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2020 Organization Report: St. Louis Cardinals

by Rob Gordon

Organization Grades

Hitting: B ... Pitching: B- ... Top-end Talent: B- ... Depth: B- ... Overall: B-



Minor League Affiliates

Triple-A: Memphis (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Springfield (Texas League)
High-A: Palm Beach (Florida State League)
Low-A: Peoria (Midwest League)
Short-season: State College (New York Penn League)
Rookie: GCL Cardinals (Gulf Coast League)
Rookie: Johnson City (Appalachian League)



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1. Dylan Carlson (OF) ... 6-3, 195 ... B/L ... 21 ... 2016 (1) HS (CA)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2017Peoria (Midw)383.240/.342/.34712700.457/6
2018Peoria (Midw)47.234/.368/.42618791.002/2
2018Palm Beach (FSL)376.247/.345/.38612790.679/6
2019Springfield (Tex)417.281/.364/.51811760.5321/18
2019Memphis (PCL)72.361/.418/.6818750.335/2
Comments: Breakout campaign was only a matter of time after being pushed aggressively early in career. Posted career highs en route to first 20/20 season. Plus bat speed and a powerful frame result in above-average raw power. BB rate and contact skills justify this level of production. Switch-hitter improved from the LH side and can play all three OF slots.

Development Path: The cost-conscious Cardinals need players like this to develop and matriculate to the majors. Should push for playing time in 2020 though will likely start the year back at AAA-Memphis. Long-term he offers the kind of steady production on both sides of the ball that the Cardinals expect.

Fantasy Impact: Plate discipline and above-average power give him a chance to develop into a middle-of-the-order hitter. Has only average speed so the SB aren't as likely to translate at the MLB level, but the bat, defense, and work ethic certainly should and he just turned 21.

Upside Grade: 8B


2. Nolan Gorman (3B) ... 6-1, 210 ... L/R ... 19 ... 2018 (1) HS (AZ)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2018Johnson City (App)143.350/.443/.66414740.6511/1
2018Peoria (Midw)94.202/.280/.42610590.266/0
2019Peoria (Midw)241.241/.344/.44812670.4110/2
2019Palm Beach (FSL)215.256/.304/.4286660.185/0
Comments: Top prospect from 2018 took a step back. Has some of best bat speed and power in the minors, but aggressive approach results in swing-and-miss and will need to make more contact to reach potential. Thick frame results in average speed and stiff actions at 3B, but does have strong arm and should be able to stick on the dirt.

Development Path: Given his struggles to make consistent contact (13 BB/73 K in the FSL), the Cardinals will likely start him back at High-A Palm Beach, but a quick start should have him at Double-A by mid-season. With Matt Carpenter under contract through at least 2021, there is no reason to rush him.

Fantasy Impact: Top-end raw power gives him the potential to be an impact fantasy 3B, but a 70% ct% is a huge red flag. Don't be alarmed by the drop in power in 2019 as he was one of the youngest players at both levels. If he can tone down his aggressive approach, he has the power to hit 30+ HR in the majors.

Upside Grade: 9D


3. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) ... 6-5, 200 ... 20 ... 2018 (1) HS (AZ)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2018GCL Devil Rays (GCL)27.20.980.9803.610.42.9.162
2018Princeton (App)5.03.601.4003.69.02.5.250
2019Bowling Green (Midw)78.13.101.2903.68.72.4.230
Comments: Polished, athletic LHP had successful full-season debut. Improved staying tight with high 3/4s delivery. 4-pitch pitcher who uses height to create downward plane on his pitches. FB sits 92-94 with slight run and little margin for error. 1-7 CB is his best pitch and projects to be a plus. CU is also future MLB pitch. SL lags behind.

Development Path: Liberatore consistently got stronger as the season wore on in Single-A. High-A will be his likely challenge in 2020 as he looks to get over the 100-IP mark. The trade to the Cardinals likely doesn't impact his ETA to the majors.

Fantasy Impact: For as young as Liberatore is, he's a high floor mid-rotation SP. But other than adding velocity to his FB, hard to see him taking the big step forward to be a #1/#2. He'll likely perform like a #3/#4 fantasy.

