Cardinal minor league power

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  • #82726
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    Robert Reed
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    While admiring Tyler O’Neill’s lovely 380-foot laser to the opposite field today, my mind wandered toward the minor leagues, and I wondered whether the Cardinal farm system can produce big power hitters while Tyler O’Neill is winning all of those Senior Circuit HR crowns, beginning next year.

    For a useful and hopefully fun frame of reference I thought I’d compare the best power bats in the St. Louis system to the consensus best power bats in all the minor leagues. So I checked the Davenport Peak translations to see the home run projections of each hitter during his prime, and prorated those homer totals to a per-600-at-bats.

    I should mention that even though Baseball America still considers O’Neill to be a prospect, I excluded him from this exercise because MLB formally categorizes Tyler as having exhausted his rookie eligibility. Instead I looked at the Davenport Peaks for Dylan Carlson, Nolan Gorman, Ramon Urias, Jhon Torres, Leandro Cedeno, and Elehuris Montero. At both MLB Pipeline and Fangraphs these Redbirds each received a power grade between 35 (Urias) and 60 (Gorman). Unfortunately, Leandro Cedeno has no power grade anywhere — or any grade, for any tool — since he was not among the Cardinal farmhands on the Pipeline top 30 or Fangraphs top 40 list. (For what it’s worth, I have Leandro 15th in the Redbird system, between Jhon Torres and Joerlin De Los Santos. For me, Cedeno is far too big a bat to ignore.)

    Altogether, the five Cardinal hitters who did get graded on their power averaged a grade of 53 at Fangraphs and 52 at Pipeline. This is of course on the conventional 20-80 scouting scale. In other words, these Cards are seen as very very slightly above average.

    The collective Davenport home run projections of these middling, piddling power hitters will be compared to slugging stars Eloy Jimenez, Fernando Tatis, Jr., Jo Adell, Peter Alonso, Austin Riley, and of course Vlad Guerrero Jr. Their grades at MLB Pipeline have yet to be released publicly, but at Fangraphs four received grade 70’s on their game power and a pair received 60’s, for a tremendous average of 67. (No one in the minors received more than a 70 power grade this year.) Each hitter is a consensus elite prospect overall, as well as the #1 power prospect in his organization, per Pipeline. Link: https://www.mlb.com/news/all-30-teams-best-power-prospects/c-300408352

    So the slightly-better-than-mediocre power of the Cardinal farm system will be measured against the very best power in the minors. I know, I know. This sounds absurdly lopsided. I should start small and just compare the Cards to teams in their own division. Something like that, right? After all, according to this chart a grade disparity of 67-to-52 means that the elite sluggers should average roughly 70-80% more homers per year than their Cardinal counterparts: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/scouting-explained-the-20-80-scouting-scale/

    Well, the six super-elite power bats are projected to average 33 homers in their primes. Impressive.
    And the six humdrum Redbird hitters are projected to average 32 homers in their primes. No kidding.

    And remember: the best power in the system might belong to the 17-year-old who’s yet to play in the U.S..

    #82743
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    gscottar
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    Bob, could Luken Baker be added to this list? Dude looks like a Luke Voit clone. Must be the first name.

    #82758
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    bccran
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    Aren’t Gorman and Baker the only serious power threats at this time? Maybe Thomas too now after last season. I guess several others could develop it as they mature and get stronger.

    #82759
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    bccran
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    Here are the minor leaguers who had double digit home runs in 2018 –

    Thomas – 27
    O’Neill – 26 (b4 call up)
    A. Garcia – 22
    Mieses – 19
    Roache – 18
    Gorman – 17 (237 at bats)
    Montero – 16
    Cedeno – 14
    Ravelo – 13
    Urias – 13
    Nogowski – 12
    Arozarena – 12
    Trosclair – 12
    Carlson – 11
    Williams – 11
    Sosa – 11

    #82763
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    14NyquisT
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    Bob, your interest in Cedeno is encouraging. #15 is aggressive for him… but he has yet to show his best. I’d like to see a list of your prospect ranking. I might learn a thing or two.

    #82767
    Brian Walton
    Brian Walton
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    I don’t like to rain on the parade, as I ranked Cedeno as a prospect this year, too. However, he is not invited to STEP Camp, which I do not consider a good sign. The reason that matters is that he is going to be Rule 5 eligible this coming winter. I don’t think he can move fast enough to make it before either being lost in the minor league Rule 5 draft or leaving via free agency.

