The Cardinals are busy enough trying to build their team at the winter meetings; they’ve already traded Jon Jay for Jedd Gyroko, claimed Jayson Aquino on waivers, and talked to Johnny Cueto, Wei-Yin Chen, and Jason Heyward about signing. They also had to deal with a pillaging in the Rule V draft.
The Cardinals started out losing RHP Luis Perdomo to the Rockies at pick 4 in the MLB phase of the draft. Perdomo, signed out of the Dominican in 2011, is a talented pitcher that split time between Lo-A Peoria and Hi-A Palm Beach in 2015; he has a mid-90s fastball and big curve that makes him a potential fit in the bullpen. The Rockies traded him to the Padres shortly after the draft; I don’t expect him to stick with the Padres, so he should end up back in the system.
The Cardinals added Matt Bowman with the 30th pick in the MLB phase. Bowman was drafted out of Princeton by the Mets in the 13th round of the 2012 amateur draft. He worked his way up to Triple A in 2014 and stayed at the level last season. He’s primarily been a starter in the Mets system, but will most likely attempt to make the team as a long man in the bullpen; I don’t expect him to stick. He’s got a good sinking fastball, but doesn’t have any plus pitches.
The big hit came in the Triple A phase, where the Cardinals lost 5 players: RHP Jhonny Polanco (12), RHP Cory Jones (15), RHP Kinder Villegas (33), SS Robelys Reyes (40), OF Mike O’Neill (49), and RHP Fernando Baez (56). They did gain to in RHP John Brebbia (30) and LHP Michael Heesch (51).
Polanco is a starter that showed promise; he was a minor league free agent that the Cardinals re-signed last month. He throws a fastball in the low-90s and also has a curve and change that are average. He gets a lot of strikeouts, but also issues a lot of walks. He could be a sleeper pick for the Red Sox.
Jones is a power arm that looked destined for the bullpen; he throws in the high-90s and has a power curve. His max effort delivery makes him a natural at relieving. He’s a definite hit to the system and the Orioles may get a gift here.
The Brewers took Villegas with there second pick in the Triple A phase; he could be a nice addition to their system. He has a low-90s fastball, but also throws a swing and miss change and is working on a curve. He hadn’t advanced very far in the system, so the chances of the Brewers having something is slim.
Reyes has been in the system for a few years now and really hadn’t advanced far. He’s got a decent bat, but doesn’t show much power. He’s an average defender that should stick at short, but his bat isn’t strong enough to carry average defense at the position. He’ll be system depth for the Diamondbacks.
The Cubs took O’Neill, who once looked much more promising a few years ago. The little power, on-base machine was on the Cardinal 40-man at one time, but he’s stalled mainly at Double A. The Cardinals missed his opportunity to move him when his value was the highest. He’s system depth at this point.
Baez is a potential middle reliever prospect; he started pitching in 2012, so there was little milage on his arm. As a reliever, he throws in the mid-90s; in the rotation, it sits in the low-90s. He hasn’t developed a true secondary pitch yet; he’s got a curve ball, but it needs some refinement. Like Jones, I think this is a hit to the system too; if the Rays are patient, they could have a solid arm.
Both Brebbia and Heesch are minor league relievers that offer little besides depth. Brebbia saw his ERA rise with each promotion in the minors, topping out at Hi A in 2013. Heesch pitched a game at Triple A, but spent all of 2015 at Hi A.
The Cardinals were the only team to lose a player in the Double A phase: RHP Juan Caballero. He doesn’t throw particularly hard and has low strikeout numbers; the plus side is he limits contact and walks. He’d probably wash out of the system soon if he wasn’t take. He shouldn’t make much of an impact for the Marlins.
Back to Heyward
Rumor has it the Heyward saga will be completed today, and the Cardinals and Cubs are 2 of the finalists (with a mystery team). We need this done so we can move on, whether it be with Heyward or without him.
If Heyward leaves, they should focus on another outfielder; Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton would be the best fits. Upton doesn’t have the defense of Heyward, but would be a better fit with the bat. They could also afford one of the better starters with the money they would save.
I don’t see Chris Davis as an option; he’s too costly for a first baseman. His bat would be a welcome addition, but he’s also displace Matt Adams and Brandon Moss (to a degree). I’d rather see some rotation of Stephen Piscotty, Adams and Moss at first with a better bat in the outfield.