Written by: Jake Tweedie
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**Right below is the Cardinals Top 20 list simplified. Scroll further down for FULL Present/Future Grades, FV, ETA and summaries on EACH PLAYER ranked in the system! Tons of Statistics on each player as well! Some player highlights, future outlooks and more, enjoy!**
If you like Podcasts, Click here to take a listen to the Cardinals Top 20 Pod where you can hear our prospect Analysts discuss the Top 5 prospects, and 5 others they find interesting in the system! Who doesn’t like more prospect analysis?
|1||Dylan Carlson||OF||1st Round: 33rd Overall – 2016 Draft|
|2||Nolan Gorman||3B||1st Round: 19th Overall – 2018 Draft|
|3||Matthew Liberatore||LHP||Trade with Rays|
|4||Ivan Herrera||C||International FA Signing 2016|
|5||Zack Thompson||LHP||1st Round: 19th Overall – 2019 Draft|
|6||Jordan Walker||3B||1st Round: 21st Overall – 2020 Draft|
|7||Lane Thomas||OF||Trade with Blue Jays|
|8||Genesis Cabrera||LHP||Trade with Rays|
|9||Tre Fletcher||OF||2nd Round – 2019 Draft|
|10||Jhon Torres||OF||Trade with Indians|
|11||Elehuris Montero||3B||International FA Signing 2014|
|12||Johan Oviedo||RHP||International FA Signing 2016|
|13||Markevian Hence||RHP||2nd Round CBB – 2020 Draft|
|14||Masyn Winn||SS / RHP||2nd Round – 2020 Draft|
|15||Junior Fernandez||RHP||International FA Signing 2014|
|16||Kodi Whitley||RHP||27th Round – 2017 Draft|
|17||Edmundo Sosa||INF||International FA Signing 2012|
|18||Tony Locey||RHP||3rd Round – 2019 Draft|
|19||Luken Baker||1B||2nd Round C – 2018 Draft|
|20||Andre Pallante||RHP||4th Round – 2019 Draft|
1. Dylan Carlson OF – Memphis Redbirds (AAA)
21 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: S – 6’3″ 205lbs – ETA 2020
The standout guy in the Cards’ organization. A well-rounded player with hitting ability, but also defensive ability. He continues to improve, with 2019 being the breakout year. He dominated XBHs and had his best BA in 4 years.
An intelligent batter that recognizes pitches well and reads them before slugging the ball, Carlson can hit all around the park and has been a consistent force since he was drafted. He uses his body well and generates solid power. This translates with solid contact and even better power projection. There’s more comfort as a LHH but can maximize both sides with a sound approach.
Defensively he has solid arm strength and an accurate thrower from CF. He gets in the right positions in the OF to make plays and is athletically good. He may shift to corner outfield as his bat progresses but everything he does he does well and is on the cusp of being a Major League player.
2. Nolan Gorman 3B – Palm Beach Cardinals (A Adv)
20 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: L – 6’1″ 210lbs – ETA 2022
These Top 2 could have gone either way and Gorman shows himself to be a standout guy due to his solid power potential.
He proved his power with 51 XBH in 2019, whilst hitting the ball regularly and making hard contact. He can be caught out due to his aggressive nature and tendency to try and pull the ball, but with work then he could become a much better player. His bat speed is good and his barrel path is solid. He looks to get the ball in the air rather than keep it on the ground, which has its tendencies to be hit or miss.
Defensively he has a strong arm due to his physicality and this works well across the diamond with his accurate throws. He may not be the most agile but makes plays regardless. He could end up being shifted across the diamond with his current projectability but has good hands and would transition easily. Good solid 3B, with a bat that holds up well. One of the top guys in this system.
3. Matthew Liberatore LHP – Peoria Chiefs (A)
20 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 6’4″ 200lbs – ETA 2022
The highest-ranked pitcher in the system but he was picked up from the Rays in 2018. He made 9 starts in his first year with a good ERA and SO rate. Although he walked a fair bit, he has seen improvements in 2019, especially with his pitching itself.
His fastball isn’t the quickest in the low-90s but should develop as he bulks out. He has solid control over his pitch and has life with sidearm run.
