Welcome everyone to the first installment of my new weekly summary, “St. Louis Cardinals Prospects; Three Up, Three Down”. A quick synopsis of the summary is three Cardinal minor leaguers who had an “up” week, and three who had a “down” week.
The St. Louis Cardinals prospects will be chosen based on their performance that week and will be selected from any of the Cardinal family of teams. Maybe even a major leaguer from time to time if they are fresh off of a call-up or I really want to write about them. This first one will cover the season so far and then weekly installments will follow.
Some selected may be highly touted prospects, some will be a flash in the pan that you may never hear from again. I just want to give everyone in the minors their due when they are producing, they may never make the show, but by helping their affiliate win, they bring these prospects along and help the big club win as well.
I’ll also throw in something to watch for in the coming week at the end of each piece. A matchup, a call-up, or just something I think you all might enjoy. Well now that you know what the heck you are reading, let’s get this party started. Every week I will begin with the downs so we always end on a high note.
What’s Cooler than Cool?
We start things off with a player who is more victim of expectations than anything else, Dylan Carlson. Carlson was promoted to (A+) Palm Beach after starting the season with (A) Peoria. He didn’t exactly excel in Peoria, batting just .234, and his struggles have continued in Palm Beach with only 9 hits in 52 plate appearances.
Taking into consideration that Dylan is only 19 years old and on the upswing the last few weeks. And the fact that his OPS was .794 in Peoria, I’m not worried yet. This young man is still figuring things out and as his plate discipline gets better, I believe his numbers will improve.
Chase Pinder seems to be one of the only bats that can’t get it going down in Palm Beach. Basing players who are down on the entire season can be rough in this organization. All of our minor league affiliates are hitting the ball pretty well, but Pinder’s numbers stand out a bit in an albeit, small, sample size.
His OPS is only .521 through 89 plate appearances, and as a few on the big club this year have said, he seems to be, “in-between” at the plate. He is currently on the 7-Day DL but will look to rebound upon his return. Pinder has shown the ability early this season to handle lefties at the plate, certainly a trait that can help any ball club.
We conclude the downside of our article with a name most of you are familiar with, Carson Kelly, but more specifically, Carson Kelly’s bat. Kelly has been as highly touted as any prospect in the majors the last few years and in my opinion, rightfully so. Yadier Molina‘s so-called, heir apparent, right?
While I have never had any problems with Carson’s ability behind the plate, it seems I’ve always been waiting for his bat to follow. After struggling for a few years at the lower levels, he more or less raked in Memphis in 2017. Many thought it had finally happened, he figured it out. Many were still concerned about his ability to hit MLB pitching.
Personally, I came from the perspective that he just needed consistent at-bats. Well, it looks like we will all find out in the next few weeks. Carson comes back from Memphis where he was slashing only .234/.337./.364. Kind of pedestrian for such a highly touted prospect. While Yadi is out, I would like to see Carson get steady at-bats, this organization needs to find out who Yadi’s predecessor will be.
THE Heir Apparent??
Speaking of heir apparent’s for Yadi, we begin the “up” portion with Andrew Knizner. I don’t need to spew opinion at you for AK at Springfield this season, just look at the numbers. His OPS is .873, wRC+ is 138, with a wOBA of .396. It’s going to hard for the organization to keep him under wraps much longer.
The only things holding back Andrew are his defense, which isn’t terrible but leaves a little to be desired, and Carson Kelly. I don’t believe either will obstruct him for long. As he continues to rake and Springfield continues to win, more and more eyes will be looking west rather than south for Yadi’s eventual replacement.
Next up we shine the light a little harder on Springfield and take a look at Lane Thomas. Thomas has shown his power early this season already putting 8 bombs on the board, and his OPS is .868. His run total of 22 and his 61 total bases are both good for second on the team.
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While he may not lead Springfield in many categories, other than Ks which he will need to improve on, I bring him to your attention for his beautiful power stroke and his solid D in the outfield. On a side note, he also used to play some infield and we all know how much this manager and front office love utility players. The Cardinal explosion of outfield talent is unbelievable.
Coming out Red Hot
We close it out with my favorite player on the list and quickly becoming one of the favorites in the entire system, Juan Yepez. Juan began the season in Peoria but was recently promoted to Palm Beach, and in my opinion, his stay will be brief there as well. This kid sets fire to the screen when I watch him play.
In his 25 game stay in Peoria, I won’t list all of the statistical categories he leads the offense in, it would double the size of this story, but I will say this…it was a very important one other than HR. All of them, including an OPS of 1.058 and a wRC+ of 189. Since being moved up and playing a handful of games, he is 0 for 12, but I would be willing to bet anything he will rebound very soon.
As I said, Juan pops off the screen when he is on the field, he looks like an unstoppable force right now. His defensive ability playing the corner infield has been good as well, though he does have an error early in the season. Cardinal depth on the infield is lacking right now, so it is great to see this kid emerge after being somewhat a castoff in the Matt Adams trade.
Life Collides With Baseball
In the coming weeks, I would like for everyone to keep an eye on our Stephen Piscotty returns, Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock, who have both played very well in Memphis in the recent weeks. More depth for our infield, as well as more utility for Mo and Matheny to play with. Also, it can help to serve as a barometer to how efficient the front office can be.
Not only working out a deal best for its players but great for our organization as well.
One other guy to keep an eye is Daniel Poncedeleon. After the horrifying incident last year, he has had a great start this season which is heartwarming to see. His ERA sits at 2.23 with 38 strikeouts in six starts. I, for one, hope he keeps it going and we can someday soon see him in St. Louis. What a story that would/will be.
Watching the minors thus far this season has been a complete thrill. There is a ton of baseball to keep up with and a lot of different players that could have made both sides of this list. I hope you will all join me again next week for another roundup of this organizations hottest and coldest players.