20. Jake Woodford – RHP, Age: 21, Level: Memphis, Previous Rank: 15
|2018||21||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-AAA||STL||4||10||.286||4.93||5.36||20||20||0||0||0||0||102.1||112||61||56||16||41||0||75||9||1||7||88||1.495||9.9||1.4||3.6||6.6||1.83|
If it wasn’t for Jake Woodford’s strong showing in his last four games in Memphis, he’d be a lot lower on the list. He was bad in Springfield. In almost every start, he was undone by a three or four run inning and the game got away from him. His pitches didn’t seem to have much life. It looked, for a while, like he was a product of Florida State League.
His peripherals in Memphis are much, much better. His strikeout rate has gone from 16 percent to 21 percent. He’s walking fewer hitters. His ground ball and home run to fly ball rates are remarkably consistent. Fewer batted balls are going for hits, so he’s allowing fewer runs. Sometimes we over-complicate the game of baseball, and right now Woodford is doing a solid job of preventing runs, which is, after all, his job. And, somehow, he’s still just 21-years-old and in Triple-A.
19. Andy Young – INF, Age: 24, Level: Springfield, Previous Rank: 29
|2018||24||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||STL||85||355||301||43||84||10||2||12||34||4||0||31||60||.279||.374||.445||.819||134||6||17||2||4||0|
Andy Young should have started in Springfield. He finished 2017 in Double-A after posting a 110 wRC+ (which adjusts for the league, so it scales to the ultra-pitcher-friendly Florida State League). Nevertheless, Young’s game is power. Undoubtedly, some of the fly balls that’ve died in the swirling winds of Roger Dean Stadium will now carry onto the berm at Hammons Field. I’m happy for Young that he will be rewarded for well-struck baseballs.
As Kyle Reis pointed out on PTBNL, the most significant change in Young’s game is the drop in strikeout rate, from 22.2 percent to 16.8 percent. It’s almost certain to go back up in Double-A, but it’s the stat to watch, for sure. His homers are going to come in the Texas League. Whether or not he can sustain the plate-discipline improvements will define his time there.
18. Lane Thomas – OF, Age: 22, Level: Springfield, Previous Rank: Not Ranked (Toronto)
Kyle told me about a week into the season that I would really like Lane Thomas. As usual, he was right. Thomas is a really solid outfielder that hits for far more power thanI expected. He runs well, but as you can see above, is only 12/21 in stolen base attempts. His swing is really short and compact from the right side, which is why I thought he’d be an average guy, not a power guy.
I don’t like talking about Thomas because, even though he’s having a good season, there’s still a bunch of outfielders ahead of him on this list and several legitimate prospects in Memphis. The Cardinals outfield logjam wasn’t relieved because of the Marcell Ozuna trade, it actually made it worse. Eventually, I think someone has to be traded and Lane Thomas strikes me as exactly the type of prospect the Cardinals would be willing to part ways with.
17. Max Schrock – 2B, Age: 23, Level: Memphis, Previous Rank: 19
I’m a little confused by Max Schrock because he’s still doing most of the things that made him successful. He’s striking out less than he ever has before (and he’s never struck out a lot), hitting for pretty much the same amount of power (not much), and playing average defense at best. There’s no way around it, he’s been a below average hitter for Memphis (74 wRC+).
His BABIP is a career low .274. It’s never been below .329, so part of his struggles are explained by simple bad luck. But he’s hitting fewer line drives and more fly balls than he did last year, and for someone like Schrock, without much power, more fly balls aren’t a good thing. All of the negative aside, I went with Schrock at 17 because I feel like I know what I’m getting. He’s been so consistent throughout his career, whereas the first half of this list is defined by guys who are extreme question marks at best. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but he’s a known quantity. There’s something to that.
16. Tommy Edman – SS, Age: 23, Level: Springfield (DL), Previous Rank: 20
I feel most confident predicting where Tommy Edman will wind up than anyone on this list, and it’s the Greg Garcia/Daniel Descalso utility infielder role. He’ll run and defend better than either of them did, plus he’s a switch hitter. And, because he’s been in Springfield along with Edmundo Sosa and Ramon Urias for much of the season, he’s seen time at every position on the infield except first. He’s basically the ideal utility infielder.