The St. Louis Cardinals minor league system has seen quite a transformation over the last year. While the club was preparing for their hacking punishment, they loaded up on international talent. In my debut prospect list for The Intrepid STL, you will find my numbers 20 through 11 ranked prospects and three of them were signed internationally within the last year.
Here are my prospects 20 through 11. I’d love to hear what you think! You can comment below are reach me on Twitter @CardinalsFarm
20. Jose Adolis Garcia, 24
Garcia has had a very successful debut in the Cardinals organization. Starting the year with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals, Garcia had a 112 wRC+ over 263 plate appearances. He was then promoted to Triple-A Memphis and, in limited action, has improved upon his AA numbers. Garcia has a 179 wRC+ over 41 plate appearances but a very lofty .552 BABIP. If Garcia was a couple of years younger, he would probably be rated higher. However, his power production has been a nice surprise to this point. Defensively, he has played all outfield positions and could probably be above average in center, but will likely be destined to right field, thanks to his cannon for an arm.
19. Austin Gomber, 23
I had Gomber inside the top 10 before the season began, but he has had a disappointing start to the season. To this point in the season, Gomber is 4-6 with a 4.39 ERA and a 4.89 FIP with Double-A Springfield in 2017. Looking at his peripherals, Gomber’s K and BB rates are right in line with career averages, however he is giving up way too many long balls. Over 82 innings, he has allowed 13 home runs which is a career high in 50 less innings. The good news is that over his last 4 starts he has a 3.03 ERA and has pitched at least 7 innings in every start. Hopefully this trend continues.
18. Johan Oviedo, 19
At 6’6″, 210 lbs, Oviedo has the size to become something special. The Cuban native received $1.9 million from the Cardinals a little over a year ago and has had a successful start to his 2017 short season. With the Johnson City Cardinals, Oviedo has made three starts and has a 2.70 ERA thus far with nearly 11 strikeouts per 9 innings. Oviedo needs to work on his secondary pitches, but is a strong candidate to move up this list by the end of the season.
17. Jake Woodford, 20
The comparison for Jake Woodford has always been Lance Lynn, in my opinion, and that hasn’t changed much this season. Woodford has a 296 ERA over 14 starts at High-A Palm Beach, a place that is pitcher friendly. I think what makes Woodford attractive is his ability to eat innings (part of the Lynn comparison). Woodford does not project as a #1 or #2 starter, but he could be a real solid #4 or #5 starter who can give you 200 innings each season.
16. Dylan Carlson, 18
There are several things to like about Dylan Carlson. First of all, he is just 18 years old and one of the youngest players in the Low-A Midwest League. Second, he is a switch hitting power hitter with a strong throwing arm. Carlson has the raw power that Cardinals fans are clamoring for. With the Peoria Chiefs, Carlson is holding his own as one of the league’s youngest. To this date, he has a 99 wRC+ and a solid .342 OBP. The power numbers have been down, but they will get better.
15. Ryan Helsley, 22
Helsley has been rising up the prospect ranks since last season when he had a 1.61 ERA over 95 innings with the Peoria Chiefs. What is exciting about Helsley is his fastball which has topped out at 100 M.P.H. This season, Helsley rise has continued as he has a 2.79 ERA (2.69 FIP) with High-A Palm Beach. An issue to watch is Helsley’s age. At 22, he is 2 years older than rotation mate Jake Woodford, however Helsley’s gas will take him a long way. I think Helsley’s floor is that of a solid MLB reliever.
14. Oscar Mercado, 22
Mercado has been the biggest surprise of the 20176 minor league season and it is not even close. There is not another prospect that has seen as such a big of jump through the prospect rankings as Mercado, to the point where he is a legitimate center field prospect who can hit very well. Mercado moved to center this season and has seen his offensive numbers skyrocket. With the Springfield Cardinals, Mercado has a 132 wRC+ while hitting 8 home runs over 74 games. His defense in center has also been very good. I definitely want to see more before placing him on a future MLB roster, but he could easily be a top 10 prospect by the end of the season.
13. Junior Fernandez, 20
Gun to my head and I will tell you that I think Junior Fernandez ends up in the bullpen, but you have to let him keep starting because the potential is there for him to be a #2 or #3 starter. Fernandez brings high-90’s heat and can throw a nice curveball but is pretty inconsistent with it. His issue is his command and control, which is what makes me think he moves to the bullpen. While his bullpen profile would be similar to Ryan Helsley‘s, Fernandez’s possible potential as a starter makes him a higher ranked prospect.
12. Randy Arozarena, 22
Arozarena was in the same international class as Johan Oviedo (as well as Jonathan Machado) and has really impressed in his debut season in the Cardinals organization. In 2017, Arozarena has jumped to Double-A Springfield after posting an impressive .275/.333/.472 133 wRC+ line at Palm Beach. What has been the most surprising to me has been his power. Known mainly for his speed, Arozarena had 8 home runs in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. Defensively, he could probably play center field like Adolis Garcia, but he is behind Mercado there so he will likely play left field.
You may have seen Arozarena in the news lately with this crazy heads-up play.
11. Jordan Hicks, 20
Hicks has a somewhat rare combination of power and the ability to get ground balls. Jordan Hicks was just promoted to High-A Palm Beach within the last week after compiling a 3.35 ERA over 78 innings with Peoria. While his former teammate Mike O’Reilly had better numbers, the promotion of Hicks over O’Reilly shows what the Cardinals think about Hicks. His strikeout numbers aren’t quite where you want them and his walks are a little high, but those should stabilize. Right now, I would suggest a ceiling of a #3 starter for Jordan Hicks.
Check back next week for my numbers 10 through 1 prospects.
Thanks for reading!