Five Cardinals’ Minor League performances I missed


Mar 11, 2015; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Jacob Wilson (87) throws to first during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

I like to think of myself as pretty well versed in baseball, particularly the Cardinals. Although I’m by no means an expert, I try to keep up on the top prospects in baseball, and follow St. Louis’ farm system reasonably closely. This past season, I even covered the Palm Beach Cardinals (High A), which was a ton of fun.

That said, things do manage to slip by me fairly frequently. As I was doing a little bit of research the other day, I stumbled across some interesting stuff I hadn’t noticed before, and thought I might as well write about it. So here are five of the more intriguing tidbits I found.

Oscar Mercado stole 50 bases

Drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft, shortstop Oscar Mercado hasn’t exactly blown anybody away so far. His defense hasn’t been as good as expected, his bat hasn’t really come around, he’s shown no power thus far, and he’s still stuck at A ball. But in reviewing his stats, I stumbled upon this little gem. In just 117 games, Mercado stole an even 50 bases this season. That’s good news.

Regardless of his other shortcomings, the kid can run. The bad news is that he’s still pretty awful overall. A .254/.297/.341 line isn’t terribly exciting, and his 86 wRC+ shows that he’s bad for his league. But there’s a little bit more good news to be had: Mercado is still just 20, which makes him younger than average for his league, and if he can improve his contact skills or power (or both), there’s still a reasonable chance that he can turn into the player the Cardinals wanted when they drafted him.

Michael Ohlman was pretty good

Remember this past February when we sent some money to Baltimore in exchange for a really tall minor league catcher? Well, that may turn out to be a really important deal. Ohlman had struggled to advance with the Orioles, but at 24 seems to have figured something out. Although I haven’t seen anything about his defense, his offense really came around, and he posted a 117 wRC+ at AA with a slashline of .273/.356/.500 and 12 home runs. He draws walks and hits for power. Hard to ask for much more. Although I don’t think anyone thought he was the catcher of the future when the Cardinals acquired him, an .856 OPS at AA is nothing to scoff at. If he can keep it up, we may have a replacement backup catcher sooner rather than later.

More from St Louis Cardinals Prospects

Carson Kelly has learned to catch

This one is kind of cheating, because I knew it already, but catcher Carson Kelly won the Florida State League Gold Glove this season, and has received rave reviews from his pitching staff. Although he was drafted as a third baseman, his conversion seems to have worked even better than hoped. Kelly threw out 36% of would-be base stealers and committed just three errors behind the plate.

Additionally, he has a reasonable amount of pop, hitting eight home runs in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League. His contact skills leave a lot to be desired, as he hit just .219, but a .239 BABIP probably had something to do with that. Maybe now that he has “learn how to catch” checked off his to-do list, the offense will follow and he’ll continue to progress as usual. Besides, I seem to remember the Cardinals having another catcher who was great defensively, but couldn’t hit a lick, and I think he turned out alright.

Magneuris Sierra really struggled

After an amazing season in 2014 with the GCL Cardinals that earned him the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year Award, outfielder Magneuris Sierra really struggled. In 51 games at A ball, he hit just .191/.219/.247, and he was demoted to the Gulf Coast League. Although his numbers look better there, with a slashline of .315/.371/.394, there’s one thing that stands out: his power disappeared.

Sierra is still just 19 years old, and most scouts project that he’ll develop more home run power as he grows, but after hitting 12 doubles in 52 games last season, he managed to come up with just nine this season. And that’s over twice as many games. His home run total doubled from two to four, but to his gap power nearly disappear is discouraging. As I said, though, he’s 19 years old. There’s no reason to worry that Magneuris Sierra won’t recover and progress normally through the system, but this certainly wasn’t the step forward that we all hoped to see.

Jacob Wilson hit 18 home runs

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You have to promise that you won’t tell anyone, but the Cardinals farm system has virtually no power. Like, none at all. Hopefully a couple of the players we drafted this past year will help (Harrison Bader contributed 11 home run over about 60 games), but as it stands, we just don’t have a lot pop in the minors.

Jacob Wilson, however, defied the trend and swatted a whopping 18 home runs this past season. I’m relatively certain that figure led all Cardinal minor leaguers. While Wilson actually struggled with the jump to AAA, his power stuck around, which makes me hope for the best. Perhaps this next season he can earn a spot on the roster right out of the gate and keep that power working for the minor league level.

There you have it! Five factoids from around the Cardinals minor league system. Hopefully they provide a little bit of insight into what’s been happening under the radar that most people miss.