Liberatore’s secondaries include a slider, a curveball, and a changeup. His slider is in the low-80s with a decent spin rate but is least developed due to being the most recently added. The curveball is his standout pitch with sharp downward bite thrown with a 3/4 tilt. His changeup has hard downward action and fade that complements his FB well.
He has more control than command currently but with work to clean up his action and develop physically, he would be more of a threat on the mound. He has a high floor and pitchability with advanced mechanics and ability. If he more dominant and aggressive on the mound he can become a key tool in the Cards’ itching team.
4. Ivan Herrera C – Palm Beach Cardinals (A Adv)
20 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 5’11″ 220lbs – ETA 2022
The young catcher comes across as more of an offensive catcher due to the way his bat holds up and his defense seems to follow. There have certainly been progressions in his catching ability but there is a reliant on his bat.
He barrels the ball well and is an advanced hitter for his age. He has had 2 .300 plus seasons and a .284 season last year that shows his ability to hit the ball and his ability to pick up XBH. His knack of identifying pitches well makes his plate discipline good and his decent frame can make the ball pop off the bat with ease.
Whilst he is more a hitter that bats for average, he has the potential to hit more XBHs as he matures as a hitter.
Defensively he has a good arm and strength to work with it. He is accurate and working on improving further in the off-seasons. Whilst his fielding isn’t his biggest strength he has certainly improved and will continue to do so with more experience. He is athletic with room to progress. If he can do this then he can be much more than just an offensive catcher.
5. Zack Thompson LHP – Palm Beach Cardinals (A Adv)
22 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 6’2″ 215lbs – ETA 2022
The first-round pick in 2019 only made 13 appearances last season due to load management but done well in the minimal amount of innings he pitched.
He started off in relief last year and had a fastball of around 91-94mph that has life and comes from a good plane. It could be an impressive pitch with his ability to use all his pitches well and cause problems.
Thompson’s secondaries include a slider, a curveball, and a changeup. His slider sits in the mid-80s with late slicing action and plenty of bite. His curveball has big shape and sits mid-70s. Comes from a downhill plane and he can change his velocity with ease. His changeup is an average pitch that is used well as a combo with his CB.
He is an intelligent user of his pitches and is consistent around the zone. This may be more control rather than command but his ability to use his pitches smartly could allow him to go deeper in innings. It will be interesting to see how he is used when the seasons restart but an exciting pitcher with more control than velocity.
6. Jordan Walker 3B – Drafted 2020
18 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’5″ 220lbs – ETA 2025
No professional stats
The Cards’ first-round pick in 2020 slots straight into the top 10 with his power and ability to hit the ball well. He shows good athleticism for a big guy and has potential defensively.
He has a nice stance and swing, with loose hips, that allow him to generate power alongside his quick bat speed. When he times the ball perfectly he makes solid contact, but he can be inconsistent and this needs to be refined moving forward. He particularly needs to work on off-speed pitches.
His hitting ability creates good exit velocity and he barrels the ball with power. Movement of his hips and frame allows him to pull the ball with ease and he aims that way regularly. Inconsistent contact could affect his power game.
Defensively he has a solid throw and athletic, with quick footwork. He should adapt well to 3B due to his size and frame, as well as being able to generate decent power with his throwing across the diamond.
An intriguing player with plenty of upsides, there’s a lot more to come from the 1st round pick.
7. Lane Thomas OF – MLB
24 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’1″ 210lbs
An interesting player with real potential. He was called-up again by the Cards in 2020 to add to his handful of appearances in 2019. He is consistently improving and showed his ability last year with 4 Major League HRs.
Thomas barrels the ball well and this has been reciprocated with an increase of output from his bat. There seem to be some changes in his mechanics that have allowed this and he is starting to get under the ball a bit more to create a higher launch angle. This has seen him excelling massively in a short space of time, including double-figure HRs and a Grand Slam in the Majors.
Defensively he is just as consistent. He has a decent arm and accuracy that suits OF, whilst being quick on his feet and being positionally adept. His bat may not play at corner outfield but his strong arm would cover him. If he continues to progress then he could become a key part of the Cards’ future.
