photo: Nolan Gorman and Dylan Carlson
The next subject in our Top 50 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects for 2021 series is the organization’s best minor league prospects, sorted by position. At the end, all Top 50 members are shown by position groupings 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 11 players – eight position players, including two corner outfielders, plus three pitchers – left and right-handed starters and a reliever.
Listed are each player’s overall ranking in the top 50, age and highest level played in 2019.
The Cardinal Nation St. Louis Cardinals 2021 All-Prospect Team
|All-Prospect Team 2021||Player||Rank||Age||2019 Lvl|
|Catcher||Ivan Herrera *||4||20||A+|
|First Base||Luken Baker||23||23||A+|
|Second Base||Chandler Redmond *||44||23||Rk|
|Shortstop||Masyn Winn *||8||18||NA|
|Third Base||Nolan Gorman||2||20||A+|
|Corner Outfield||Jhon Torres||13||20||A|
|Corner Outfield||Dylan Carlson C||1||22||MLB|
|Center field||Trejyn Fletcher||12||20||Rk|
|LH Starter||Matthew Liberatore||3||21||A|
|RH Starter||Johan Oviedo *||9||22||MLB|
|RH Reliever||Junior Fernandez||15||23||MLB|
|* new members||avg age||21.1|
|C = unofficial captain|
|Ages as of 1/1/21|
In the last two years, the All-Prospect Team had high turnover, with seven and nine, respectively, in 2019 and 2020 having been new. However, for 2021, the total count of new members dropped to just four. (Newbies are denoted by an asterisk * above).
With one spot open this year, left-handed reliever, that means seven of the 11 are holdovers. Three of them made the team for the third consecutive year – first baseman Luken Baker, third baseman Nolan Gorman and outfielder Dylan Carlson. The latter, as the top-ranked prospect of the three (and for the entire system), is our unofficial team captain. It is doubly appropriate for Carlson’s final winter as a prospect.
The four back for a second year at their respective positions are outfielders Jhon Torres and Trejyn Fletcher, left-handed starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore and reliever Junior Fernandez.
The four new members of the team come from two different sources. Two were international signees – catcher Ivan Herrera (signed 2018) and right-handed starter Johan Oviedo (2016). The others were Cardinals draftees – second baseman Chandler Redmond (2019 draft) and shortstop Masyn Winn (2020).
The 18-year-old Winn holds a very unusual distinction. With his number eight ranking for 2021, the team’s second player taken in last June’s draft (54th overall) could be both our top shortstop and our top right-handed pitcher.
The reason the two-way player is placed at short here is that the gap to the next shortstop is considerable – 13 spots (Edmundo Sosa at no. 21) – while two other right-handed starting pitchers are immediately after him (Oviedo at no. 9 and Angel Rondon at no. 10).
In other words, the prospect team is a better quality group with Winn at short and Oviedo as the right-handed starter. However, which way the talented teen will actually go eventually in his career remains to be seen.
TCN St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Teams – 2017 through 2020
All-Prospect Team members from the previous four seasons are included for comparison purposes.
|Catcher||Andrew Knizner||Andrew Knizner||Carson Kelly||Carson Kelly|
|First Base||Luken Baker||Luken Baker||Luke Voit||Luke Voit|
|Second Base||Ramon Urias||Max Schrock||Max Schrock||Eliezer Alvarez|
|Shortstop||Edmundo Sosa||Tommy Edman||Yairo Munoz||Delvin Perez|
|Third Base||Nolan Gorman||Nolan Gorman||Evan Mendoza||Paul DeJong|
|Corner OF||Jhon Torres||Tyler O’Neill||Tyler O’Neill||Harrison Bader|
|Corner OF||Dylan Carlson||Dylan Carlson||Adolis Garcia||Randy Arozarena|
|Center field||Trejyn Fletcher||Lane Thomas||Harrison Bader||Magneuris Sierra|
|LH Starter||Matthew Liberatore||Evan Kruczynski||Austin Gomber||Austin Gomber|
|RH Starter||Jake Woodford||Alex Reyes||Alex Reyes||Alex Reyes|
|LH Reliever||Genesis Cabrera||Genesis Cabrera||Ryan Sherriff||Corey Littrell|
|RH Reliever||Junior Fernandez||Seth Elledge||Josh Lucas||Sam Tuivailala|
Here is how the four players who left the 2020 All-Prospect Team departed. Two graduated to the majors – catcher Andrew Knizner and right-handed starter Jake Woodford.
Shortstop Edmundo Sosa was passed by another prospect – the aforementioned Winn – while second baseman Ramon Urias was waived by the Cardinals and claimed by the Orioles.
