2020 Preseason Dirty Thirty-Five: Prospect #18

PROSPECT PREFACE

I present to you my list of the top 35 prospects within the Cardinals organization!! The list is both exhausting and ever-evolving.

I am aggressive with who I deem to be a "Graduate." You can read the post that I wrote on The Graduates by following this link. As a heads up, you won't find Lane Thomas, Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, Andrew Knizner, Rangel Ravelo, or Edmundo Sosa on The Dirty Thirty-Five (R.I.Cardinals Prospect.P to Tampa Bay Ray Randy Arozarena and Texas Ranger Adolis "JAG" Garcia).

There is also another group of about 15 prospects that I could have written about. They are on the outside looking in, currently. I did write in-depth about five of them, and I presented those fellas in this article. I also briefly touch on a bunch of other prospects in that article.

Finally, I totally cheated and basically just copied and pasted the individual write-ups from the "Position Rankings" articles that I wrote after Black Friday. I hadn't realized how thorough those write-ups were until I started to redoing the D35. I have added additional gifs and thoughts to each post, and I've done some HEAVY editing within each write-up, as well.


Please enjoy! Please have fun! Please tell me what you think!



RHP Alvaro Seijas

Age 21

Peoria and Palm Beach

International Signing, 2015



I don't have as much to say about Seijas as I do about the other pitchers on this list. So, hopefully we can get through this one a little quicker. He made some great strides during the 2019 season, and it was nice to see him have sustained success while repeating the Midwest League after struggling from start to end for Peoria in 2018. Let's start this off with a gif of an eight-pitch at-bat to give you an idea of what he has to work with.


Before we get too far into what Seijas works with on the mound, let's talk about the stats from 2019. To give you an idea of just how young the 21-year-old Seijas is, he was still about two years younger than the league average-age of the Midwest League IN HIS SECOND SEASON THERE. It's usually worth being concerned when a player has to repeat a level, even if they have a ton of success in their second season there. Repeating the Midwest League is nothing to worry about with Seijas because of how young he is. He was about three years younger than the Florida State League on average, as well. I believe that the success that he had in both leagues is a good indication of how much he grew as a pitcher in just one season.


Things went pretty damn well for Seijas at Peoria. Over 14 starts and 80 innings pitched, Seijas held the 336 batters that he faced to a slash line of 246/322/377. He only allowed eight home runs, and his ERA of 2.93 and his WHIP of 1.26 were both in the upper tier of pitchers in the Midwest League before he was promoted to Palm Beach.


While things weren't as rosy at Palm Beach as they were at Peoria, Seijas still had a ton of success there. Seijas only let up two home runs to the 239 batters that he faced. His ERA was a sparkling 2.65 over 10 starts equaling 54.1 innings. He also held hitters to a respectable .262 batting average against. When you combine all of this with how young he was for the level, we have some beautiful building blocks to start a foundation of success moving forward.



Of course, those are just the positives. There are some things that are concerning and worth addressing. First, Seijas doesn't strikeout enough batters. His strikeout rate of 21% at Peoria is an acceptable-but-low number, but his strikeout rate of 18% at Palm Beach isn't going to cut it. We still haven't gotten to his stuff yet, but the gifs in this post should show you how filthy he can be. That he isn't getting more that 11% swinging strikes is a huge concern.


Also of concern, Seijas throws too many balls. At this point, it's fair to call his command average, at best. You can see that in the gifs in this post, as well. His combined walk rate on the season was about 9.4%, and that's not gonna cut it when you aren't striking out enough batters. Truth be told, Seijas feels like a higher-ceiling version of Jake Woodford, a little. He has the stuff. It's there. It's better than Woodford's stuff is. It's just that he doesn't throw anything for enough strikes, he's been known to work behind in counts, and he leaves too much over the plate. There is plenty of room for Seijas to grow, and I am willing to bet that he will, but these are the things that are keeping him at the back-half of the D35.

Now, while I just trashed him a bit (and I swear that I'm just trying to be honest and it wasn't my intent), it's time for me to tell you why I think that his stats in the Florida State League (FSL) for Palm Beach are more encouraging than they are at initial glance.


