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2018 St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Prospects

Cardinals Top 10 Prospects
1. Alex Reyes, RHP
2. Jack Flaherty, RHP
3. Carson Kelly, C
4. Sandy Alcantara, RHP
5. Tyler O’Neill, OF
6. Jordan Hicks, RHP
7. Magneuris Sierra, OF
8. Harrison Bader, OF
9. Dakota Hudson, RHP
10. Ryan Helsley, RHP
GOT QUESTIONS? Cardinals Top 10 Chat

For each organization, we identify the 10 prospects with the highest ceilings, with consideration given to the likelihood of reaching those ceilings.

To qualify as a prospect, a position player cannot exceed 130 big league at-bats, while a pitcher cannot exceed 50 innings or 30 relief appearances. These thresholds mirror major league rookie qualifications, albeit without regard for major league service time.

Notable Graduations: SS Paul DeJong (14) surprisingly led the team with 25 homers, while learning to play a new position.

Trending: 🔺Up after a strong year on the farm.



Strengths: It’s not often that a team has too much of a good thing, but when it comes to the Cardinals, they have more upper-level outfield prospects than they will have roster spots for in the next few years. St. Louis needs to figure out in the next year who it can count on among Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, Jose Martinez, Tyler O’Neill, Magneuris Sierra, Harrison Bader, Jose Adolis Garcia, Randy Arozarena and Oscar Mercado. All 10 have significant time at Double-A or higher. A strong stable of righthanded pitchers that extends through every level of the system further gives the Cardinals a multitude of options on the mound.

Weaknesses: The Cardinals have long struggled to produce homegrown shortstops. Paul DeJong may change that, but if his defense requires him to slide to second or third base (the positions he predominantly played in the minors), the team doesn’t have another obvious everyday shortstop option in full-season ball. The Cardinals aren't much stronger at the other infield positions either, particularly on the corners.



🔸Best Hitter for AverageJonathan Machado. 🔸Best Power Hitter: Tyler O'Neill 🔸Best Strike-Zone DisciplineNick Martini. 🔸Fastest BaserunnerMagneuris Sierra. 🔸Best AthleteMagneuris Sierra. 🔸Best FastballSandy Alcantara. 🔸Best Curveball: Alex Reyes. 🔸Best SliderDakota Hudson. 🔸Best ChangeupJunior Fernandez. 🔸Best Control: Jack Flaherty 🔸Best Defensive CatcherCarson Kelly. 🔸Best Defensive INFAlex Mejia. 🔸Best INF ArmPatrick Wisdom. 🔸Best Defensive OF:  Oscar Mercado. 🔸Best OF ArmJose Adolis Garcia.



(Listed with 2021 season age)

🔸C Carson Kelly (26) 🔸1B Matt Carpenter (35) 🔸2B Kolten Wong (30) 🔸3B Jedd Gyorko (32) 🔸SS Paul DeJong (27) 🔸LF Tyler O’Neill (26) 🔸CF Dexter Fowler (35) 🔸RF Stephen Piscotty (30) 🔸SP Carlos Martinez (29) 🔸SP Alex Reyes (26) 🔸SP Luke Weaver (27) 🔸SP Jack Flaherty (25) 🔸SP Michael Wacha (29) 🔸CL Sandy Alcantara (25)



(Listed with 2017 organization)

🔸2008: OF Colby Rasmus (Rays) | WAR: 19.5 🔸2009: OF Colby Rasmus (Rays) | WAR: ** 🔸2010: RHP Shelby Miller (D-backs) | WAR: 8.9 🔸2011: RHP Shelby Miller (D-backs) | WAR: ** 🔸2012: RHP Shelby Miller (D-backs) | WAR: ** 🔸2013: OF Oscar Taveras(Deceased) | WAR: -1.4 🔸2014: OF Oscar Taveras(Deceased) | WAR: ** 🔸2015: LHP Marco Gonzales (Mariners) | WAR: -0.1 🔸2016: RHP Alex Reyes (Cardinals) | Top 10 🔸2017: RHP Alex Reyes (Cardinals) | **



