photo: Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, Lars Nootbaar (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
2021 was a year of both change and return to normalcy for Minor League Baseball. Though the season opened a month late, games were played for the first time since 2019. However, its return included two fewer levels of play as the Short Season Class-A and Rookie Advanced levels were abolished.
Even so, over 200 minor leaguers from Triple-A through the twin Dominican Summer League squads competed for the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Along the way, new players became Cardinals through free agency and the slimmed-down 20-round First-Year Player Draft.
Players worked to improve their skills, and many of the best did so in 2021, despite the organization fielding losing teams at every level.
To recognize those players with perhaps the brightest futures, The Cardinal Nation has developed and will roll out our annual Cardinals Top 50 Prospect List for 2022, our 17th annual rankings.
A new voice
As we begin to unveil our 2022 Cardinals Top 50 Prospect List, a key new contributor will provide our player evaluations.
Jake Twiddie (Twitter @MLBUKAnalysis1) has followed baseball closely for many years. Having become interested in the game watching baseball in the UK, he started to write about minor leaguers and has covered numerous organizations for various scouting-focused sites, including Prospects1500 and Prospects Worldwide.
Using his job-related knowledge of kinesiology and human movement, he studies players in-depth. A keen lover of the game in its entirety, Jake enjoys scouting the Cardinals among other teams, and in particular, their farm systems.
Jake’s expertise in scouting prospects is important in keeping our Cardinals projections grounded. His tools-driven evaluations join Brian Walton’s assessments for this project.
The process to set TCN’s new Top 50 for 2022 is a continuation of Walton’s members-only in-season monthly Cardinals prospect rankings, with adjustments based on fall and winter ball play as well as input from scouts and player development professionals.
In our daily countdown of the Top 50, which begins on Tuesday, November 23, Jake will provide a scouting report on each prospect, highlighting the five major tools for position players and grades for every pitch offering. We provide both current and future grades, with the former a new addition to our rankings for 2022. These grades are on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, noted with the risk associated with the player eventually achieving his Future Value (FV).
Walton will provide background on the prospect, his progress in the organization, where he fits against others and his outlook for the coming season and beyond.
Following the countdown will be our annual series of “best-of”, “just-missed” and in-depth analysis articles of the Top 50 collectively. This series will likely continue beyond Winter Warm-Up, to be held in the second half of January.
As always, selected prospect reports will be made available to everyone, but for full access to all 50 write-ups and the following articles, one must be a member of The Cardinal Nation. Join today!
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.
Readers can join in the dialogue 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 16 winters, click here, or you can always access them via the permanent link in the left column located underneath the site logo called “PROSPECT RANKINGS”.
The Cardinal Nation Top 50 Prospects – 2022
|50. Thomas Francisco (free)|
|49. Yordy Richard|
|48. Inohan Paniagua|
|47. Freddy Pacheco|
|46. Jeremy Rivas|
|45. Todd Lott (free)|
At the conclusion of the countdown, a multi-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 year-to-year changes and the top additions, highlight players who did not make the combined Top 50 and unveil our All-Prospect Team – the highest-ranked players at each position.
Next will be 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 2021 list who dropped off for 2021 and a potential-only based-list of the new Top 50.
Top 50 Analysis Series
2022 Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – The Final Tally
2022 Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – Movers and Shakers
2022 Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – The Newbies
2022 Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – The Departed
2022 Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – 2021 Picks and Pans
2022 The Cardinal Nation Cardinals All-Prospect Team (free)
2022 Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – Behind the Numbers
2022 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – Best of the Rest
2022 Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects by Level and MLB Debut
2022 St. Louis Cardinals Top 50 Prospects Ranked by Future Value Only
2022 St. Louis Cardinals Top Position Player Prospect Tools
2022 St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospect Best Pitches
Scouting grading scale and risk
The following table aligns the level of each scouting grade for hitters and pitchers to the comparable future MLB role.
|Grade||Hitter role||Pitcher role|
|80||Top 5 hitter||1-3 arm. Ace if multiple years|
|70||Top 10 hitter||2 starter FIP sub 3.00|
|60||All-Star||3 starter 3.30 FIP (200 IP)|
|55||Above average regular||3/4 starter 3.70 FIP (160 IP)|
|50||Average everyday guy||4 starter 4.00 FIP (or 190+ IP)|
|45||Platoon guy||4/5 starter 4.20 FIP|
|40||Bench guy||Backend starter 5.00 FIP|
|30||AAAA guy||AAAA guy|
|20||Organizational guy||Organizational guy|
Behind these basic grades are more detailed scales which help translate player measurements by position types into grades. Examples include average and home run levels and home to first base times for hitters, pop rates for catchers and velocities, strikeout and walk rates for pitchers.
Risk is another measure included. It indicates the chances a player hits the Future Value scouting grade given.
The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is in its fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.
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