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Cardinals Complete 2019 Draft with Final 30 Picks

photo: Connor Lunn (University of Southern California)

By Blake Newberry and Brian Walton

On Wednesday, June 5, the St. Louis Cardinals are making their final 30 selections in the third day of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft, covering rounds 11-40.

Though uninformed observers pay little attention to Day 3 selections, the reality is that many good major leaguers are sourced from these picks. In fact, the Cardinals have been especially successful over the years finding talent in round 11 or later, including former all-star Matt Carpenter, St. Louis’ 13th rounder in 2009.

The Cardinals are required to use a portion of their $6,903,500 pool allocation from rounds 1-10 to cover any Day 3 selections who receive more than $125,000 in signing bonus. This approach was not used in 2018, but had in the five years prior.

For More

Click on each player’s photo to be taken to their player profile page here at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biographical information.

To reference the Cardinals’ new draft class on an ongoing basis, each player will have a profile located on a holding team called “2019 DRAFT UNSIGNED PLAYERS”. This can be accessed at the bottom of the drop-down menu in the red column in the left menu called “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES” or click here.

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As Wednesday progresses from afternoon into evening, this article will be updated as picks are made and information added, so please check back often.

St. Louis’ 2019 Day 3 selections

11th round, 335th overall

RHP Connor Lunn
USC, Junior
6’3”, 215 pounds
Bats; Right
Throws: Right

Connor Lunn

The Cardinals once again dipped into the college pitching pool to begin the third day of the draft.

Lunn began the spring as the closer for the Trojans, but he eventually moved into the starting rotation and became the ace of the staff. He won five of his first six starts and went 7-4 on the year with a 3.69 ERA. He also struck out 79 hitters and walked 23 in his 83 innings of work.

His fastball sits at 89-92 mph as a starter and ticks up to 91-94 as a reliever. The pitch has good natural cut and it plays well at the top of the zone. It stays off of barrels pretty well due to its late cut and played as a plus pitch for Lunn.

Lunn’s breaking ball is tunneled very well which allows it to play better than the quality of the pitch might suggest. Most scouts give his breaking ball an average grade. His control was inconsistent at times last year, which means that he will probably end up in the bullpen.

However, if he can add a little more velocity to his fastball, he could use his two-pitch mix and find success in the professional ranks.

12th round, 365th overall

OF Patrick Romeri
IMG Academy
6’3”, 207 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Commitment: Villanova

Patrick Romeri

The Cardinals take their second high schooler in the draft, after taking Tre Fletcher in the second round.

Romeri has shown some pop in his bat with an exit velocity of 95 mph off a tee. He is also a good athlete with decent running speed as he recorded a 6.81 second 60-yard dash. He has been clocked throwing as hard as 92 mph from the outfield with a consistent velocity of 88 mph. This kind of arm strength should give him the ability to stick in right field in the future.

Romeri is still very young as he will turn 18 years old next month. Clearly, this was an upside pick by the Cardinals and they will hope to use his natural size to help him develop his power potential and plus arm.

The Florida native also pitched throughout high school. Even though he will not pitch as a professional it demonstrates that he has a strong enough arm to play in the outfield.

In his senior season of high school, Romeri batted .432 with a .467 on-base percentage. He still needs to grow into more power as he only hit 2 home runs, 3 triples, and 6 doubles on the season. Like many high schoolers, he also needs to improve his plate discipline and batter’s eye to be able to improve his on base skills.

13th round, 395th overall

OF Tommy Jew
UC Santa Barbara, Junior
6’1”, 180 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Tommy Jew

The Cardinals took an outfielder for the second straight pick, with this one coming from the college ranks.

Jew had a lot of success in summer leagues throughout his collegiate career. He won MVP of the New England Collegiate Baseball League in 2017 and played in the Cape Cod League in 2018.

In the spring he led the Gauchos in home runs with 11, showing a nice uptick in power from the nine combined home runs he hit in his previous two years. He projects to stick in center field as a professional due to his plus speed. He swiped 20 bases in 23 attempts showing a penchant for stealing and using his speed efficiently.

Jew also shows off average arm strength in the outfield, as well as good instincts, leaving hope that he will become a plus defender in center field.

At the beginning of his college career he was more a slap hitter who racked up singles but could not hit for extra bases. However, in his junior year he began to hit the ball with authority. Unfortunately, as his power increased, so did his strikeout rate.

He needs to figure out how to hit for some power without striking out at a high rate to succeed as a hitter. However, if his bat can come around, he shows enough defensive promise to provide value at this pick.

14th round, 425th overall

RHP Tyler Statler
Hononegah High School in Roscoe, Illinois
6’6”, 230 pounds
Bats; Right
Throws: Right
Commitment: Southeast Missouri State

Tyler Statler

The Cardinals dipped into the prep ranks to take a young, projectable high school arm with their 14th round pick.

Statler is big, physical pitcher with some projectability remaining in his frame. He throws from a high ¾ arm slot that creates a nice angle to the plate. He has very good arm strength as his fastball sits around 93-95 mph. However, the pitch comes out very straight and needs to add some movement in order to stay off the barrels of bats.

His go-to secondary offering is a slider. He needs to develop this pitch more as he has a tendency to slow his body and arm down which can cause the pitch to lose most of its movement and deception. He has also shown nice feel for a changeup and that could become a plus pitch for him.

Statler can also struggle with command and that causes him to be more comfortable pitching to his arm side, and not as much to his glove side. This is because he gets very strong hip rotation, but sometimes it is too strong, and he cannot control it. This can cause him to have stretches where he is very wild.

This will be a development project for the Cardinals. He needs to clean up his delivery to throw strikes more consistently, and also needs to develop his off-speed pitches more. However, he does have the potential for three plus. With his strong frame this gives him the potential to be a starting pitcher long term.

15th round, 455th overall

OF David Vinsky
Northwood University, Junior
6’0”, 198 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

David Vinsky

The Cardinals took another outfielder to replenish their minor league stock by selecting David Vinsky, Northwood University’s first-ever MLB draftee.

Vinsky starred at Northwood from the moment he set foot on campus. Through his first two and a half years, he set school records for hits, batting average, doubles, RBI, and runs. He was a division two all-American and has shown a great hitting ability, although it was against much lesser competition.

Vinsky powered up as a junior, hitting 12 home runs. He had previously hit 12 home runs in his freshman and sophomore years combined. In his collegiate career, the outfielder struck out just 74 times in 675 at bats while taking 80 walks. He needs to work on his plate discipline in order to draw more walks, but he has shown enough hitting ability to avoid large quantities of strikeouts.

This spring was the first time that Vinsky batted below .400, as he hit “only” .367. He also posted a career OBP of .476 and a career slugging of .637.

Vinsky seems to be the kind of productive college player that the Cardinals take in the later rounds of the draft and turn into a productive big leaguer. He just needs to show that he can make the jump from division II baseball to the professional ranks, but he put up all of the numbers that an organization could want to see.

16th round, 485th overall

RHP Thomas Hart
Wakeland High School in Frisco, Texas
6’2”, 180 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Commitment: Howard Junior College

Thomas Hart

Another prep pitcher fell to the Cardinals with their 16th pick.

Hart has some projection left on his 6’2” frame, as he could stand to add some strength in order to improve his velocity and durability. He has shown feel for two pitches. The first being his fastball which sits at 89-91 and can reach as high as 92 mph. The second is a 70-76 mph curveball.

In his high school career Hart posted an 8-2 record in 30 appearances (21 starts). He struck out 112 batters in 90 innings.

Hart has an athletic frame and works from a ¾ arm slot. His fastball has shown some late life with sink. His main secondary offering also showed some good spin with some sharp, late bite. However, it is shaped more like a slurve than a curveball and he needs to clean up that pitch and show better feel for it. He has shown an ability to throw his fastball anywhere in the zone and uses it well to set up his curve.

He is a very projectable high school arm that the Cardinals minor league coaching staffs will have to work with significantly. He is still very raw and a bit of an unknown. If he adds weight, he could have the potential for two good pitches. However, he will probably need to learn a third pitch just to keep hitters guessing.

17th round, 515th overall

RHP Michael YaSenka
Eastern Illinois University, Junior
6’2”, 205 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Michael YaSenka

The Cardinals have continued to heavily target pitching as they took another college arm in the 17th round.

Yasenka made 15 starts for the EIU Panthers this spring, recording a record of 4 wins and 7 losses. He collected 100 strikeouts in 90 2/3 innings as he flashed some swing and miss ability. He needs to refine his command of the strike zone, however, as he finished the season with a 5.56 ERA and 33 walks allowed.

The right-hander began his career at Chesapeake Junior College where he posted below average ERA numbers but struck out hitter to the tune of 14 K/9.

Yasenka also spent two summers with the Rockville Express of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. He has a rough season in 2017, posting a 6.62 ERA. However, he fared much better in 2018, posting an ERA of 3.41. He struck out 41 hitters and walked 19 in his 31 2/3 innings of work in 2018.

Clearly, a Cardinals scout saw something that he believes the Cards can work with and is banking on the Cardinals player development system to straighten him out. Hopefully, Yasenka can refine his command and continue to show good swing and miss stuff. If he can do this, he could have the makings of a solid reliever.

18th round, 545th overall

C Aaron Antonini
Middle Tennessee State University, Junior
6’0”, 210 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Aaron Antonini

The Cardinals selected their second catcher of the draft in the 18th round.

Antonini showed great durability by starting every game of the season for Middle Tennessee, and all but one behind the plate. He started out the year strong and led the team in almost every major offensive category through the first 30 games of the spring. However, as the season progressed, he began to slump, and his numbers cooled off. He finished the season batting .262 with 8 home runs. This doubled the amount of home runs that he hit in his first two seasons. The native of Venezuela also posted a .443 slugging percentage and tallied 29 walks against 28 strikeouts.

He did fare much better defensively, however. He led the C-USA in baserunners caught stealing with 24. He also received high marks for his leadership from behind the plate.

Antonini seems to be a Cardinals type of catcher – solid defensively, with great leadership and a developing bat. If Antonini could improve his contact abilities and cut down on the strikeouts he could turn into a pretty good glove-first catcher.

19th round, 575th overall

LHP Zarion Sharp
UNC Wilmington, Junior
6’5”, 205 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Zarion Sharpe

Once again, the Cardinals followed the college pitching route in hopes of bolstering their minor league depth.

Sharpe showed the ability to pitch out of the bullpen and out of the rotation in his collegiate career. This spring he made 16 appearances and 13 of those were starts. He threw 57.2 innings and compiled a 4.21 ERA, slightly worse than his 3.74 ERA as a sophomore. However, his strikeout rate ticked up as he fanned 61 batters this season, almost matching his total from the previous two years combined when he threw 78 2/3 innings (66 Ks).

This is likely what drew the Cardinals to Sharpe. He still has some room to develop as he could add some more weight to his tall frame. If he is able to do this, he will likely improve his stuff enough to have legitimate swing and miss potential.

He will like to begin his career as a starter but will likely move to the bullpen due to shaky control (3.6 BB/9 as a junior).

Sharpe came on strong late in the season, as he had a stretch where he allowed just one run and struck out 25 hitters over 17 2/3 innings. This stretch showed that he has an unusually high amount of promise for a late round college selection.

20th round, 605th overall

RHP Adrian Mardueno
San Diego State, Junior
5’10”, 170 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Adrian Mardueno

Unsurprisingly, the Cardinals stuck with their pitching heavy approach to finish out the first half of the draft.

Similar to the Cardinals fifth round pick Connor Thomas, Mardueno is a pitcher with a slight frame, but impressive production. Mardueno posted a fantastic 1.93 ERA out of the bullpen for the Aztecs. Most of his appearances lasted more than one inning as he threw 65 1/3 innings. He struck out an impressive 75 batters and walked 28. He also held opposing hitters to a .196 batting average.

The California native also impressed in the Alaska Baseball League in the summer. He pitched to a perfect 0.00 ERA over 15 appearances and 19 2/3 innings. He fanned 26 and issues just 5 free passes.

Despite his small stature, Mardueno has shown impressive strikeout numbers, and has been very good at limiting opposing hitters. This is a very good pick this late in the draft.

21st round, 635th overall

LHP Jack Owen
Auburn University, Sophomore
6’2”, 174 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Jack Owen

The Cardinals stuck with pitching, selecting a southpaw who has been successful in the Southeastern Conference.

After a rocky freshman season that saw Owen post a 5.97 ERA, the left-hander figured things out as a sophomore. He started eight games and came out of the bullpen in four others pitching himself to a 2.45 ERA in 58 2/3 innings. He also struck out 55 and demonstrated excellent control by walking just 10 batters.