Herrera and Oviedo replaced graduates Knizner and Woodford and Urias’ replacement is Redmond.
Age and experience
The 2021 All-Prospect Team includes a very unusual development. Youth has been served unlike any year since at least 2007 (when I first recognized his team).
After the then-25-year old Urias and 24-year old Knizner departed, the new 2021 group has no prospect older than 23.
Further, the average age of the team in 2021 is barely more than 21. Aided by the 18-year-old Winn, this the lowest overall average since 2007.
The level of play reached by the average player is High-A, two levels lower than last year. Again, this a low-water mark over time – but remember that these levels are from two seasons ago, given that there was no minor league season in 2020. So, do not attach too much significance to this.
After four consecutive years without a short-season representative, two All-Prospect Team played in Rookie ball in 2019 – second baseman Redmond and outfielder Fletcher. And for tallying purposes, Winn was also included as a Rookie-ball player.
Depth Chart (name/overall ranking)
I will close with the 2021 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||Ivan Herrera (4)||Julio Rodriguez (25)||Edgardo Rodriguez (34)|
|Pedro Pages (35)|
|1B||2||Luken Baker (23)||John Nogowski (33)|
|2B||2||Chandler Redmond (44)||Brendan Donovan (50)|
|SS||5||Masyn Winn (8) (also RHS)||Edmundo Sosa (21)||Mateo Gil (22)|
|Kramer Robertson (37)||Delvin Perez (42)|
|3B||5||Nolan Gorman (2)||Jordan Walker (6)||Elehuris Montero (7)|
|Malcom Nunez (14)||Evan Mendoza (46)|
|COF||8||Dylan Carlson (1)||Jhon Torres (13)||Justin Williams (17)|
|Alec Burleson (27)||Patrick Romeri (29)||L.J. Jones IV (38)|
|Justin Toerner (40)||Juan Yepez (41)|
|CF||2||Trejyn Fletcher (12)||Conner Capel (48)|
|LHS||4||Matthew Liberatore (3)||Zack Thompson (5)||Levi Prater (31)|
|Evan Kruczynski (47)|
|RHS||13||Johan Oviedo (9)||Angel Rondon (10)||Tink Hence (11)|
|Griffin Roberts (20)||Edwin Nunez (24)||Ian Bedell (26)|
|Andre Pallante (28)||Tommy Parsons (32)||Alvaro Seijas (36)|
|Jack Ralston (39)||Alex FaGalde (43)||Ludwin Jimenez (45)|
|Edgar Escobar (49)|
|RHR||5||Junior Fernandez (15)||Kodi Whitley (16)||Seth Elledge (18)|
|Tony Locey (19)||Logan Gragg (30)|
I know it may be surprising to readers, but I have few issues with this Top 50 positional distribution. On first blush, the right side of the infield may appear a bit underrepresented, but outfielders can become first basemen and shortstops can slide over to second.
OK, maybe I am a bit concerned about center field. Harrison Bader has yet to prove himself with St. Louis and Fletcher is long way away. The only other center fielder, Conner Capel has slid down in the prospect rankings in each of this three years in the system. Totaling 10 overall, the outfield contingent has the numbers, but after Carlson, there are a lot of questions.
Behind the plate, things are looking good, even with Knizner graduated. Two catchers are close to St. Louis (Herrera and Julio Rodriguez) and two are further back in the pipeline (Edgardo Rodriguez and Pedro Pages).
Luken Baker may be ranked ahead of John Nogowski at first on paper, but the big man is going to have to realize his power potential to pass Nogowski, who is ahead of him in terms of projected level assignments in the system for 2021 (Memphis vs. Springfield).
Though just one (-half) of a shortstop is in the new Top 50, the position offers considerable depth. The riches at third are substantially greater, buoyed by 2020 first-round draft pick Jordan Walker.
On the starting pitching side, right-handed supply is as high as ever at 13, including three in the top 11 in the system. The middle tier offers plenty of less experienced pitchers with uncertain ceilings.
The quantity of left-handed starters is slightly up at four, with Matthew Liberatore and Zack Thompson head and shoulders over the others.
As starters pitch less deeply into games, the increased importance of relievers continues to be reflected in the Top 50. Right-handed relievers are at five, same as in 2019 and one fewer than 2020. What is different is that three of the new five already have experience with St. Louis.
There are no left-handed relievers in the Top 50 for 2021, which is not a major concern.
Among the upcoming articles in this series, we take two different looks at the Top 50 – based on potential only and by tiers. Detailed tools-based analysis is coming, too.
Also, join the daily discussion about each prospect at The Cardinal Nation’s message boards.
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