(Listed with 2017 organization)

🔸2008: 1B Brett Wallace (DNP) | WAR: -0.6 🔸2009: RHP Shelby Miller (D-backs) | WAR: 8.9 🔸2010: 3B Zack Cox (Tigers) | WAR: N/A 🔸2011: 2B Kolten Wong (Cardinals) | WAR: 7.2 🔸2012: RHP Michael Wacha (Cardinals) | WAR: 6.4 🔸2013: LHP Marco Gonzales (Mariners) | WAR:  -0.1 🔸2014: RHP Luke Weaver (Cardinals) | WAR: 0.4 🔸2015: OF Nick Plummer (Cardinals) | WAR: N/A 🔸2016: SS Delvin Perez (Cardinals) | WAR: N/A 🔸2017: OF Scott Hurst (Cardinals) | WAR: N/A

1. Alex Reyes, RHP 📹
BORN:Aug. 29, 1994.
B-T: R-R | HT: 6-3| WT: 175
SIGNED: Dominican Republic, 2012.
SIGNED BY: Rodney Jimenez/Angel Ovalles.
Track Record: Reyes grew up in Elizabeth, N.J., and was a solid high school infield prospect. But after his junior year, he moved to the Dominican Republic to live with his grandmother in the hope he could draw more attention as an international amateur. The move worked when he flashed a power fastball after volunteering to throw one day when his Dominican team ran out of pitchers, and the Cardinals signed him for $950,000. Reyes kept flashing that power stuff after signing and asserted himself as one of the game’s top prospects. He reached 100 mph as a 19-year-old at low Class A, was selected to two Futures Games and made his major league debut in August 2016. He flashed 101 mph heat to show he was ready to compete for a rotation spot in 2017. Reyes’ expected ascension to the rotation was interrupted when an MRI revealed a complete rupture of his ulnar collateral ligament. He had Tommy John surgery on Feb. 16.

Scouting Report: When Reyes is healthy, few pitchers can match his pure stuff. Strongly built with wide shoulders and thick, sturdy legs, he averages 97 mph with his fastball and touches triple digits with ease. He holds his velocity deep into his starts, blowing hitters away even when they know his fastball is coming. Reyes’ command is imperfect, but he excels at elevating his fastball to get swings and misses. He backs up his top-of-the-scale fastball with knee-buckling hammer curveball at 78-81 mph, and his previously raw 88-91 mph changeup began increasingly playing as plus. He also began experimenting with an 83-86 mph short slider. Reyes struggles at times finding a rhythm for his delivery and the result has been below-average control his entire career, the one issue that prevents him from profiling as a No. 1 starter. Reyes’ track record of staying on the mound is also becoming increasingly spotty. He missed a month in 2015 with a sore shoulder, was suspended 50 games in 2016 after testing positive for marijuana in the Arizona Fall League and now has Tommy John surgery on his ledger. In response, he got noticeably stronger during his rehab, replacing fat with muscle and improving his eating habits to enhance his general fitness.

🔸Projected Future Grades On 20-80 Scouting Scale Fastball: 80. Curve: 70. Change: 60. Control: 50.

The Future: Reyes will spend the offseason continuing his rehab, and team officials expect him to be ready for spring training. If his stuff comes all the way back, he remains a front-of-the-rotation caliber pitcher.
2. Jack Flaherty, RHP
BORN:Oct. 15, 1995.
B-T: R-R | HT: 6-4| WT: 205
DRAFTED: HS—Los Angeles, 2014 (1st round).
SIGNED BY: Mike Garciaparra.
MINORS: 14-4, 2.18 ERA | 147 SO | 35 BB | 149 IP
Track Record: Flaherty possessed an alluring frame and feel to pitch when the Cardinals drafted him 34th overall in 2014, but his velocity was yet to come. He filled out and made the long-awaited velocity gains in 2017, sitting 93-94 mph and touching 96 after previously working 90-92. The result was he missed more bats than ever, soared through the upper minors and made his big league debut on Sept. 1.

