Cardinals 2015 Draft Prospects’ Minor League Assignments

photo: Nick Plummer (Allison Rhoades/Peoria Chiefs)

This is the first article in a series that will look back at the St. Louis Cardinals’ draft picks since 2015 and identify what level they have reached in the organization.

Only three players from the Cardinals’ 2015 draft remain with the organization in the minor leagues, but five players are with in St. Louis. The three still in the minors were all selected out of high school and have found the jump from high school to the professional ranks to be difficult.

For 2021, they all progressed a level and are looking to regain their former prospect status this season.

2015 Draft

Prospects in the Cardinals System:

1st Round, 23rd overall – Nick Plummer, OF, Brother Rice High School (MI)

Age: 24, TCN Prospect Ranking: Unranked, Level: Double-A

Since being selected in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals, Nick Plummer has struggled to consistently produce at the plate. This is not uncommon for a high school hitter making the jump to the professional ranks. In fact, even though he has struggled at times, he has been younger than his average competition at every level of the minor leagues.

The outfielder began the 2021 season with Double-A Springfield. Even though he is still slightly younger than the average Double-A player, he has been in the professional ranks for close to six years and will need to show some progress toward becoming a consistent hitter.  This will be an important year for the  soon-to-be 25 year old if he want to raise his prospect stock after seeing it drop rapidly since being drafted.

Plummer has begun the season well with a .344/.436/.500/.936 slash line through his first ten games. Additionally, he has dropped his strikeout rate by more than 10% while maintaining a strong 12.8% walk rate. Defensively, Plummer has seen time at all three outfield positions, while playing nine of his ten games in the corner outfield spots.

Nick Plummer

8th Round, 251st overall – Ian Oxnevad, LHP, Shorewood High School (WA)

Age: 24, TCN Prospect Ranking: Unranked, Level: A-Advanced

There are a few similarities between Plummer and Ian Oxnevad. To begin with, each player missed a full season due to injury (Plummer in 2016, Oxnevad in 2019). Additionally, each player has moved slowly through the organization since being selected from the high school ranks. Oxnevad has yet to reach Double-A as he has struggled to be consistently effective on the mound since reaching full season ball.

This season, Oxnevad appears to have transitioned to the bullpen full-time, as his first two appearances of the season have come in relief after starting in 60 of his first 66 professional appearances. So far, he has yet to allow a run in 3 2/3 innings of work while striking out four and walking three.

Like Plummer, this will be an important season for Oxnevad as he will look to move up the minor league ranks before his prospect status decays any further due to being almost 25 years old. 

Ian Oxnevad

12th Round, 371st overall – Jacob Schlesener, LHP, Logan-Rogersville High School (MO)

Age: 24, TCN Prospect Ranking: Unranked, Level: A-Advanced

Like Oxnevad, Jacob Schlesener was a left hander selected out of high school who has moved slowly through the organization. Unlike Oxnevad, though, Schlesener has shown an ability to generate plenty of strikeouts. However, he has struggled with control throughout his minor league career.

Since 2017, Schlesener has never posted a K/9 below 11.87 in a full season; but, he has also never posted a BB/9 lower than 4.82. He has also routinely posted groundball rates above 60%.

Since he has this profile, it makes sense that he has been converted into a reliever this year. Previously, he had split time between the rotation and the bullpen, but he has made his first four appearances of the 2021 season out of the bullpen.

So far, Schlesener has allowed 7 earned runs in 6 innings (10.50 ERA) while fanning eight and walking 16. He has only allowed four hits, though, as much of the damage has been self-inflicted.

Jacob Schlesener

MLB Players:

Competitive Balance Round A, 39th overall – Jake Woodford, RHP, Henry B. Plant High School (FL)

After being selected by the Cardinals in the 2015 draft, Jake Woodford spent five years in the organization’s minor league system. The right hander debuted in 2020 and pitched 21 innings at the big league level before opening the 2021 season with St. Louis.

2021 stats
ERA: 5.19
Innings Pitched: 8 2/3
K/9: 8.31
BB/9: 7.27

Jake Woodford

3rd Round, 100th overall – Harrison Bader, OF, University of Florida

Harrison Bader advanced through the minor leagues more quickly than Woodford. He received one mid-season promotion every year as he tore through the minor league system and made his MLB debut at the end of the 2017 season.

2021 stats
.283/.361/.528/.889
Plate Appearances: 61
Walk Rate: 11.5%
Strikeout Rate: 13.1%

Harrison Bader

3rd Round, 105th overall – Jordan Hicks, RHP, Cypress Creek High School (TX)

After being selected in the 2015 draft, Jordan Hicks did not make his professional debut until 2016. The flamethrower then reached the A-Advanced level by the end of the 2017 season before making the Opening Day Cardinals roster in 2018.

2021 stats
ERA: 5.40
Innings Pitched: 10
K/9: 9.00
BB/9: 9.00

Jordan Hicks

4th round, 131st overall – Paul DeJong, 3B, Illinois State University

Like Bader, Paul DeJong rose through the system quickly. The Cardinals shortstop, who was originally selected as a third baseman, broke onto the MLB scene upon reaching St. Louis  in 2017 and accumulated 3.1 WAR in just 108 MLB games in his debut season.

2021 stats
.177/.277/.371/..648
Plate Appearances: 141
Walk Rate: 10.6%
Strikeout Rate: 22.7%

Paul DeJong

5th Round, 161st overall – Ryan Helsley, RHP, Northeastern State University

Ryan Helsley spent his first four and a half seasons in the Cardinals minor league system. He made his MLB debut in 2019, throwing 36 2/3 innings and compiling a 2.95 ERA out of the bullpen.

2021 stats
ERA: 5.09
Innings Pitched: 17 2/3
K/9: 9.17
BB/9: 6.11

Ryan Helsley

What is next

To read future installments in this series, covering the current status of active members of the St. Louis Cardinals draft classes after 2015, subscribe to The Cardinal Nation.

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