It’s Wednesday and time for another CardinalsGM blog post. Enjoy!
In our last blog, we looked into the Faces of the Future ( it can be found here) that included the young pitchers (age 25 and younger) that were on the 40-man roster. We always like to compare leaning on “young pitchers” to gambling in the casinos listed over at OnlineCasinoSnoop. Simply put — it’s a gamble!
We also included a pitcher or two that was on the Memphis AAA roster in 2018.
Now we turn our attention to the young infielders that are 25 years old or younger and are not lower than AA in the organization.
Let’s begin with the first basemen in the organization.
Luken Baker (1997)- He is the 16th best prospect in the Cardinals organization and the only one in the top 30. The only other first baseman that could be considered a prospect is Rangel Ravelo but he missed this list as he is 26 yrs old.
Baker was drafted by the Cardinals in 2918 in the complimentary draft out of Texas Christian. He was a pitcher in college and had an arm strain that moved him to first base to utilize his bat.
He has some power to his bat and is also a very good contact hitter. The Cardinals project him to the major leagues in 2021.
In the previous season, he hit .319 in 163 at-bats and drove in 22 runs. He will likely move to AA Springfield to start the new season.
Max Schrock (1994)- He has hit everywhere he has gone but hit a skid last season with a .249 average in 417 at-bats but did show some extra-base hit ability by rapping out 22 doubles.
Also, he handles the strike zone very well with 24 walks and 36 strikeouts.
The Cardinal acquired him in the Stephen Piscotty deal. Look for his arrival sometime in 2019 as his lefthanded bat may be in need in the utility role in the major leagues. Currently, he is listed 11th on the prospect list.
Ramon Urias (1994)- He is 20th on the Cardinals prospect list and can play anywhere on the infield. The Cardinals signed him last January after he was released by the Rangers. He quickly made an impression in Memphis.
He is likely a sure fire utility player in the big leagues and it is likely to be in 2019. Last year he hit .300 in 310 at-bats in Springfield and Memphis along with 28 doubles and 13 home runs. His best position is second base.
Edmundo Sosa (1996)- He was born in Panama City, Panama in 1996 and is currently 15th on the Top 30 prospects in the Cardinals organization.
He is best known for his glove work and is likely a shortstop and/or third baseman in the future. He has an average bat but this defense and arm are above average.
In 123 game in 2018, he hit for a .270 average with 30 doubles and 12 home runs. He will need to cut down on his strikeouts as he amassed 94 but only 22 walks. He could get a call in the utility role next season if he shows good potential in Spring Training.
Yairo Munoz (1995)- He was a big surprise last year in the major leagues with his ability to play several positions. He manned second, third and shortstop along with outfield when needed in 2018.
He hit .275 on the major league roster along with eight home runs, 16 doubles and 42 runs batted in. His best position is as a shortstop and will be given first dibs on the utility role if he has a decent Spring Training.
Delvin Perez (1998)- He was selected 23rd overall in the 2016 draft. The 20-year-old shortstop hasn’t had a good start to his professional baseball career. After injuring his hand early on things began to improve.
Last offseason he got to play for a team that was managed by Yadier Molina and that helped things get on the right track. Perez hasn’t much power but he has good arm strength, great running ability, and good instincts along with defensive positioning skills.
Last year in Short-A league, he hit .213 with one home run and eight stolen bases in 64 games. Due to his age, the organization will give him plenty of time to get things figured out before he makes a major league roster. Look for late 2021 or early 2022 for his professional debut.
Evan Mendoza (1996)- He was drafted in the 11th round in the 2017 draft out of North Carolina State. He is not a power hitter but has shown a propensity for getting the bat on the ball and driving it into the gaps.
His glove has gotten him to the AA level and likely will see him on the Memphis roster. In 2018, he hit .282 in 515 at-bats in Palm Beach and Springfield combined. He contributed 19 doubles and eight home runs but couldn’t help from striking too many times at 104 for the season with only 39 walks. He has a 2020 projection but could see either or both of the other third base prospects pass him by.
Elehuris Montero (1998)- He comes in as the 7th best overall prospect in the Cardinals organization. He was signed in 2014 from the international market and hasn’t disappointed them at all. He has a bat that makes contact with better than average power.
I have had the opportunity to watch him several times in Peoria and he has a very strong arm and good defensive skills. It is his bat that will get him to the major leagues quickly. Look for a bit more time in Springfield but a quick move to Memphis will follow. He is projected to reach the majors in 2020 and could also play first base to get his bat on the field.
In 2018. he hit .315 in 480 at-bats along with 37 doubles and 16 home runs. Also, he added 82 runs batted in. The organization would like to see him cut down on the strikeouts as he accumulated 103 and only 39 base on balls.
Nolan Gorman (2000)- He is the 2nd overall best prospect on the Cardinals list and will quickly take over the top spot hen Alex Reyes gets back to the mound. He was drafted in the first round (19th overall) in the 2018 draft out of high school in Arizona.
He has raw power and could become the next big power hitter for the Cardinals. He won several home run derby contests and has a strong bat. His defense is adequate but his foot speed is lacking. Currently, he is projected to arrive in 2022 for the major leagues but could see that moved up to get his bat in the lineup if a first baseman isn’t ready before him.
Last year he hit 17 home runs in 237 plate appearances and finished with a .291 batting average in games in the App League and at A- Peoria.
Andrew Knizner (1995)- Many have stated this is the heir apparent to Yadier Molina now that Carson Kelly has been traded. He was drafted in the 7th round of 2016 drafted out of NC State. He started there as a third baseman and they moved him behind the plate after a very good first season.
He has some plate discipline and can barrel up the ball but is best known for his strong arm behind the plate and ability to stop errant pitches along with working with pitchers.
Last season he was in Springfield and Memphis where he batted .313 on the season. He had 18 doubles, 7 home runs and 45 runs batted in. The current plan is for him to stay in AAA this year and gain more experience and in 2020 he will come up to gain a year of tutelage from Molina before taking over the next season. He is listed as the 5th best prospect for the Cardinals.