Scouting Report: Flaherty is extremely aggressive with his heavy fastball and uses it liberally. His pinpoint command and ability to add and subtract from it, combined with his velocity increase, make it a true plus pitch. His 83-86 mph slider leapt forward as well to become his primary secondary as an above-average pitch that generates swings and misses, and he has a 77-80 mph curveball to give batters a different look as well. Flaherty was projected to develop a plus changeup, but it is still an inconsistent pitch at 86-89 mph.

The Future: A rotation spot will be Flaherty’s for the taking in 2018. As long as he maintains his velocity increase and fine-tunes his secondaries, he should settle into the middle of the rotation.

3. Carson Kelly, C 📹
BORN:July 14, 1994.
B-T: R-R | HT: 6-2 | WT: 220
DRAFTED: HS—Portland, Ore., 2012 (2nd round).
SIGNED BY: Matt Swanson.
MINORS: .283/.375/.459 | 10 HR | 0 SB | 244 AB
Track Record: Drafted 86th overall in 2012 as a third baseman, Kelly converted to catcher in pro ball. He took to it with vigor, soaking up instruction from Mike Matheny and Yadier Molina and evolving into a premium defender. Kelly received a callup for the second straight season in 2017, and started seven of the Cardinals’ final eight games.

Scouting Report: Kelly remains a defense-first catcher, but the gap between his glove and his bat has shrunk. Behind the plate he shows soft hands, pristine footwork, good flexibility and a plus arm. He excels at game-calling and managing his staff. Kelly’s biggest development has come on offense. Early in his career he  was overaggressive early in counts, but he has become more patient and better at hunting fastballs he can drive. The result was a career high for home runs and OPS at Triple-A Memphis in 2017. He is still working on finding consistency in his load and timing.

The Future: Molina is signed through 2020, but Kelly remains his heir. He will have a chance to make his first Opening Day roster in 2018 and serve as Molina’s backup before taking over.

4. Sandy Alcantara, RHP 📹
BORN:Sept. 7, 1995.
B-T: R-R | HT: 6-4| WT: 170
SIGNED: Dominican Republic, 2013.
SIGNED BY: Rodney Jimenez.
MINORS: 7-5, 4.31 ERA | 106 SO | 54 BB | 125 IP
Track Record: A longtime member of the Cardinals’ stable of 100 mph Latin American arms, Alcantara broke out in 2016 but had an up-and-down 2017, with his untamed arsenal yielding more hits and fewer strikeouts than his raw stuff would indicate. He still earned a September callup and averaged 99 mph out of the bullpen.

Scouting Report: Alcantara packs big velocity but has yet to harness it. His fastball sits 96-97 mph as a starter, touches 100 and has been clocked as high as 102. It’s a big pitch, but Alcantara’s command and control are below-average, resulting in too many hittable fastballs over the plate or well off of it. He complements his power fastball with flashes of promising secondaries, but they aren’t consistent. His curveball and slider run together into an 83-88 mph power breaking ball, but he is learning to separate them, and they both project to average. His 89-91 mph changeup is wildly inconsistent but flashes above-average potential.

The Future: Alcantara’s arsenal is exciting, but he has a long way to go with his fastball command and secondary offerings. He’ll start at Triple-A Memphis in 2018.

5. Tyler O’Neill, OF 📹
BORN: June 22, 1995.
B-T: R-R | HT: 5-11 | WT: 210
DRAFTED:HS—Maple Ridge, B.C., 2013 (3rd round).
SIGNED BY: Wayne Norton (Mariners).
MINORS:.246/.321/.499 | 31 HR | 14 SB | 495 AB
Track Record: O’Neill has made a mockery of minor league pitchers with his titanic home runs the last three seasons. The son of a former Mr. Canada bodybuilder launched 56 homers in 2015-16 and, after a slow start that facilitated a July trade from the Mariners for Marco Gonzales, finished with 31 homers at Triple-A in 2017 and four more in the playoffs.

