Our update on the St. Louis farm system typically comes every two weeks, but our recent pre-draft posts pushed this one back a little bit. Get off our backs, okay? We’re just trying to provide you with valuable and timely content! Thank you; a heartfelt apology was all we ever wanted. We love you, too. Now that we’re done arguing, it’s time to check in on what the Cardinals of the future are doing. We of course touched on the outlooks of many notable players while reviewing the system’s depth, but these posts are more or less designed to show what progress has been made in games by top Cardinal prospects throughout the minor leagues.
Memphis Redbirds (21-38)
We’ve been tracking shortstop Ryan Jackson’s progress not because he’s necessarily an intriguing prospect so much as he’s some kind of shortstop prospect in a system with a dearth of them. Jackson’s glove isn’t questionable in the least, but his bat is what will make or break him. While scouting reports may dim the outlook we so desperately want to have, Jackson reemerged from a May slump recently, and his season line now sits at .294/.354/.413. We’d obviously love it if Jackson could replicate these numbers at the highest level, but that probably isn’t realistic. When we say we’re cautiously pumped about Jackson’s success, we mean that maybe he could be a solid defensive shortstop that doesn’t kill the team at the plate. Furcal’s only on board for this season and next, and his health is always in question, so we’re crossing our fingers on Jackson.
Zack Cox is still mired in a disgusting slump, though we’re now hearing injuries may be playing a part in the matter. Nonetheless, Cox is still exhibiting a complete lack of power (.349 SLG, 3 HR in 183 PA) and isn’t even hitting for contact (44 K) or average (.209 AVG) like he was supposed to. Even if he gets it together, we’re not convinced he’ll ever be of much help at the hot corner unless he’s a really good bat boy or something.
We’re obviously still very high on Shelby Miller, but his first stint in Triple-A is not going all that well. As we’ve mentioned, he’s been having trouble with his velocity and as a result he’s been hit very hard. Miller now has a 5.18 ERA and 1.67 WHIP thanks to the 70 hits he’s allowed in just 57 1/3 innings. Despite his struggles, Miller still has a K/9 rate of 9.9/9 and we think he’ll be just fine. Joe Kelly, whose upside is far lower, is still pedaling right along with a 2.86 ERA and just 21 walks in 72 1/3 IP. Triple-A hates John Gast, as the lefty has been hammered and unable to throw strikes since getting promoted to Memphis. Maikel Cleto pitched well at the level, but he’s already been stuck with the difficult task of helping fix the Major League bullpen.
Springfield Cardinals (28-28)
I hope you didn’t count on not reading about Oscar Tavares, because that’s exactly what we’re going to make you do. Tavares is holding strong, as the toolsy 20-year-old is hitting .316/.369/.578 with 11 home runs and five steals in five attempts. There have been no blemishes to find on Tavares’s progress thus far, and we can’t wait to see what his future holds (Babe Ruth). Kolten Wong is still faring well also. Last year’s first-round selection is hitting .313/.377/.444 in 220 PA, and he’s chipped in nine steals to boot.
The Curious Case of Trevor Rosenthal continues, though its rights to become a major motion picture have yet to be picked up. Rosenthal has kept his ERA at 2.90, and his 8.1 K/9 rate is solid enough even for the level, but his control could become a thorn in his paw at any point. The 22-year-old right-hander has walked 32 in 59 innings (4.9/9), and it isn’t likely he keeps the oppositions to only 6.1 hits per nine.
Palm Beach Cardinals (26-32)
And now we move on to the Palm Beach section, also known as the Carlos Martinez section. Unfortunately, Martinez’s shoulder issues have sidelined him for the time being and there really aren’t any other top prospects to discuss in that space. We could tell you that Casey Rasmus is hitting .333, but then we’d also have to tell you that he’s had three at-bats at the level. We could also tell you that Alan Ahmady has an impressive .383 OBP, but then we’d have to divulge that he’s 25-years-old and playing High-A ball. You get the drift. Move on and read about the terrifying little thieves that reside in your neighborhood rivers.
Quad Cities River Bandits (29-29)
Tyrell Jenkins dominates this section much like Carlos Martinez does the one above, and he’s hit a rough patch. The 19-year-old has a 4.74 ERA and a 4.3/9 walk rate, but he’s still extremely young and is at least striking out eight per nine. Jenkins is still extremely young, and his development right now may be in refining pitches. Results will surely come, but it’s tough to expect them all at once. Colin Walsh, who isn’t a prospect of any merit, continues to do his vintage Pujols impression at the Low-A level. Walsh is hitting .321/.435/.617. That 1.051 OPS is probably double what one could ever expect his Major League ceiling to look like.
With a new crop of drafted players hopefully getting ready to sign, these posts will get all the more interesting in the future. It’s going to be interesting to see where the system heads with Jeff Luhnow guiding the ship in Houston these days.