Tag Archives: St. Louis Cardinals

Atlanta Braves deal three prospects for Cardinals Jaime Garcia

Well, the Atlanta Braves have certainly changed the face of their starting rotation this offseason. After aging themselves a combined 85 years in a one-week span in November with the signing of 43 year old Bartolo Colon and 42 year old RA Dickey, they started December off obtaining another veteran. The Braves picked up Jaime Garcia from the Cardinals for Luke Dykstra, Chris Ellis, and John Gant.

Garcia, of course, has had an injury-plagued run with the Cardinals. The now-30 year old lefty has been up and down in his eight years with St. Louis, at times — when healthy — showing signs of brilliance and other times being in the doghouse for inconsistencies. He made his first 30-start season last year in four seasons and after coming off of an impressive 2015, he struggled to a 10-13 record, with a 4.67 ERA and 1.38 WHIP with just 150 strikeouts in 171.2 innings pitched.

Any haul for an oft-injured pitcher could be considered a good one, so who did the Cardinals get?

JOHN GANT

The Braves acquired Rob Whalen and John Gant at the 2015 trade deadline for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. After Whalen left for Seattle in last week’s Alex Jackson deal, neither are in the Braves’ future plans.

Our own John Sickels labeled the 6-foot-5, 205 pound righty one of his sleepers coming into the season, and he did reach the big leagues this season pitching primarily out of the bullpen to somewhat lackluster results sandwiched around a nearly month-long DL stint. Drafted by the Mets in 21st round back in 2011, it took Gant awhile to get above Low-A ball — four years to be precise — but pitched well in both the High-A FSL and Southern League of Double-A once he came over to the Braves.

Gant doesn’t have knock-you-out stuff, but he seems like he can make it work behind his uniquely awkward delivery. He has a fastball that falls in the 88 to 91 mile per hour range, a sinking change up and an ever-evolving curve, all of which he has learned to throw for strikes. As already mentioned, his big league debut wasn’t spectacular — 1-4, 4.39 FIP, and an 8.82 strikeout per nine rate to a 3.78 walks per nine rate, as well as a frightening 1.26 home run per nine rate — but the 24 year old did show he had big league stuff.

He could still be a serviceable back-end of the rotation guy, but a future out of the bullpen seems more likely. Expect him to compete for a roster spot immediately.

LUKE DYKSTRA

Dykstra played through an injury-riddled 2016 for the SAL Champion Rome Braves. Thus far he has proven to be a solid contact hitter, who can put the bat on the ball very regularly. There simply isn’t a lot of power behind it.

Despite being a solid contact hitter, Dykstra has had his critics over the years. He doesn’t strikeout a ton, striking out just eight percent of the time since being a seventh rounder back in 2014. He also doesn’t walk a whole lot, as evidence by his .335 career on base percentage, drawing just 23 career walks in his first 749 plate appearances. Thus, he consistently gets the bat on the ball, carrying a career .300 average, but just 25 percent of his career hits have gone for extra bases, with just two of them being home runs.

He’s quick enough (17 stolen bases in 23 career attempts) and scrappy like his father before him. I caught up with Dykstra the night before he went on the DL to end his season in August and liked what I saw and heard. He has the drive to succeed, the question is whether he will. Still just 21, there isn’t much hope that more power will develop, but if he can improve his on base skills, he could etch out a role as a solid utility infielder in the not so distant future.

CHRIS ELLIS

Ellis, like Whalen and Gant, didn’t get to spend much time acclimating himself to the rebuilding Braves. The Los Angeles Angels 2014 third rounder came over with Sean Newcomb in the Andrelton Simmons deal. The 24 year old righty had a solid 2016 in Double-A Mississippi this year before struggling a bit in a promotion to Gwinnett.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander has a three-pitch arsenal. John describes his fastball as one which sits in the 90 to 94 range with some sink, despite the fact that Ellis seems to have settled in as a fly-ball pitcher behind a career 0.67 ground out to air out rate. He mixes in a very effective power slider along with a changeup, both of which seem to garner mix results depending on whom you speak with.

