St. Louis Cardinals’ 2016 Prospects: #2 Jack Flaherty
The St. Louis Cardinals’ system is rich with pitching talent, and this prospect has risen to the top very quickly.
It’s almost as if the St. Louis Cardinals have a factory, where they manufacture these top pitching prospects. While we have talked about a lot of top pitching prospects in this series, only a handful of them have the talent to become a dominant starting pitcher. The last two prospects we will be talking about are definitely a step above the rest. While it is still early in his career, this prospect is displaying just that in a system loaded with talent.
Jack Flaherty hasn’t been in the system long, as last season was the pitcher’s first full season of pro ball. Surprisingly the Cardinals chose to test him out at the Midwest League, a level most high school pitcher’s don’t reach until the second season after their draft year. This is especially surprising after Flaherty’s dead arm phase to start the season.
What is it that makes Flaherty such a unique talent?
#2 Jack Flaherty SP
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Scout Grade: Fastball 50/55 | Slider 50/55 | Curveball 40/45+ | Changeup 50/55 | Command 45/50+ | Future Value 50
Analysis: Flaherty has gone under the radar a little bit with Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver receiving a lot of the attention, as they are both a little more polished and more experienced than him. Like Weaver, Flaherty started the season late but still dominated in Class A Peoria, with a 2.84 ERA, allowing just two home runs all year. I have Flaherty second, simply because he has the most ability to be a star out of any of the Cardinals’ minor league pitchers aside from Reyes.
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Flaherty features three plus pitches in his fastball, slider, and changeup and is highly regarded in this organization and across baseball. Listening to Derrick Goold and John Manuel talk about him, has me believing that he is going to be a potential 1-2 spot pitcher for this team. We all know that this team wants to win now, but when you have guys like Reyes and Flaherty in your system, there’s a propensity to avoid large contracts with free agent pitchers, which makes the David Price interest even more interesting.
Here is what Flaherty’s stuff is like according to “The Red Baron”, “The raw stuff for Flaherty is good, but not the kind of knock your socks off dominant stuff you see from, say, the number one prospect on our list. It’s a low 90s fastball, up to 94 at times…” Meaning that it is not his stuff that makes him so dominant, but his ability to command the strike zone and his feel for the strike zone.
Red Baron also mentions this about Flahety’s repertoire, “If things come together for Flaherty, you could be looking at a 55 fastball, 60 change, 55-60 slider, 50 curveball profile, along with plus command of three of those pitches.” Giving him one above average offering in his change, the potential for an above average slider, with his fastball being just barely average, and an average offering in his curveball. The curve all need some work, but as it is that’s a fine repertoire for a guy just out of high school.
One way to tell how the team feels about Flaherty is seeing how over slot the team went to sign him, the team gave Flaherty the largest bonus they have given a draft pick since Shelby Miller. John Manuel slated Flaherty as one of the prospects with the most upside aside from Reyes and also believes he could end next season in AA Springfield. Flaherty will definitely be a pitcher to watch in the upcoming season.
Next: Cardinals' 2016 Top Prospects: #3 Magneuris Sierra
Roster Prediction: A+ Palm Beach
Let’s see here, a pitching rich league, a pitcher’s park, and a league without most top hitting prospects. Yea it is safe to say that Flaherty will dominate at this level, and it will give him a chance to continue to hone his stuff.
If you have missed any of our “Top Prospects” series, you can check them out here.
Scout Grade via Fangraphs