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St. Louis Cardinals: Top 10 Dynasty Prospects

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The St. Louis Cardinals will be our next stop on the farm to evaluate the best prospects on each MLB team. Once the 2020 MLB season begins, it may turn out that Minor League systems will be more important than usual. Franchises are losing money during the pandemic layoff, so many teams will be looking for sources of cheap production. It might also take older players longer to rebound from a long layoff meaning we could see more injuries and more roster moves. We might even see expanded rosters, at least in the early going.

One important question to ask is: How will a long layoff affect prospects? One has to assume the more advanced prospects prior to the work stoppage will be at an advantage, while the more “toolsy but raw” type could be hurt with the lack of repetition and in-game action; throwing or hitting in simulated environments just doesn’t match up to the real thing. Many prospects will have to work jobs during the pandemic just to make ends meet, while players who signed for large bonuses will have an advantage. Other prospects that lack strong discipline and commitment to their craft could struggle to stay in shape.

We won’t really know what the layoff impact will have on baseball in general until things start ramping up. But we do know that a strong prospect pool will continue to be an important element for a successful baseball franchise. We're looking at the Top 10 (or more) dynasty prospects in each organization with an eye to discovering which organizations are best positioned to succeed with their player development when games resume. Make sure to check out all of our prospect content, including Top 50 for 2020 and Top 250 for Dynasty Leagues.

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Quick Synopsis

The Cardinals’ system isn’t overly deep but there are some intriguing bats. The pitching depth is relatively weak although the trade acquisition of Matthew Liberatore helps in that regard.

 

1. Dylan Carlson, OF

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 22
2020 Prospect Rank: 12
2020 LEVEL: AAA
MLB ETA: 2020

Carlson’s results have been hinting at a breakout for a couple of years now and he made good on that potential in 2019. He slugged 26 home runs and stole 20 bases but he likely won’t be a big base stealer in the Majors nor does he have a huge track record of hitting for a high average. Carlson should be a good big-league player but expect more of a modest batting average, excellent on-base numbers, and lots of power with some stolen bases sprinkled in.

 

2. Matthew Liberatore, LHP

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 56
2020 LEVEL: A+
MLB ETA: 2022

Liberatore is one of the more underrated pitching prospects in the minors but that could change with his trade from Tampa Bay to St. Louis. The left-hander with an excellent pitcher’s frame has a chance for three or four above-average or plus offerings when all is said and done. His fastball is just in the low-to-mid-90s but there is room for added velocity on his tall frame. Even if he doesn’t see an additional spike in velo, his control helps his stuff play up.

 

3. Nolan Gorman, 3B

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 67
2020 LEVEL: A+
MLB ETA: 2022

Gorman is well known for his massive power potential and he possesses legit 30-homer potential. However, the swing-and-miss tendencies are also a concern and his approach was exposed with a mid-season promotion to High-A ball with 73 strikeouts in just 58 games. He needed the aid of a .365 BABIP to hit .256. Just 20, Gorman has time to figure things out. He’s strong enough to hit the ball out of the park without taking huge hacks all the time.

 

4. Zack Thompson, LHP

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 152
2020 LEVEL: A+
MLB ETA: 2021

Selected 19th overall in 2019, Thompson likely would have gone even higher if not for significant injury concerns that have haunted him since his prep days. I would be shocked if he doesn’t end up having Tommy John surgery within the next few years. When healthy, he’s a left-hander that possesses above-average fastball velocity with a chance for three above-average offerings.

 

5. Lane Thomas, OF

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 178
2020 LEVEL: MLB
MLB ETA: 2020

I’ve been a fan of Thomas since his A-ball days in the Blue Jays’ system. He has an intriguing mix of power and speed but the swing-and-miss tendencies limit his overall ceiling. The outfield depth in the Cardinals’ system also doesn’t do Thomas any favors. There is 20-20 potential here if he can make enough contact to play every day.

 

6. Johan Oviedo, RHP

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 229
2020 LEVEL: AA
MLB ETA: 2021

Oviedo is a beast on the mound at 6-foot-6 with a fastball that hits 97-98 mph. He also has a potentially-plus slider. The downside here is a lack of a third reliable pitch and below-average command/control. Those two negatives could push Oviedo to the bullpen unless he starts to show improvement in the near future.

 

7. Elehuris Montero, 3B

Dynasty Prospect Rank: 230
2020 LEVEL: AA
MLB ETA: 2021

Montero had a brutal 2019 season. His strikeout rate jumped 10% to more than 30% and the gains he made with his in-game power dried up. He also played in just 63 games due to injury so there is hope that he’ll bounce back in 2020 if he’s fully healthy.

 

8. Junior Fernandez, RHP

2020 LEVEL: MLB
MLB ETA: 2020

Fernandez would be ranked much higher if he had a better track record with his health and had more of a chance of sticking in the starting rotation. He did a solid job of getting strikeouts as a reliever in 2019 but he’s struggled in that area as a starter because he lacks a plus secondary offering — although the changeup shows potential. He’s mostly a one-pitch pitcher with a heavy fastball that sits 95-96 mph.

9. Andrew Knizner, C

2020 LEVEL: AAA
MLB ETA: 2020

Knizner is a very good hitter — especially for a catcher — but he’s stuck behind Yadier Molina so his potential value is diminished unless the veteran gets hurt. Durability is also a concern as he’s never played in more than 95 games in any of his four pro seasons.

 

10. Ivan Herrera, C

2020 LEVEL: A+
MLB ETA: 2022

Herrera is yet another good hitting catcher in the Cardinals’ system. He’s maybe not quite the pure hitter that Andrew Knizner (above) is but there may be more raw power here. Herrera is still just 19 years old and not far off reaching Double-A.

More Prospect Analysis




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