    The contrast was notable in how Cedeno and Gorman were handled last season. They were the two big bats in the JC lineup. In August, Gorman was skipped over State College and promoted to Peoria, but Cedeno stayed until the end.

    #82775
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    Robert Reed
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    “Bob, could Luken Baker be added to this list? Dude looks like a Luke Voit clone. Must be the first name.”

    Fair question, gscott. If we swap out Urias for Baker, the HR average would indeed go up. But the trouble is, I don’t consider Baker to be a real prospect, having seen him play for Peoria last year. (And when I say “play” I mean stand around and be huge.) So I admit I didn’t give him much of a thought. Perhaps I’m pessimistic but he’s not in my top 40 Redbird prospects, and I wanted the six to all be among the better StL minor leaguers. Many guys on the Cardinal farm could have raised the overall HR average if I’d traded out Ramon Urias.

    “Aren’t Gorman and Baker the only serious power threats at this time? Maybe Thomas too now after last season. I guess several others could develop it as they mature and get stronger.”

    The mountainous Baker projects by Clay Davenport’s system as a 20-25 HR guy in his prime, cranny. Not one of the best in the Redbird system. On the other hand, Jhon Torres received the same Game Power grade at Fangraphs as Nolan Gorman. And in his Cardinal prospect chat, Baseball America’s Kyke Glaser said of Leandro Cedeno: “…he has as much raw power as anyone in the system, Gorman included.” When you have two other players in your system whose power is considered comparable in any way to Nolan Gorman’s, you’ve got something to look forward to.

    And both Dylan Carlson and Elehuris Montero are projected by Clay Davenport as 25-30 homer talents in their primes. We could quibble over terminology, but I consider 25+ homers to be a serious power threat. Also, you were right to mention Lane Thomas, as he projects to be a 25-homer bat at his best. (Very interesting guy, Lane Thomas. I look at him much like I looked at Tommy Pham 5 or 6 years ago. Clear talent, both at bat and afield, but can he stay healthy enough to self-actualize?)

    “Bob, your interest in Cedeno is encouraging. #15 is aggressive for him… but he has yet to show his best. I’d like to see a list of your prospect ranking. I might learn a thing or two.”

    Your wish, my command, Ny. (Approximate overall ranking in parentheses.)

    1) Reyes…(35)
    2) Montero…(40)
    3) Hudson…(50)
    4) Gorman…(55)
    5) Knizner…(65)
    6) Carlson…(90)
    7) Urias…(100)
    8) Nunez…(100)
    9) Helsley…(130)
    10) Herrera…(140)
    11) Lane Thomas…(210)
    12) Edmundo Sosa…(220)
    13) Arozarena…(230)
    14) Jhon Torres…(240)
    15) Leandro Cedeno…(250)
    16) Joerlin De Los Santos…(280)

    After that I have 28 other guys who matter, at this point. Those do not include either X-Large Luken Baker or Steven Gingery, due to injury. Bearing in mind that I only saw Baker one time, to me he didn’t move as well as Matt Adams either in the field or on the bases.

    Now maybe Baker’s a real hitter, but right now he looks to me like a guy who’ll need to be a REAL hitter — because at the MLB level even the bench bats usually need to offer some kind of defensive value. And REAL hitters, like Jose Martinez for instance, are few & far between.

    “I don’t like to rain on the parade, as I ranked Cedeno as a prospect this year, too. However, he is not invited to STEP Camp, which I do not consider a good sign. The reason that matters is that he is going to be Rule 5 eligible this coming winter. I don’t think he can move fast enough to make it before either being lost in the minor league Rule 5 draft or leaving via free agency.”

    Yeah, I can’t disagree, Brian. Leandro Cedeno losing his age 18 season to injury may have thrown off his timetable too much to be kept long term. It’s a risk incurred by signing those international kids at 16. If they move a little slowly through the system, they can get caught in a numbers crunch.

    But his bat forces me to rate him pretty highly within the organization. I really believe that in a different season, any teenager — who already has a track record of hitting success — batting .336 with a 1.001 OPS would have been much more highly publicized. (As opposed to not publicized one scintilla, ever, all year, by anyone, anywhere.) But the Birds had Gorman, and Nunez, and so many other interesting bats in 2018, esp. at the lower levels, that Cedeno went unnoticed.

