Cards #1’s & more…

As we continue to fight the coronavirus in our daily lives and our life seems to be on a continual treadmill…going nowhere fast….there STILL is action behind the scenes for the Cards & the MLB…..
….some recent Card transactions & their impact….the Cards optioned Alex Reyes. Once thought of as the crown jewel of the Cards future prospects….Reyes was rated the Cards #1 prospect for 4 consecutive years and Baseball America named him the second-best prospect overall in their 2016 mid-season ranking. Way back in 2016, Reyes was 4-1 for the Cardinals with some really impressive stats—1.57 era, in 46 innings only 33 hits with 52 strikeouts and the batting average against him was a scant .201. In 2017 he underwent Tommy John surgery which ended his season & it was followed in 2018 Reyes again had surgery…this time for a torn tendon in his lat muscle, effectively ending his season. Now….He’ll be 26 years old in August. This spring training… remember back when we had spring training …it seemed to me that he was using a great deal of breaking balls…he didn’t seem to have the “heater” as he once did. My thought is that Alex Reyes will NEVER be a #1 in any Major League rotation and that he will struggle to even make any MLB starting rotation. It’s sad.
…speaking of #1 rated prospects, the Cardinals…arguably….have in the past decade, NEVER had their TOP prospect (not top draft choice) excel for the Cardinals in the MLB for more than a single year. Top Prospects of the Decade—2020–OF Dylan Carlson; in 2019,2018,2017, 2016—RHP–Alex Reyes; in 2015-Marco Gonzalez; 2014-2013–Oscar Taveras; 2012-2011–Shelby Miller. The sudden very tragic death to Oscar Tavaras jolted the Cards system….he was really expected to be “THE MAN”. He’s never been replaced in the Cards plans at the same high plateau by any hitter. Miller WAS 15-9 in 2013. After going 10-9 in 2014 he was dealt for Jason Heyward. Miller has won just 12 MLB games since the Cards traded him prior to 2015 season.
…another “move” this week saw the Cards send catcher Andre Knizner back to AAA baseball…..1st of all with Matt Wieters on the roster as a backup, no space for Knizner. Wieters IS a switch hitter and proved himself to be a adequate backup. He was very good at the plate until late May. ON May 16, he held a .300 mark by June 19 he had sunk to .219. In June he hit .091 as he did start and play many games during a 5 week stretch. It seemed as if his swing “quickness” declined sharply with heavy every-day use. In July, his average inclined but dipped badly in August & Sept. Lesson…..he’s much better when “fresh”—apparently quicker bat. If Yadi is out for 3+ consecutive days, bring up Knizner and start him but keep Wieters as the traditional ol’ time back-up, pinch hitter. Sitting Knizner on the bench…like Carson Kelly did….benefits no one.
..the Cards have received high accolades for their drafting ability. A franchise HAS to hit their Top Draft pick with some frequency to succeed. None of the Cards Top Draft picks have been super-stars but some have been steady to good MLB performers while others have missed badly. Take a look at the Top Picks of the past decade…..
…2010 Zach Cox …signed and played some in 2010. In 2011, he played for 4 different teams…over the season, he had a .306 batting average, 13 home runs, and 68 runs batted in. After a strong early start in 2012 @ Memphis, he was traded on July 12 to Miami for Edward Mujica. He played until 2017…never made the Big Leagues.
…2011-Kolton Wong- he’s carved out career of being known as a terrific defensive player, can run the bases, has been a streaky hitter for much of his career. Mysteriously….to me…Wong was on the bench for a surprising number of games. Under Matheny, Wong played in 113, 150, 121, 108, 127 games. So…other than in 2015 (50 games), he was on the bench for ¼ or more of the games. I was always puzzled—was Matheny trying to motivate him, didn’t like some aspect of his game, was Wong a complainer about “being hurt”, a “worry-wart” …. who knows…but he DID sit far too much during many of those years during his “prime” age time. Last year, he seemed to bloom under new manager, Mike Shildt. He hit .285, earned a gold glove, recorded personal highs in RBI’s & walks. He was an integral part of the Cards great August….he got on base by bunting, taking the ball the “other way”and made some highlight film defensive plays.
….2012 Michael Wacha—was on MLB roster for 7 years; was MVP of NLCS in 2013 vs Dodgers. His best year was 2015 with a 17-7 record & was an All-Star. In 2018, despite arm issues, he was 8-2 with only 68 hits allowed in 84 innings. In 2019, Wacha earned $6.3m, declared free agency at the end of the year and signed with the NY Mets for $3m. Clearly the grave concerns about arm issues & consistent performance were the driving forces for the Cards disinterest.
…2013 Marco Gonzalez drafted as top Card pick in 2013. He flew to the MLB by 2014. Arm issues in 2015 & 2016. He was traded in 2017 for Tyler O’Neill. In the last 2 years Gonzalez has won 29 games and last year led the MAJOR LEAGUES in starts-34—a reliable starter & lefty….seems like Cards still have those needs.
