5 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects You Must Watch During Spring Training
St. Louis Cardinals Prospects You Must Watch During Spring Training
The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the top teams in the National League. The Cardinals won in 2011 and made it back in 2013, but lost to the Boston Red Sox. The team has a total of four appearances in the last decade.
The Cardinals are one of the few bigger market teams that still rely heavily on their farm team rather than signing the big-name free agents. Granted, they have offered big money deals, but not to the extent of the Red Sox, New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers.
In the 2013 season, the Cardinals used 12 rookie pitchers. Those pitchers accumulated 36 wins and 541 strikeouts. Among those pitchers were Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha. Miller and Wacha have solidified themselves as a part of the starting rotation. Rosenthal replaced Edward Mujica as the team's closer.
Even with all of those call-ups, the Cardinals still have a productive farm system. Some of the players on this list saw some playing time after the All-Star break last season. Second baseman Kolten Wong made the team's postseason roster. I expect him to be on the Opening Day roster as the starting second baseman while Matt Carpenter moves over to third base. As a result, I do not have Wong listed as a prospect to watch. He would have made the list if this focused on Cardinals' rookies.
The Cardinals pitching rotation is one of the best in the league. Adam Wainwright, Miller, Wacha and Lace Lynn are the four pitchers in the rotation. With questions surrounding the fifth spot, the Cardinals have two or three pitching prospects ready to take that final spot.
The other prospects listed are one outfielder with a great arm and can hit for average and a young catcher who will be at the top of the Cardinals' prospect list next year, but will be someone to watch this year as well.
Stephen Piscotty, OF
Stephen Piscotty is a 23-year-old outfielder playing at the Double-A level. Because of his high baseball IQ, he was able to easily switch from third base to the outfield, which proves that his arm strength is superb. According to Baseball America, he has the best arm among the outfielders.
Piscotty is a great hitter, spreading the ball all across the field. The one thing he needs to work on is his power. If it does develop, then he can compete for a starting outfield position. If not, he could be the fourth outfielder on a really good team. Piscotty will be competing with Oscar Taveras for a possible Opening Day spot.
Carlos Martinez, RHP
I previously went over the Cardinals pitching staff. It should be considering one of the best in all of MLB. The fifth, and possibly sixth, spot are up for grabs. Right now, those spots belong to Joe Kelly and Jaime Garcia. The Cardinals have some good pitchers in the farm system, just waiting to be called up.
Martinez is noted to have a great fastball, clocking in at the upper-90s, and a dangerous slider coming in the mid-80s. His changeup isn't bad either, ranging from 82-85. With a repertoire like this at such a young age it is a great thing for Martinez and the Cardinals.
As the Cardinals' No. 1 pitching prospect, he should open up some eyes throughout the spring and make it as the No. 4 starter.
Carson Kelly, C
Carson Kelly is the youngest player on this list at the age of 19. Despite being so young, he has quick bat speed and a powerful swing. He doesn't walk or strike out very often, making him a tough out for opposing pitchers. Another year or two and he will be a top-10 overall prospect.
As a catcher in the Cardinals' system, Kelly can be called up sooner rather than later. Yaider Molina is the longtime catcher and is still playing at a productive level. However, Tony Cruz is the only other option behind the plate. Kelly probably won't make the big leagues this year, but with a strong spring training and a 2014 season in the minors, he's someone we could be talking about in 2015.
Marco Gonzales, LHP
Marco Gonzales is another young pitcher in the Cardinals system. At just 22-years-old, he has great command of the ball and can get batters out. He made eight appearances in rookie and single-A ball, pitching in 23.1 innings with a 2.70 ERA. Gonzales' fastball ranges from high-80s to low-90s, but has a changeup that can dip below 80 MPH.
Gonzales is a game manager and goes after every batter he faces. If he's brought up, he could fit in nicely as a No. 4 starter. He's smart enough to make in-game changes to avoid getting beat. While I don't think he sees playing time during the regular season, he could be someone who's brought up to fill in the postseason roster.
Oscar Taveras, OF
Taveras is the Cardinals' No. 1 overall prospect. He is a 21-year-old superstar, lighting up the stat sheets in Triple-A. He's a hitter who can hit to all spots on the field, while possessing 25+ home run potential. He also has the capabilities on the field to play all three outfield positions. With the loss of Carlos Beltran, Taveras has the best chance to make the Opening Day roster.
Matt Holliday and Allen Craig occupy the corner field positions. Bourjos is slated as the center fielder, but does not hit well enough compared to Taveras. Bourjos had a .333 on-base percentage, ranked No. 188 among all batters. Taveras hits well for average, allowing Holliday and Craig to drive in the runs.
Taveras will be an exciting player to watch and will give the Cardinals a spark at the front of the lineup.