2018 TCN St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Team

photo: Carson Kelly (David Banks/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The subject here in the 55th article in our Top 50 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects for 2018 series is our view of the organization’s best minor league prospects by position. At the end, all top 50 members are shown by position in an organizational prospect depth chart.

The selection process is very straightforward. We have already unveiled our top 50 prospects in the system via the “50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Prospects” series. Putting together this year’s All-Prospect Team is as simple as culling the top-ranked player at each position from that top 50.

The annual The Cardinal Nation St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Team includes 12 players – eight position players, including two corner outfielders, plus four pitchers – left and right-handed starters and relievers.

Listed are each player’s overall ranking in the top 50, age and highest level played in 2017.

The Cardinal Nation St. Louis Cardinals 2018 All-Prospect Team

Position Player Rank Age 17 Lvl
Catcher Carson Kelly C 3 23 MLB
First Base Luke Voit 38 26 MLB
Second Base Max Schrock * 15 23 AA
Shortstop Yairo Munoz * 14 22 AAA
Third Base Evan Mendoza * 26 21 A
Corner Outfield Tyler O’Neill * 5 22 AAA
Corner Outfield Adolis Garcia * 12 24 AAA
Center field Harrison Bader 4 23 MLB
LH Starter Austin Gomber 10 24 AA
RH Starter Alex Reyes 1 23 MLB
LH Reliever Ryan Sherriff * 41 27 MLB
RH Reliever Josh Lucas * 43 27 MLB
* new members
C = unofficial captain
Ages as of 1/1/18

For the second consecutive year, seven of the 12 members of the All-Prospect Team are new. (Newbies are denoted by an asterisk * above).

Carson Kelly (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Carson Kelly makes his record sixth consecutive All-Prospect Team, one at third base and the last five as the catcher. That is two years longer than teammate Alex Reyes and makes the catcher our unofficial team captain. No other current member has made more than two consecutive teams.

Back for a second year are center fielder Harrison Bader, the organization’s 2017 Player of the Year, and left-handed starting pitcher Austin Gomber. In 2016, Bader was listed as a corner outfielder behind since-traded Magneuris Sierra.

In a bit of an unusual situation, neither of The Cardinal Nation’s top players in 2017 made the All-Prospect Team. Pitcher Jack Flaherty, also the Cardinals’ top choice, is behind Reyes among right-handed starting pitching prospects. TCN’s Player of the Year Andrew Knizner is the second-ranked catcher after Kelly.

Yairo Muñoz (Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The seven new members of the team come from different places. The new starting middle infield – second baseman Max Schrock and shortstop Yairo Muñoz – joined the Cardinals from Oakland in the Stephen Piscotty trade. Outfielder Tyler O’Neill was also a trade acquisition – from Seattle.

Corner outfielder Adolis Garcia was a Latin American free agent signing last spring. The other three were Cardinals draftees, but they come from very different periods. The 2017 draft is represented at third base by 11th-rounder Evan Mendoza.

The new relief duo of lefty Ryan Sherriff and righty Josh Lucas, who both made their MLB debuts in 2017, have two other firsts. Not only are they members of their first All-Prospect Team, they each made their very first top 50 prospect list despite having been drafted in 2011 and 2010, respectively. That is persistence!

TCN St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Teams – 2006 through 2017