….In 2014 the top choice was Luke Weaver. He skyrocketed to the Cards by 2016. He was a starter in 52 games during 2016-17-18.… After a 2018 season with a 7-11 record, 150 hits in 136 inn, WHIP 1.496, the Cards must have determined that his ceiling wasn’t as high, as they had thought, earlier in his career. In 2019 arm issues limited work. He was traded to Arizona as part of the Goldschmidt trade.
…the 2015 Top Pick was OF Nick Plummer. He was drafted right out of High School. He missed all of 2016 due to injuries. The 2019 season was a real struggle for Plummer. His slash line was .199/.345/.315…ugh. He continues to have problems with contact—he’s struck out 31.5% of his minor league AB’s!! At this point…at least to me….this 25 year old seems to be longshot. What may hurt the most is that the very next pick of the 2015 draft was the LA Dodgers chose of RHP Walker Buehler.
…the top pick of 2016 wasn’t Dylan Carlson or Dakota Hudson (both drafted that year)! It was SS Delvin Perez! Perez was only 17 when drafted. The positive PED test just prior to the draft didn’t scare off the Cards. At the time of the draft, the general scouting report on Perez was that his defense was ALREADY about MLB ready at shortstop. He had speed and contact, but very little power in his wiry youthful frame. In his first short-season, Perez opened eyes with his outstanding.294/.352/.393 numbers in 43 games @ Gulf Coast. In 2016 he seemed to make progress but the ’17 & ’18 seasons were huge steps backward. For example in 2017, after only 13 games, he was only hitting .140 and was promptly demoted to the GCL Cardinals. Eventually he returned to Johnson City in late July and had a slash line of only .203/.314/.271 with both clubs in 34 games. Perez only had five stolen bases and nine RBIs with GCL and Johnson City combined. In 2018 his slash line of .213/.301/.272 with 21 RBIs in 64 games was really disappointing. His base stealing regressed also with only 8 stolen bases and was caught stealing on 6 occasions. In 2019, he spent his entire time in Peoria and batted .269. He’s still only 20 years old but he’s been in the minors for 4 years. You don’t hear his name any longer when “top prospects” discussions occur.
2017 Top Pick: OF Scott Hurst—in 2019 Hurst was promoted to AA-Springfield. There he batted .191. Enough said.
2018 Nolan Gorman-still only 19 years old….seems to be the big power/ high strikeout type batter. At Peoria last year he batted .241 with 10 HR in 282 AB. Since he’s so young, its too early to make any decisions on him.
2019 Zack Thompson ….still at low level…he pitched in 13 games, 15 innings….makes me think that they are grooming him to be a “lefty” bullpen man but ,he does have to get that .302 batting mark against him, down.
…While not choosing the TOP PICK with great success, without question the Cardinals HAVE drafted many, many players in lower rounds who became productive…and sometimes…MLB All-Stars. So maybe the Cards don’t reach the highest level player in the 1st round…but overall…they continue to feed many MLB players to the Cards. Both still look promising. It does seem to me that the Cards have more success drafting college players than the very young High School type players.
…other much more recent transactions, former Cardinal, Randy Arozarena was optioned by Tampa Bay. It seems that Arozarena, who is already 25 years old, couldn’t find a spot on the TB roster. Tampa Bay has won over 90 games in each of the last 2 years. They fell to Houston 3-2 in the ALCS last year. So, it’s a tough roster to crack.
…The Boston Red Sox invited Yairo Munoz to spring training. A couple weeks ago, Munoz bolted from the Cardinal camp without a reason..or at least…not a reason known by the public. I suspect the Cards & Munoz know but I doubt that we’ll know any time soon. After he left camp, he was released by the Cards..presumably… for going AWOL. There hasn’t been much of an explanation about that exit! Boston took a flyer.
…in local news, BattleHawk QB, Jordan Ta’amu, signed with the Chiefs….no…he isn’t going to push Mahomes aside but a) NFL teams require many QB for spring practices (if we have any?) b) he’s mobile like Mahomes so maybe Coach Reid thinks that the Chiefs will require that type of QB to simulate other NFL QB’s… we wish him luck!
…..in other significant NFL transactions, Tom Brady signed with Tampa Bay. For weeks, it seemed clear that Brady was leaving the Pats so… no surprise on that end. TB signs Brady, lets their starting QB Jameis Winston go as a free agent. What DOES surprise me is that, Jameis Winston, doesn’t seem to have any interest…hmmm….on the up side…he’s durable—he’s only missed games in 2 of his 5 years! He piled up over 5000 yards passing last year. On the other hand, he’s only had one season over .500 in 5 years @ TB! He also DID throw the most interceptions of anyone in the NFL last year-30! That’s a ton of drive-stopping, momentum changing passes. Tampa hasn’t won a playoff game since 2002 when they won the Super Bowl. In the NFL, the “future” is about 2 or 3 years and peak performance years of players are generally found on one hand. Does Brady match-up with the other QB’s of the Division? He seems right at home with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Teddy Bridgewater. For sure…he’s in the right age-group  but as a passer w/o the tough, strong blocking Patriot line will he have time to read the defense?
Thanks so much for the read….YOUR thoughts are always invited…on Facebook, Prepcasts, or email to me..they don’t’ have to be #1 in length, vocabulary, quality….just your thoughts!

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