photo: Tyler O’Neill (Memphis Redbirds)
On Friday, Baseball America announced its annual Best Tools in the Minors, which surveys managers from all 10 full-season minor leagues about the top players in a variety of categories.
The St. Louis Cardinals organization is well-represented, with eight players named.
Memphis’ best tools contingent
From the reigning Pacific Coast League Champions and current American Southern Division leaders, five Triple-A Memphis players are featured in BA’s Best Tools survey.
Slugger Tyler O’Neill was selected as the best power prospect in the PCL. The 23-year old Canadian leads the circuit with 26 long balls despite only playing in 64 games at Triple-A this season. Many in the industry give him double-plus grades for his power potential.
On the pitching side, Dakota Hudson was tabbed as the best overall pitching prospect after posting a league-best 13 wins and 2.50 ERA at Memphis. With a heavy sinker and three other quality offerings to complement it, Hudson has the makings of a mid-rotation horse for the Cardinals in the not too distant future.
Owner of the best breaking pitch in the PCL went to a familiar lefty now thriving in St. Louis, Austin Gomber. Gomber went 7-3 with a 3.42 ERA through 12 games (11 starts) at Memphis this season, averaging over 10 strikeouts per nine innings. The southpaw’s 12-6 curveball draws consistent plus grades from scouts.
Known more for his offensive prowess, Memphis corner infielder Rangel Ravelo was named the best defensive first baseman by opposing managers. Ravelo is the Cardinals newer-version of Luke Voit.
Perhaps the most tooled-up prospect in the Cardinals organization is Memphis outfielder Adolis Garcia, who may have the best throwing arm among all minor league outfielders. Not surprisingly, he was named as having the best outfield arm in the PCL.
The rest of the Cardinals best tools contingent
While Memphis made up most of the Cardinals best tool players, there were some other notable selections announced on Friday.
Evan Mendoza was the lone representative from Double-A Springfield. The former NC State product was named the Texas League best defensive third baseman as well as the Florida State League best defender at the hot corner. The questions surrounding whether or not he will stick at third base coming into this season seem to have come and gone.
Now, Mendoza will need to prove he can handle upper-level pitching as a 22-year old.
In addition, Austin Warner was tabbed as having the best control in the Florida State League. The non-drafted lefty, who has shot onto the scene this season, posted an impressive 77-to-13 strikeout to walk ratio over 74 innings hurled at High-A Palm Beach. He has since risen to Memphis and is holding his own.
Warner has big-league stuff with an outside shot at getting a cup of coffee in time.
To round out the Cardinals representation in BA’s best tools, former Low-A Peoria infielder, now Palm Beach, second baseman Irving Lopez was named the best defensive second baseman in the MWL by BA. Though not necessarily a prospect, Lopez projects as a very good organizational player.
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