St. Louis Cardinals: Three prospects ranked in Baseball America’s top 100
By Matt Graves
One of the best ways to get excited about the future of any team is to pay attention to a team’s minor league system. For the St. Louis Cardinals, the farm system is a key way that they have fed their success of the past 20 years.
Consistently competing at the major league level requires a consistent stream of homegrown talent and the Cardinals’ success in accomplishing just that is a point of pride for the whole organization. However, there will always be cycles any farm system goes through.
Thinking back to the 2013-2015 era of Cardinals baseball, the team had what seemed like a limitless supply of MLB-ready arms coming up. After graduating or trading the vast majority of those top-end arms, the system has been challenged to feed the MLB team in different ways in recent years.
Luckily for fans, another wave of talent is about to hit the MLB level. This is reflected in the yearly Baseball America top 100 rankings that were announced this week.
At the top of it all, the Cardinals were represented by Dylan Carlson at number nine. Fans got a small taste of Carlson’s potential in 2020 and he’ll be a great source of excitement to see as he grows in 2021. After Carlson, the Cardinals have the tall left-handed starter Matthew Liberatore ranked 46th. Liberatore could debut as soon as 2021, but will definitely debut by the end of 2022 at the latest.
Liberatore is already facing a ton of pressure just because of who he was traded for. We all know how good Randy Arozarena was for the Rays in 2020 and it’s unfair to put pressure on Liberatore already. However, he’s got the chance to be a mid-to-front-end starter and his ranking of 46 reflects that.
The third and final Cardinals prospect in BA’s top 100 is Nolan Gorman. Gorman was ranked 75th in 2019 and then 55th before 2020. This year, he jumps up one spot to 54. In a year where a bunch of top-end talent was drafted in this year’s draft, Gorman was leapfrogged by some but still is squarely in the middle of the rankings.
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If Gorman takes a step forward in 2021, he could skyrocket up the rankings going into next year.
Prospect rankings are very tough right now because there was nothing to judge minor league players on from the 2020 season. All the publications had to go on were scouting reports from alternate sites if the players were even playing there. There is no way to tell how a year without in-game competition will affect the development of each player.
Beyond the caveat of rankings post-2020 on their own, prospect rankings on their own is a bit of a crapshoot. A player’s ranking does not define the career or potential of the player.
The Cardinals may soon have young catcher Ivan Herrera join the ranks of the top 100, but he is probably one year away from making this list.
How did the rest of the NL Central fare?
Looking around at the other teams in the NL Central, the Reds, Cubs, and Brewers all have just two in the top 100 and none of them have a prospect in the top 50. The Pirates, a team that has been drafting at the top of the draft for a while now, have four players in the top 100, but none rank higher than Dylan Carlson.
If nothing else, these rankings are a nice pat on the back for the Cardinals and the prospects included. This is going to be an odd year for minor league baseball, but as long as they are playing, things will begin to be like normal again.