Baseball America Releases St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospects List for 2017

Sep 29, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Alex Reyes (61) pitches against the Cincinnati Reds during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Alex Reyes (61) pitches against the Cincinnati Reds during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Baseball America released its annual list of the Cardinals’ Top 10 prospects this week, and a few players who saw major-league action in 2016 rank near the top.

Baseball America released its annual Top 10 prospect lists for each MLB team this week, and the contents of their St. Louis Cardinals list weren’t exceptionally surprising. Righty Alex Reyes, who many consider to be the top pitching prospect in baseball, predictably topped their Top 10 list. Reyes is likely to fall off the list soon, considering that he’ll likely crack the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster this year after posting a 1.57 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and .201 opponent batting average in 12 big-league appearances last year.

The same may go for righty Luke Weaver, who ranked second on BA‘s list. The 23-year-old starter skyrocket through the minors, making his first appearance in the upper minors on June 5 and then making his major-league debut on August 13 of last year. Weaver is much more likely than Reyes to begin 2017 in Triple-A, though, so his “prospect” status may be preserved for a while as his rookie eligibility persists.

Shortstop Delvin Perez, the Cardinals’ first-rounder in 2016, ranked third on the list. Perez, who turned 18 in November, hit .294/.352/.393 for the Cardinals’ Gulf Coast League rookie team, but he’s almost surely four or five years away from making an impact in the majors.

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The final player with major-league experience on the list was catcher Carson Kelly, who came up and played with the Cardinals in September of last year. Kelly is a defense-first catcher who saw major improvements in his offensive production during the 2016 season, and regardless of lingering questions over his ability to be a consistently productive hitter, he’s considered Yadier Molina‘s heir apparent.

Rounding out the list were outfielder Magneuris Sierra (5), righthander Sandy Alcantara (6), outfielder Harrison Bader (7), shortstop Edmundo Sosa (8), righthander Dakota Hudson (9), and second baseman Eliezer Alvarez (10).

BA obviously isn’t as on Bader as MLB Pipeline was in its prospect rankings at the end of the 2016 season, and that’s very understandable. The 2015 third-rounder dominated Double-A over the first two months of 2016, but after receiving a promotion to Triple-A in July, Bader floundered, posting a .231/.298/.354 slash line with just three homers in 147 at-bats. He was demoted back to Double-A during the last week of August. He’ll likely go back to Triple-A to begin 2017, but after getting exposed during the second half, he looks much more like a third-rounder than the steal he looked like during the first half of the season.

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Kelly, who was ranked 11th on Pipeline’s list, is the highest-ranked player on BA‘s Top 10 who did not appear in Pipeline’s Top 10. 2014 first-rounder Jack Flaherty, who was ranked fourth in Pipeline’s season-ending Top 10, didn’t make the cut on BA‘s list. Neither did fireballing 19-year-old Junior Fernandez, who was ranked eighth on Pipeline’s list.

Perhaps the most off-the-wall selection in terms of previously-established prospect status is Alvarez, a 22-year-old who had put up ridiculous numbers in rookie ball during the 2014 and 2015 seasons but didn’t receive a shot in full-season ball until 2016. In 499 plate appearances with the Low A Peoria Chiefs, Alvarez posted a .323/.404/.476 slash line with six homers and 36 stolen bases.

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While the Cardinals have a glut of shortstop prospects (including Perez, Sosa, Paul DeJong, and Oscar Mercado) who will probably eventually be moved to other positions, Alvarez has arguably established himself as the top second base prospect in the Cardinals’ system.