United Cardinal Bloggers Postseason Roundtable: The Most Anticipated Prospect

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Tuesday was our day to host the United Cardinal Bloggers Postseason Roundtable.

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My question to the group was this: Which prospect are you looking forward to making their debut with the Cardinals during the 2015 season?

As for myself, my answer is Stephen Piscotty. If he’s not on the Opening Day roster, I think he makes his debut by June. Of course, this all depends on whether the Cardinals sign a free agent or trade for a player to serve as a stopgap.

Dan Buffa: If the Cardinals don’t sign an impact bat for RF, I look for Stephen Piscotty to challenge Randal Grichuk for playing time in 2015 and earlier than June. I also look forward to a more expanded role for Tommy Pham and to get a look at Tim Cooney, but for me it’s Piscotty. Hearing him talk to the media in January, he seemed eager to please and ready to roll. The kid is simply waiting for an opportunity. He has a short compact swing. He doesn’t strike out. While I would prefer a free agent grab or trade, if we stick in house, I want Piscotty out there hunting for at bats. That way in my mind makes the Cardinals dangerous in 2015.

Cole Claybourn: My answer would be Stephen Piscotty. He draws a lot of comparisons to Matt Carpenter, and Matt Carpenter is my favorite player on the team. I’d prefer my outfielders to have more power than Carpenter, and Piscotty has been labeled as a line drives, gap, doubles guy so he won’t be sending many out of the yard. But if he can swing the stick and drive in runs, that’s all that matters.

Marilyn Green: Obviously Stephen Piscotty is the one prospect everyone thinks of when talking about 2015 debuts. He is the closest one to being ready. I like Piscotty, I always have, but I have no illusions that he is going to be an Oscar Taveras replacement. Piscotty is a smart kid and a hard worker and I see him as more like Matt Carpenter in that respect. He isn’t going to wow you with power, however. We don’t have another Taveras in the system right now, but there are kids to look forward to .

There are a few guys in the lower levels of the minors that I am excited about seeing develop, but the question was about 2015 debuts, so unless one or two of them make a warp speed ascension, we won’t see them in 2015.

Mark Tomasik: Aledmys Diaz. At some point in 2015, the Cardinals are going to want to give him a chance to experience the big leagues and see how he handles himself. They have to decide whether Diaz is the eventual replacement for Jhonny Peralta. The Cuban defector turns 25 in 2015. Though held back by injuries in 2014, Diaz did hit .291 at Class AA.

Bill Ivie: Here’s my thing: I like Piscotty, I consider Marco Gonzales still a prospect, and I’m interested to see the development of guys like Grichuk and Tommy Pham. But am I excited? Not quite.

It is one thing to have a minor league system that feeds the major league roster. The Cardinals are doing that well. But it is another to have an exciting prospect that you cannot wait to see. Oscar was that guy at one point. I’ll be honest, and it is a hard thing to talk about in light of everything, I had soured on him a bit in 2014.

Are there good prospects coming? You bet. Is there a future cornerstone of the franchise somewhere in the system? History tells us there is. Ultimately, history also shows that it is just as likely to be someone we don’t even talk about as it is to be the guy we are all looking at.

Prospects are prospects. They are not a sure thing. I’m more excited to see what Mozeliak does this winter to shore up this offense a bit.

Daniel Shoptaw: I’m kinda in Bill’s corner. Maybe it’s because I’m not as familiar with the minors now, but it doesn’t seem that anyone has the cache that Taveras, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, even perhaps Marco Gonzales had. Piscotty will likely be a good player and while his talent is a big reason he’s at the top of everyone’s list, there’s also not a huge level of competition there.

We’ll see if Luke Weaver or Jack Flaherty can start to build some buzz this year. Maybe Tyrell Jenkins will take that step we’ve been waiting for. Even so, those are guys that won’t (well, shouldn’t–we’ve seen how first round picks move the last couple of years) make it to the bigs this season.

We’ve been spoiled with top-notch talent hitting the majors every year. There has to come a time when that takes a breather.

Bob Netherton: I’m happy to see all of the comments about Stephen Piscotty, especially in light of the first question in this roundtable. Like many of you, I do see him as a Matt Carpenter type of player, and the Cardinals could certainly use a few more of those.

So I will take a slightly different direction with this one and say Sam Tuivailala. Though he did make two appearances with the expanded rosters, 1 inning pitched does not really make for much of a debut. Since moving from shortstop to reliever just two seasons ago, Tuivalala’s rise through the farm system has been most impressive. This is not a case where they are rushing a youngster because of a hole in the major league roster, it is because he has an electric arm. Control has been a bit of an issue, and the lower levels of the minors don’t penalize a pitcher for that. On the other hand, when you have the kind of swing and miss stuff that Tuivalala has, you can afford a few more walks here and there.

Sam has been impressive thus far in the Arizona Fall League. In 11 appearances with the Peoria Javelinas, he has thrown 13 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on seven hits. He has struck out 11 while walking 4. His 5 saves leads the Arizona Fall League, and his 0.69 ERA is the best on the team.

This one is pretty simple. With Eric Fornataro (Nationals) and Jorge Rondon (Rockies) lost via waivers, Sam should start the 2015 season as the closer in Memphis. We know that a pitcher will go down with some sort of injury, perhaps as early as May. Tuivalala could be one of the first arms called up. Then we might get a chance to see what that electric arm can do with a serious test in the big leagues. Let the hyperventilating begin.

Tom Knuppel: By the end of August and first of September I could see Rob Kaminsky getting some Michael Wacha/Marco Gonzales type looks in the major leagues. I watched him several times in Peoria and likely he is a fast track lefty. I am anxious to see him in the majors.

Bob Netherton: You have a keen eye, Tom. Kaminsky is quite an impressive talent, so much so that I hope they do not do a Kevin Siegrist and fast track him up to the majors as a lefty reliever. I know that his size is something of an issue for spreadsheet crowd, but he is different than we have seen of late – a nearly complete pitcher at a young age. With the Cardinals injury experience with Tyrell Jenkins, and more recently Kevin Siegrist, they might be better served going slow with Kaminsky, letting his innings load grow gradually. Like Jenkins, the sky could be the limit for this young man, and I’m willing to wait if that means watching him pitch in the big leagues for a decade or more. Perhaps Marco Gonzales and Tim Cooney can give them the patience to do just that.

You could make nearly the same argument with Alexander Reyes, another killer electric arm that is barely out of high school.

Doug V: I’m with Tom and Bob. I want to see Kaminsky. I am looking forward to Piscotty, but there’s something about watching an electric arm. This isn’t Cardinals related, but my favorite part of the World Series was watching those KC fireballers, especially Yordano Ventura. I really Hope Kaminsky pans out.

Tom Knuppel: Reyes was mostly “up” but was “up and down” at times in Peoria. He will need to master his control and emotions a bit more as he progresses. Reyes dad told me he was a bit overwhelmed just being a professional baseball player but the family moved just to give him this chance.

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