Upside Grade: 8C



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4. Andrew Knizner (C) ... 6-1, 190 ... R/R ... 25 ... 2016 (7) North Carolina State Universit
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2017Peoria (Midw)179.279/.325/.4805880.418/1
2018Springfield (Tex)281.313/.365/.4348860.587/0
2018Memphis (PCL)54.315/.383/.4077850.500/0
2019Memphis (PCL)246.276/.357/.4639850.6512/2
2019St. Louis (NL)53.226/.293/.3777740.292/2
Comments: Patient hitter continues to put up solid numbers, but looked overmatched in MLB debut. Bat to ball skills are among the best in the system and he should continue to hit for average with 15-20 HR power at his peak. Continues to improve behind the plate but footwork and blocking remain inconsistent and arm strength is just a tick above average.

Development Path: Being the backup to Yadier Molina would not seem to leave much playing time, but Molina is 37 and he logged just 113 games in 2019. Knizner is virtually a lock to break camp with the Cardinals.

Fantasy Impact: Knizner should hit for average with moderate power, but his peak is still a couple years away.

Upside Grade: 7B


5. Elehuris Montero (3B) ... 6-3, 195 ... R/R ... 21 ... 2014 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2017GCL Cardinals (GCL)173.277/.370/.46811810.675/0
2018Peoria (Midw)382.322/.381/.5298790.4115/2
2018Palm Beach (FSL)98.286/.330/.4085780.231/1
2019GCL Cardinals (GCL)13.308/.400/.3087850.500/0
2019Springfield (Tex)224.187/.235/.3176670.197/0
Comments: Impact bat despite a disastrous 2019. Slowed by wrist and hamstring injuries and never got going. Owns a quick bat and excellent bat-to-ball skills with above-average raw power. Needs to be more selective for hit tool to develop, but has the frame and strength to mash 25+ HR. Fringe defender needs to improve footwork and range to stick at 3B.

Development Path: Is likely to head to AAA-Memphis to start the year. Even with a quick start, Montero is probably at least a year away from making his MLB debut.

Fantasy Impact: Montero slashed .315/.371/.504 in 2018. He needs to make more consistent contact to reach his full potential, but with a return to health, he has the tools to do so.

Upside Grade: 8D


6. Ivan Herrera (C) ... 6-0, 180 ... R/R ... 19 ... 2017 FA (PN)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2018GCL Cardinals (GCL)112.348/.423/.5009820.551/1
2018Springfield (Tex)4.000/.200/.0000500.000/0
2019Peoria (Midw)248.286/.381/.42312770.638/1
2019Palm Beach (FSL)58.276/.338/.3288720.311/0
Comments: Offensive-minded backstop had an excellent full-season debut. Quick bat and an advanced understanding of the strike zone allow him to barrel balls consistently with average to above power. Blocking and receiving are a work in progress and arm is only average. Will need to work hard in order to stay behind the plate, but the tools are there.

Development Path: More than held his own as a an 18-year-old in the MWL and got into 18 late-season contests at High-A. Will likely head back to the FSL in 2020.

Fantasy Impact: If his power continues to develop, he has the bat-to-balls skills to be an offensive asset, but he must improve defensively to reach that potential.

Upside Grade: 8D


7. Zack Thompson (LHP) ... 6-3, 190 ... 22 ... 2019 (1) University of Kentucky
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2019GCL Cardinals (GCL)2.00.001.5000.018.00.333
2019Palm Beach (FSL)13.14.051.5002.712.84.7.286
Comments: Strong-bodied lefty with checkered medical record has avoided surgery so far. Four-pitch mix highlighted by a low-90s FB that tops at 97 mph. Mid-80 CT/SL has plus spin rates but is inconsistent and gets slurvy. Upper-70s CB is also above average. Mechanics are not pristine, but he repeats them well and maintains a consistent release.

Development Path: The Cardinals eased Thompson into pro ball after he made 14 starts at Kentucky. They will likely start him at High-A in the FSL with a possible mid-season bump to Double-A. Given his health history and collegiate experience, the Cardinals will likely push Thompson fairly aggressively.

Fantasy Impact: Thompson's four-pitch mix and ability to miss bats makes him a solid fantasy option in deep keeper leagues. The Cardinals have an excellent track record of drafting and developing collegiate starters and Thompson is worth a small long-term investment.

Upside Grade: 8C


8. Genesis Cabrera (LHP) ... 6-2, 190 ... 23 ... 2014 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2018Springfield (Tex)24.24.741.5004.77.71.6.245
2018Montgomery (Sou)113.24.121.2904.59.82.2.209
2018Memphis (PCL)2.00.000.5004.513.53.0.000
2019Memphis (PCL)99.05.911.4703.59.62.7.265
2019St. Louis (NL)20.14.871.6704.98.41.7.274
Comments: Flame-thrower struggled at AAA, giving up 20 HR before moving to relief and making his MLB debut. FB sits at 95-98 mph and runs away from LHB. CU is firm but with late fade vs RHB. SL flashes plus, especially against LHB, but is inconsistent and will keep him in relief. Does have swing-and-miss stuff and lefties who hit 99 mph don't grow on trees.