A pitcher with this kind of success in such a major conference is usually not available this late in the draft. The Cardinals did a good job snapping him up in the 21st round. This could turn into an excellent value pick if Owen’ college success translates over to the professional game.

The Cardinals will likely give Owen the chance to become a starter as he has showed excellent control and had success as a starter in college. The Cardinals also need more left-handed starting pitching depth, so this should work in Owen’s favor.

Owen did have to miss some games this season with shoulder pain, so he does come with some injury concern. However, his talent combined with being this late in the draft made this selection too good of an opportunity to pass up.

22nd round, 665th overall

C Zade Richardson
Wabash Valley College, Freshman
6’1”, 205 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Zade Richardson

The Cardinals selected their third catcher of the draft, as it is clearly a position that they are focusing on.

Richardson has a similar profile to the other previously selected catchers. His two strongest tools appear to be his power at the plate and his arm strength. He also showed a strong hit tool and decent plate discipline in his one year of junior college ball by hitting .385/.498/.586. He clubbed six home runs on the season, but also connected on 16 doubles. He struck out 28 times in 169 at bats and walked 32 times.

On the defensive side of the game, he threw out 22 of 32 attempted base stealers for a solid 69% caught stealing rate.

Richardson is very much a project for the Cardinals as he has only played one year of college ball at a junior college and is still just 19 years old. As such it will be difficult to grade this pick until we see a couple years of Richardson’s development.

23rd round, 695th overall

3B Brylie Ware
University of Oklahoma, Senior
6’0”, 220 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Brylie Ware

The Cardinals waited until the 23rd round to draft their first infielder at a position other than catcher and ended up with a productive Big 12 college player.

The third baseman began his career at Neosho County Community College where he finished as the nation’s leader in home runs (29), RBI (122), and batting average (.589). He also won the first NJCAA triple crown since 1985.

After this success in junior college, he transferred the Oklahoma before his junior year. Wear was a three-year starter for the Sooners and put up good numbers every year. He batted .298 as a sophomore, .331 as a junior, and .300 as a senior. His hit tool looks to be the most advanced part of his offensive game, as he does not hit for much power and only drew a modest number of walks.

The senior hit 6 home runs in his final year on campus, and 12 in his entire career. He also posted more strikeouts than walks in every season, including his senior year when he drew 29 walks and struck out 32 times.

Ware was named Big 12 newcomer of the year in 2017, and Big 12 first team designated hitter. He was also named to the Big 12 second team as a junior.

24th round, 725th overall

RHP Will Guay
Concord University, Senior
6’4”, 220 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Will Guay

Guay began his career at Snead State Junior College where he compiled a 5.54 ERA in his two years at the school. He struck out 64 batters and walked 70 in his 79 2/3 career innings.

After this rough stint in the Junior College ranks, Guay transferred to Concord where he struggled as a junior but broke out in his senior year. Guay spent the spring in the starting rotation where he compiled a 3.07 ERA over the span of 70 1/3 innings. He showed good swing and miss potential by striking out 82 batters. The right hander also walked 29 batters which is a little bit high and probably signals that he will be a reliever in the future.

He was significantly improved in 2019 as he pitched to the tune of an ugly 6.52 ERA in 2018, his first year at concord.

In the summer of 2018 Guay pitched for two teams in the Valley Baseball Summer League. While there, he struck out. 32 batters in 31 innings and recorded a mosdest 4.35 ERA while walking 19.

In 2019 he received All-Mountain East Conference First Team honors and Division 2 All-Region Second Team honors.

When looking at his history, it is clear that he broke out in 2019 and apparently the Cardinals would like to see if he can continue that breakout in their organization.

25th round, 755th overall

RHP Alexander McFarlane
Habersham Central High School, Mt. Airy, Georgia
6’3”, 173 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Commitment: University of Miami (FL)

Alexander McFarlane

This is a pick with a major signability question. Most high school players, especially ones committed to top colleges, will not sign this late, so the Cardinals might need to hand over some extra money to convince McFarlane to forego his commitment.

If McFarlane ends up signing with the Cardinals, then they are getting a raw prospect with very good potential. He has yet to turn 18 years old, and there is plenty of projectability left in his 6’3” frame.

He throws from a ¾ arm slot with a fastball that can top out at 94 mph, but usually hovers in the low 90s. The fastball has some occasional cutting action when he throws it well, but other times it has a dangerous tendency to stay straight.

His main secondary pitch is an above-average slider with late break that sits at 77-80 mph. He has also shown decent feel for a big, sweeping curveball with occasional tight spin. However, the pitch still needs plenty of development. He also throws a fringy changeup, but it is not a great pitch as he is unable to repeat his arm action very often.

He can struggle with control at times, but he has a very athletic build that should allow him to repeat his delivery more often as he develops. Once he develops his body and learns to repeat his delivery, he could have 3 or 4 plus pitches and the ability to pitch out of the rotation

It is unlikely that McFarlane will sign, but if he does, the Cardinals made a selection that could pay off in the distant future.

26th round, 785th overall

RHP Jeremy Randolph
University of Alabama, Graduate Student
5’11”, 210 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Jeremy Randolph

Yet another college pitcher has been selected by the Cardinals.

Randolph pitched out of the Alabama bullpen in the spring and proved himself to be a valuable asset for the Crimson Tide. He finished the year with a 3.49 ERA and also struck out 50 batters in 38 2/3 innings. Some control issues flared up at times for the right hander, but he clearly has the swing and miss stuff that organizations look for this late in the draft.

Randolph spent the first four years of his college career for Wright State and graduated with a 16-5 record, 5 saves, and a 3.05 ERA. He threw 150 1/3 innings and struck out 129 batters in his time in the Horizon league.

He split his time between the bullpen and the rotation at Wright State and clearly a full time move to the bullpen at Alabama allowed his stuff to play up and led to him striking at hitters at a much higher rate.

27th round, 815th overall

RHP Eric Lex
Santa Clara University, Redshirt Senior
6’2”, 205 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Eric Lex

The Cardinals took a flyer on a college pitcher from a small school who broke out in his senior year.

In his final year on campus Lex put up a terrific 1.07 ERA, despite never posting an ERA lower than 4.48. 2019 was his second full year in the bullpen, and clearly that was a move that helped him. He threw 25 1/3 innings this spring and racked up 32 strikeouts and 8 walks.

Something must have clicked in order for Lex to show such a significant turnaround in his senior year. This is a trait that the Cardinals have targeted in high volumes so far in day three and hopefully, some of these guys pan out.

Video (High school)

28th round, 845th overall

RHP Tyler Peck
Chapman University, Senior
6’1”, 215 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Tyler Peck

The Cardinals continue to add to their substantial haul of pitchers in this draft.

After two terrible seasons for Chapman, Peck broke out in his junior year to the tune of a 2.63 ERA He struck out 11.71 batters 9 innings, but also struggled with command as he walked 43. Peck got even better in his senior season and he threw over 100 innings for the first time in his college career (113 2/3). This spring he struck out a whopping 12.27 batters per 9 innings. He also took a step forward with his control by allowing six less walks than the previous year despite throwing for over 38 more innings.

Because of the strides that Peck made in his Senior season he might be given the chance to start at the next level. If he can keep improving his control this could be his long-term home. If he cannot improve his control, he could end up in the bullpen with his ceiling being a high strikeout reliever.

29th round, 875th overall

RHP Scott Politz
Yale University, Senior
6’2”, 205 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Scott Politz

Politz has been a consistently solid four-year starting pitcher for Yale University. He has compiled a 3.34 career ERA, and a 3.46 ERA as a senior. He does not put up big strikeout numbers as he has career K/9 rate of 6.43. He does show decent control with a 2.01 BB/9 rate and that should give him the chance to be tried out as a starter in the Cardinals system.

He is not spectacular in any one area of pitching, but he is just an all-around solid pitcher. The one statistic that stands out is 15 complete games in four years. This shows that he has an ability to pitch deep into games without losing effectiveness. It also takes a certain amount of grittiness and tenacity to be able to pitch an entire game. These are clearly traits that Politz has and are traits that the Cardinals value. This is more of a production pick than an upside pick, and Politz should have a high floor and be a pretty quick riser in the early levels of the minors.

Politz seems like the kind of productive, but unspectacular pitcher that the Cardinals have gotten very good at developing and moving through their system.

30th round, 905th overall

RHP Cameron Dulle
University of Missouri, Senior
6’3”, 208 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Cameron Dulle

The Cardinals selected a pitcher with an intriguing profile out of their own back yard.

Dulle struggled in limited action in his first two years at Missouri but seemed to put it all together this spring as he compiled an ERA of 1.43. The right hander struck out 43 batters in 37 2/3 innings and gave up just 20 hits on the season. However, he walked amount as many batters (18) as he occasionally struggled to control his pitches.

Dulle had occasional moments of absolute dominance, but then would also have moments where everything abandoned him. The Cardinals need to find some consistency with him and help him overcome his control issues in order to turn him into a solid reliever.

31st round, 935th overall

RHP Dylan Pearce
Oregon State University, Senior
5’9”, 175 pounds

Dylan Pearce

Pearce spent two years in the Oregon State bullpen after transferring from Southwestern Oregon Community College. He received 56 2/3 innings of work this spring which is exactly twice what he received last year. He pitched to a 3.34 ERA while striking out 51 and holding opposing hitters to a .222 batting average. Like most of the pitchers being taken this late in the draft he struggled with control as he conceded 27 free passes.

Before arriving at Oregon state, he played two years in the junior college ranks, earning both first and second team honors. He posted a 2.19 ERA in his freshman year, and 2.66 ERA in his sophomore year. He out 83 batters in 71 innings as a sophomore, flashing swing and miss potential. However, once he transferred to Oregon State and played better competition his strikeouts numbers dropped.

While nothing really pops out about Pearce, is that he put up solid numbers overall at one of the best baseball schools in the country, and that alone is worth a chance at the next level.

32nd round, 965th overall

2B Chandler Redmond
Gardner-Webb University, Senior
6’2”, 230 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Chandler Redmond

The Cardinals finally took another infielder, and it is one with positional flexibility as he played both the infield and the outfield for the Bulldogs.

Redmond was a full-time starter fir his last three years of college, and also started 19 games in his freshman year. He has a lot of pop in his bat as he hit 16, 14, and 18 home runs in his last three years respectively. At the end of his senior year he had posted a gaudy .660 slugging percentage. His contact abilities, however, have been inconsistent as he batted .275 in his sophomore year, .229 in his junior year, and .309 in his senior year.

He also improved his plate discipline each year as he drew 12 walks in 2017, 28 walks in 2018, and 33 walks in 2019.  He received roughly the same amount of at bats in each of these years. He also dropped his strikeout total from 57 his sophomore year, and 58 in his junior year, to a much better, but still not great 44 during his senior year. His on base percentage also jumped from .327 as a sophomore to .412 as a junior.

As a hitter there projects to be a decent amount of swing and miss to his game, but if he can counter that by reaching his power potential and continuing to draw walks, he will be a productive hitter. His hit tool remains a question, but there is potential for it to become average.

Defensively, Redmond spent most of his sophomore and junior years playing in the outfield, but he moved to the infield for his senior year. It was not a completely smooth transition as he posted a .954 fielding percentage there, but as he moves into pro ball and gets to focus on being a second baseman that should improve.

This is a good pick in the 32nd round as Redmond has enough power, and has shown enough improvement, to potentially be carried to the majors by his bat.

33rd round, 995th overall

RHP Anthony Green
Jefferson College, Senior
6’4’, 210 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Commitment: University of Illinois-Springfield

Anthony Green

Anthony Green is an intriguing late round pick as he did not become a full-time pitcher until this spring. He will be a project for the Cardinals player development staff, but the scouting department clearly liked what they saw from him in him in his limited sample size as a pitcher.

As an interesting note this is also the same junior college that Mark Buehrle was drafted from in the 38th round of the 1998 draft.

34th round, 1025th overall

SS Ben Baird
University of Washington, Junior
6’3”, 190 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Previously drafted: 20th round of the 2016 draft (Indians)

Ben Baird

Ben Baird has an interesting profile for a college infielder as a player who was drafted in the 20th round out of high school but decided to go to college instead and then became a 34th round pick. The Cardinals may have to give Baird a little extra money to convince him not to return to school for his senior season in an attempt to raise his draft stock.

However, if he does sign, he will be an interesting player to watch. He hit an abysmal .091 in 44 at bats in his freshman year. After becoming a full-time starter in 2018 he still could not hit (.204 BA). However, he raised his batting average to a more respectable .250 this spring. He has shown no pop in his bat, slugging just .310 as a junior. He also struck out 56 times in 171 at bats this spring.

