photo: Andrew Knizner (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
The subject here in the 55th article in our Top 50 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects for 2020 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 2019.
The Cardinal Nation St. Louis Cardinals 2020 All-Prospect Team
|All Prospect Team 2020||Player||T50||Age||19 Lvl|
|Catcher||Andrew Knizner C||4||24||MLB|
|First Base||Luken Baker||19||22||A+|
|Second Base||Ramon Urias *||26||25||AAA|
|Shortstop||Edmundo Sosa *||17||23||MLB|
|Third Base||Nolan Gorman||2||19||A+|
|Corner Outfield||Jhon Torres *||12||19||A|
|Corner Outfield||Dylan Carlson||8||21||AAA|
|Center field||Randy Arozarena *||7||24||MLB|
|LH Starter||Zack Thompson *||6||22||A+|
|RH Starter||Jake Woodford *||8||23||AAA|
|LH Reliever||Genesis Cabrera||11||23||MLB|
|RH Reliever||Junior Fernandez *||10||22||MLB|
|* new members|
|C = unofficial captain|
|Ages as of 1/1/20|
After two consecutive years (2017-2018) with seven of the 12 members of the All-Prospect Team being new, last year, the turnover was considerably more extensive with nine. However, for 2020, the total count of new members dropped back to the traditional seven. (Newbies are denoted by an asterisk * above).
With the graduation of Alex Reyes, who appeared in five consecutive All-Prospect Teams, all of the five returnees were first-timers in 2019. Since he is the top-ranked prospect with MLB experience, Andrew Knizner becomes our unofficial team captain.
Others back for a second year are first baseman Luken Baker, third baseman Nolan Gorman, outfielder Dylan Carlson and left-handed pitcher Genesis Cabrera, listed here as a reliever based on his primary St. Louis usage.
Two of the three of The Cardinal Nation’s top system-wide players in 2019 made the All-Prospect Team. The exception is TCN’s Starting Pitcher of the Year Angel Rondon, the second-ranked right-hander.
The seven new members of the team come from multiple different sources. Oddly, only two were drafted by the Cardinals, both starting pitchers – lefty Zack Thompson (2019) and righty Jake Woodford (2015). Three were international signees – shortstop Edmundo Sosa, center fielder Randy Arozarena and right-handed reliever Junior Fernandez. Outfielder Jhon Torres was a trade acquisition and the rights to second sacker Ramon Urias were purchased from a Mexican League team.
TCN St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Teams – 2016 through 2019
|Catcher||Andrew Knizner||Carson Kelly||Carson Kelly||Carson Kelly|
|First Base||Luken Baker||Luke Voit||Luke Voit||Luis Bandes|
|Second Base||Max Schrock||Max Schrock||Eliezer Alvarez||Jacob Wilson|
|Shortstop||Tommy Edman||Yairo Munoz||Delvin Perez||Aledmys Diaz|
|Third Base||Nolan Gorman||Evan Mendoza||Paul DeJong||Paul DeJong|
|Corner OF||Tyler O’Neill||Tyler O’Neill||Harrison Bader||Nick Plummer|
|Corner OF||Dylan Carlson||Adolis Garcia||Randy Arozarena||Magneuris Sierra|
|Center field||Lane Thomas||Harrison Bader||Magneuris Sierra||Charlie Tilson|
|LH Starter||Evan Kruczynski||Austin Gomber||Austin Gomber||Marco Gonzales|
|RH Starter||Alex Reyes||Alex Reyes||Alex Reyes||Alex Reyes|
|LH Reliever||Genesis Cabrera||Ryan Sherriff||Corey Littrell||Dean Kiekhefer|
|RH Reliever||Seth Elledge||Josh Lucas||Sam Tuivailala||Sam Tuivailala|
All-Prospect Team members from the previous four seasons are included for comparison purposes.
Here is why the seven players from the 2019 All-Prospect Team left for 2020. The majority – four – graduated to the majors – shortstop Tommy Edman, center fielder Lane Thomas, corner outfielder Tyler O’Neill and right-handed starter Alex Reyes.
The other three were passed by other prospects – second baseman Max Schrock, left-handed starter Evan Kruczynski and right-handed reliever Seth Elledge. All three still remain on the 2020 top 50, however.
Schrock was displaced by Urias, Kruczynski was passed by first-round draftee Thompson and Fernandez bumped Elledge off the new All-Prospect Team.