    As a first basemen only in all probability, there’s no real defensive or baserunning value to speak of; but the publicly available metrics at Baseball Prospectus imply that he’s not some hulking oaf either. Anyway he’ll really need to hit…but that’s exactly what he’s done so far in his career. And he’ll need to regularly overcome a rather shaky BB/K combo…but that’s exactly what he’s also done so far.

    If he kicks Peoria’s butt at age 20 this year, I think the club finds a way to keep him. If on the other hand he’s merely a good-to-very-good hitter in Low-A, then the Cards likely lose Cedeno. Anyhoo, I look forward to watching him once or twice in 2019. Go Chiefs!

    #82779
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    CariocaCardinal
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    I think Cedeno’s value will only come out if he shows he can play the OF as well as 1B. Cedeno could put up .900+ OPS between Peoria and PB and it would still be highly unlikely he would be selected in the rule 5 draft if he is limited to 1B. I would bet against losing him in that scenario even if he showed himself as a potential average outfielder. Yes, there are the Cordobas of the world but tbe reality is that extremely few position players from A ball are lost from the rule 5 draft.

    #82782
    Brian Walton
    Brian Walton
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    CC, you are assuming the Cards would have room to protect Cedeno on the Memphis roster for Rule 5 this winter. I doubt that would happen. Too many ahead of him. If eligible in the minor league phase instead, he is much more vulnerable to be taken – and will never come back, ala Winston Nicasio this past December and Jacob Wilson the year before.

    #82784
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    CariocaCardinal
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    Seriously Brian? You think the Cards would have trouble finding a spot for Cedeno on the Memphis roster in the off season? Not a chance.

    #82785
    Brian Walton
    Brian Walton
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    CC, I learn well! You are the one who conditioned me to discount guys chances who spend three years in short-season ball. Counting his mostly-injured 2017, Cedeno has four already and still hasn’t reached State College.

    Specifically, the Rule 5 protection decision may depend on how fast Cedeno advances this coming season. You could count on one hand the number of short-season players protected at Memphis for this past December’s Rule 5 and even fewer from Peoria. Maybe my “doubt” was too strong but so is your “no way,” in my opinion. We will see in nine months!

    #82791
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    CariocaCardinal
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    My 3 seasons in short season ball was directed at draftees not LA free agents signed at 16-17 y.o.

    Did you get access to the Memphis protected list this off season? I thought they no longer released that?

    #82792
    Brian Walton
    Brian Walton
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    OK, thanks for the clarification. Yes, the protected list was provided for TCN members in advance of the Rule 5 draft. This November 21st article also included those players moved down to make room.

    Setting the Memphis Roster is Crucial to Rule 5 Protection Strategy

    #82807
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    gscottar
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    As for Luken Baker since the NL is going to have the DH by 2022 this could work out well for him. The timing is just about right.

    #82823
    Brian Walton
    Brian Walton
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    Maybe it is just me, but I hope that Baker, as a top college hitter, moves faster to MLB than four-plus years. In comparison, DeJong took two-plus years and Bader was three and they were drafted later than Baker.

    #82829
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    gscottar
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    Well according to Bob he may never make it MLB.

    I mention DH because hopefully we still have Goldy if/when Baker arrives. I assume Luken can’t play another position.

    #82830
    Brian Walton
    Brian Walton
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    Good point that a downstream impact of a Goldy extension would be an apparent block of Baker.

    (P.S. I am not suggesting this should be a factor in the extension decision.)

    #83417
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    dac8b9
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    What I find encouraging about our system is that we have multiple guys of two very useful player archetypes: guys with elite power like O’Neil and Gorman, who won’t hit for a high average but should rack up a lot of homers, and guys like Montero, Torres, and Nunez, who may hit for both power and average.

    This has been a promising spring for Tyler O’Neil, as he has shown improved plate discipline along with his elite power. Coincidentally, I read today in a Rick Hummel article that Nunez homered off Tyler Webb in a squad game. I’d love to know if it was on a breaking ball, as the ability to hit breaking balls is Nunez’s next big test. Still, it’s impressive that Nunez homered off a guy who is at least a fringe major leaguer.

    #83420
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    PugsleyAddams
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    Nunez could take Juan Marichal deep, Dac……in Juan’s prime.

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