By Matt Heiken, from Cardsblog.com
Baseball Prospectus is a site known for making valuable prospect rankings of players who could be considered rookies in the upcoming season. Yesterday, on the same day that pitchers and catchers reported, the site dropped its list for the 2017 season.
Now at the current moment in time, the Cardinals farm system is considered middle-of-the-pack in the MLB. Not as good as in years past, where they held plethoras of talent.
However, the team still possesses some studs in their system, and as the site points out, the team's farm system tends to be pretty unpredictable. Breakout players seem to be the players everyone least expects. They use as an example Aledmys Diaz, who didn't even show up on last years pre-season prospect rankings.
Bleacher Report ranks the current state of the Cardinals farm system as 17th in the MLB. However, I have my stipulations with these kind of rankings. The key to a good farm system is good drafting and good coaching. The Cardinals system, with its strong reliance on home-grown talent, shows an excellent history of both.
So even though some people may consider the pool of Cardinals talent to be running dry, the fact that four Cardinals made this years list helps prove the opposite.
Especially since the holder of the number one spot on this years rankings is someone very familiar.
That's right, Alex Reyes.
Alex Reyes has big expectations placed upon him for next season. Many consider him to have the highest ceiling of any pitcher in baseball. In his short service with the team last year, Reyes posted an insane 1.57 ERA with 52 strike-outs in 47 innings pitched.
However, his explosive arm brings with it a few concerns. Namely, whether or not Reyes can effectively bring down his pitch count and assume a lasting role in the starting rotation.
I'm not going to mess around and waste time pretending that someone like Mike Leake or Alex Reyes should be starting Opening Day (although it may not be too long until Reyes stakes his claim to that distinction). For Mike Matheny, the choice is clear, at least clear enough to narrow it down to two worthy candidates.
For a much more in depth analysis of Reyes, and what he offers the Cardinals going into next season, take a look at this piece written by a fellow writer for the site.
Maybe even more exciting than Reyes at #1, is the rest of the Cardinals who appear on the list.
The ranking of Alex Reyes near the top of the list wasn't out of the ordinary. It was expected out of a high-profile arm who teased the world with a quick glimpse last season.
What was way more shocking to me were the other Cardinals who made the list. Specifically the presence of RHP Sandy Alcantara (ranked 40th), who only ranks 9th on the MLB's ranking of Cardinal prospects. Alcantara is a 21 year-old fire-hurler with a fastball that maxes out at 101 MPH.
Despite his fire-generating arm, Alcantara still has a lot of work to do with his command and off-speed pitches, and as such isn't projected to make an MLB appearance until the 2019 season. It's not that I think Alcantara doesn't deserve to be on this list, because I think he does; he holds a ton of potential going forward. It just surprises me to see him so high in the list.
The other two Cardinals who made the list were catcher Carson Kelly (no. 81), and recent first-round pick SS Delvin Perez (no. 79). These two come as much less of a shock to me. Kelly is projected to take over Molina's role as starting catcher in a few years, and Perez was a player who was once projected to go #1 overall in the most recent draft before his run in with PED testing.
A trend has started over the last few decades of teams getting up and moving from Florida to Arizona for Spring Training. Yes, I realize just getting up and leaving to go across the country isn't necessarily the most practical, nor easiest, thing in the world.