Scouting Report: O’Neill is short but cut like a bodybuilder with bulging muscles in his arms, legs and backside. He leverages that massive strength with lightning-quick bat speed, producing massive home runs observers recount with disbelief. He packs double-plus power and knows it, which sometimes gets him in trouble when he gets too steep uphill in his swing plane. O’Neill swings and misses enough to not project as more than a fringe-average average hitter, but when right he identifies pitches and draws walks. Despite his bulk, O’Neill is a solid athlete who posts average run times, adequately plays all three outfield positions and packs an above-average arm. He is best in right field.

The Future: O’Neill has the power to be a middle-of-the-order masher with a low average and high strikeout total in the mold of Khris Davis. He should be big league ready at some point in 2018.

6. Jordan Hicks, RHP
BORN:Sept. 6, 1996.
B-T: R-R | HT: 6-2 | WT: 185
DRAFTED: HS—Houston, 2015 (3rd round supplemental).
SIGNED BY: Ralph Garr Jr.
MINORS: 0-0, 2.96 ERA | 17 SO | 4 BB | 24 IP
Track Record: Shoulder inflammation delayed Hicks’ debut after the Cardinals drafted him in 2015, but he’s done nothing but wow since then. With an arsenal as electric as any in the system, Hicks excelled in short-season ball in 2016, was a Midwest League all-star in 2017 and finished with eight dominant appearances at high Class A Palm Beach.

Scouting Report: Athletic, physical and aggressive, Hicks works 93-98 mph with his fastball, sits 95 and touches 101 in short bursts. He holds his velocity deep into his starts, and his fastball plays up further with armside life that handcuffs same-side batters. Hicks pairs his heater with a tight power curveball at 79-82 mph that is his go-to swing-and-miss pitch and draws plus-plus grades. He also has a firm changeup with depth that flashes average and an 83-85 mph slider he’ll mix in. While Hicks’ arsenal is nasty, his delivery has a lot of moving parts and causes below-average command and control at times. He has the athleticism to streamline and repeat but has yet to show he can.

The Future: Hicks has a chance to jump to Double-A Springfield in 2018, depending on his camp performance. How much he improves his command and control will determine if reaches his mid-rotation potential.

7. Magneuris Sierra, OF
BORN:April 7, 1996.
B-T: L-L| HT: 5-11| WT: 160
SIGNED: Dominican Republic, 2012.
SIGNED BY: Rodney Jimenez/Angel Ovalles.
MINORS:.270/.318/.363 | 1 HR | 20 SB | 408 AB
Track Record: A touted international signing in 2012, Sierra slowly advanced before making the massive jump from high Class A straight to the majors in May 2017 when a rash of injuries left the Cardinals short of outfielders. He showed very well before returning to the minors at Double-A Springfield, and then rejoined the Cardinals in September.

Scouting Report: Sierra fits the mold of an old-school leadoff hitter. Lithe and athletic, he has a compact lefthanded swing and slaps the ball gap to gap. He excels using his plus-plus speed to beat out infield singles and put pressure on opposing defenses. His speed plays up even more with tight turns on the bases. Sierra is an aggressive hitter who doesn’t walk much, but his improving pitch recognition has led to a reduction in strikeouts. He is adding strength but does not project to ever be a home run hitter. Center field is where Sierra shines most, with top-flight tracking ability, elite instincts, efficient routes and a plus, accurate arm.

The Future: Sierra’s athleticism, elite speed and center field defense provide a solid baseline for a big league career, generally in the vein of a player like Jarrod Dyson.

