The Cardinals made one of the biggest offseason moves last year when they acquired six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt from the D-backs for a trio of young players. In the end, however, it was Cardinals’ contingent of homegrown talent that fueled the team to a National League Central title and the organization’s first postseason berth since 2015, as Jack Flaherty, Kolten Wong, Paul DeJong and Tommy Edman ultimately paced the team in Wins Above Replacement.
Edman, a sixth-round pick in 2016, was the headliner of the organization’s rookie class, as he produced an .850 OPS with 11 homers and 15 steals across 92 games, all while showing the ability to play five positions. 2016 first-rounder Dakota Hudson was a workhorse on the mound, logging 174 2/3 innings across 32 starts, and Ryan Helsley served as the Cardinals’ most effective reliever down the stretch. Lane Thomas and Andrew Knizner also contributed to the team’s success, as did pitchers Génesis Cabrera and Junior Fernandez.
And while the Cardinals should have plenty of outfield options next season, even after losing Marcell Ozuna to free agency and trading Randy Arozarena to Tampa Bay, it might not be long until top prospect Dylan Carlson, the 2019 Texas League MVP, is ready to contribute at the highest level. Carlson and 2018 first-rounder Nolan Gorman -- MLB Pipeline’s Nos. 17 and 47 overall prospects, respectively -- give the organization a pair of high-ceiling hitters to build around in a system that currently stands out more for its depth than its potential impact talent.
With the Cardinals’ strong record in the Draft and international market, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 22 players on the organization’s 2020 Top 30 list are homegrown. Specifically, 11 of the team’s 13 Draft picks on this year’s list were selected in the fifth round or higher -- Knizner, a 2016 seventh-rounder, and 2017 27th-rounder Kodi Whitley being the two exceptions -- and of the club’s nine international prospects, Johan Oviedo was the only player to command a seven-figure signing bonus.
Cabrera and Justin Williams, two of the three prospects St. Louis acquired from Tampa Bay in the Tommy Pham deal, have already reached the Major Leagues, and it might not be long until Roel Ramirez, the third player acquired in the trade, joins the mix. The Cardinals’ most recent trade with the Rays, meanwhile, netted them a new top pitching prospect in left-hander Matthew Liberatore.
And while the Cardinals may be thin on potential impact prospects outside of Carlson and Gorman, they do have 17 Top 30 prospects who have already reached at least the Double-A level, including 13 players who are likely to contribute in the big leagues during the upcoming season.
That type of depth should give the Cardinals plenty of options when it comes to plugging holes on their 2020 Major League roster, or perhaps allow them to package some of those players together in a trade should the right deal arise.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2019 preseason list to the 2020 preseason list.
Jump: Angel Rondon, RHP (2019: NR | 2020: No. 13) -- A breakout prospect in his age-21 season, he won the Texas League ERA (3.21) title and finished second in the circuit in WHIP (1.23), and the Cardinals named him their Minor League Pitcher of the Year after he finished second in the system in ERA (2.93) and strikeouts (159).
Fall: Griffin Roberts, RHP (2019: 13 | 2020: 28) -- Taken by St. Louis with the No. 43 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, Roberts returned from a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse in June and struggled to the tune of a 6.44 ERA while issuing almost as many walks (35) as strikeouts (36) over 65 2/3 frames at Class A Advanced Palm Beach.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 55 -- Dylan Carlson (Ivan Herrera, Andrew Knizner)
Power: 60 -- Nolan Gorman (Carlson)
Run: 60 -- Trejyn Fletcher
Arm: 60 -- Elehuris Montero (Jhon Torres, Julio Rodriguez, Trejyn Fletcher, Luken Baker)
Defense: 60 -- Dylan Carlson
Fastball: 70 -- Génesis Cabrera
Curveball: 60 -- Matthew Liberatore (Zack Thompson)
Slider: 60 -- Griffin Roberts
Changeup: 55 -- Junior Fernandez (Matthew Liberatore)
Control: 55 -- Matthew Liberatore
How they were built
Draft: 13 | International: 9 | Trade: 8
Breakdown by ETA
2020: 13 | 2021: 7 | 2022: 8 | 2023: 2
Breakdown by position
C: 3 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 0 | 3B: 3 | SS: 1 | INF: 1 | OF: 5 | RHP: 12 | LHP: 4