Development Path: A solid spring should land Cabrera a role in the Cardinals pen, but will need to refine mechanics and cut down on free passes before he'll be trusted in high leverage situations. There will be some bumps in the road in 2020, but the long-term potential is substantial.

Fantasy Impact: Cabrera has the arsenal to be an MLB closer, but until/unless he moves into that role his fantasy impact is limited to deep NL-only formats. Decent end-game option for those in dynasty formats or with deep reserve rosters.

Upside Grade: 8D


9. Junior Fernandez (RHP) ... 6-1, 180 ... 23 ... 2014 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2018Palm Beach (FSL)9.20.001.1401.96.53.4.237
2019Palm Beach (FSL)11.21.541.3706.28.51.4.186
2019Springfield (Tex)29.01.551.0003.413.03.8.171
2019Memphis (PCL)24.11.481.1504.110.02.4.189
2019St. Louis (NL)11.25.401.2904.612.32.7.205
Comments: Hard-thrower had a bounceback season after struggling with injuries and control. Plus FB sits and 95-98, topping at 99 with arm-side run. Power SL remains fringe-average with inconsistent shape and depth, but above-average CU plays up due velocity of FB. Above-average Dom and below-average Cmd hint at both the upside, and the work to do.

Development Path: Showed enough in MLB debut that he should make the Opening Day roster in 2020. As with many hard-throwing prospects, needs to show improved control before he is put into high-leverage situations. Fernandez and Genesis Cabrera give the Cardinals two high-octane relief prospects.

Fantasy Impact: As with Cabrera, Fernandez has the stuff and moxie to close, but until he gets the opportunity his fantasy impact will be limited. Worth stashing away in deep NL-only formats.

Upside Grade: 8D


10. Jhon Torres (OF) ... 6-4, 199 ... R/R ... 20 ... 2017 FA (CB)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2018AZL Indians 2 (Ariz)99.273/.351/.42410760.464/3
2018GCL Cardinals (GCL)63.397/.493/.68311790.624/1
2019Johnson City (App)112.286/.391/.52715680.536/0
2019Peoria (Midw)66.167/.240/.21210560.240/0
Comments: Came over as part of the O. Mercado deal. Was over-matched in MWL assignment, posting a 39% K rate, but regrouped when sent to Rookie ball. Plus bat speed and impressive all-fields power are his carrying tools. Shows some feel for barreling the ball, but needs to make more contact. Average speed and a plus arm give him a RF profile.

Development Path: Torres showed enough when demoted to earn a return trip to Low-A Peoria (MWL). Being more selective at the plate and making more contact will be critical to his long-term development. At 19 he still has time to figure things out and the Cardinals have no reason to rush his development.

Fantasy Impact: Torres is a high-risk/high-reward prospect. Physically he has exciting tools and should develop more power as he matures and fills out his 6'4" frame, but at this juncture fantasy owners will want to take a wait-and-see approach.

Upside Grade: 8D


11. Justin Williams (OF) ... 6-2, 215 ... L/R ... 24 ... 2013 (2) HS (LA)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2018Durham (IL)356.258/.313/.3767770.318/4
2018Memphis (PCL)69.217/.276/.3917750.293/0
2018Tampa Bay (AL)1.000/.000/.000010000/0
2019Springfield (Tex)57.193/.246/.2637700.241/1
2019Memphis (PCL)102.353/.437/.60814710.537/0
Comments: Hand injury limited him to 159 AB between AA/AAA. Didn't miss a beat when he returned and now owns a career line of .297/.342/.436. Professional hitter with natural power, but unorthodox mechanics and GB tendency leave many skeptical it will translate. Average runner with a strong arm fits as an everyday RF, but only if the power emerges.

Development Path: Will start the year back at AAA-Memphis and is firmly behind Dylan Carlson and Randy Arozarena on the depth chart. But the Cardinals have a history of getting surprising production from mid-level prospects. Should make his MLB debut in 2020, especially if the Cardinals need a LHB off the bench.

Fantasy Impact: Williams lacks any standout tools, but has the size, raw power, and track-record of hitting for average, despite fringe contact rates.