All-Prospects 2017 2016 2015
Catcher Carson Kelly Carson Kelly Carson Kelly
First Base Luke Voit Luis Bandes Xavier Scruggs
Second Base Eliezer Alvarez  Jacob Wilson Jacob Wilson
Shortstop Delvin Perez Aledmys Diaz Aledmys Diaz
Third Base Paul DeJong Paul DeJong Patrick Wisdom
Corner OF Harrison Bader Nick Plummer Stephen Piscotty
Corner OF Randy Arozarena Magneuris Sierra Randal Grichuk
Center field Magneuris Sierra Charlie Tilson Charlie Tilson
LH Starter Austin Gomber Marco Gonzales Marco Gonzales
RH Starter Alex Reyes Alex Reyes Alex Reyes
LH Reliever Corey Littrell Dean Kiekhefer Dean Kiekhefer
RH Reliever Sam Tuivailala Sam Tuivailala Sam Tuivailala
Player of Year * Allen Cordoba * M. Sierra
Pitcher of Year * Luke Weaver * R. Kaminsky
All-Prospects 2014 2013 2012
Catcher Carson Kelly Adam Ehrlich Tony Cruz
First Base J. Rodriguez Matt Adams Matt Adams
Second Base Kolten Wong Kolten Wong Kolten Wong
Shortstop Oscar Mercado Ryan Jackson Ryan Jackson
Third Base Patrick Wisdom Carson Kelly Zack Cox
Corner OF Stephen Piscotty Oscar Taveras Oscar Taveras
Corner OF Oscar Taveras Anthony Garcia Anthony Garcia
Center field James Ramsey James Ramsey Charlie Tilson
LH Starter Rob Kaminsky John Gast John Gast
RH Starter Carlos Martinez Shelby Miller Shelby Miller
LH Reliever Sam Freeman Sam Freeman Sam Freeman
RH Reliever Keith Butler Eduardo Sanchez E. Sanchez
Player of Year
Pitcher of Year * Zach Petrick * T. Rosenthal
All-Prospects 2011 2010 2009
Catcher Bryan Anderson Robert Stock Bryan Anderson
First Base Mark Hamilton Mark Hamilton Curt Smith
Second Base Daniel Descalso Daniel Descalso Jose Martinez
Shortstop Pete Kozma Pete Kozma Pete Kozma
Third Base Zack Cox* David Freese Brett Wallace*
Corner OF Oscar Taveras Daryl Jones Nick Stavinoha
Corner OF Allen Craig Allen Craig Jon Jay
Center field Adron Chambers Jon Jay Colby Rasmus
LH Starter John Gast Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia
RH Starter Shelby Miller* Shelby Miller* Jess Todd
Reliever Eduardo Sanchez Eduardo Sanchez Jason Motte
Player of Year * M. Carpenter * David Freese
Pitcher of Year * B. Dickson * Lance Lynn
All-Prospects 2008 2007 2006
Catcher Bryan Anderson Bryan Anderson Bryan Anderson
First Base Mark Hamilton Mark Hamilton Mike Ferris
Second Base Jose Martinez Jose Martinez Jose Martinez
Shortstop Pete Kozma Tyler Greene Tyler Greene
Third Base Allen Craig Randy Roth Travis Hanson 
Corner OF Joe Mather Nick Stavinoha Nick Stavinoha
Corner OF Jon Jay Cody Haerther Cody Haerther
Center field Colby Rasmus Colby Rasmus Colby Rasmus
LH Starter Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia Eric Haberer
RH Starter Adam Ottavino* B. Hawksworth Anthony Reyes
Reliever Chris Perez Chris Perez Tyler Johnson
Player of Year
Pitcher of Year * P.J. Walters

All-Prospect Team members from the previous dozen seasons are included for comparison purposes with our TCN Cardinals Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year in those years listed in bold. Our 2017 choices were top pitcher Luke Weaver and top hitter Eliezer Alvarez, the latter since traded to Philadelphia for less than one month of the services of reliever Juan Nicasio.

The asterisks (*) denote those cases in past years when either the Pitcher or Player of the Year (or both) was not ranked as the top prospect in the system at his position in the following off-season.

Joining Alvarez in leaving the 2017 All-Prospect Team via trade is Sierra. Two others graduated to the majors, third baseman Paul DeJong and right-handed reliever Sam Tuivailala.

Three 2017 All-Prospect Team members have experienced a decline in their prospect fortunes, at least in relation to others, leading to their falling off the list. All three still remain in the system, however.

Outfielder Randy Arozarena actually had a very good season, but was passed by newcomers O’Neill and Garcia. Shortstop Delvin Perez has yet to progress toward his first-round potential, and takes a seat in favor of Triple-A shortstop Muñoz. Lefty reliever Corey Littrell’s career progress stalled.

Age and experience

All-Prospect Team 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07
Average age 23.8 22.1 22.2 22.7 22 22.0 21.7 22.4 22.3 22.5 21.8 21.9
Average experience AAA AA AA AAA AA AA AA AA AA AAA AA A+

With the ascension of 27-year olds Lucas and Sherriff, first baseman Luke Voit surrenders his 2017 crown as the “old man” of the Top Prospect Team, at “just” 26 years of age.