8. Genesis Cabrera LHP – Memphis Redbirds (AAA)
23 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 6’2″ 180lbs
Usually a starter within the Minor Leagues, he became a reliever when he made the step up to the Majors. He shows great ability with his deliveries and a solid SO rate that saw him promoted to the Majors in the postseason of 2019.
His fastball sits in the mid-90s and has some sink to it, whilst coming into RHH. He can trap up hitters like this with overpowering velocity and accuracy.
Cabrera’s secondary pitches include a curveball and a changeup. His curveball came from an adjustment of his slider, sitting low-80s with plenty of spin and downer action. His changeup sits upper-80s and makes it hard for hitters to make contact. It is still developing but getting better.
He has a lightning-quick arm and explosive delivery. Strikes can be inconsistent due to a lack of real control and not having a repeatable action. If he can work on this in the future then he could develop into more than just a bullpen arm in the Majors.
9. Tre Fletcher OF – Johnson City Cardinals (ROA)
19 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’2″ 200lbs – ETA 2024
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Drafted in the 2nd round in 2019, he had one season at pro ball but showed glimpses of potential with his speed and power. It will be interesting to see how he fairs as he steps up in class but he’s young with a decent size.
He has loud contact but struck out a lot in his first year. He will need to control his approach and focus on getting hits around the field. His BA was average and he hit 12 XBH but should be able to be more consistent with some tweaking on his mechanics. He has a big kick with a wide stance post swing. Whilst this allows him to generate good power, his follow-through doesn’t control the ball.
Defensively he has a decent arm due to his power and size. Throws from the OF are good but will need to develop his game to understand what he needs to do a bit better to become a better fielder.
He has the potential to hit big numbers with his HRs and XBHs but will need to refine his approach to make more contact, reduce SOs, and take more walks. This will come with more experience too, so interesting to see how he develops.
10. Jhon Torres OF – Johnson City Cardinals (ROA)
20 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’4″ 199lbs – ETA 2023
A physical player with good power potential, Torres has done well in the rookie levels but struggled to find his feet when exposed to A class. He needs development both with the bat and in the field but has good potential.
His solid approach has led to him having a decent BA in the rookie levels. He spent the last 2 seasons above .270 but struggled against better pitchers. There could be some slight stance adjustments as his front foot is behind his back foot line and bent in for a big kick to try and produce power, but this sometimes leaves his timing a bit off.
His power is good due to his bat speed and strength post kick and action. There is room to bulk due to his big size and with development and experience will learn to use it effectively.
Defensively he has a plus arm and uses his height and strength well. More suited to RF due to his arm, but he is athletic and has quick feet that allow him to play anywhere in the OF. Will need to continue development but looks good both with the bat and in the field.
11. Elehuris Montero 3B – Springfield Cardinals (AA)
21 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’3″ 235lbs – ETA 2021
Signed in 2014, he spent 3 years at rookie-level before exploding onto the scene in 2018. It represented his first season with 100+ games and showed his impressive talents with 56 XBH and 82 RBIs. This earned him a call-up to AA where he struggled to excel before an injury kept him out for 2 months.
He makes hard contact and solid barrel of the ball. He uses his quick bat speed and large frame to hit XBH, shown by his big progression in 2018. There is aggression at the plate but this may need to refine slightly as he climbs up the levels. He generates decent power by staying on his front foot before pushing himself up to use his upper body and hips to generate momentum.
Defensively, he has a plus arm due to his physicality and build, and makes throws across the diamond with ease. He has the batting profile and arm to stay at 3B, but his physical projection could cause issues as not the quickest on his feet or most agile.
If he can stay healthy and make 100+ appearances on a regular basis then he can continue his development and show the power that served him well in 2018.
12. Johan Oviedo RHP – Springfield Cardinals (AA)
22 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’5″ 245lbs – ETA 2020
Signed for $1.9m, the big pitcher has nice stuff, he just lacks the consistency to continue his development. He dominated A+ with a 5-0 record, an ERA of 1.60 with 35 SO in 33.2 innings, but couldn’t match that in AA, although his SO rate improved.