The FSL is a pitchers league for sure, but Seijas really seemed to harness his arsenal there. It was nice to see his slider/curve combo work better together. He's capable of burying his slider in the 81-84 MPH range, but I've seen him kick that thing up to 87 MPH and have it sweep across the plate more. His curveball (which I think is my favorite of his arsenal) sits between 77-80, and it's a perfectly-slower and loopier version of his slider. You could also see that his changeup, although not used as frequently, had made some good progress by the end of the 2019 season. His fastball command was still sporadic, but it was nice to see Seijas pump that thing up into the high 90's, even though he was living in the low 90's mostly. I have to believe that his K-rate will go up when he harnesses that thing. Again, the gifs will show you just how good his arsenal is. Improved fastball command is paramount to his long range success.


Seijas deserves what my father would call a "YUGE" hat tip for how physically prepared he was for the 2019 season. He was a little doughier for the 2018 season and it hurt him. So, to see him get stronger and bigger- but- leaner for 2019 was a huge sign of maturity and dedication to the craft. It wasn't hard to tell that Seijas was more prepared for the grind of a minor league season as compared to 2018. It isn't a coincidence that Seijas made such strides in one season.

Seijas still throws with a violent delivery. As I mentioned, Seijas lives in the mid-to-low 90's with his fastball, and the command of it is worrisome. I don't know if I see him as a long range starter at this point because of these things. What I do know is that Seijas has a special arm that, even with control issues, has the potential to be deadly out of a bullpen. Imagine if instead of hitting 97 he lived 97. Imagine if he only had to throw his fastball 50% of the time. I'm not nearly ready to give up on Seijas as a starter yet, and I think that he has that as an ultimate-ceiling kinda situation. We've seen kids with his talent as his age put it all together in the past and stick as starters. I just wanted to point out that Seijas currently seems like a pitcher with a sure-fire major league debut in his future if he can stay healthy and continue to build and refine. That's awesome, especially when you are talking about a 21-year-old. The righty was added to the 40-man this offseason in a move to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, so there's always a chance that Seijas is in the bullpen by the end of the season.


I was also impressed to see that Seijas did a better job of keeping his emotions in check during the 2019 season. He's an emotional pitcher (THIS IS NOT A BAD THING, EXACTLY), and sometimes a crappy strike zone will get the better of him. It still happens every now and again, and it does affect the way that he pitches. It's happening less and less frequently, and that is a great sign. Remember, Alvaro was 20 year's old for the entire 2019 season. This is just part of the natural maturation process. To give you an idea of how Seijas is when his emotions get the better of him, the gif above is the example. Everything that you see in that gif isn't an isolated incident. He gets too frustrated sometimes when he doesn't have it (and blames it on the strike zone, usually). These are body language cues that happen more than they should or need to. He's made strides, and they are happening less and less frequently, but these are obvious things that need to be cut out.


I want to make it clear that I don't foresee this being an issue moving forward. Seijas is a good kid and he's a smart kid. He's at his best when he's pitching with emotion. This should go to show you just how thin that line is. I have all of the confidence that, with time, Seijas will nip these little issues in the butt.




THE DEAL

Boy, was I wrong about not having as much to say about Seijas.


Seijas is an incredibly gifted right-handed arm that throws a promising four-pitch mix that needs some serious work, from a command standpoint. When you watch him, you can see that there's something special to build upon, but that it won't come without improved fastball command. He'll be 21 for the entire 2020 season, and I'd expect to see serious growth throughout the season. In my mind, right now, he's an obvious long term bullpen arm that has a chance to be dynamic in that role.


It should also go without saying that you shouldn't count the 21-year-old out as a starter just yet. If Seijas grows as much between the 2019 season and the 2020 season as he did between 2018 and 2019, then he will have a potential future as a starting pitcher. Added to the 40-man during the offseason as a protective move from the Rule 5 draft, Seijas could be a couple of injuries and his own personal growth as a pitcher away from a major league debut.




The biggest of shout outs should be given to @Cardinalsgifs, FanGraphs, Twitter, and MiLB. TV for all of the work that they do that eventually gets put into these articles.

Look at that beautiful pic by @Cardinalsgifs. I look forward to seeing a new pic in my inbox when I get them. It's truly a joyful experience.


Thanks For Reading!!

Kyle Reis