Age and experience
After the then-24-year old Reyes graduated, the “old man” of the new Top Prospect Team is Urias at 25 years of age. Though it should be noted that 2019 was just the second baseman’s second year in the system as he has spent the majority of his career in the Mexican League.
The average age of the team in 2020 is barely older than in 2019, at 22.3 years old.
Though Torres spent most of the summer in rookie-ball, his highest level being Class-A made the 2020 group the second straight All-Prospect Team with no short-season players. Gorman was in the same boat in 2019.
The aforementioned pair are the only teens among the 12. This marks the fifth year in the last six with at least one teenager on the squad, with the only recent exception having been 2018.
Even though the average age was almost the same as in 2019, the level of play reached by the average player is Triple-A, one level higher than last year. This is most attributed to the fact that five of the 12 have already reached St. Louis. That compares to just two with MLB experience on the 2019 team. The 2020 total of five is the second-most in recent years, with 2017 at six the most.
This is the fourth consecutive year without a short-season representative, which suggests some top prospect depth across the board in full-season ball, closer to the majors.
Depth Chart (name/overall ranking)
I will close with the 2020 Top 50 Prospect List oriented by position. Remember that the members of the All-Prospect Team are listed first in each position grouping. This provides a quick visual snapshot of system-wide balance at all positions across the system.
|Pos||#||Name (top 50 rank)|
|C||4||Andrew Knizner (4)||Ivan Herrera (5)||Julio Rodriguez (21)|
|Pedro Pages (43)|
|1B||5||Luken Baker (19)||Rangel Ravelo (34)||Juan Yepez (40)|
|John Nogowski (42)||Brady Whalen (49)|
|2B||3||Ramon Urias (26)||Brendan Donovan (39)||Max Schrock (45)|
|SS||4||Edmundo Sosa (17)||Mateo Gil (25)||Delvin Perez (33)|
|Kramer Robertson (46)|
|3B||4||Nolan Gorman (2)||Elehuris Montero (3)||Malcom Nunez (13)|
|Evan Mendoza (32)|
|COF||6||Dylan Carlson (1)||Jhon Torres (12)||Justin Williams (15)|
|Adolis Garcia (18) #||Justin Toerner (30)||Patrick Romeri (48)|
|CF||3||Randy Arozarena (7)||Trejyn Fletcher (16)||Conner Capel (37)|
|LHS||3||Zack Thompson (6)||Steven Gingery (35)||Evan Kruczynski (41)|
|RHS||11||Jake Woodford (8)||Angel Rondon (9)||Johan Oviedo (14)|
|Alvaro Seijas (22)||Griffin Roberts (23)||Andre Pallante (27)|
|Jack Ralston (28)||Alex Fagalde (29)||Tommy Parsons (38)|
|Francisco Justo (44)||Ludwin Jimenez (47)|
|LHR||1||Genesis Cabrera (11)|
|RHR||6||Junior Fernandez (10)||Kodi Whitley (20)||Tony Locey (24)|
|Seth Elledge (31)||Edgar Escobar (36)||Bryan Dobzanski (50)|
I have never seen such balance across the positions. However, I am not sure it is all good. It seems less than ideal to have five first basemen, especially when a couple of the third basemen could be converted as well.
I am also concerned about middle infield. Yes, St. Louis’ roster is in good shape and Edmundo Sosa seems about ready, but after that, Mateo Gil down in short-season ball seems the next best hope.
Same up the middle shortage exists in the outfield. The Cardinals really have to hope that Trejyn Fletcher emerges, as the recent college-drafted center fielders, along with the recent international signees, have fallen off the prospect radar.
On the starting pitching side, right-handed supply is flat from year to year at 11. Due to graduations, the top tier has thinned out. However, Angel Rondon has joined Jake Woodford in the top 10. Depth looks much more shaky below high-A, though several 2019 draftees hold promise.
The quantity of left-handed starters is also constant at three, with newcomer Zack Thompson head and shoulders over the others.
As starters pitch less deeply into games, the growing importance of relievers is being reflected in the top 50. Right-handed relievers have grown to a new record quantity of six, up from five last year and two for several years prior to that. The only left-handed reliever is Genesis Cabrera, already noted previously as still officially a starter.
We will dig much deeper into the potential long-term ramifications of this changing talent mix in the next installment of this series, “Behind the Numbers”. Join The Cardinal Nation today!
In the next article of this series, we dive into the numbers behind the top 50, then take a look back at our best and worst selections from 2019, the top prospects by level of play, those players that left the rankings from last year to this and finally take a different view of 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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