His fastball sits around 91-95mph, topping at 98mph. He generates huge extension that allows it to play up and he can reduce or maximize velocity as required. There is also some nice movement with a spin rate of 2300 RPM.
Oviedo’s secondaries include a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. His curveball is his least consistent pitch. When he is in control it becomes a dangerous pitch, but when he doesn’t it gets punished. His slider has tilt and late bite. It also has a high spin rate that acts as a high-velocity CB with great movement due to his big extension. His changeup could be better with development but takes the velocity off well. He can create deception as the ball releases from the same slot as his FB.
Oviedo attacks hitters well but needs to control the use of his large levers and utilize his size to his advantage. He has quality stuff and has proven this at A+ last year, but will need to refine his delivery and make the most of his large frame to continue progression.
13. Markevian Hence RHP – Drafted 2020
17 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’1″ 175lbs – ETA 2025
No Professional Stats
The young pitcher was signed in the CBB in the 2020 Draft. There is plenty of work required to make him a top player but his athleticism and ability are evident despite his small frame.
His fastball sits around 90-94mph. It has a heavy sink and is a regular strike-getter. He mixes his 4-seam and is 2-seam well and controls the pitch effectively to make the most of his smaller frame. This allows him to generate good power with quick arm movement and consistent action.
His secondary pitches include a changeup and a slider. His changeup needs plenty of work but he’s only just started using this. It comes out the same slot as his FB with deception sitting around high-70s. His slider creates deception due to its spinning movement. It stays around 76-81mph and looks more like a CB when it is slowed down.
He has the ability to repeat his delivery well and this works well with his arsenal. Limited energy exerted so could go deeper into innings, but will be interesting to see how the Cardinals use him post COVID-19 pandemic.
14. Masyn Winn SS / RHP – Drafted 2020
18 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 5’11″ 180lbs – ETA 2025
No professional stats
The young two-way player offers plenty of potential and upside regardless of what route he goes down.
From a batting perspective he needs work on consistency but can generate decent power due to his ability to barrel the ball. He has a wide base, lower body and shift and late hand hitch load. There is the ability to hit HRs there due to his power and has good strength despite his smaller size.
From a pitching perspective, he has a nice 3-pitch mix, with some work required on his changeup. His fastball sits around 93-96mph, with high spin and riding action, whilst his curveball has a great drop in velocity and becomes a dangerous secondary due to its spin rate.
He is an intriguing prospect as he is probably more solid as a pitcher but is future is seen as a position player. There may be some benefit from using him as a 2-way player for now and seeing how he gets on in Minor League baseball.
15. Junior Fernandez RHP – MLB
23 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’3″ 215lbs
Signed back in 2014, he started his career poorly before becoming more of a bullpen arm and has excelled in this role. He has a decent SO rate and earned himself a call-up to the Major League roster in 2019 and 2020.
His fastball sits around 95-97mph, with potential for triple figures. It has plenty of life and sink, which works well coming out of the bullpen. He can have swingers swinging and missing, largely due to his command improving.
His secondary pitches include a slider and a changeup. His slider is in the upper-80s and is a solid pitch with plenty of bite. It had hitters swinging at 30 of them in the Majors, 22 of them being whiffed. His changeup was his most effective pitch in the Majors. He takes the velocity off and causes swinging and missing. Batters had an average of .071 against it in the Majors last year.
His pure stuff allows him to be effective but he needs to control his velocity better to be consistent and pick up consistent strikeouts. He had a standout year in 2019 but needs to continue his development and Major League exposure will help that.
16. Kodi Whitley RHP – MLB
25 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’3″ 220lbs
A big physical pitcher who is now pitching in the Majors after a call-up to the team in 2020.
He had a progressive 2019 season, increasing his strike rate and decreasing his walk rate, and improving his bat missing ability.
His fastball sits around 94-97mph. It has a life and angle that works well around the zone. He can elevate it or come into hitters, as well as working it well with his off-speed pitches.
