St. Louis Cardinals 2019 Preseason Top 10

Nolan_Gorman.0
Nolan Gorman in HS at Sandra Day O’Connor. Courtesy: Aaron Whelan

1)

Player: Alex Reyes
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height:  6’3” Weight: 175 lbs.
Quick Report: MLB rookie eligibility, and by proxy prospect status, state it occurs once a player EXCEEDS 50 innings or 45 days on the active roster. Well, Reyes threw 46 innings in 2016, then missed 2017 with Tommy John only to return to the big leauges and throw exactly four innings in 2018, which means he has not EXCEEDED 50 innings, instead he has pitched 50 innings. The next pitch he throws in a big league game means he will exceed rookie status, and graduate from prospect eligibility. Given he has been around so long means most know about him, big fastball, plus curve and change, solid slider, command is iffy, has had trouble staying healthy. Essentially ace upside but needs consistency to get there.

2)

Player: Nolan Gorman
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height:  6’1” Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: As much power as I have ever seen in an amateur prospect, Gorman crushed in the Appy league but struggled in a very aggressive promotion to the Midwest league. The .350 average is definitely not a sign of things to come, but the 11 home runs in 38 games of Rookie ball is proof his incredible raw power has already translated to game power. He will swing over good breaking balls and the load caused him to be late on some velocity, but minor adjustments should correct this. He has enough arm to stick at third although the footwork and glove lead to some concerns and there may be a future move to first base.

3)

Player: Andrew Knizner
Position(s): C Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: Knizner is raw as a catcher as he played middle infield in high school, then moved to third his first year at NC State before finally moving behind the plate. He has seen some time at first base in his pro career, and he wouldn’t be the worst defensive third baseman to take the field, so there is position flexibility to him. While the bat is well ahead of the glove, the Cardinals are confident he will become at least an average defender, and with a call up not far off he will be learning behind the best in Yadier Molina. At the plate he is contact before power, but he will hit enough home runs to at least be a threat. His best tool by far is the hit tool, where he is expected to be above average to better, which is a great option to have especially if the defense keeps improving.

4)

Player: Dakota Hudson
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’5” Weight: 215 lbs.
Quick Report: Hudson has been dominant throughout his Minor League career, then went on to post an ERA below three in 26 relief outings in his first taste of the big leagues a season ago. It looks like he will be the Cardinals fifth starter to start the season although there is still concern over his walk rate. He has a fastball than can sit up to 95 with a plus slider that also works harder with more of a cutting action. His change showed improvement to be at least average with the possibility of better. He has a curve when he was at Mississippi State, but it has regressed to the point of near extinction in his pro career. His ceiling of a number four starter certainly isn’t flashy as a number four prospect, but with a track record of a quality reliever as a floor already established raised his value in these rankings.

5)

Player: Elehuris Montero
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Montero has plenty of arm to stick at third and will be given every opportunity to stay there, but the reality is his future is probably as a first baseman given his below average footwork and quickness. Either spot will suit him just fine offensively as he has plus raw power and a swing that allows for more contact than the approach suggests. He can drive the ball well the other way, although he is aggressive at the plate and takes big hacks too often, leading to him expanding the zone. The hips are strong but can open ahead of the hands at times, leaving the bat behind his core strength and not allowing him to take full advantage of his strength. As he matures and improves his approach, he should turn into a solid everyday bat that can provide pop and a solid average.

6)

Player: Dylan Carlson
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Switch Throws: Left Height: 6’3” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Carlson saw some time in center in his first couple seasons as a pro, but moved to the corner full time last year, which is where he has plenty of arm strength to play well in right. His approach at the plate is quite advanced where he has cut down his strikeouts and has long had a good walk rate. He has real power from both sides of the plate, although the swing is more consistent from the right side and can get a bit long from the left. He has a leg kick from both sides that sees him out on his front foot a bit more than you like to see, but he could become a solid regular or quality bench piece that can play both corner outfield spots and first.

7)

Player: Jhon Torres
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: Torres is a guy who could explode towards the top of the Cardinals list this year as Torres has plenty of tools but has yet to play outside complex leagues. He already has a mature body and room to grow even more, he has plus raw power although the leg kick impacts his ability to get to it in games. The swing is very busy with moving pieces all over the place, but the bat control and eye at the plate are solid, suggesting there is plenty of improvement to come. In the field he is a future right fielder where the arm is more than enough and his athleticism could make him an above average defender there.

8)

Player: Malcom Nunez
Position(s): 1B/3B Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5’11” Weight: 205 lbs.
Quick Report: .415/.497/.774 is a ridiculous slash line regardless of the level, and that is what Nunez posted in his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League a season ago, where he won the league’s Triple Crown. He was a star on the U15 Cuba squad and signed for just $300,000 in a year the Cardinals were limited financially due to a spending spree the year before. They just may have gotten a bargain as the raw power is real in Nunez and he has an advanced approach thanks in large part to his participation on the international stage from an early age. His future is probably at first base, where he could be at least league average, but given he has yet to debut stateside it is hard to rank him much higher than this.

9)

Player: Edmundo Sosa
Position(s): INF Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5’11” Weight: 170 lbs.
Quick Report: Sosa is exactly what you are looking for to be a utility infielder. He has enough arm to play anywhere and the footwork/glove to be a very good shortstop. The bat is the reason Sosa is a utility player rather than a future everyday guy. He makes plenty of contact, but it is light contact despite nearly doubling his career best in home runs last season, putting up 12. He has made some adjustments to his approach that increased the amount of loft he has in his swing, so there is some hope he can be a double-digit home run guy in his best seasons. The bat is quick and controlled despite the leg kick which will allow him to be a valuable bench piece for a long time.

10)

Player: Ryan Helsley
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Helsley aims to become the first ever player from Northeastern State to play in the big leagues and could do so early this season. He has a big fastball that has hit triple digits while sitting in the upper-90s. He has a sharp curveball and a change that shows late movement along with a cutter that he mixes in from time to time. The command is not great and may limit him to the bullpen where he could be a good middle reliever, but there is still the upside he can carve out a role for himself as a number four or five starter.

Others of Note:

Genesis Cabrera – LHP – 22 – AAA
Lane Thomas – OF – 23 – AAA
Griffin Roberts – RHP – 22 – High A
Conner Capel – OF – 21 – High A
Luken Baker – 1B – 21 – Low A
Adolis Garcia – OF – 25 – MLB
Evan Mendoza – 3B – 22 – AA

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