8. Harrison Bader, OF 📹
BORN:June 4, 1994.
B-T: R-R| HT: 6-0 | WT: 195
DRAFTED: Florida, 2015 (3rd round).
SIGNED BY: Ty Boyles.
MINORS: .283/.347/.469 | 20 HR | 15 SB | 431 AB
Track Record: A decorated three-year starter at Florida, Bader hit his way up the minors and made his major league debut on July 25, barely two years after he was drafted. He returned for good in September and drew considerable playing time starting in center field.

Scouting Report: Bader is an eager and aggressive hitter, no matter the count. His power output has progressively risen at each level with an ambush approach, and he has shown enough hitting ability to project for average power. Bader’s overall hit tool is in question, however, because the gap between his strikeouts and walks widens at every level. He has yet to develop a two-strike approach and is particularly susceptible to curveballs. Bader is an above-average runner who shows solid range in center field with an average arm. His speed plays down on the bases and makes him an inefficient basestealer, with a low success rate.

The Future: Bader’s size, aggressiveness and power is similar to Cardinals teammate Randal Grichuk, with the same risks if he loses his strike-zone discipline or fails to develop a two-strike approach. He will get a shot to cement his spot in the Cardinals outfield in 2018.

9. Dakota Hudson, RHP 📹
BORN:Sept. 15, 1994.
B-T: R-R | HT: 6-5 | WT: 215
DRAFTED: Mississippi State, 2016 (1st round).
SIGNED BY: Clint Brown.
MINORS: 10-5, 3.01 ERA | 96 SO | 49 BB | 153 IP
Track Record: Hudson surprisingly fell to the Cardinals at 34th overall in 2016 after a dominant junior season at Mississippi State. He signed for an above-slot $2 million and showed his draft-day slide was not representative of his ability, excelling at Double-A and reaching Triple-A in his first full season.

Scouting Report: Hudson relies primarily on a fastball that sits at 94-95 mph and touches 97 and a plus short slider in the upper 80s. He previously worked mostly in and out but has made strides pitching vertically more effectively and changing eye levels at Double-A Springfield, where he was Texas League pitcher of the year. Hudson’s curveball got progressively stronger throughout the season and began registering as an above-average to plus offering at 79-83 mph. He also mixes in an occasional changeup. While Hudson’s stuff is quality, his fastball command is below-average, and as a result he doesn’t miss many bats. His control is also inconsistent, especially on his secondary offerings.

The Future: Hudson has the stuff of a mid-rotation starter, but his limited fastball command may spell a future in the bullpen, where he won’t have to be too fine. He is slated to begin 2018 at Triple-A Memphis.

10. Ryan Helsley, RHP
BORN: July 18, 1994.
B-T: R-R | HT: 6-1 | WT: 195
DRAFTED: Northeastern State (Okla.), 2015 (5th round).
SIGNED BY: Aaron Looper.
MINORS: 11-3, 2.72 ERA | 137 SO | 48 BB | 132 IP
Track Record: Helsley grew up in the Cherokee Nation capital of Tahlequah, Okla., and often made the six-hour drive with his family to Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals play as a child. His dream of playing for his favorite team was realized when the Cardinals drafted him in the fifth round in 2015 out of Division II Northeastern State. Helsley dominated low Class A his first full season in 2016 and shot from high Class A Palm Beach to Triple-A Memphis in 2017.

Scouting Report: Helsley is a power pitcher through and through, with a 93-96 mph fastball that touches 98, a power curveball at 80-81 mph with hard, late drop, and an aggressive strike-throwing mentality. He also has a cutter at 87-89 mph and shows feel for an 84-86 mph changeup that flashes average. Helsley is strong and athletic in his 6-foot-1 frame with thick legs built to last. Like many power pitchers, his fastball command can get erratic at times, and his walk rate has increased every level he has climbed. Helsley has the arsenal to start, but late-inning relief would be an easy transition if his fastball command stalls.

The Future: Helsley reminds many of Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, who coincidentally was signed by the same scout, Aaron Looper. Helsley will continue to develop as a starter for now at Triple-A Memphis in 2018.


2018 Position Rankings: Center Field

The elite talent at the top carries this center field class.

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