This gives a picture of a struggling college hitter. However, the Cardinals drafted him in hope of finding the former high school star that he was in 2016.

There is very little risk associated with a 34th round pick, but if Ben Baird can remember how to hit then he could return to being the high ceiling player that scouts saw when he was coming out of high school.

35th round, 1055th overall

RHP Logan Hofmann
Colby Community College, Sophomore
5’10”, 185 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Commitment: Northwestern State University

Logan Hofmann

In his two years of junior college baseball, one thing has become clear about Logan Hofmann – he knows how to strike people out. He boasted a K/9 of 10.72 as a freshman despite putting up a 4.94 ERA. However, he improved in his sophomore year by raising his strikeout numbers (12.85 K/9) and giving up less hits (92 as a freshman, 70 as a sophomore).

Hofmann worked as a starter and a reliever on both of his years with Colby but became the ace of the staff in his sophomore year. He walked 2.13 batters per 9 innings, showing spotty control occasionally but solid control overall. The Cardinals could start him in the rotation and see how he does; however, he will likely be a little bit of a project and it is far more likely that he will end up in the bullpen.

36th round, 1085th overall

C Kyle Skeels
Coastal Carolina University, Redshirt Junior
6’2”, 250 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Kyle Skeels

The Cardinals selected their fourth catcher of the draft; however, this time they will need to convince Skeels to forego his senior year of college in order to secure his signature.

Skeels is a big-bodied catcher who has improved as a hitter every year as a Chanticleer. He batted .319 with 10 home runs this spring after previously hitting 10 homer runs in his entire college career. This power surge was primarily due to the fact that he took over full time catching duties this year. He has maintained a career slugging percentage of .547, demonstrating that he has legitimate over the fence power and a potential plus power tool.

His hit tool has also come on strong after batting over .300 in back-to-back years. He also drew 32 walks and was beaned 18 times in 191 at bats. This gave him a solid .446 OBP. However, there is some swing and miss to his game as he struck out 44 times.

Skeels does not have a strong arm, as he threw out only 17 of 41 attempted base stealers and allowed seven passed balls on the year.

His bat is what will need to carry him, but he will need to cut down on the strikeouts in order to fully unlock his power potential. If the Cardinals determine that his arm is too weak, or his defense is not good enough, then he could probably handle a move to first base and rely on his bat to give him value.

37th round, 1115th overall

CF Chris Newell
Malvern Prep High School, Malvern, Pennsylvania
6’3”, 187 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Commitment: University of Virginia

Chris Newell

There is almost no way that Newell will sign will the Cardinals as he is committed to one of the top baseball schools in the country and will likely raise his value significantly in college. However, I will still provide his scouting report.

Newell is an athletic outfielder with strong defensive potential and an emerging bat. He has above-average raw power with quick bat speed and a flyball-oriented swing. He is also an above-average runner which should allow him to stick in centerfield for now.

His arm strength is inconsistent since Newell has been recovering from Tommy John surgery. However, when he is healthy it is average to above-average. Scouts got a good picture of this when they saw him throw in the low 90s off the mound before surgery, even though he is unlikely to continue his pitching career.

The major question with Newell revolves around his hit tool. He is more of a power over hit kind of player right now and needs to make more consistent contact as he has plenty of swing and miss in his game. Most scouts give his hit tool a 45.

Another concern is that he might need to move to a corner outfield spot if he keeps developing as his 6’3” frame can support a lot more weight.

Newell likely would have been drafted earlier but he was expected to be a tough sign.

38th round, 1145th overall

C Kurtis Byrne
Christian Brothers College High School, St. Louis, Missouri
6’1”, 220 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Commitment: TCU

Kurtis Byrne

Similar to the previous pick, Byrne is likely not going to sign with the Cardinals. However, I will provide a scouting report anyway.

Byrne has s strong, physical build and is already pretty physically mature for his age. He creates very good raw bat speed and has flashed big power. When his swing comes together, he is able to crush the ball. However, he has a hand driven swing and a big hitch and load when he is preparing to swing. He needs to smooth out these aspects of his swing to make it more repeatable and improve his timing.

He can be prone to swings and misses, however his bat is loud and his best tool right now.

Byrne has good arm strength and makes accurate throws from behind the plate. There have been generally positive reviews on his receiving and blocking behind the plate and he has the potential to stick at catcher long term and be a solid overall defender.

He would have also been drafted earlier if not for a strong commitment to TCU.

39th round, 1175th overall

SS T.J. McKenzie
The Benjamin School (HS), North Palm Beach, Florida
6’1, 160 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Commitment: Vanderbilt

T.J. McKenzie

This is another prep player who will almost certainly not sign with the Cardinals and would have been drafted higher if not for a strong commitment to a top baseball school.

T.J. (or Tyler) McKenzie is a fantastic athlete who should be able to stick at shortstop as he has plus speed and plus defensive ability. He has been clocked at 6.48 seconds while running the 60. The shortstop also shows great range to both sides and can throw from multiple arm angles. He is still developing arm strength, but it should end up as an asset for him.

He generates good bat speed and has an above-average hit tool with developing power. McKenzie has plenty of room for physical growth and is a very exciting prospect who will be a fun player to follow at Vanderbilt next season.

40th round, 1205th overall

SS Cash Rugely
Navarro College, Freshman
6’0”, 180 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Cash Rugely

Rugely had a fantastic year as the primary shortstop for Navarro College this spring. He had a slash line of .413/.502/.641/1.144. This is great production, but it also came at a small junior college and Rugely will need to prove that he can make the massive jump from Navarro to professional baseball.

He struck out just 30 times in 184 at bats while also drawing 29 walks. These numbers show a decent level of plate discipline; however, he will need to show that he can lay off of pitches outside the zone when they have more velocity and sharper break.

Rugely showed some pop is his bat with 8 home runs, 14 doubles, and 2 triples and clearly showed a good hit tool by batting over .400. However, all of this came production came at a small junior college, so these numbers are not necessarily indicative of success at the next level. However, this was as good of a pick as any in the 40th round.

Your authors

As noted above, TCN analysts Blake Newberry is writing the player capsules and Brian Walton is filling in the rest.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook – 2019 Week 9

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Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

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St. Louis Cardinals Pick Eight on 2019 Draft Day 2

photo: Tony Locey (University of Georgia)

By Blake Newberry and Brian Walton

The second day of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, with the St. Louis Cardinals selections being made by AGM/Scouting Director Randy Flores, consists of eight selections in rounds 3-10 on Tuesday, June 4.

Their initial selection is a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher from the University of Georgia, Tony Locey.

Overall, through Day 2, encompassing these eight picks and the two made on Monday, the Cardinals have been allocated $6,903,500, the 22nd-largest signing bonus allocation.

A year after they took nine collegians and two high schoolers through 10 rounds, the Cardinals selected nine college and one prep player in 2019. The big difference is in the pitching count – flipping the script from just three of 11 in 2018 to seven of 10 this June. This appears to be a direct reflection of current system need.

To reference the Cardinals’ new draft class on an ongoing basis, each player will have a profile located on a holding team called “2019 DRAFT UNSIGNED PLAYERS”. This can be accessed at the bottom of the drop-down menu in the red column in the left menu called “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES” or click here.

Click on each player’s photo to be taken to their player profile page here at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biographical information.

See 2019 Draft Day 1 details here.

Cardinals Take Kentucky LHP Zack Thompson in 2019 First Round

For more

Return to this article at The Cardinal Nation often on Tuesday as information about all St. Louis’ draft picks will be posted shortly after they are made. Same with rounds 11-40, starting at noon ET on Wednesday.

As Tuesday progresses from afternoon into evening, this article will be updated as selections are made and information added, so please check back often. All player capsules are written by The Cardinal Nation analyst Blake Newberry.

St. Louis’ selections – 2019 Draft Day 2

Third round, 96th overall

RHP Tony Locey
University of Georgia, Junior
6’3”, 239 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Tony Locey

With their third pick, the Cardinals dipped into the college pitching pool once again, to help replenish their stock of pitching prospects.

Tony Locey is athletic and a very hard thrower. His fastball consistently sits between 92-97 mph and he can carry that velocity deep into games. He struggled with control early in his Georgia career, but things started to come together for him as a junior. He reached double digit strikeout totals in four starts this year and allowed two earned runs or less in 12 of his first 14 games.

Locey’s go-to secondary offering is his slider. It flashes plus at times, with hard, late break, but he can struggle to control it. Once he gets a consistent feel, it will be a plus pitch. He also throws a curveball, but it lags behind his slider in terms of development. It has some shape to it, but he does not have much feel for it. However, it can work primarily to throw hitters off balance, especially when they are gearing up for his high velocity fastball.

Even though Locey is more of a power pitcher than a finesse pitcher, he improved his control this year, with most scouts giving him an average grade. He has a high ¾ arm slot but needs to repeat his delivery more consistently to improve his command.

The right hander will likely be developed as a starter initially in the Cardinals organization. If he can improve his control of his secondary offerings, and especially show more feel for a curveball, he could become a decent major league starter. However, if he gets moved to the bullpen, he could touch 100 mph with his fastball and lean more on his fastball-slider combination to move quickly through the minor league system.

As an interesting note, he pitched in the same starting rotation in high school as University of Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, who is a likely first round pick in next year’s NFL draft.

The pool amount for this pick is $604,800.

Fourth round, 125th overall

Andre Pallante
University of California Irvine, Junior
6’1”, 203 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Andre Pallante

The Cardinals draft strategy is becoming obvious as they select their third college junior pitcher in their first four picks.

Pallante won third team All-America honors as a sophomore at UC Irvine and played for USA Baseball’s collegiate national team last summer. He was the Friday night starter for UC Irvine and put together a solid season.

His fastball routinely sits 90-92 mph but has been clocked as high as 97 mph out of the bullpen. The pitch shows great late life, which allows Pallante to induce a lot of soft contact, even though he does not get too many swings and misses.

His 82-84 mph slider is his main secondary offering with most scouts considering it an above-average pitch. He also throws a below-average curveball and an 80-84 mph changeup that shows some promise. He has also shown an ability to pitch backwards which allows him to keep hitters guessing with a varied usage of his off-speed pitches.

Pallante has proven himself to be a strike-thrower throughout his collegiate career and has a track record of durability. This combined with his ability to throw four pitches gives him potential to be a back end of the rotation starter. However, some scouts are worried that his funky delivery will cause him to struggle with command. He does repeat his delivery fairly well though, so some of this concern could be overstated.

Many scouts believe that he will end up in the bullpen due to his size and delivery, and this would allow for his fastball and slider to play up. However, the Cardinals will most likely start him in the rotation to see if he can develop his other secondary pitches more and make his way up to the majors that way.

The pool amount for this pick is $455,600.

Fifth round, 155th overall

Connor Thomas
Georgia Tech, Junior
5’11”, 173 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Connor Thomas

The Cardinals select another college pitcher with a feel for at least three pitches and the chance to develop into a starting pitcher. This pick also bolsters the Cardinals left-handed pitching depth. In five rounds, the team has taken four college pitchers, including two left-handers.

Thomas had a fantastic sophomore season for Georgia Tech in 2018, striking out 106 batters and only walking 10. He had a 6-1 strikeout to walk ratio this year showing his high pitchability and very good command of his entire repertoire of pitches. He has a low velocity fastball that sits in the 86-89 range. However, despite this being a below average pitch, he commands it very well and is capable of hitting his spots and not leaving it over the plate.

Thomas also has a plus slider and an above-average changeup that generates plenty of swings and misses. His mix of pitches is very good, and even though he can be susceptible to giving up hits due to his low velocity fastball, he is still capable of throwing lots of strikes and getting outs due to his plus secondary offerings and plus command. He is a pitcher that relies heavily on deception, but he is very good at it.

Thomas is not very projectable with his slight frame and most scouts believe that he will end up in the bullpen which would allow his fastball to tick up into the 90’s. However, if he can pitch similar to Adam Wainwright this year and mix his pitches and not throw too many fastballs, there is reason to believe that he could not end up in the big-league rotation.

Despite his low fastball velocity, Thomas had a lot of success at Georgia Tech and was a two-time all-ACC selection.

The pool amount for this pick is $340,000.

Sixth round, 185th overall

Pedro Pages
Florida Atlantic University, Junior
6’1”, 234 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Pedro Pages

With this pick the Cardinals selected their first position player of the second day of the draft. However, it is a position (catcher) that has a high impact on a pitching staff.

Pages is a big-bodied, high-energy backstop who should have the ability to stick at catcher. He has very good catch and throw skills and has also received high marks for his receiving ability and his leadership behind the plate. He threw out 17 of 25 runners that attempted to steal for a very good 68% caught stealing rate.

