St. Louis Cardinals: Four Minor League Prospects Bound to be Stars

Aug 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals listen to the national anthem before the baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals listen to the national anthem before the baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Delvin Perez – Shortstop, Age 17

Delvin Perez is the most raw prospect on this list. He’s only 17 and was selected 23rd overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the most recent MLB draft. His selection caused a bit of controversy considering Perez had previously tested positive for performance enhancing drugs but Perez was expected to go much higher in the draft before his mistake was made public.

However, Perez is an exceptional talent and has the potential to be a star at the major league level.  Think about the shortstops on today’s teams. Who comes to mind?

Guys like Addison Russell (22) and Javy Baez (23) of the World Series winning Chicago Cubs. Or Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor (22) who just won a Gold Glove award days after losing the World Series. And how about the Dodgers’ Corey Seager (22) who won the National League rookie of the year one season after the Astro’s Carlos Correa won the American League rookie of the year award.

Today’s game is changed by young, dynamic players, especially shortstops. Even the St. Louis Cardinals saw their game changed when Aledmys Diaz (25) exploded onto the scene. And now, the Cardinals have yet another young, dynamic athlete playing shortstop in the minor leagues. But, potential isn’t always fulfilled, and Perez (17) is still EXTREMELY young and raw.

“If you look at what’s happening with this young group of shortstops, it’s an awful lot of pressure to put on any young man and say, ‘Hopefully you’re that next group,’” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said before watching some other Cards prospects in an AFL game.

“What you got to see out of Lindor, what you’ve seen out of Correa — and even Baez — they’re electric-type players. And definitely game-changing types. It’s hard to sit here today and say, ‘Well, that’s going to be Delvin Perez.’ But he has a lot of tools to work with, has the passion for the game…After seeing him for three months, he’s on the right track — but the track is long.”

Delvin Perez is from Puerto Rico, just like Correa, Lindor, and Baez. He’s also a first round talent, like the aforementioned three along with Seager and Russell. Perez has already been given praise and cheers for his defensive ability. The slim and slick shortstop has great hands and is starting to bring the bat up to speed.

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After a few months playing with the birds on the bat on his chest, Perez has already become a champion. He helped the team become the 2016 Gulf Coast League champions after batting .294/.352/.393 over 43 games.

The problem with Perez though, is his development going forward. Grooming a top prospect is incredibly difficult, just ask Cleveland General Manager Mike Chernoff who spoke to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about this very issue.

“One of the challenges you always face with an exceptionally talented player is: How do you create situations in the minor leagues where they have to deal with adversity?” Cleveland general manager Mike Chernoff stated while at the annual GM meetings in nearby Scottsdale.

“Because those guys can fly through the system. And then they hit the big leagues, and something is going to happen at some point. Francisco’s first 100 at-bats in the big leagues, he hit .200. It wasn’t like he was an immediate (impact). He obviously had the skills and the tools, but it didn’t show up immediate.

“You try to create as many of the situations as you can in the minor leagues, to allow them to figure out how to handle them.”

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The St. Louis Cardinals have the advantage of seeing how teams like the Cubs, Indians, and Dodgers developed their star shortstops and learn from their mistakes. However, it is too soon to tell if Perez will turn out to be the super-star Cardinal Nation craves. It does look bright for the young Puerto Rican ball-player though, and if things go according to plan, he may be a major-league contributor before he can even legally drink.