Ryan Sherriff (USA TODAY Sports Images)

In fact, the overall team in 2018 is much older than ever before, signaling a significant wave of the organization’s best prospects nearing St. Louis – and a potential gap after.

This marks the first time in the last three years that there is no teenager on the squad and the only time the youngest player is as old as 21 since these lists have begun.

The average age of the team members is the oldest ever, at 23.8 years of age, up more than a year and a half from 22.1 last year.

Josh Lucas (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The level of play reached by the average player is listed as Triple-A, one level higher than last year. Mathematically, in both years, the average was slightly above the respective levels. So as a whole, this group is one full level more experienced than last.

In another indication of the more-experienced 2018 All-Prospect Team, half of the 12 reached the majors during 2017, as many as those having played some with St. Louis as the prior two years combined (four in 2016 and two in 2015).

At the other end of the spectrum, just one of the new 12 finished at Class-A this past summer and none in short-season ball. Last year’s team had two Class-A members and one short-season representative, but all three left the team for 2018 – Alvarez, Sierra and Perez – and no one from the lower ranks stepped up to replace them.

Runners-Up/Depth Chart (name/overall ranking)

I will close with this year’s “Runners-Up” – the 37 players who made the 2018 Top 50 Prospect List, but not this All-Prospect Team. The following list also provides a quick visual snapshot of system-wide balance at all positions behind the 12-man All-Prospect Team.

Pos # Name (top 50 rank)
C 1 Andrew Knizner (8)
1B 0
2B 3 Darren Seferina (28) Andy Young (45) Breyvic Valera (50)
SS 4 Delvin Perez (16) Edmundo Sosa (22) Tommy Edman (27)
Kramer Robertson (30)
3B 3 Elehuris Montero (36) Patrick Wisdom (40) Juan Yepez (44)
COF 3 Randy Arozarena (15) Dylan Carlson (20) Bryce Denton (42)
CF 6 Oscar Mercado (19) Jonatan Machado (25) Wadye Ynfante (32)
Chase Pinder (34) Scott Hurst (37) Nick Plummer (46)
LHS 1 Ian Oxnevad (39)
RHS 14 Jack Flaherty (2) Dakota Hudson (6) Jordan Hicks (7)
Ryan Helsley (9) Junior Fernandez (17) Jake Woodford (18)
Alvaro Seijas (21) Connor Jones (23) Johan Oviedo (24)
Sam Tewes (29) Daniel Poncedeleon (31) Mike O’Reilly (33)
Matt Pearce (35) Derian Gonzalez (48)
RHR 2 Mike Mayers (47) Rowan Wick (49)
total 37

Top prospect depth in the infield has improved substantially year to year – in fact it doubled – from five last year to 10 in 2018. It was accomplished more via trade and the organization’s prior investments bearing fruit, with just one of the 10 having been drafted in 2017 – #30 shortstop Kramer Robertson.

The wealth of center fielders remains the same as in 2017 with six behind Bader. It could be as high as eight, considering two of three corner outfielders listed here – Arozarena and Carlson – could easily have been placed in center, instead. I put them at the corners to indicate where they played most often last season.

Jack Flaherty (Memphis Redbirds)

On the pitching side, right-handed supply remains very strong, led by no. 2 prospect Jack Flaherty, but the quantity of left-handed starters is an obvious and growing problem. Two years ago, there were seven lefties in the top 50. Now, there are just two. Further, the other lefty after Gomber, Ian Oxnevad, has fallen four spots in the overall top 50 since 2016.

Though only four relievers made the top 50, as long as there is a plentiful supply of starters, bullpen shifts can always follow. Again, the left side stands out for the wrong reason.

We will dig much deeper into the potential long-term ramifications of this talent mix in the next installment of this series, “Behind the Numbers”.

Next up

In the next article, we dive into the numbers behind the top 50, then take a look at our best and worst selections from 2017, the top prospects by level of play, those players that left the rankings from last year to this and finally take a different look at the top 50 – based on potential only.

Also, join the daily discussion about each prospect at The Cardinal Nation’s free message board.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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