Offensively he has good power potential but needs to improve his hit tool. However, Pages has hit over .300 in back-to-back seasons, albeit against lesser college competition. He has also improved his plate discipline and batter’s eye throughout his college career as his walk rate jumped from 7% in 2018 to 16% in the spring.

Ultimately, how much value this pick will have in the future will come down to how much Pages can hit. If he can tap into his hit tool a bit more, then his power will be able to stand out and raise his value.

Pages is also bilingual (he speaks Spanish and English), which will allow for more comfort and better communication with pitchers.

The pool amount for this pick is $261,600.

Seventh round, 215th overall

RHP Jack Ralston
UCLA, Junior
6’6”, 231 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Jack Ralston

The Cardinals continued their trend of drafting college arms with the selection of redshirt junior Jack Ralston of UCLA. However, he has a much larger build than the other pitchers selected.

Ralston struggled most of his collegiate career, and in the Cape Cod League, to throw strikes. However, this spring he figured out how to use his 6’6” frame and found a consistent delivery, which led to him throwing more strikes.

He has an explosive, over-the-top, windmill delivery which is a different look for many hitters and makes them feel uncomfortable due to the unique movements of his pitches. Ralston’s fastball sits 91-94 mph and his size gives him the durability to hold onto that velocity deep into games.

His go-to pitch is an overhand curveball with a very high spin rate that makes analytically driven organizations like the Cardinals very excited. The pitch has good depth and travels at 80-82 mph. It draws a lot of swings and misses and is very hard for hitters to square up. This is likely the pitch that will allow him to rise through the organization.

Ralston also throws a fringy changeup that has been pretty effective in college, but some scouts believe that the changeup will not do nearly as well in professional ball.

If he wants to become a starter, he will have to prove that his improved command is real, and that he has three viable pitches. However, at this point it appears that he will become a reliever and will possibly be a fast riser.

Ralston struck out 107 batters in 95 1/3 innings of work this spring, showing the swing-and-miss potential that scouts crave, especially on the second day of the draft.

The pool amount for this pick is $204,800.

Eighth round, 245th overall

RHP Logan Gragg
Oklahoma State University, Junior
6’5”, 199 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Logan Gragg

The Cardinals have continued to focus heavily on college pitchers as this draft has progressed, and this pick is no different. However, Gragg is different from the kind that the Cardinals have previously drafted as he is a bit of an upside play who is considered to be more of a project than some of the other pitchers still on the board.

Gragg began his collegiate career at Connors State Junior College in Oklahoma before transferring to Oklahoma State. He needed Tommy John surgery in 2017 and is still a work in progress since the surgery.

He served as a swingman for Oklahoma State last year as he both started and came out of the bullpen. His fastball is consistently in the low 90s and can get as high at 96 mph. He has an inconsistent breaking ball that can act like a slurve at times, but flashes plus. He also has a solid changeup that he used pretty well last year for OSU.

However, Gragg’s biggest flaw is that he does not throw a lot of strikes. He has a big frame that he still has not figured out how to use and that has led to an inconsistent delivery as well as command issues. He is a project for the Cardinals Player Development staff as they need to help him find that consistent delivery that would help him throw more strikes and turn his breaking ball into a plus pitch. This could be the difference between Gragg being a valuable pick or a miss. If he can get his delivery and command issues figured out, he has the potential to become a solid starter in the Cardinals’ system.

There is some projectability left in his frame that could give him the ability to add some velocity to his fastball and that makes him an intriguing pick.

The pool amount for this pick is $167,800.

Ninth round, 275th overall

OF Todd Lott
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
6’4”, 235 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Todd Lott

The Cardinals finally selected their second position player of the day, and similar to the first, Pedro Pages, it is all about the power with Todd Lott.

Lott is full of power potential in his large frame and has even displayed plus-plus raw power in batting practice. However, he has struggled a little bit to turn his BP power into game power as he managed just 18 extra base hits this spring. However, he did hit .332 with a .897 OPS, so he does appear to have an enticing hit tool as well. The right-handed hitter also improved his plate discipline this spring by drawing more walks after he posted a 30-2 strikeout to walk ratio as a sophomore. There is still a decent amount of swing and miss in his game despite these improvements and he needs to cut down on that in order to consistently tap into his considerable raw power.

Lott played first base and some left field in college, and some scouts think he might have to DH because of his below average defensive abilities. However, the Cardinals are a little more optimistic on his defensive abilities and will try to turn him into a professional outfielder. He is also a below average runner so he may be limited to left field duties, while possibly recording some innings at first base.

However, as Jose Martinez has shown, if a player is a good enough hitter then it can be worth it to play him in the outfield even if he is a defensive liability. Lott might need to follow that path.

Ultimately, the success of this pick will come down to how much Lott can hit, and how often he can tap into his plus-plus raw power.

Another interesting tidbit about Lott is that he is the cousin of hall of fame NFL safety Ronnie Lott. One similarity of these two is their propensity to hit either people or baseballs very hard.

The pool amount for this pick is $152,000.

10th round, 305th overall

RHP Jake Sommers
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Senior
6’2”, 190 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Jake Sommers

The final pick of the second day followed the established trend followed by the Cardinals – college pitching.

Sommers pitched out of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s rotation in 2018 and struggled to the tune of a 6.53 ERA but following a move to the bullpen in 2019 he was much better. In the spring he compiled a 3.60 ERA in 30 innings. Sommers struck out 37 batters, but also struggled with control as he walked 16. Working in the late innings, he recorded 10 saves.

There might be a little projection left in Sommers 6’2” frame, but for the most part his fastball should be expected to work in the 90-93 mph range, while topping out around 95. His fastball velocity actually improved as the season progressed. This could be due to a number of factors, including a slight mechanical tweak, or simply settling into a bullpen role and becoming more familiar with how much he could let loose.

Sommers has a max effort delivery which means he could continue to struggle with his control, so his delivery might need a little more refinement in order to avoid high amounts of walks in the future. His main secondary pitch is a slider which is inconsistent but could become plus with more refinement. It appears that he may remain a reliever in the professional ranks.

Sommers showed a significant statistical improvement in his four years in college. His 3.60 ERA in his senior year was the first time that his ERA ended below 5.48 and his 11.1 K/9 was the first time he finished the season above 8.5.

The pool amount for this pick is $143,600.

Your authors

As noted above, TCN analyst Blake Newberry is writing the player capsules and Brian Walton is filling in the rest.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2019 Week 9

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

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© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Take Kentucky LHP Zack Thompson in 2019 First Round

(photo: Zack Thompson/University of Kentucky)

By Blake Newberry and Brian Walton

In Day 1 of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals can only hope to make a selection as strong as 2018’s no. 19 overall selection, Arizona high school third baseman Nolan Gorman, now the consensus no. 1 prospect in the system.

Under Assistant GM/Scouting Director Randy Flores, the club once again has the 19th pick as well as the 58th selection, in Round 2. The 75th overall pick, from Competitive Balance Round B, was traded to Arizona in the Paul Goldschmidt acquisition.

First up was left-hander pitcher Zack Thompson from the University of Kentucky, taken 19th overall.

Overall in Day 1, encompassing these first two picks, the Cardinals have been allocated $4,573,300 in bonus pool money. Their total through round 10 is $6,903,500, the 22nd-largest allocation.

Rounds 3-10 will occur starting at 1:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday and rounds 11-40 will be completed beginning at noon ET on Wednesday.

To reference the Cardinals’ new draft class on an ongoing basis, each player will have a profile located on a holding team called “2019 DRAFT UNSIGNED PLAYERS”. This can be accessed at the bottom of the drop-down menu in the red column in the left menu called “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES” or click here.

Click on players’ photos to be taken to their player profile page here at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biographical information.

St. Louis’ selections – 2019 Draft day 1

First round, 19th overall

LHP Zack Thompson
University of Kentucky, Junior
6’2”, 225 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Previously Drafted: Tampa Bay Rays 2016 (11th Round)

Zack Thompson

The Cardinals used their first pick to replenish a traditionally strong pitching system which has been depleted in recent years due to trades and promotions.

Thompson features four pitches with a fastball that sits in the 91-92 mph range but can reach as high as 94. Most scouts give this pitch a 55, but will not call it a true plus offering, Where Thompson separates himself is with his secondary offerings. He has shown a 84 mph slider with a high spin rate that gives it plus potential and is a true swing and miss pitch. He occasionally allows it to get loopy which makes it more hittable, but overall it is his go to secondary pitch. He also throws a mid-70s curveball which is still inconsistent. It can range from a fringe pitch to above-average, giving it the potential to be a plus pitch with more refinement. Thompson also throws a changeup, but like most young pitchers, is it not often used. However, when he throws it most scouts grade it out as average.

This four-pitch mix gives the lefty one of the highest upsides among the pitchers in this year’s draft and should allow him to rise quickly through the Cardinals system. He tends to show a lot of emotion on the mound and is as competitive as anyone. Thompson is a fairly athletic pitcher which continues the Cardinals recent trend of drafting and developing athletes on the mound.

Thompson has an injury history which scared some teams off and caused him to fall to the Cardinals at pick 19 despite being either the best or second-best college pitcher, depending on who you ask. He had a sore shoulder that limited him as a high school junior and also nursed a sore elbow that caused him to miss seven starts as a sophomore at Kentucky. This seems to be another case of the Cardinals taking the best player available, and similar to last year (Nolan Gorman) it is one with the talent to be picked higher but dropped.

Despite the injury concerns, Thompson has been dominant on the mound in college. He made an immediate impact as a freshman by striking out 11.6 batters per nine innings. He had a rocky sophomore season because of his elbow problems but returned to pitch in the Cape Cod League and for USA Baseball. He returned with a vengeance in his Junior year by striking out nine or more in nine of his first 11 starts. He also boasted one of the best swing-and-miss rates among this year’s crop of college pitchers, despite pitching in the very talented SEC. Thompson also improved his control with most scouts giving him an average grade, after struggling with walks early in his college career.

Many scouts project him as a back end of the rotation starter, but there could be more potential if he can stay healthy.

The pool amount for this pick is $3,359,000.

Cardinals reaction

“We always enter the draft trying to find someone we feel will have an impact on our Major League team with our first selection,” stated Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak.  “Zack was someone we identified who could do just that.  We look forward to having him join the St. Louis Cardinals organization.”

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to make the pick,” said Flores. “Zack Thompson is one of those guys when you watch him live, you come away really impressed with his physicality, you come away impressed with his ability to spin the ball, and you truly come away impressed with his guts and grit on the mound.  He’s someone who has improved every year, checks a lot of boxes for us, and we are really happy he was staring at us at (pick) 19.”

Flores discusses his selection of Thompson in further detail.

Thompson’s reaction

The new draftee takes questions from the media Monday night.

Second round, 58th overall

OF Trejyn Fletcher
Deering High School, Portland, Maine
6’2”, 190 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Commitment: Vanderbilt

Trejyn Fletcher

The Cardinals used their second pick on a toolsy but raw prep outfielder with terrific athleticism.

Fletcher was originally a member of the 2020 draft class, but he reclassified in order to reach Vanderbilt a year earlier, as well as be eligible for the draft a year sooner. This made it very difficult to get a read on exactly how talented Fletcher truly is.

He played high school in Maine, which is not exactly a hotbed for baseball talent. This location made it hard for scouts to see him and to truly gauge his skill as he was playing against lesser competition than other high school prospects. However, what is clear is that he is a plus runner who is capable of explosive, quick-twitch movements, this should provide him the ability to stick in center field, while also giving him good bat speed.

Offensively, Fletcher has plus raw power. This is partially due to his size (6’2”, 200 pounds), but it is also due to his aggressive, pull-happy swing. This can lead to some swing-and-miss and this has led to some scouts concerned that he might not be able to make enough contact. However, he is still very raw and still has some physical maturation left in his body that will give him enough power to justify some contact concerns.

On the defensive side, Fletcher appears to have the ability to become a plus defender in center field. He also has plus arm strength that would allow him to move to a corner outfield spot, especially if his raw power is able to fully develop. In addition, the right-hander showed some potential on the mound with a fastball that can reach 95 mph. However, the Cardinals drafted him as an outfielder and most scouts like his potential as a position player more.

He is committed to play at Vanderbilt, and he is expected to be a tough sign. The Cardinals will likely have to give him an over-slot deal to sign him. This pick also shows a common philosophy to draft a safe, college pitcher followed by a high-upside prep position player that is not as much of a sure thing. It makes sense that the Cardinals would follow this route after Zack Thompson fell to them at 19.

Fletcher is a potential five tool player, but he is still very raw and will need a lot of development before he is ready to face big league pitching. The success of this pick will ultimately come down to the Cardinals player development system, but if everything pans out, Fletcher could have a very impactful big-league career.

