Oct 26, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Wong hits a single against the Boston Red Sox in the 8th inning during game three of the MLB baseball World Series at Busch Stadium. Image Credit: Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks recently released their list of the 101 top prospects heading into the upcoming season, and it should come as no surprise that a handful of St. Louis Cardinals prospects provided some representation on that list.
To no one’s surprise, Oscar Taveras (#3) and Kolten Wong (#33) both make an appearance in the top 50. The two talents have been appearing on top prospect lists for quite some time now, and their play has certainly warranted it. Taveras is the second highest rated outfielder on the list, and Wong is the highest rated second baseman on the list.
Wong should begin this season as the starting second baseman so long as he comes in to spring training camp and performs up to the level he did throughout his stay in the Cardinals minor leagues. During his short amount of time with the Cardinals last summer it was very clear that defense is never going to be an issue when Wong is manning second base. The only aspect of his game that you may hear most fans questioning is whether or not he can actually hit major league pitching. His track record throughout the minor leagues suggests that he will. It’s just going to take some time. There is just an adjustment period that players have to make when they move up to the most difficult league in the entire game. So, exercise patience Cards fans. The best is yet to come with him.
Taveras is a slightly different case because the Cardinals are flush with outfielders as the club’s roster is currently constituted, and it doesn’t make a ton of sense to have him waste his talents, and miss valuable at bats, riding the bench behind established players. He will move up to the big club this summer. The only question is when. At this point it appears injury, a trade, or a combination of the two are going to have to take place in order for Taveras to break spring training on the big league roster. As a fan base, we are just forced to sit back and watch it all unfold.
Now that those two are out of the way, let’s talk about the other two Cardinals who made an appearance on the top 101 list.
Outfielder Stephen Piscotty checked in at #66 which places him as the 12th best outfield prospect in the entire minor leagues according to Baseball Prospectus. I wrote a profile about him at the end of December so I don’t really have a whole lot more to say in this space about him other than this: There is an outfield logjam. He’s not jumping ahead of Taveras. So, plan accordingly and don’t expect to see him until the logjam works itself out.
Now for the player who just barely snuck on to the list at #98 that I imagine will come as a surprising name to a vast majority of the casual Cardinals fans out there, Alexander Reyes. Who?
Reyes is a 19 year old right hand pitcher who signed with the Cardinals in December of 2012, and he has an interesting back story. He is from New Jersey, but had moved to the Domincan Republic, and the Cardinals were able to sign him almost a year to the day that he went to live with relatives in the area. Back in November, Derrick Goold’s Bird Land Blog released a post that included the Bird Land 7 – the top 7 prospects in the Cardinals system. Reyes made an appearance at #5 on that list, and here is an excerpt of what Goold had to say about him at that time:
"“5. Alex Reyes, RHP. Age: 19. The hotshot righty received a $950,000 bonus as an international amateur because he moved to the Dominican Republic to live with relatives there on the brink of going pro. The bonus was the highest for a pitcher in the 2012 market. Reyes is the raw athleticism and power that the Cardinals have carved into standout prospects before. His fastball sits 92-95 mph with command, but can consistently touch 97 mph. He’s still growing. He’s still learning. He’s working on a more consistent delivery that will give him more consistent command and consistent power. He’s learning to “pitch soft,” at times. He had 68 strikeouts and 28 walks in 58 1/3 innings as a starter for rookie-level Johnson City. A name to know.”"
A name to know, indeed. With the inclusion of Reyes on Baseball Prospectus’ list, it appears that the wealth of talented arms does not stop with Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, and Michael Wacha. No matter what, that’s a great thing because baseball is, and always will be, an arms race.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.