Ranking the top St. Louis Cardinals prospects: 21-25

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Before we get into this round of prospects, I want to thank Nathan Baliva of the Peoria Chiefs for having me on his podcast yesterday. We talked about a bunch of current and former Chiefs’ players in the Cardinals system. Give it a listen HERE

When looking at these prospects, I may have Peoples-Walls rated higher than others. I love his skillset and think he will be a big asset in the outfield. That said, he probably would have been ranked higher if he stayed in the infield.

25. Tommy Pham

Pham would probably be higher on this list if a couple of things hadn’t happened. If Pham could stay healthy he would be higher on this list. Also if the Cardinals would not have made the trade with the Angels, Pham would be higher on this list. Peter Bourjos has a very similar skill set with Tommy Pham, so its hard to imagine a future in St. Louis. Also Pham will be a free agent after 2014 if he is not placed on the 40-man roster.

Pham could get lost in the outfield mix for 2014, but he should begin the season with the Memphis Redbirds. This, of course, is assuming he is healthy. How much playing time will he get? That has yet to be decided.

24. Mike Mayers

A word to describe Mayers that we have heard many timed before is “pitchability”. He may not have the best stuff but can exploit hitters with what he has. He has three solid, not great pitches, but again, knows how to use them well. The Cardinals used their third round pick last year on Mayers and he, along with Marco Gonzales, were the only two 2013 draftees to make it to a full-season squad as Mayers made 5 starts with the Peoria Chiefs. He appears to have a very solid delivery that’s easily repeatable, thus should limit the injury risk.

A lot like Petree, Mayers could start at Peoria or be pushed to Palm Beach. As of today, I would probably place him at Peoria, with a mid-to-late season move to Palm Beach.

23. Oscar Mercado

I really have a hard time putting an 18-year-old who has not played an inning above rookie ball this high on the list. I decided to put Mercado, the Cardinals second round pick in 2013, this high because he has a pretty nice ceiling to his career. He is a plus defender who will likely stay at shortstop and he is an above average runner. His biggest problem is his bat, and it is a big problem. In February of 2013, there were many mock MLB drafts that had Mercado going in the first round, but a poor senior season at the plate caused him to fall to the Cards. Things did not improve that much in his first season of professional ball as he hit just .209 for the Gulf Coast Cardinals. Hopefully a year removed and a spring training will help his stroke. Mercado is the definition of “high risk, high reward”.

For 2014, I would not be surprised to see him back in the Gulf Coast League with a possible promotion to Johnson City or State College late in the season if he has made improvements at the plate. His age is one the biggest benefits for him.

22. Sam Freeman

The 26-year-old had a very impressive 2013 season with the Memphis Redbirds that translated into a late season call-up to the big leagues where the fine season continued. Over 82 plus total innings last year, Freeman allowed a .212 BAA and struck out 74 batters while walking 33. I almost put Freeman ahead of Stoppelman because he owns a 40-man roster spot, but I think in the end, Stoppelman will have a better professional career.

Freeman will begin the season in the Memphis’ bullpen unless the injury bug hits either Randy Choate or Kevin Siegrist. One of those has to go down before Freeman gets a call.

21. Kenny Peoples-Walls

This is pretty high praise for a guy who has not played an inning in the outfield in his minor league career to date. Peoples-Walls is making the switch from shortstop to the outfield because of his extreme athleticism. I get really excited watching this guy play. If you factor out his 2013 numbers over a full season it would be 19 home runs and 24 stolen bases. Again, he needs to work on his plate discipline but he will only be 20 for the majority of 2014.

Peoples-Walls’ is in the outfield mix for the Peoria Chiefs in 2014. If there are injury concerns or if he is grasping the position, he could be delayed or could return to short season ball with the State College Spikes.

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February 4th: CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE

February 6th: CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE

February 11th: CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE

February 13th: 25-21

February 18th: 20-16

February 20th: 15-11

February 25th: 10-6

February 27th: 5-1

March 4th: The Best of the Rest

Follow me on Twitter @CardinalsFarm or on Facebook. If you have any questions, you can e-mail me at john@cardinalsfarm.com.

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