The pool amount for this pick is $1,214,300.

Cardinals reaction

Flores talks about the Cardinals’ second-rounder.

Your authors

TCN staff writer Blake Newberry is writing the player capsules with Brian Walton filling in the rest.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Fernandez Back on Track Toward St. Louis

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Get TCN’s New 2019 Prospect Guide

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© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Rolen, Isringhausen and Cooper to Enter Cardinals Hall of Fame

photo: Scott Rolen, Jason Isringhausen, Mort Cooper (Getty Images)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

In a television special on FOX Sports Midwest this evening (Friday, April 26), the St. Louis Cardinals announced that Scott Rolen, Jason Isringhausen and Mort Cooper will be inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame presented by Edward Jones on Saturday, August 24, at FOX Sports Midwest Live! in Ballpark Village. This is the sixth induction class since the team dedicated the Cardinals Hall of Fame with an Inaugural Class on Opening Day in 2014. The 2019 Induction Class was selected via a formal voting process, with input from fans and St. Louis baseball experts.

“Selecting the members of the Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class has become yet another beloved tradition in our organization,” said Bill DeWitt Jr., Cardinals Chairman and CEO. “We look forward to celebrating the achievements of these remarkable players selected by our fans and our Red Ribbon Committee each August during Induction Weekend.”

Chosen by the fans, Scott Rolen and Jason Isringhausen were the top two vote-getters in the Cardinals Hall of Fame online balloting presented by Edward Jones. The ballot, which also included Cardinals legends Keith Hernandez, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria and John Tudor, was selected by a Red Ribbon committee of Cardinals baseball experts through a secret ballot process. Cardinals fans cast nearly 75,000 votes over the six-week voting period, the second highest total since the inaugural fan vote in 2014.

In addition to nominating modern players for fan balloting, the Red Ribbon Committee also elected Mort Cooper, a veteran player, for induction using a secret ballot process. Cooper, a right-handed pitcher and MVP award winner, played for the Cardinals from 1938-1945 and anchored the team’s starting rotation during St. Louis’ three consecutive trips to the World Series from 1942 through 1944.

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame was established as a way to recognize the exceptional careers and significant achievements of the greatest players in Cardinals history, as well as those who have made exceptional contributions to the organization. To be eligible, players must have played for the Cardinals for at least three seasons and must be retired as a player from Major League Baseball for at least three years. The eligible pool of players is divided into two categories of “modern players” and “veteran players”. If a player retired more than 40 years prior to the induction year, he is classified as a veteran player.

Each member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame is permanently enshrined in the Cardinals Hall of Fame Gallery presented by Edward Jones that is located on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village, just outside the entrance to the Cardinals Museum. The Hall of Fame Gallery is free and open to the public.

The 2019 Cardinals Induction Class will be formally enshrined at a ceremony on Saturday, August 24, during the 2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. Fans can visit for more information. #CardsHOF

The following is a description of each Inductee’s career as a Cardinal:

Scott Rolen (Getty Images)

Scott Rolen (Modern Era Player — Fan Selection)
Years: 2002 – 2007 .286/.370/.510, 678 H, 421 R, 173 2Bs, 111 HR, 453 RBI (661 Games)

In his five plus seasons with the Cardinals, Scott Rolen dominated the hot corner winning Gold Gloves in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. He was named a National League All-Star in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and captured a Silver Slugger award in 2002. In 2004, Rolen slashed .314/.409/.598 with 34 home runs and 124 RBI. His stellar 2004 campaign continued during the postseason with his pennant-clinching, two-run homer off Roger Clemens in the 6th inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series vs. Houston. During Busch Stadium II’s final season in 2005, Rolen was voted by Cardinals fans as the third baseman to the All-Busch Stadium team. In 2006, Rolen helped the club to its 10th World Championship, closing out the postseason with a 10-game hitting streak.

Jason Isringhausen (Getty Images)

Jason Isringhausen (Modern Era Player — Fan Selection)
Years: 2002 – 2008 217 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 373 SO, 408.0 IP (401 Games)

Jason Isringhausen spent seven seasons as the Cardinals closer. During his tenure, the Cardinals won the Central Division four times, capturing the pennant in 2004 and 2006 and winning the World Series in 2006. He registered a National League-best 47 saves in 2004, tying Lee Smith’s franchise record, until Trevor Rosenthal saved 48 in 2015. An All-Star in 2005, “Izzy” holds the franchise record for saves with 217 and ranks third among Cardinals relief pitchers with 373 strikeouts. His 401 appearances, all in relief, are the sixth most in club history.

Mort Cooper (Getty Images)

Mort Cooper (Veteran Era Player — Red Ribbon Panel Selection)
Years: 1938 – 1945 105-50, 2.77 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 105 CG, 28 SHO, 1480.1 IP (228 Games)

A big, burly right-hander known for his blazing fastball, Mort Cooper came up through the Cardinals farm system and made his debut at the end of 1938 season with a three-hit, complete game win in Philadelphia. Cooper would go on to anchor the Cardinals pitching staff during the most successful three-year stretch in franchise history (1942-44), winning at least 20 games in each of those years (one of just three players in Cardinals history to achieve such a feat). A two-time All-Star, Mort won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1942 after leading the league in wins (22), ERA (1.78) and shutouts (10). A two-time champion, Cooper ranks second in franchise history in World Series games started (6) and innings pitched (45.0).

Cardinals Hall of Fame Members (40)

 Jim Bottomley Jim Edmonds Tony La Russa Stan Musial
Ken Boyer Curt Flood Ray Lankford Branch Rickey
Sam Breadon Bob Forsch Marty Marion Red Schoendienst
Harry Brecheen Frank Frisch Pepper Martin Mike Shannon
Lou Brock Bob Gibson Tim McCarver Ted Simmons
Jack Buck Chick Hafey Willie McGee Enos Slaughter
August A. Busch Jr. Jesse Haines Mark McGwire Ozzie Smith
Chris Carpenter Whitey Herzog Joe Medwick Billy Southworth
Vince Coleman Rogers Hornsby Johnny Mize Bruce Sutter
Dizzy Dean George Kissell Terry Moore Joe Torre
Cardinals Hall of Fame Gallery (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Red Ribbon Selection Committee (14)

Tom Ackerman, Frank Cusumano, Derrick Goold, Whitey Herzog, Benjamin Hochman, Rick Hummel, Randy Karraker, Martin Kilcoyne, Jenifer Langosch, Tony La Russa, Bernie Miklasz, Joe Ostermeier, Rob Rains and Brian Walton.

Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum

The 8,000-square-foot St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village celebrates the rich history of baseball in St. Louis and the legacy of one of baseball’s most storied franchises. Since its creation in 2014, the Cardinals Hall of Fame, presented by Edward Jones, has inducted 40 former Cardinal players, coaches and executives. The Cardinals’ museum collection is the largest team-held collection in baseball and is second only to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in terms of size with over 22,000 memorabilia items and hundreds of thousands of archived photos. Fans can learn more about the museum at

Brian Walton’s take

The Modern Era pair’s scheduled conference call with the media following the announcement Friday evening was eventful. Rolen, who was driving his family to his daughter’s soccer tournament, had to leave the call briefly after being pulled over on the highway for speeding.

Izzy joined the call 13 minutes late amid Rolen’s kidding him for not being able to handle all the numbers needed to get connected.

The two were as gracious as they were jovial as they fielded questions. I include a few of their comments here.

Cardinals 2019 Hall of Fame Class to be announced Friday

photo: St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Gallery (Brian Walton photo)

FOX Sports Midwest press release

The sixth elected St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class will be revealed on FOX Sports Midwest in a 30-minute special on Friday, April 26, at 6 p.m. CT.

FOX Sports Midwest play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin hosts the show, joined by Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III.

Fans selected two players for induction from a ballot composed of Keith Hernandez, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen and John Tudor. In addition, the Red Ribbon Committee elected a veteran player for induction. Independent of this process, the Cardinals organization may also opt to induct an individual who was an important figure in Cardinals history.

The 2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony will take place Saturday, Aug. 24, during the Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. The enshrinement ceremony will also be televised by FOX Sports Midwest.

2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class Announcement
Friday, April 26 on FOX Sports Midwest (times Central)

6 p.m. 2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class announcement
6:30 p.m. Cardinals Live pregame show
7:15 p.m. Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
10 p.m. Cardinals Live postgame show

The Cardinal Nation’s Local Minor League Reporters – 2019

With the St. Louis Cardinals four full-season minor league clubs having officially taken the fields for the first time in 2019 this past Thursday evening, April 4, The Cardinal Nation is bringing you along via our local reporting coverage that will continue all season and into the fall.

Every day is Minor League Day here! As we have for well over a decade, TCN remains your one-stop home for St. Louis Cardinals system-wide information – headlined by a team of reporters actually at the games!

Our writers live in the cities where their Cardinals affiliate clubs are located and work as credentialed media at their local ballparks. They share their first-hand insight with members on an immediate basis for breaking news and on a regular schedule for in-depth reports.

No reason to settle for less

Derek Shore

Our 2019 reporters for the Cardinals’ four full-season clubs are experienced reporters and writers – Frank Ramirez for Triple-A Memphis, Derek Shore at Double-A Springfield, Blake Newberry covering A-Advanced Palm Beach and Satchel Perlowski at Class-A Peoria. All except Shore, who also covers prospects with a scouting orientation, are new to the team this year.

Each week, The Cardinal Nation members can read locally-sourced team-centric notebooks. Our reporters will give you the scoop directly from the ballpark on what is happening with their club: player movement, role changes, injuries, who is hot and not and more – far beyond what you can learn from simply reading box scores and following tweets and blog posts.

With the start of full-season ball, weekly eyewitness reports from our minor league correspondents will return on Tuesday, April 9, available exclusively to TCN members on the following schedule.

  • Tuesday: Peoria Chiefs Notebook by Satchel Perlowski
  • Wednesday: Palm Beach Cardinals Notebook by Blake Newberry
  • Thursday: Springfield Cardinals Notebook by Derek Shore
  • Friday: Memphis Redbirds Notebook by Frank Ramirez

There’s more!

Once short-season ball begins in mid-June, our local reporters in State College, Johnson City and in the Gulf Coast League will again kick into gear as well, giving you, the subscriber, unequalled end-to-end first-hand coverage of the Cardinals system here in the US.

Their reports will first appear in late June on this schedule.

  • Saturday: State College Spikes Notebook by Nick Mazone
  • Sunday: Johnson City Cardinals Notebook by Cole Sams
  • Monday: Gulf Coast League Cardinals Notebook by Paul Ivice

Every game recapped each morning

Of course, you don’t have to wait a week to find out what is happening across the organization. Each morning, our minor league notebooks, recapping all the scores and results around the entire Cardinals system, are again being made available to readers.

Written by long-time TCN staffers Leonda Markee and Marilyn Green and joined by respected forum poster Bob Reed, they highlight the previous day’s action and preview the upcoming starting pitchers every morning all season long.

These daily reports are always free.

As player movement and injuries occur, The Cardinal Nation will report on them immediately – not only with the basic information, but also the implications to the players and rosters.

Draft coverage continues

Leading up to and following the June 3-5, 2019 First-Year Player Draft, TCN draft analyst Scott Schook will continue to provide his commentary on the newest Cardinals and those who might be.

Updated prospect rankings

Also back for 2019 will be our popular Monthly Cardinals Prospect List Updates, again exclusively for TCN members. The top risers and fallers in the organization will be analyzed each month during the season, along with the naming of our system-wide Pitchers and Players of the Month.

As always, TCN’s publisher and editor Brian Walton will log extensive travel miles crisscrossing the system this season. It began in January with Instructional League camp and Winter Warm-Up, then spring training and will continue to extended spring training and Palm Beach in a few weeks, to fall ball in the Arizona Fall League and the Cardinals full- and short-season clubs in between!

Get your Cardinals minor league information from the team that sets the standard for end-to-end, first-hand coverage of the entire organization. To read more about The Cardinal Nation’s staff members, click on the box below.

The Cardinal Nation staff

For roster and player information

The team rosters here at The Cardinal Nation are up-to-date. To access them, click on “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES” located on the red menu bar on the left of the page beneath The Cardinal Nation site logo.

To see the Cardinals’ entire system by level and position on one page along with every player transaction for every club all year long, check out the always-current Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation. It has been updated for the regular season and is accessible from the same menu as the team rosters.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Open 2019 Extended Spring Training with 80 Players

Get TCN’s New 2019 Prospect Guide

Order The Cardinal Nation’s 190-page 2019 Prospect Guide now – available in PDF and printed book form, with a special 50% off deal for annual members.

