St. Louis Cardinals: Rebooting the Cardinals top 10 prospects

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Randy Arozarena #83 of the St Louis Cardinals is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run against the Washington Nationals during a spring training game at The Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 26, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Randy Arozarena #83 of the St Louis Cardinals is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run against the Washington Nationals during a spring training game at The Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 26, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 23: Members of the St. Louis Cardinals watch the game against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium on September 23, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

6. Dylan Carlson, OF

Carlson has been raising eyebrows during spring training with his versatility in the field by showing his defensive acumen in playing all three outfield positions. So far, he has stolen an extra-base hit from Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera and a lunging catch in right field to save runs for Adam Wainwright.

Dylan Carlson was taken by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft. He has been steadily climbing in the Cardinals system and is expected to land in AA Springfield to start 2019.

Only 20, the switch-hitting Carlson has already shown power in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. In 2018, he hit 9 HR and 53 RBI in 99 games at Palm Beach. Although his batting average was not impressive (.247), the Cardinals were impressed that Carlson was able to cut his strikeout rate from 25.7% in 2017 to 17.7% in 2018. This earned him an invitation as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, making him the youngest player in camp.

The Cardinals expect a breakout year for the 6’3″ 195 pound Carlson in the AA Texas League, which will more suit his power than the A Florida League. Even though the Cardinals organization if full of young talented outfielders, none have the versatility that Dylan Carlson offers.

5. Ryan Helsley, RHP

24-year-old Ryan Helsley was drafted by the Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Draft. The right-hander was then assigned to Johnson City and posted a 2.01 ERA in over 44 innings. Helsley has gradually progressed through the Cardinals minor league system and was promoted to AAA Memphis during the 2018 season.

However, after pitching in 26 innings and posting a 3.71 ERA,  his season was cut short in June due to shoulder fatigue. Nevertheless, he had an impressive 34 strikeouts while only walking nine batters while in Memphis. The Cardinals added Helsley to the 40-man roster after the 2018 season.

Helsley has a fastball that registers in the mid-90s with good movement and a curveball with a high spin rate 12-6 curve. Because of the concern with the shoulder fatigue, he may be destined for the bullpen. If Helsley can stay healthy, I expect a call-up in 2019 when the bullpen needs help.

4. Lane Thomas, OF

Yep, I know, another outfielder. But the 23-year-old right-handed Thomas has made the Cardinals stand up and take notice since he arrived from Toronto in 2017. I think Lane Thomas may be one of the most underrated prospects in the Cardinals minor system. So I’m correcting this by putting him in my Top Ten Prospects list.

In 2018, Thomas hit 27 HR, 88 RBI, and 17 stolen bases in 132 games between AA Springfield and AAA Memphis. The Cardinals were impressed enough to add to the 40-man roster after the season.

Thomas had not hit more than eight home runs in a year during his time in the Blue Jay organization. However, the Cardinals’ hitting gurus adjusted Thomas’ batting stance, getting him to stand more upright with less bend in his lower half. With this adjustment, his bat path shows more loft and thus resulting in more home runs.

Now if these same gurus can manage to get Thomas to reduce his strikeouts (134 K’s in 2018), his potential would be unlimited. In seven plate appearances in Spring Training, has hit .429, but had three strikeouts. Thomas has already been optioned to AAA Memphis and will wait for a likely call up during the season when opportunity allows.

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