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 edition of 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,” a.k.a. 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
48. Derian Gonzalez
47. Mike Mayers
46. Nick Plummer
45. Andy Young (free)
44. Juan Yepez
43. Josh Lucas
42. Bryce Denton
41. Ryan Sherriff
40. Patrick Wisdom (free)
39. Ian Oxnevad
38. Luke Voit
37. Scott Hurst
36. Elehuris Montero
35. Matt Pearce (free)
34. Chase Pinder
33. Mike O’Reilly
32. Wadye Ynfante
31. Daniel Poncedeleon
30. Kramer Robertson (free)
29. Sam Tewes
28. Darren Seferina
27. Tommy Edman
26. Evan Mendoza
25. Jonatan Machado (free)
24. Johan Oviedo
23. Connor Jones
22. Edmundo Sosa
21. Alvaro Seijas
20. Dylan Carlson (free)
19. Oscar Mercado
18. Jake Woodford
17. Junior Fernandez
16. Delvin Perez
15. Max Schrock (free)
14. Yairo Muñoz
13. Randy Arozarena
12. Adolis Garcia
11. Open due to trades
10. Austin Gomber (free)
9. Ryan Helsley
8. Andrew Knizner
7. Jordan Hicks
6. Dakota Hudson
5. Tyler O’Neill (free)
4. Harrison Bader
3. Carson Kelly
2. Jack Flaherty
1. Alex Reyes (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.

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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, upper to 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 – Good 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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