additions. The voters highlight their ranked players that did not make the combined top 50 and we unveil our All-Prospect Team – the highest-ranked players at each position. We will take a view behind the numbers, a look back at our best and worst picks from the previous year, the top prospect list cut by level of play, those on the 2017 list who dropped off for 2018 and wrap it up with a potential-only based-list.

  • 2018 Top Cardinals Prospects – The Final Tally – Coming January 2 (TCN members)
  • 2018 Top Cardinals Prospects – The Newbies – Coming January 3 (TCN members)
  • 2018 Cardinals Prospects: Best of the Rest – Derek Shore – Coming January 4 (TCN members)
  • 2018 Cardinals Prospects: Best of the Rest – Brian Walton – Coming January 5 (TCN members)
  • 2018 The Cardinal Nation All-Cardinals Prospect Team – Coming January 6 (free)
  • 2018 Top Cardinals Prospects – Behind the Numbers – Coming January 7 (TCN members)
  • 2018 Top Cardinals Prospects – Picks and Pans – Coming January 8 (TCN members)
  • 2018 Top Cardinals Prospects by Level – Coming January 9 (TCN members)
  • 2018 Top Cardinals Prospects – The Departed – Coming January 10 (TCN members)
  • 2018 Cardinals Top 50 Prospects on Potential Only – Coming January 11 (TCN members)

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The voting process

Here is a bit of insight into the process behind the picks. Earlier this fall, Brian Walton and Derek Shore independently documented their top prospects in the Cardinals minor league system. The Community vote was then folded in.

A weighted score was tabulated, which drove the ranking you will see here. The individual scores will also be shown on the player pages as they are unveiled each day, along with a wealth of additional information on each of the 50 prospects.

To come up with the 50 names, each of us submitted a list of 65 players. This year, 80 prospects were identified by at least one voter, with all members of the top 50 having received at two votes. Ties were broken by the best individual voter score.

In terms of qualification, all players in the Cardinals minor league system are eligible, including those on the 40-man roster, as long as they have not exhausted their MLB rookie designation of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched.

The unparalled depth of coverage of the Cardinals system all year round by The Cardinal Nation means there is much more behind these rankings than just a list of names.

Brian and Derek ranked based on personal observation as much as possible, and with local reporters in every affiliate city, TCN knows these players well. Brian was out to see the affiliates in person this spring, summer and fall, and in many cases, multiple times. That included covering spring training, extended spring training, and the Arizona Fall League first-hand. We also received valuable input from coaches, scouts and others in and out of the organization.

Scouting Grades return for 2018

Brian is again grading each prospect on a 2-8 scale, based on their most likely future potential. This mirrors the standard 20-80 scouting scale, while taking a simplified look at ultimate potential, rather than a full detailed, tool-by-tool breakdown. The grades are accompanied by a risk factor, which assesses the likelihood of a player reaching or exceeding his ceiling.

8 – Elite talent
7 – All-star
6 – Above average starter, mid-rotation starting pitcher, impact reliever
5 – Average starter, #3-5 starting pitcher, closer candidate
4 – Impact bench/bullpen, spot starter
3 – Up and down player
2 – Career minor leaguer

Safe – Almost certain to reach ceiling
Low – Strong chance of reaching ceiling
Medium – Some work to become an MLB player
High – More projection than results
Extreme – Highly projectable, small chance of making the majors

Remember that these are point-in-time assessments, which can easily be overachieved (or underachieved) in the future as some players break out and others regress.

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