15. Adolis Garcia – OF, Age: 25, Level: Memphis, Previous Rank: 12
If you take out the month of May, JAG has had a really good year. His May line of .145/.172/.265 is going to make his overall numbers look bad, but he’s been solid in every other month. In July he’s been one of the hottest hitters in the PCL with a .333/.351/.625 mark similar to that of Matt Carpenter.
JAG still utilizes an approach that can be all or nothing (16 strikeouts to two walks this month is evidence of that), but he’s above average in several facets of his game. He can hit for power when he’s right. It’s why last year’s sudden drop in slug when he went to the hitter-friendly PCL was so puzzling. He’s found it this year, and he’s one homer away from equalling the 15 he hit last year across Double-A and Triple-A.
That being said, JAG is still at least one, but more likely two or three, players away from being the “next man up” in the outfield. That’s Tyler O’Neill. He isn’t on the 40-man, either, which is so crowded Dakota Hudson hasn’t been able to crack it (at least as of 8:55 am Thursday morning). Then there’s Randy Arozarena and Oscar Mercado, whose diverse game and better defense would be better suited to a fourth outfielder role.
I’m still excited about JAG. You just have to squint pretty hard to see how he fits with the organization.
14. Edmundo Sosa – SS, Age: 22, Level: Memphis, Previous Rank: 21
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It seems like the ball has bounced Sosa’s way at every turn this season. Balls he hits in the gap that look like they should be caught drop in. He tends to hit flyballs on nights where the wind is blowing out, like in the video below.
I was in the park that day and that ball had no business leaving the yard. The wind was howling out to right and it was still nearly robbed.
Defense is still the strongest part of Sosa’s game, though. He doesn’t have the flashiest range or the strongest, but he makes the play on every ball that he can get to. His steadiness is like that of Jhonny Peralta, but he’s definitely more athletic and has better range than him.
13. Delvin Perez – SS, Age: 19, Level: State College, Previous Rank: 14
Delvin Perez’s season has been a relief. Remember last year, when Perez was benched and demoted? When he seemingly made more errors than hits and was prone to emotional outbursts. That’s not the Delvin Perez we’ve seen this year. He has been as engaged and played as hard as anyone on the State College roster. That’s a huge development and is more important (in my opinion) than the numbers he puts up.
At the plate, it obvious he doesn’t have a lot of pop. He also has a tendency to jump at the ball instead of letting it travel to him, which causes him to roll over or chase offspeed pitches in the dirt. Although he hits for virtually no power, he’s still been able to put up a 112 wRC+, which is 12 percent above league average.
On defense, it’s obvious why he was so highly thought of before the 2016 draft. He has great range and the strongest shortstop arm in the system. He’s still raw, though. On one play, the hard one-hopper was hit right to him. He made a great sliding play to field the ball cleanly but threw it in the dirt and it was an error. To me, that play symbolizes where Perez is at in his development. We’re seeing a lot more flashes of his talent than we were this time last year but he’s still prone to make dumb mistakes that, frankly, are to be expected given his age.
12. Dylan Carlson – OF, Age: 19, Level: Palm Beach, Previous Rank: 18
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It’s easy to overlook how young Dylan Carlson still is and subsequently to ignore the fact that the traits that allow him to play in a full-season league at the age of 18 are the same traits I just lauded Delvin Perez for. Delvin deserves the praise, but we shouldn’t forget about Carlson because he hasn’t had the sexy .300/.400/.500 slash line yet. The reason he hasn’t is that he’s been challenged at every step of the way because of he such a high IQ player and he definitely shouldn’t be punished for that.
I think it’s important to look at Carlson’s second half numbers because he had a pretty terrible first half for Palm Beach. An adjustment period is to be expected when any player is challenged at a new level, especially one as young as Carlson. In the second half, Carlson has hit .274/.361/.425 and already hit more homers (4) than he did in the entire first half.
On Prospect To Be Named Later, Kyle talked about how Carlson is learning what pitches he can unload on, which is leading to the increase in power. When he was struggling, like he did right after he was promoted, he would fall back on a patient approach that allowed him to get on base at the expense of power production. Now that he’s feeling more comfortable, he’s being more aggressive and driving the ball more. He’s done that while keeping his strikeout rate remarkably consistent, although he’s sacrificed a few walks in the process. But hey, doubles and homers are more productive than walks.
11. Elehuris Montero – 3B, Age: 19, Level: Peoria, Previous Rank: Not Ranked
If there’s one thing I’ve done really poorly when following the Cardinals system this season it’s that I haven’t paid enough attention to Elehuris Montero. That changed last week when I made a conscious effort to watch as much of the Peoria Chiefs as I could. One thing stands out for sure: Montero is a large human being. He has the look of someone who’s capable of hitting 30+ homers. He’s only got 13 this year, but a slugging percentage of .512 is obviously impressive.
In the games I watched, his stride was violent which caused him to be fooled by breaking balls. We talked about him pretty extensively on PTBNL and Kyle assured me that that’s not who Montero is. I think he was in a bit of a rut (he was given the day off on Monday) which is understandable since it’s his first run at a full-season affiliate. Even though I haven’t seen a ton of Mr. Montero, he almost cracked my Top 10 because of his numbers and how highly evaluators I respect think of him. It may be the case that his ranking winds up being more of an indictment of me than him.