His secondary pitches include a slider and a changeup. His slider sits in the mid-80s with downer action. It has a good movement that has hitters swinging. His changeup has late fading action that is better against LHH. It comes out of the same slot as his FB but deceives with its change in velocity.
A bullpen arm that shows plenty of life and velocity, he should do well in the Majors due to this. He is consistent around the zone and shows solid command and control.
17. Edmundo Sosa INF – Memphis Redbirds (AAA)
24 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’0″ 210lbs – ETA 2021
Mr. Versatile! A consistent batter with average potential that has spent a lot of time sidelined with injuries. This has dented his development and could have been slightly different with fewer injuries.
His average has always been above .270, which shows his ability to work the ball around the field and get on base. He has tried to integrate more power into his game to add to his hitting ability.
His power has always lacked, partly down to injuries, but the past couple of years he has improved this with better mechanics. He has started to barrel the ball harder and this has seen an improvement from 11-13 doubles a year and a maximum of 7 HRs a year to 48 doubles and 29 HRs in 2 years.
As shown by his title he is a versatile defender. He can play 2B, 3B, and SS, with quick hands and good instincts. His arm has above average strength so will play well anywhere and he shows the ability to adapt to any position.
Although he isn’t a standout star, his consistent hitting and versatility have seen him called-up a couple of occasions to the Majors. He will always add something a bit different to the roster and can be an important utility player.
18. Tony Locey RHP – Peoria Chiefs (A Full)
22 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’3” 239lbs – ETA 2023
After coming off the back of an 11-2 season at Georgia, he was used sparingly to save his arm. However, when he did pitch he showed his ability to throw hard and his potential as a power pitcher.
His fastball sits around 94-96mph, topping at 98mph. He could easily improve this based on his size and frame and reach triple digits. He likes to work towards the outside of the zone, especially against LHH.
Locey’s secondary pitches include a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. His curveball sits in the low-80s, generally not a big drop and not great control, but another option he could improve on. The slider sits in the mid-80s, a hard slider, which can be sharp and solid but his command is some concern. His changeup was never really used at college as there was no need for it, but it is a work in progress.
Although he has some command concerns, he could be a bullpen arm that comes out and flashes some high-velocity pitching. His secondary pitches need work, especially the big drop in velocity pitches, but will be interesting to see how the Cardinals use him moving forward.
19. Luken Baker 1B – Springfield Cardinals (AA)
23 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’4” 280lbs – ETA 2022
A physical athlete with natural ability and good bat swing, Baker had his first full season last year and showed improvements on his previous season.
Baker makes solid contact with the ball, which leads to big Plus-Plus Raw Power and the ability to hit XBH. He started off slowly last year, but gained momentum and consistently hit the ball in the final 23 games.
Baker has Above-average Plate Discipline, and although his BA wasn’t the best, this is more a mechanical issue rather than an aggression issue. His big frame allows him to hit around the park and he showed this in the final month of the season where he had an OPS of 1.067 and hit 16 XBH in those 23 games.
Defensively he has a plus arm, largely due to his size and stature, but he can struggle from a positional point of view. He’s not the quickest or the most agile so made a few mistakes last year but his bat can play up, making him more suited offensively.
If he can have another full season with injuries then he could easily improve on his 2019 campaign and showcase his batting upside.
20. Andre Pallante RHP – Palm Beach Cardinals (A Adv)
21 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’0” 203lbs – ETA 2023
Selected in the 4th Round last year, Pallante didn’t have much exposure to Minor League baseball, but when he did he showed some promise.
His fastball sits around 91-94mph, topping at 97mph. It has a nice sink to it and has some cutting action as well. He likes to work around the zone with this pitch, although there is a slight lack of control.
Pallante’s secondaries include a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. His curveball has a looping action, in the mid-70s, and works well when he doesn’t leave it up in the zone. His slider is his most impressive pitch. It sits in the low-80s, has decent movement, and works well alongside his CB. It is not as hard as when he was in college but has good action and has hitters guessing. His changeup is also in the low-80s and usually stays low in the zone. Very similar action to his FB before a drop in velocity and movement.
He will need more work to really showcase his talents but a promising debut year and has areas he could improve on ready for the next Minor League season.
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