Ellis’ big concern is his command, and that didn’t change in 2016. He can certainly miss bats with a career 8.16 strikeout per nine rate, but he has constantly struggled with consistency with a 4.70 walks per nine rate. He posted the best ERA of his young career this season in Mississippi at a 2.78 mark, however a 3.63 FIP tells the better story. There is certainly promise for Ellis, and he wouldn’t be the first pitching prospect to find success in the Cardinals system, but he will likely need more time in Memphis to start the season.

He pitched out of the bullpen for two seasons at University of Mississippi, so despite 56 of his professional appearances being starts, he could be better served out of the bullpen with some past experience there. Expect to see his big league debut at some point this year.

(This article ran on John Sickels’ Minor League Ball).

Cardinals and Padres lead 5 under the radar outfield prospects for 2017

Wednesday, in continuing our look at potential 2017 impact prospects, we took a look at the big name outfielders ready for their chance in the big leagues. Now, we look at some under-the-radar outfielders who may be ready to make a name for themselves at some point next season.

While Clint Frazier and Jesse Winker may be household names amongst prospect enthusiasts, this next round of guys may not be as well known, whether it be the market in which they play or the level on which they excelled. Still, all of these guys could very well see plenty of playing time in 2017 at the big league level.

Keep reading for more 2017 impact prospects!

FIVE IMPACT THIRD BASE PROSPECTS FOR 2017

Now that first and second base are in the books, it is time to turn our attention to the hot corner. We continue our look at possible impact prospects for the 2017 season, with five third basemen who may be ready for The Show in 2017.

Once again, this isn’t a top prospects list. You won’t see names like Rafael Devers, Ke’Bryan Hayes or even Valdimir Guerrero, Jr. because they are far away from their big league promotions. You won’t seem Austin Riley, whose second half surge that led Rome to their SAL title has him fast-rising amongst baseball’s best third base prospects. This is not a rankings of any sorts, it is merely five prospects who could see enough big league time in 2017 that they impact their team’s play.

So, who’s in store for 2017?

Keep reading for the next in my series of impact prospects for 2017.

The St. Louis Cardinals Delvin Perez putting past behind him

As we continue our look back at the first-round Almost Mock Draft picks, we focus at another top ten talent that slipped all the way to the back end of the 2016 MLB Draft. While the first player to slip fell because of questionable mechanics and where he fits in as a reliever or starter, the second slipped because of his own doing, getting caught in the evil baseball underworld of PEDs just days before the draft.

Somehow, the St. Louis Cardinals were able to get both.

Keep reading on the Cardinals latest minor league success.

Almost Mock Draft Revisited: The St. Louis Cardinals Dakota Hudson

Looking back at May’s Almost Mock Draft, most of the projected top-10 picks went close to where they were projected. Not Dakota Hudson.

Hudson, who has been on a roller coaster the past few months, seeing his stock rise from mid-second rounder to top-ten, wound up being selected at the back end of the first round. His roller coaster continues as he already finds himself in High-A ball.

Keep reading for more on the Cardinals draft pick.

The St. Louis Cardinals Luke Weaver on the rise in Springfield

The St. Louis Cardinals have arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball — Alex Reyes continues to miss bats at an unworldly pace. Not to be overlooked, however, Luke Weaver is making a strong push to be right behind Reyes en route to the big leagues.

Read more on yet another Cardinals pitching prospect.

Harrison Bader proving a 3rd round steal for the St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals may have struck gold yet again. While they have become more known for having a keen eye for young pitching, they have been successful with some nice offensive pieces along the way. Harrison Bader is starting to look like a third-round steal in Double-A, as he could very well be raising his stock in St. Louis.

Keep reading on the next great Cardinals prospect.

YARGH MATEY: Brews, Big Reds, and Birds – The NL Central Breakdown

Spring is in the air. We have a few official Grapefruit and Cactus League games in the books. If you have been following along you are also aware that I have the NL East predictions in the books (or in the Internet as the case may be). Today we move onto the NL Central.

THE NL CENTRAL

The NL Central is a well-rounded division. There are four solid teams competing for the title and at least one will most likely lock up the other Wild Card spot. This could be quite an interesting battle from the first pitch in April right down to the last strike in September.

5. THE CHICAGO CUBS.
(Covers.com has the Over/Under at 66.5 while FanGraphs has them finishing 73-89.)

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One hit?