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Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Cardinals Prospects – 2019

photo: Alex Reyes (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

It is a great pleasure to announce that the unveiling of the 14th annual The Cardinal Nation Top Prospect 50 List will begin on Monday, November 12.

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 to number one on New Year Eve – our top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system coming into the 2019 season. We then continue into January with a series of articles analyzing the list from a number of different perspectives.

Who will be number one this year? Will Alex Reyes hold his crown for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year or be unseated by the likes of Dakota Hudson or Tyler O’Neill or perhaps one of the talented newcomers as the new 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 the arrival of Instructional Camp and Winter Warm-Up signal pitchers and catchers will be 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 2018 voters return for another year – TCN owner Brian Walton, 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 13 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 – 2019

  1. Derian Gonzalez (free)
  2. Chase Pinder 
  3. Casey Meisner 
  4. Jonatan Machado 
  5. Alex Fagalde 
  6. Julio Rodriguez (free)
  7. Jake Walsh 
  8. Dennis Ortega 
  9. Joerlin De Los Santos 
  10. Giovanny Gallegos 
  11. Scott Hurst (free)
  12. Connor Jones 
  13. Conner Greene – claimed off waivers by KC 
  14. Alvaro Seijas 
  15. Junior Fernandez 
  16. Delvin Perez (free)
  17. Patrick Wisdom – traded to Texas 
  18. Ramon Urias 
  19. Leandro Cedeño
  20. Conner Capel 
  21. Seth Elledge (free)
  22. Steven Gingery 
  23. Edmundo Sosa 
  24. Max Schrock 
  25. Evan Mendoza 
  26. Johan Oviedo (free)
  27. Justin Williams 
  28. Ivan Herrera 
  29. (open due to trades)
  30. (open due to trades)
  31. Jhon Torres (free)
  32. Jake Woodford
  33. Tommy Edman 
  34. Evan Kruczynski 
  35. Adolis Garcia 
  36. Luken Baker (free)
  37. Daniel Ponce de Leon 
  38. Griffin Roberts
  39. Randy Arozarena 
  40. Genesis Cabrera
  41. Malcom Nuñez (free)
  42. Lane Thomas 
  43. Dylan Carlson 
  44. Ryan Helsley 
  45. Andrew Knizner 
  46. Tyler O’Neill (free)
  47. Elehuris Montero 
  48. Nolan Gorman 
  49. Dakota Hudson 
  50. Alex Reyes (free)

There’s more!

At the conclusion of the countdown, a 11-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 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 2018 list who dropped off for 2019 and wrap it up with a potential-only based-list.

Not yet a member of The Cardinal Nation?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

That way, you will not miss a word of the most in-depth Cardinals prospect information available anywhere!

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, there was a high level of general agreement, as 69 prospects were identified by at least one voter, with all members of the top 50 having received at least 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 at-bats or 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, who is Springfield-based, 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. That included covering instructional camp, 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 2019

Brian Walton 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, top 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 – Strong 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.

© 2019 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

TCN 2019 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #1 – Alex Reyes

photo: Alex Reyes (Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports)

FREE article. The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2019 reaches the top with our first-ever four-year number one prospect, right-handed pitcher Alex Reyes. The questions are similar, but the situation is changing.

2018 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
1 RHS 8 29 94 6-4 230 R R 2012 IFA

Link to Alex Reyes’ player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.

Alex Reyes

Selected 2018 stats

Peo 1 0 0.00 -0.12 1 1.0 0 5 1 0 0 2 12 0.063 0.60 2.00 0.250
PB 0 0 0.00 0.78 1 1 0 3.1 4 0 0 1 6 0.286 1.50 0.33 0.500
Spr 1 0 0.00 1.23 1 1.0 0 7.2 1 0 0 3 13 0.045 0.52 0.29 0.100
Mem 1 0 0.00 0.46 1 1.0 0 7 1 0 0 1 13 0.048 0.29 0.60 0.111
Total 3 0 0.00 4 4 0 23.0 7 0 0 7 44 0.096 0.61 0.50
STL 0 0 0.00 4.41 1 1 0 4 3 0 0 2 2 0.25 1.25 0.40 0.300

TCN Scouting Grade: 7, Risk: medium (click here to review scales)

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (1): Alex Reyes checked in at #1 during the community vote for the fourth straight year, as he fell exactly one out short of losing his prospect status. He garnered 13 of 16 first-place votes, culminating in a four-year total accumulation of 75% of the first place votes, starting at 50% in 2015.

Last year, Reyes’ injury status was the primary discussion point as many posters were lukewarm on whether he would return from Tommy John surgery to his prior dominant self. Thejager likes Reyes’ upside, which keeps him on top of the prospect list despite the injuries. Bw52 said that he didn’t consider Reyes at all as he can’t stay healthy and you can’t play if you’re always in the training room or doctor’s office. Mudville countered, saying that when Reyes is on, his pitches move in ways that defy the laws of physics. Grenadier1 agreed, noting that Reyes absolutely dominated during his rehab starts to remind everyone of his ceiling, but remains worried about his recovery from the latest injury. – Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore (1): Even after Tommy John surgery two years ago and season-ending shoulder surgery in 2018, Reyes remains far and away the Cardinals best prospect with the potential to dethrone Carlos Martinez as the organization’s most impactful arm in history who was signed out of Latin America.

Plan and simple, it just comes down to health.

When Reyes is healthy, it is hard to find many pitchers that can match him in terms of pure stuff and upside.

Reyes, who now stands 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, filled out his frame considerably since he signed at 175 pounds, especially in his lower half with tree trunks for legs with a thickish, but athletic looking frame. That gives him the base to become a durable starter who can log 200 or more innings.

Mechanically, he throws from a high three-quarters arm slot, generating electric, plus arm speed. His mechanics are clean overall and he repeats his delivery when he stays under control and doesn’t overthrow.

When he does overthrow, the command profile slips and that causes some effort in his delivery, preventing him from profiling as a true No. 1 starter. The Cardinals coaching staff believes what is needed for him to pitch deeper into games with a more efficient pitch count is to find the right rhythm for his delivery, so that he can repeat it.

Over the course of his 2018 rehab tour, Reyes showed improved efficiency. The 7 ⅔ innings he threw on May 19 was the longest outing of his minor league career.

In fact, Reyes had never pitched into the eighth inning before at any level.

“Just to be able to get that deep in the game was exciting,” Reyes said after that game. “That’s my focus every night. That’s been one of my things throughout my Minor League career, and even in the big leagues, is getting deeper into games.”

At his best, the high-octane right-hander throws very, very, hard with double-plus velocity that makes him an elite prospect. Reyes averages 97 mph on his fastball, working comfortably in the 96-100 mph range with at least one 102 mph reading in the minor leagues.

The heater isn’t straight either, featuring explosive life and he has an ability to sustain the power deep into starts. Perhaps his biggest weakness with the pitch in the past has been his tendency to overthrow it, which can cause his command to waver at times.

Reyes also owns a true power curveball (78-81 mph), a true swing-and-miss hammer breaking pitch that graded out as a 70 offering on the 20-80 scouting scale. It features true 12-6 break with depth, controlled well with his ability to throw it for strikes or bury it down in or below the strike zone to get outs. Reyes can throw it at any point in the count regardless of the handedness of the batter. In the majors, a lot of his strikeouts came off the curve.

To round out his arsenal, Reyes’ changeup (87-88 mph) projects to be a plus pitch, though with less consistency than the other two. The off-speed pitch doesn’t have much movement but is effective due to the absurd velocity separation off his fastball and improved conviction in throwing it.

He also has experimented with a short cutter/slider that will allow him to dominate both sides of the plate and work through a lineup multiple times.

“I got that pitch when I got called up to the big leagues in 2016,” Reyes said. “I have just been able to sharpen it up a little bit.”

With two present plus pitches, one potential plus pitch, and at least average command as a starter, Reyes has the upside of an ace hurler at the top of the rotation – if his stuff comes back and his command improves.

Reyes has gotten noticeably stronger as well, replacing fat with muscle and improving his eating for general fitness.

Looking ahead, Reyes’ next season sets up a lot like this past season: prepped as a starter, ready as a starter entering spring, on a reduced workload during spring, appearing late in the spring and starting the year on the DL or in the minors.

Alex Reyes (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Brian Walton (1): Finally, on the last player in our long countdown, do all three of our voters again come to full agreement on a prospect. It had been a while. Reyes has an unprecedented honor here as our first-ever four-time number one prospect in the Cardinals system. Despite that, there is still a lot to discuss about the New Jersey native who relocated to the Dominican Republic as a teen.

It should go without saying that this a two-edged sword, as the reason many of the top prospects before him did not have a three-peat plus one is that they had established themselves in the major leagues before that point.

On one hand, Reyes is established, but on the other, he is not. He is in the odd position of being just one out short of losing his rookie eligibility despite having made his MLB debut in August 2016. Now 24 years of age, Reyes has actually been among our top seven Cardinals prospects for six years running.

The right-hander was the organization’s co-Pitcher of the Year in 2015 and performed in the Arizona Fall League that year. He was named to the MLB All-Star Futures Game in both 2015 and 2016. In other words, Reyes has been a top prospect for a long time.

Yet because of season-ending injuries in both 2017 (elbow) and 2018 (shoulder), Reyes has accrued over two years of MLB service time. That means he will become arbitration eligible next winter and have just three more seasons after that before becoming eligible for free agency.

But first things first – starting with 2019.

The organization is saying that Reyes is on track to be ready for spring following a season-ending shoulder injury that occurred just four innings into his 2018 St. Louis debut. Reyes was absolutely in the best shape I had ever seen him and had been utterly dominating in his four minor league ramp-up starts, but again had to deal with a major career setback.

His injury was called a “significant strain” to his latissimus dorsi muscle, which attaches to the bone in the back of his right shoulder.

Any time a significant shoulder injury is involved, there is reason for concern.

The most prominent MLB pitcher to have this kind of injury and fully recover is Jake Peavy. The 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner completely tore his lat off the bone in 2010 and underwent a pioneering surgery to reattach it.

After he missed a year, Peavy returned to pitch for six more seasons in the Majors, though not quite at his early-career peak level.

However, Reyes’ injury was not a full tear, as Peavy’s was, creating greater hope that the Cardinal can fully bounce back.

“There was some fraying between the lat, the tendon, and the bone,” general manager Michael Girsch told the Post-Dispatch in early June. “Based on that, he had surgery to reattach the tendon to the bone. The good news is that when they went in, the tendon still was partially frayed, it wasn’t completely torn off, which means there’s good blood flow, which means it’s very optimistic for recovery.”

Even in the best possible scenario, Reyes may not be able to handle a full workload, as was the case in 2018. As a result, the Cardinals could choose to conserve his innings by having him pitch out of the bullpen – though that decision remains in the future. Another factor may be a potentially full rotation backed by a number of other ready candidates pitching without restrictions.

Unless Reyes truly struggles in the spring while remaining healthy, I would not expect him to be optioned out to Memphis. However, a lengthy minor league rehab from St. Louis’ disabled list, again as in 2018, would be a definite possibility at the end of camp if it looks like more time to ramp up is needed.

One thing is for sure, however. Reyes will not be our number one prospect for a fifth time in 2020. His prospect grade falls from “8” or elite talent, to “7”, all-star potential, with his risk of achieving it understandably increasing from “low” to “medium.”

That is the opposite trend of most prospects on the cusp of major league stardom, but Reyes has already shown he is different from the others. Now, he needs to deliver prolonged major league success to finally realize that potential – if his body will cooperate.

Link to Reyes’ career stats

Our 2019 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the 11 in-depth, follow-up articles coming up next. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation. If you are not a member, join today so you do not miss out!

50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Cardinals Prospects – 2019

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

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

TCN 2019 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #2 – Dakota Hudson

Not yet a member?

If you enjoyed this article, please consider joining The Cardinal Nation to receive the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Take advantage of our special 20 percent off holiday offer, which ends tonight at midnight.

© 2018 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

TCN 2019 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #5 – Tyler O’Neill

photo: Tyler O’Neill (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

FREE article. The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2019 moves into the top five with the best power prospect in the Cardinals system. Still, Tyler O’Neill has yet to earn an extended shot in the majors and his 2019 picture remains unsettled, as well.

2018 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
5 OF 6 22 95 5-11 210 R R 2013 3rd (Sea)

Link to Tyler O’Neill’s player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.

