St. Louis Cardinals: Minor league threats to major league time

michaeldavidmiles
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Carson Kelly
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Carson Kelly /
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The St. Louis Cardinals have preserved their farm system this winter and a few names should worry individuals at higher levels. This should be a very good thing.

The St. Louis Cardinals have become known as a team with a strong farm system. This truism remained through the winter even though the Cardinals sent a few prospects away to snatch Marcell Ozuna. A few of the remaining names interest me dramatically and should be on the radar of players wearing the birds on the bat.

Today, Derrick Goold released his review of non-roster invitees to the St. Louis Cardinals spring training events. This coverage illustrates that the Cardinals do indeed have a very strong farm system even though a number of the names Goold reviews are a season or two away from the majors.

Looking through this list, my excitement for baseball finally returned. This has been a tough winter of discontent waiting for the front office to make ANY moves. That said, baseball returns officially next week and the names listed below will be my excitement and focus through spring and into the start of the season.

If you didn’t get the chance to read Goold’s piece, see it here.

The first name on Goold’s list that excites me coming into the 2018 campaign is Sean Gilmartin. Gilmartin was seen last season in Memphis and didn’t necessarily fare too well. Goold highlights Sean’s high 5.68 ERA but also shows the eight strikeouts across 12.2 innings in Memphis.

Gilmartin finished 2017 with an overall 6.51 ERA in AAA between the Cardinals and Mets organizations. In 2017, Gilmartin accrued 46 strikeouts across 55.1 innings pitched in the minors. Why does he intrigue me? Gilmartin- if he can settle into the organization- can be the replacement for Kevin Siegrist that Mike Matheny would love to have.

In other words, Gilmartin and his left-handed pitching from the pen could be greatly used in the Cardinals pen that currently hosts only Tyler Lyons and Brett Cecil from the left side. If Lyons moves into a lengthy pen role or a starter role (the team currently has NO lefty starter), then Gilmartin’s services will be very much needed.

Speaking of lefties, Jordan Schafer is back! Schafer joined the Cardinals last season and promised to be a left-handed pen arm who could play the outfield and make switches between both positions in the midst of a game. Additionally, Schafer appeared to be the next rising Rick Ankiel. This fell apart when Schafer needed Tommy John surgery thus ending his 2017 season.

More from St Louis Cardinals Prospects

Now that he is back, Schafer could well play into many scenarios for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. I look for him to show whether he has the stuff or not. One component that could completely help him this spring will be his legs. He is noted as being very fast and that is something the Cardinals desperately need.

With Carson Kelly looking to serve as Yadier Molina‘s backup this season, as Goold notes, Andrew Knizner is a name to watch. A career, 2-season minor league slash of .313/.378/.485 should strike fear in Kelly as Knizner could spell the end of Kelly’s career with the St. Louis Cardinals come the trade deadline. Mark these words and watch for it.

Rangel Ravelo came to the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 2017 and played in 89 games in Memphis. He appeared mainly at first base but also played at third and in the outfield. Ravelo carried a .995 fielding percentage through his time in Memphis at first base and slashed .314/.383/.480.

While Patrick Wisdom is surely a name to watch, Ravelo may play nicely in the St. Louis Cardinals trade scenarios during the season. Ravelo might not be the next major league first baseman for the Cardinals, but his performance in Memphis in 2018 could allow the Cards to grab a MLB power hitter at the deadline to replace those already playing for St. Louis.

Next: Do the Cards need a fallback plan?

Spring training is very exciting for me and I look forward to games starting so we can watch these names. What do you think? Who are you watching? Thanks for reading!

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