They are famous for their legendary field. They are famous for their legendary announcer. Unfortunately, they are most famous for losing and it doesn’t seem that 2014 will change that. The longest championship drought in professional sports will continue for the 106th season.

When I look at the Cubs roster, I feel like I’m watching the beginning of Major League as I’m left asking who the hell are these guys? Starlin Castro, the lone star on the squad, took a giant step backwards last season. Their 2013 offense was second to last in the NL in both runs scored and RBI… and they made no moves to better the situation.

The pitching is an even bigger project. Last year’s ace, Matt Garza, is gone and Jeff Samardzija was on the trading block for much of the offseason but couldn’t bring in anything worth… well, anything. The ace of this staff, and that term is used very loosely, is Travis Wood. Wood is coming off a 9-12 season posting a 3.11 ERA with 144 Ks over 200 innings. That’s the third or fourth pitcher on most other rotations. They have a great back of the bullpen in Pedro Strop and Jose Veras but getting to them in meaningful situations may be a challenge.

Theo Epstein is in charge and this is clearly a team dedicated to rebuilding. He was the man in charge when the curse was reversed in Boston and Chicago faithful are still holding out hope that this team isn’t far away from contending. Until then they have the continued growth of Junior Lake, Anthony Rizzo, and Nate Schierholtz to root for — Hoo rah.

Projected 2014 Finish: 69-93.  For ticket information, check out Ticket Monster.

4. THE CINCINNATI REDS.
(Covers has the O/U at 87.5 while FanGraphs has them at 80-82.)

This could be my biggest blunder in all of my predictions. The Reds could easily win this division. They have a solid rotation as Johnny Cueto and Matt Latos are as formidable a 1-2 punch as any in the bigs. Homer Bailey is the newest $100 million-dollar man (yes, you read that correctly) so he better perform. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Ryan Ludwick are as good of a heart of the line-up as there is. And Cincinnati finally gets to see rookie speedster Billy Hamilton in the line-up. Then why I do have this team slated to finish fourth?

The Reds have no depth–zip, zero, nada. Where other teams made big signings to deepen their rosters, the Reds lost two huge pieces while adding none. Losing Bronson Arroyo forces Tony Cingrani into the starting rotation. He showed future ace talent in his rookie season last year but that was over a mere 18 starts. He was able to be the swingman last season being used as the 6th starter when Cueto was on the DL and others needed rest. If he has a sophomore slump the Reds are thin at starting pitching and will struggle to fill the void. Cueto, the undisputed ace of the rotation, has Cy Young stuff. He also has big-time injury history. If the Reds intend to go far Cueto needs 30-plus starts.

On the offensive side of the ball they lost the on-base machine Shin-Soo Choo. Choo was huge as he hit homers, hit for average, got on base, stole bases, and scored tons of runs for the Reds big bats. He is now in Texas and Billy Hamilton is his replacement. No one has questioned what Hamilton can do when he gets on base, but many questions surround if he can get on base. Ryan Ludwick, who has never had 500 ABs in his career and is coming of a 2013 season lost to injury, will now be needed as an everyday outfielder.

This team has tons of talent. Their stars are also getting older and are injury prone. Baseball, as we know, is a long season. Their lack of depth will come back and haunt them.

Projected 2014 Finish: 85-77.  For ticket information click here.

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3. THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS.
(Covers has the O/U at 78.5 while FanGraphs has them at 78-84.)
The Brew Crew is back and Milwaukee once again has something to look forward to other than a sausage race. This offense is stacked with power so even if their questionable pitching staff struggles they should win a few games just by out-bombing the other team.

Ryan Braun is the big question mark. All eyes will be on him as he returns from suspension for his PED soap opera that he didn’t take, but took, but didn’t mean to take, yet still did. Will he be the player he once was, a perennial NL MVP candidate, or was he a PED nightmare? I stand firm to my belief that PEDs don’t make someone a good player. Ryan Braun can play ball and the PEDs simply enhanced the gifts he already had. Braun will be back with a huge chip on his shoulder. He will have a lot of young guns like Scooter Gennett, Khris Davis, and Jean Segura to drive in as well as solid bats like Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucoy, and the shell of Aramis Ramirez to protect him.