Upside Grade: 7D


12. Johan Oviedo (RHP) ... 6-6, 210 ... 22 ... 2016 FA (CU)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2017Johnson City (App)27.24.881.4505.910.11.7.210
2017State College (NYPL)47.14.561.5003.47.42.2.272
2018Peoria (Midw)121.24.221.5405.88.71.5.228
2019Palm Beach (FSL)33.21.601.2203.29.42.9.223
2019Springfield (Tex)113.05.651.6305.110.22.0.261
Comments: Cuban RHP is more of a thrower than a finished product. FB topped at 97 mph in the past, but sits at 92-95 mph now. Inconsistent mechanics results in sub-par command. CB flashes can be plus at times, but lacks consistent depth. Also lacks feel for CU and will need to show improvement to remain a starter, but the upside is significant.

Development Path: Oviedo struggled mightily when promoted to Double-A Springfield and will likely repeat that level in 2020. The Cardinals starting rotation remains a strength so there is no reason for the club to rush Oviedo unless he's ready.

Fantasy Impact: Despite his struggles in 2019, Oviedo has a plus fastball and has a career 9.4 Dom. If he can cut down on the free passes, he has the potential to develop into a solid #3 starter.

Upside Grade: 8D


13. Angel Rondon (RHP) ... 6-2, 185 ... 22 ... 2016 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2017GCL Cardinals (GCL)47.22.641.3203.27.72.4.243
2018State College (NYPL)29.03.721.2402.27.13.2.250
2018Peoria (Midw)59.02.901.1202.68.73.3.217
2019Palm Beach (FSL)45.02.200.9603.49.42.8.161
2019Springfield (Tex)115.03.211.2303.38.82.7.223
Comments: Converted OF continues to exceed expectations despite less than overpowering stuff. FB sits at 92-94 with good late sink. Backs up the heater with a plus but inconsistent CB and a CU that flashes as above-average. Has a loose, athletic frame and could add a tick of velocity. Control comes and goes, but he does keep the ball off the barrel.

Development Path: Rondon made 20 starts at Double-A Springfield and should move up to Triple-A with a possible MLB debut at some point in 2020.

Fantasy Impact: Rondon owns a career 3.01 ERA over 347.1 professional innings, but will need to prove that his FB/SL mix is enough to miss bats at the next level. Keep him on your radar in deep NL-only formats, but for now take a wait-and-see approach.

Upside Grade: 7D


14. Julio Rodriguez (C) ... 6-0, 197 ... R/R ... 22 ... 2016 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2017Johnson City (App)182.280/.343/.4519830.555/0
2017Palm Beach (FSL)3.000/.000/.000010000/0
2018Peoria (Midw)291.258/.288/.4054790.228/0
2019Palm Beach (FSL)268.276/.321/.4076800.307/0
2019Springfield (Tex)45.222/.255/.3114670.131/0
Comments: Dominican backstop has been slow to develop, but put up solid numbers in the pitcher-friendly FSL earning a mid-season All-Star nod. Above-average defender with good blocking and receiving skills, a quick release and a strong, accurate arm. Aggressive approach at the plate leads to contact issues, but does show moderate pull-side power.

Development Path: Rodriquez got into 14 games at Double-A, but because the club has such depth at the position, he will head back to Springfield to start 2020. While he is best defender in the system he will need to more offensive production to surpass Andrew Knizner and Ivan Herrera on the depth chart.

Fantasy Impact: Defensive-orientated catchers typically don't have a ton of fantasy value and at 22 Rodriguez doesn't have a ton of time to carve out a starting role.

Upside Grade: 7D


15. Edmundo Sosa (2B,3B,SS) ... 5-11, 170 ... R/R ... 24 ... 2012 FA (PN)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2018Springfield (Tex)261.276/.308/.4293800.177/1
2018Memphis (PCL)191.262/.321/.4086780.315/5
2018St. Louis (NL)2.000/.333/.00033501.000/0
2019Memphis (PCL)453.291/.335/.4664790.1817/2
2019St. Louis (NL)8.250/.400/.25011750.500/1
Comments: Defensive-minded player slugged a career-high 17 HR in second full season at AAA. Slick defender has range, soft hands, and enough arm strength for SS, 2B, and 3B. Quick hands and a contact oriented approach allows him to put the ball into play, but lack of selectivity means few base on balls.

Development Path: Sosa will likely head back to Triple-A Memphis for his third stint in the PCL. If the uptick in power proves legit, he should see increased playing time in the majors.

Fantasy Impact: There was a huge spike in HR production in the PCL in 2019, but Sosa's power has been trending in the right direction. He is good enough defensively to play multiple infield positions and if the power surge careers over, he could have some marginal fantasy value in NL-only formats.

Upside Grade: 6B


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