Tyler O’Neill

Selected 2018 stats

Mem 0.311 0.324 64 238 61 74 9 26 63 29 68 3 170 0.385 0.693 1.078
StL 0.254 0.364 61 130 29 33 5 9 23 7 57 2 114 0.303 0.500 0.803

TCN Scouting Grade: 6, Risk: low (click here to review scales)

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (3): Tyler O’Neill finished at #3 during the community vote after debuting at #4 last year, following his mid-season 2017 trade with Seattle for Marco Gonzales. Oddly, O’Neill received his many votes at #2 during the community vote, as voters debated whether he should count as a prospect at all, due to his major league service time. He ended up just shy of the rookie requirement finishing with exactly 130 at-bats.

During the vote, most of the early discussion centered on O’Neill’s chances of losing his rookie status. Cardinals27 hopes that O’Neill is not a Quad-A ballplayer. Jungmh323 has some concerns about O’Neill’s contact rates, but thinks his power could offset his problem. I posted that O’Neill crushes the ball and that I would support him getting playing time over Marcell Ozuna in left field with Ozuna having shoulder issues. Ratsbuddy disagreed with that, arguing that with O’Neill’s +40% K-rate, he shouldn’t even be on the team.

Robert Reed was disappointed in manager Mike Shildt burying O’Neill on the bench the last few weeks of September. Reed went further, saying that O’Neill doesn’t figure to be similar to former high strikeout, big power player Mark Reynolds, for instance, due to his above-average defense and baserunning. He mentioned another cool stat about O’Neill in that O’Neill has now played 162 games in the Cardinal organization and has hit 47 home runs in just 514 at-bats, believing O’Neill to have played at an all-star level across his entire time in the minors despite being young for his league at every stop. – Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore (5): O’Neill has made a mockery of minor league pitchers since entering professional ball with his mammoth power.

He set full-season career-highs in all three slash line categories at Triple-A Memphis while cutting his strikeout rate to a career-low 24.9 percent, which led to his major-league debut in 2018.

In only 64 games at Memphis this past season, O’Neill crushed Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .311/.385/.693 line with a whopping 26 homers and 63 RBI.

“I worked a lot with my hitting coach and we really focused on keeping things simple (at Triple-A),” O’Neill said. “I cut down a few things in my load and preparation. I stayed up the middle and tried not to do too much. I didn’t try to hit home runs. Just tried to hit the ball hard somewhere and stay up the middle.

“That’s what I did well in Triple-A this year is trusting my hands and trusting my eyes.”

O’Neill made his big-league debut on April 19 and was hitting in the middle of the Cardinals order by the summer. He slugged nine homers in 61 games for St. Louis.

From a scouting perspective, evaluators said O’Neill began to mature in his approach by adjusting to the situation and pitcher within the at-bat, rather than swinging at one spot this past season.

As a result, he started striking out less, walking more and picking out better offerings to swing at, depositing hittable pitches a mile away with his tremendous bat speed and strength.

“He’s from another planet,” one opposing Triple-A manager said. “I’ve seen him hit balls normal beings can’t hit it to. That’s pretty special power. His balls go further than anybody else I’ve seen.”

While his power will ultimately play in the big-leagues, scouts are still concerned that O’Neill’s steep uphill swing path will get exposed against quality pitching, and he did strike out 57 times in 142 plate appearances.

O’Neill also showed himself to be a near plus-plus runner as well and improved drastically in right field.

He remains aggressive in his approach and prone to strikeouts, which likely inhibits him from hitting for average, but now he gets to his power enough to profile as an everyday regular.

Even though the Cardinals appear committed to Dexter Fowler as their everyday right fielder for now, O’Neill is waiting in the wings as he will likely vie for that starting job next year as well.

“We also have Tyler O’Neill and he is someone that if he is given 700 plate appearances – he could very easily post 40 home runs,” Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak recently told KMOX.

Tyler O’Neill (Memphis Redbirds)

Brian Walton (5): I was really torn on where to place O’Neill. This may sound odd, but I don’t recall ever being so unsure about such a successful minor leaguer who is so close to graduating from this list.

Due to the realities of the roster and his remaining open questions, I put O’Neill fifth, but I could make as articulate of an argument to place him first. While Lane Thomas led the Cardinals system with 27 home runs to O’Neill’s 26 this past season, the latter did it in less than half the plate appearances – 273 to 575. O’Neill’s isolated power was an other-worldly .382.

The only players in the organization with a higher OPS than O’Neill’s 1.078 at Memphis were two short-season stars in Malcom Nunez (in 44 games) and Jhon Torres (in 17 contests).

It seemed that O’Neill was definitely focused on hitting the ball out of the park, as he had just nine doubles and two triples. At Memphis, it worked, as he struck out at a 24.9 percent rate that was tolerable to go with a 10.7 percent walk rate.

In his worst month of 2018 with the Redbirds, O’Neill’s OPS was still .963, a mark that would have been fourth-best in the system for the entire season. In his most dominating period, in July, his OPS was an amazing 1.408, reflecting seven long balls and 13 driven in over 12 games.

To say he has nothing to prove at Triple-A seems unnecessary to state. Yet, that doesn’t mean he is yet proven at the next level.

As most know, O’Neill has been unable to translate that minor league dominance into MLB performance to date. His injury-wrecked spring training put him in Memphis to open 2018, aiding Harrison Bader’s ascension, but O’Neill soon earned a shot. When he launched home runs in three consecutive games in May for St. Louis, O’Neill teased us with his potential. But soon, he was struggling and found himself back in Triple-A.

If O’Neill cannot significantly improve his overall rate of 40.1 percent, he will have a very hard time in the majors. In today’s era of higher strikeouts, some scoff at my assertion. The problem is that O’Neill is beyond the highest extreme.

To put this into context, the two MLB regulars with the absolute highest strikeout percentage last season were Chris Davis at 36.8 percent and Joey Gallo at 35.9 percent. Davis has one of the worst contracts in the game right now and that is the only reason he is still playing every day. Gallo is very unique in that he can also maintain a high walk rate, a mark that was 2.6 times higher than O’Neill’s last season.

Other than Davis and Gallo, no one across MLB who reached qualifying levels of plate appearances struck out more often than one-third of the time – likely because they were benched before they could accrue that much playing time.

It is clear that the Cardinals are not yet ready to give O’Neill a starting job, and likely his inconsistency is a major reason why. As we saw late last season, even though both Opening Day center fielder Tommy Pham and right fielder Dexter Fowler were out of the picture, new manager Mike Shildt had Jose Martinez playing the majority of the time in right, not O’Neill.

Now, we see the odds of Martinez remaining with the Cardinals for 2019 increasing and Fowler having received assurance he will be given the chance to start in right. Harrison Bader is young, healthy and hungry in center and Marcell Ozuna is reportedly healed and ready to go in left. In fact, the bench competition is so tight, there is no guarantee that O’Neill will even be with St. Louis on Opening Day.

Considering everything, it is difficult to project how O’Neill is going to get his extended chance to show improvement in 2019, without injury, poor performance or further roster movement. If worse comes to worst, O’Neill does have minor league option years remaining, but again, he has nothing to prove down in Memphis. Yet it may be necessary at some point for him to secure every day at-bats rather than rust on the Cardinals bench.

Once new St. Louis hitting coach Jeff Albert gets a chance to work with his new charges, O’Neill will be the first player I will ask him about. Albert would earn his keep with this one player alone if he can help him make the final step.

Link to O’Neill’s career stats

Our 2019 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and 10 in-depth, follow-up articles coming up next. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation. If you are not a member, join today so you do not miss out!

50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Cardinals Prospects – 2019

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

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

The Cardinal Nation Prospect Interview – Mateo Gil

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TCN 2019 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #10 – Malcom Nuñez

photo: Malcolm Nunez (Jesse Sanchez/MLB/Twitter)

FREE article. The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2019 continues into the top 10 with a July 2nd signing who immediately followed with a historically dominating 44-game professional introduction.

2018 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA 3B 3 09 01 5-11 205 R R 2018 IFA

Link to Malcom Nuñez’ player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.

Selected 2018 stats

DSLB 0.415 0.437 44 164 44 68 16 13 59 26 29 3 238 0.497 0.774 1.272

TCN Scouting Grade: 7, Risk: high (click here to review scales)

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (8): Malcom Nuñez rocketed up the prospect vote this year all the way to #8 in the community vote. PugsleyAddams believes Nuñez to be the Cardinals’ best prospect of all, picking him at #1, however, Nuñez received a more substantial support beginning at #7.

PugsleyAddams justified his early vote believing that the Cardinals have an absolute freak of nature on their hands with Nuñez. Cardinals27 said that Nuñez makes hard contact, hits for a high average, and plays good defense. Stlcard25 said that usually the big bats in the Dominican League are older, like Brian Sanchez a few years ago, whereas Nuñez is just 17 years old, i.e. league appropriate.

Robert Reed said that Nuñez was initially contacted by the Cardinals back when he was just 14 years old and a rapport was established, which explains the relative pittance for which he signed ($300k). Reed also posted that his favorite Nuñez fact – Malcom hit more home runs in his 164 at-bats than the combined total of the two Royals Dominican Summer League teams, leading to a 238 wRC+ on the year. Grenadier1 remarked that he loves the high leg kick that Nuñez swings with as he seems to barrel up everything he swings at. – Jeremy Byrd

Malcom Nunez (Jesse Sanchez/MLB/Twitter)

Derek Shore (10): The Cardinals may very well have their next phenom hitting prospect.

Superlatives aside, Nuñez, who signed with the Cardinals for a $300,000 bonus in July, made the most of his month and a half in his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League.

The 17-year old hit five home runs in a six-game span in the DSL and helped drive his team to the Cardinals’ first ever berth in that league’s playoffs. Along the way, he hit .415/.497/.774 and won the DSL Triple Crown with 13 home runs and 59 RBI.

“He has advanced hitting ability,” Cardinals director of international operations Luis Morales said. “He is not just a one-dimensional player who has the raw power. He has strength. He’ll hit for power. But he always understands the strike zone, especially for a hitter that young to have that recognition. He looks like a professional hitter up there.

“That is something that definitely interested us a lot. His advanced hitting ability was something that was very impressive for us.”

As the Cardinals have pushed to have a greater presence in Cuba recently, they have deployed scouts at tournaments wherever Cuba’s national team has played. That includes potential future signings of teenagers.

The Cardinals had ample reports on Nuñez, who they viewed as one of the best available bats in the 2018 July 2 international signing period. Area scout Alix Martinez and supervisor Angel Ovalles oversaw the evaluation and recruitment of Nuñez.

At those tournaments, the Cardinals liked Nuñez’ strong track of performance, as he stood out for his advanced physicality from a young age.

“He looked like a man among boys,” one scout said.

The Cardinals felt that track record of success could immediately translate into professional ball and it did.

“He is a gamer,” Morales said. “He has played in very important tournaments. He represented Cuba. He was definitely very advanced for his age and that level of competition. That was something you were able to see when he played in the DSL.

“He played for his home country and we know that in Cuba that is something that is extremely important. He was able to translate that to professional baseball.”

The right-hander hitter produces a mature tool set with his power, arm strength and below-average speed. Nuñez has plus raw power and puts up high exit velocity numbers when he gets his arms extended.

Though, there is some length to his swing where his hands shoot away from his body, leaving him vulnerable inside at times. But Nuñez has mostly shown a sound idea of the strike zone as well.

Defensively, the Cardinals see Nuñez as a third baseman – at least initially – with an average arm.

“We are going to give him all the opportunities to develop at third base,” Morales said. “We feel he makes all the plays. You can definitely project him to stay at third base, but time will tell where he will move defensively.”

Nuñez has also already worked out at the Cardinals facility in Jupiter, Fla, which introduces him to more of the organizations’ coaches.

Asked if he can potentially be a fast mover, Morales cautioned he is only 17, but he said the Cardinals group of third basemen – with Elehuris Montero, Evan Mendoza and Nolan Gorman – will help to not rush him through the system.

“Those are decisions that he is going to let us know,” Morales said. “When we get to spring training, it will be our farm director and coaches when they see him to make that decision. But once again, we have a good group.

“It is going to be a great problem for them to have deciding who is going to go where and when is going to be a good time to move them.”

Nuñez certainly raised eyebrows in his first pro season with the Cardinals.

“You always want to see that impact,” Morales said. “I don’t think any of us anticipated him winning the Triple Crown.”

Brian Walton (16): Ok, here comes Debbie Downer again. Had Carson Kelly not been traded a few weeks ago, my score would have kept Nuñez out of the overall top 10, not that I planned any of it.

My ranking is based on one thing and one thing alone – the total extent of Nuñez’ professional experience consists of 199 plate appearances as the lowest-level of competition of organized baseball. The Dominican Summer League is a level at which pitchers are not typically able to control their breaking pitches with consistency.

Having said that, there was a lot to like about Nuñez’ introduction. An awful lot.