The starting pitching is a bit iffy. That’s why they brought in Matt Garza. I have never thought this guy was ace-of-the-staff material being more suited as a number two pitcher, however the Brewers are banking on his power pitching to come through in a big way. Yovani Gallardo was absolutely dreadful last season. The one time ace of the staff will now throw every third day. He has shown some flawed mechanics over the past few seasons watching his strikeouts fall and walks rise yearly. He is the Brewers X-factor: only 28-years-old, if he can find his old form, Garza, Kyle Lohse, and Gallardo are one heck of a 1-2-3 front end of the rotation.

Projected 2014 Finish: 87-75.  For ticket information click here.

2. THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES.
(Covers has the O/U at 86.5 while FanGraphs has them finishing 84-78).

Finally! Pittsburgh fans got to cheer for a winning season for the first time in over two decades. Clint Hurdle has this team poised and ready to make sure they continue their winning ways and don’t return to the perennial sub-.500 joke of the NL Central they had been.

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McCLUTCHen

Reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen is my favorite player that doesn’t wear pinstripes. There isn’t one thing this guy does poorly as he is a lights out center fielder, a terror on the base paths, a nice contact hitter, and has the power to be a run producing threat. McCutchen is a special player and a team with his sort of talent won’t just go away. It’s a scary thought for the rest of the NL Central that Cutch seems to be now hitting his stride at 27 years of age.

The Pirates have one glaring problem on offense and it is why I don’t have them catching the Cardinals quite yet. They are a boom or bust team. They don’t play an inkling of small ball or get on base frequently. The have bashers like Pedro Alvarez. Starling Marte came into his own last season and coming off a 12 HR, 41 SB campaign he can help change that mindset. Pirate fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Gregory Polanco who has already had a big debut in Spring Training.

The pitching staff takes a hit losing veteran ace AJ Burnett but let’s face reality. Losing a 37-year old pitcher who was set on retiring is not the biggest loss. They need Francisco Liriano to continue his rebirth and mature into what everyone thought he could be as he enters his 30s and becomes the ace of this young staff. They also need Gerrit Cole to avoid a sophomore slump and not tease us with the goods he showed as a rookie. This staff has 6 quality starters which is never a problem for any team. The Pirates also have the luxury of knowing that if their starters can getting them six quality innings then they are in good shape. Set-up man Mark Melancon and closer Jason Grilli were nearly untouchable last season as anchors to one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Projected 2014 Finish: 90-72. NL Wild Card. For ticket information click here.

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These guys love to win

1. THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS.
(Covers has the O/U at 90.5 wins while FanGraphs has them finishing 88-74.)

There is no reason to bet against the reigning NL Champs. They once again seem to get better by subtraction as the loses of Carlos Beltran, David Freese, and Edward Mujica shouldn’t hurt them at all. This team is solid up and down the line-up and has one of the best young pitching staffs in the game.

The Cardinals line-up shouldn’t miss Freese as his departure will get Matt Adams full time at bats. They also made themselves strong up the middle bringing in veteran infielders Mark Ellis at second base and Jhonny Peralta at short. The outfield takes a little hit with the loss of Beltran but everyone in baseball knows he was just keeping the spot warm for all-world prospect Oscar Taveras. The Cards are in no rush to get him to the bigs, but I think it happens sooner than later. That is why I see Taveras as the NL Rookie of the Year.

The pitching staff they have assembled is one of the top five in baseball. It has some homegrown youngsters that will be fun to watch develop as a unit. Veteran ace Adam Wainwright anchors the young staff. Watching what playoff hero Michael Wacha and rookie phenom Shelby Miller do for an encore will be exciting as they both possess top of the rotation stuff. If they come of age this season and Jaime Garcia returns to full health, along with Lance Lynn the Cardinals will have the best rotation in baseball. Once they get to the bullpen, Trevor Rosenthal will take over at closer for the departed Mujica. I don’t know what they feed their closers on the farm, but Rosenthal is yet another hard throwing pitcher that will have no problem shutting down games for the Cards.

Projected 2014 Finish: 93-69. For ticket information click here.