The 17-year old needed absolutely no time to adapt. After signing on July 2nd, Nuñez finished the month with 25 RBI, tying fellow Cuban Adolis Garcia for tops in the entire Cardinals system and leading the way with his .401 batting average and 1.201 OPS. Then, in August, his first full month, he topped his July numbers at .420 and 1.345, respectively. As a result, Nuñez was named both TCN’s and the Cardinals organization’s August Player of the Month.

Nuñez had at least one hit in 40 of his 44 games and was kept off base for an entire game just twice all season long. His 2018 record included a 22-game hitting streak. Nuñez collected multiple hits in 21 contests and drove in multiple runs 17 times, with his highlight a two home run, eight RBI performance on August 7.

Nuñez ended the season not only tops in the DSL in the Triple Crown categories of home runs, RBI and batting average, the right-handed hitter was also first in total bases. Further, he led the way in on-base percentage, slugging and of course OPS, as well as wRC+.

Nuñez showed off his plate discipline by striking out at a 14.6 percent rate, the lowest on the Cardinals Blue. He walked in 13.1 percent of his plate appearances – a superior combination. He was TCN’s Player of the Year for the DSL and our top first-year player in the entire Cardinals system.

But let’s look beyond his DSL domination to try to put his introduction into broader context.

Nuñez led all of affiliated baseball in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, wRC+, and ranked second in on-base percentage, just 14 points behind the leader. To be specific, “affiliated baseball” here includes all of the minor leagues plus Major League Baseball.

His 238 wRC+ is 138 percent better than the DSL average and 38 percent better than the next highest wRC+ in affiliated ball in 2018, posted by another DSL player.

According to research by TCN’s Scott Schook, only two players have ever put up a season with a better wRC+ at any level – Babe Ruth in 1920 (239 wRC+) and Barry Bonds in 2002 (244 wRC+). Of course, both did it on the game’s biggest stage, a long, long way from the fields of the Dominican Republic.

I gave Nuñez a scouting grade of “7 high”. No Cardinals prospect this year will have a higher assessment than “7”, which is MLB all-star potential. “High” indicates there is far more projection than results behind it, though.

A jump from the DSL straight to the Midwest League for an 18-year old’s first full-season as a professional would be an extremely aggressive move. Demonstrating readiness for that involves more than just baseball skills – things we cannot assess.

But I don’t think it will come into play, as I expect that 2018 first-rounder Nolan Gorman will return to Peoria to open the season, with the 10 months-younger Nuñez in extended spring training. Even so, if Gorman earns a promotion to Palm Beach by June, Nuñez could replace him.

Still, no matter where he starts, I cannot think of a player I am more interested in seeing play in person than Nuñez.

Link to Nuñez’ career stats

Our 2019 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and 10 in-depth, follow-up articles coming up next. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation. If you are not a member, join today so you do not miss out!

50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Cardinals Prospects – 2019

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

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

The Cardinal Nation Prospect Interview – Mateo Gil

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If you enjoyed this article, please consider joining The Cardinal Nation to receive the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Special offer

© 2018 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Christmas Day Marathon on FOX Sports Midwest

FOX Sports Midwest release

FOX Sports Midwest will replay five of the most memorable Cardinals games of 2018 in its eighth annual Cardinals Christmas Marathon on Tuesday, Dec. 25.

The games will also be streamed on the FOX Sports app and at

The Cardinals Christmas Marathon is presented by the Mid-America Chevy Dealers.

This year’s games…

Cardinals Christmas Marathon – Tuesday, Dec. 25 on FOX Sports Midwest
Times Central | Programming available in the Cardinals television footprint

12:30 p.m. Cardinals Confidential: Inside the Winter Meetings

1 p.m.        May 20 vs. Philadelphia
Jack Flaherty strikes out 13 Phillies and Jordan Hicks touches 105.

3 p.m.        Aug. 2 vs. Colorado
Miles Mikolas throws seven innings of one-run ball and Jose Martinez singles in the winner in the ninth.

5 p.m.        Aug. 13 vs. Washington
Paul DeJong hits walk-off homer in the ninth to cap back-and-forth thriller.

7 p.m.        June 3 vs. Pittsburgh
Michael Wacha takes no-hitter into the ninth.

9 p.m.        July 20 at Chicago Cubs
Matt Carpenter hits three home runs and two doubles at Wrigley to tie the major league record for extra-base hits in a game.

Note: Each game is edited to a two-hour window.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

TCN 2019 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #8 – Dylan Carlson

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

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Cardinals Winter Meetings Special Debuts Wednesday

image: John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch (FOX Sports Midwest)

FOX Sports Midwest release

FOX Sports Midwest takes Cardinals fans behind the scenes of the Baseball Winter Meetings in Cardinals Confidential: Inside the Winter Meetings. This 30-minute special premieres Wednesday, Dec. 19. Jim Hayes hosts the show, the network’s seventh from the Winter Meetings.

The show includes a look at the Cardinals’ pursuit of bullpen help, discussion of whether to pursue free agent Bryce Harper, an interview with manager Mike Shildt and the opinion of national media on the team’s trade for Paul Goldschmidt.

Cardinals Confidential: Inside the Winter Meetings on FOX Sports Midwest (times Central)

  • Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 6:30 and 9 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 23 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 25 at 12:30 p.m.

TCN 2019 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #15 – Luken Baker

photo: Luken Baker (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

FREE article. The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2019 continues into the top 15 with an early 2018 draftee who may be St. Louis’ best first base prospect since Matt Adams.

2018 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA 1B 3 10 97 6-4 265 R R 2018 2C

Link to Luken Baker’s player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.

Selected 2018 stats

GCL 0.500 0.550 8 24 10 12 2 1 7 3 4 0 240 0.536 0.708 1.244
Peo 0.288 0.349 37 139 16 40 9 3 15 16 31 0 123 0.359 0.417 0.776
Total 0.319 45 163 26 52 11 4 22 19 35 0 0.386 0.460 0.846

TCN Scouting Grade: 6, Risk: medium (click here to review scales)

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (17): Luken Baker was St. Louis’ second round draft pick, awarded to them as compensation for Lance Lynn. Baker was rated slightly lower during the community vote than the other votes cast here, ultimately landing at #17. 14NyquisT was the first to put Baker on the ballot, picking him at #8.

SoonerinNC compared Baker to former Cardinals’ first base prospect, Luke Voit, saying that Baker could be the better hitter, but he will have to watch his weight. 14NyquisT said that Baker has a high ceiling of potential as a prospect and could make his way to Double-A Springfield in 2019. Bw52 liked that Baker hit over .300 coming off serious injury in which he fractured his left fibula and tore a ligament in his ankle sliding during an April game with his former collegiate team, TCU. Wiley stated that the last behemoth of a player the Cardinals had like Baker was Matt Adams, but Baker can hit for a better average. Stlcard25 believes that Baker has 30+ home run potential. – Jeremy Byrd

Luken Baker (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Derek Shore (17): The Cardinals selected Baker with their remaining second round pick on Day 1 of their thunderous 2018 draft class that also included precocious high school power-hitting phenom Nolan Gorman.

A two-way star in high school, Baker lived up to expectations at TCU, when healthy. However, his career has been marred by a number of freak injuries.

Baker’s sophomore season ended early when he injured his arm and elbow in a collision at first base and he needed surgery to repair his elbow. As a junior, he missed a couple of games after he took a bad hop off his eye, then had his season end prematurely when he broke his left fibula sliding into second base.

Baker began his TCU career as a two-way player, but he gave up pitching as a sophomore for good reason.

The 6-foot-4 first baseman, who hit .347 in 145 career games for the Horned Frogs, slugged 28 home runs and drove in 129 runs in his three years with the program. A prolific home run hitter, Baker hit a home run every 12.6 at-bats his junior year and once every 18 at-bats throughout his college career.

Baker officially signed with the Cardinals on June 13, inking a $800,000 signing bonus.

“Baker is an impressive player, and we didn’t think we would have the chance to draft a high-caliber player like him at that spot,” Cardinals scouting director Randy Flores said. “He’s proven himself at a high level and we admire his resiliency.”

Once he was deemed healthy and ready to play, Baker started his pro career with the GCL Cardinals, where he hit .500 (12-for-24) in eight games. He was then promoted to Low-A Peoria on July 21 and was a key component in the Chiefs’ playoff push, batting .288/.359/.417 with 12 extra-base hits and 15 RBI in 37 games down the stretch.

His performance caught the eye of his new skipper.

“I saw a guy that had outstanding attributes,” Peoria manager Chris Swauger said. “How hard he hits the ball. He is a guy with a very advanced approach coming out of a major college program. I think we saw an improvement in his athleticism around the bases and at first coming off that injury he suffered in college.

“He was productive and he helped us out a lot. More importantly for his own development, we were able to identify some things that he can work on and become a true asset for our organization.”

From a scouting perspective, Baker has a long track record of performing when healthy. He walked more than he struck out at TCU and tapped into much of his top-of-the-scale power potential.

Some scouts feel his best position is as a designated hitter in the American League, but he has shown he has the physical abilities needed to profile at first base.

“I was actually impressed with his athleticism, his general agility,” Swauger said. “Most guys that are that size are kind of lumbering.”

Baker should open next year at either High-A Palm Beach or Double-A Springfield.

Brian Walton (15): Baker is a very large man and may offer the Cardinals their best home-grown power threat at first base since Matt Adams, who was drafted almost a decade ago. My most-optimistic vote of no. 15 among our voters reflects this.

However, while Adams was a long-shot 23rd-rounder, Baker was taken 75th overall. That pick was St. Louis’ compensation for the loss of free agent Lance Lynn, a decision that backfired on the right-hander when he could not find a multi-year contract, but one that looks to have come out just fine for St. Louis. The Cardinals had forfeited their regular second-rounder, 59th overall, when signing free agent closer Greg Holland.

Luken Baker (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

While Baker’s injury history at Texas Christian is of concern, it is a two-edged sword. Had his slate been clean, he would have been off the board much sooner than no. 75 and likely with another organization instead.

Baker knew his background affected his perceived value, but still decided to sign rather than return to school for his senior year.

“There were some teams that had lost a little bit of interest after I broke my leg, especially early on the draft,” Baker said. “So I am really thankful that the Cardinals weren’t one of those teams and I am happy to be here.”

Despite having leverage in the negotiations as a junior, it was not a difficult negotiation. Baker was among the Cardinals’ first wave of signings, receiving $400 over slot, making his bonus an even $800,000.

“They said, ‘Hey, do you want to be a Cardinal?’, Baker recalled. “I said, ‘Yes, sign me up. That was it.’”

Though clearly a power threat, Baker is different in that he walked as often as he struck out in college. In his initial professional season, the split was not quite as good, with 19 free passes against 35 strikeouts.

I asked Baker if pitchers were pitching around him or it is an indicator of a superior batting eye.

“It was a little bit of both,” he replied. “Every once in a while, I would not get much to hit. A lot of the time, pitchers try to make pitchers’ pitches and try to get you to chase pitches just off the plate. I’ve always done a pretty good job of not chasing after those and getting into favorable counts.”

Baker’s general approach as a hitter is not complicated.

“The goal for me as a hitter is to hit the ball hard and hit it where they’re not,” he said.

In the past, the Cardinals’ philosophy about first base seemed to be to not draft players there, and fill the position with hitters who could not make it defensively at their prior position. A prime candidate from which to source them is third base, though some outfielders have moved in, as well.

Just to illustrate how rare it is for the Cardinals to take a first baseman this early, the last time it occurred was in 2004, when St. Louis drafted Mike Ferris of Miami of Ohio in the second round, 60th overall. Ferris eventually topped out at Triple-A, never reaching the majors.

Of course, expectations are greater for Baker. Without being blatant about it, he understands the end goal is St. Louis.

“I feel like the ability I have will help me move up in this organization and ultimately help it out,” Baker said.

His scouting grade of “6 medium” indicates a ceiling as an above-average MLB starter with moderate work required to get there

Given there is no real competition ahead of Baker at first, a jump to Springfield seems quite possible. Examples of recent early-drafted players to do that include Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong. Even if Baker starts at Palm Beach, I would not expect him to be in the Florida State League too long.

Link to Baker’s career stats

Our 2019 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and 10 in-depth, follow-up articles coming up next. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation. If you are not a member, join today so you do not miss out!

50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 Cardinals Prospects – 2019

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

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

The Cardinal Nation Managerial Interview – Peoria’s Chris Swauger, Part 1

Not yet a member?

If you enjoyed this article, please consider joining The Cardinal Nation to receive the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Take advantage of our special 20 percent off holiday offer running currently.

© 2018 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.