I present to you my list of the top 35 prospects (D35) 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!
12th Round, 2019
I can't remember the last time that I was this high on a position player drafted out of high school by the Cardinals. Technically, I guess that Dylan Carlson would fit this mold, but things were a little different with Carlson back then. As a former first round pick, Carlson had a little extra caché to his name. I can say with some confidence that Patrick Romeri is the first high school-drafted position player that the Cardinals have drafted outside of the top 100 picks that I've ever included on a Dirty Thirty-Five so quickly after they were drafted. Then again, the Cardinals generally don't take many high school position players outside of the top 100 or so picks (This is probably true for most teams because of the signing leverage that high school draft picks have, along with the pick-pool allotment).
Even more, I'm usually adverse to ranking any teenager that hasn't made it out of short season affiliate baseball this high. It usually equates to unfair expectations being put on that prospect. Plus, the talent level at the lowest levels of the minors is so sporadic and uneven that it isn't easy to properly and fully evaluate that player.
I just can't help myself. I really like Romeri. I'm not going to get too much into the stats with this post. You can look at those above. But I do want to highlight how much I LOVE that wRC+ of 129 and the walk rate of 11.7%. There are some things to be concerned about statistically, and we'll get into those soon enough.
That's because, while he is still raw and in need of work, he's a smart baseball player with great speed in his swing and a good deal of athleticism. What I love most about Romeri so far is that he has a tremendous ability to find the barrel of the bat. It seems uncanny for an 18-year-old. Especially for a potential power-hitting prospect that was hitting at the back end of his high school lineup. He just needs to continue to work on his contact tool to maximize his habit for finding the barrel of the bat.
The other thing that gives Romeri a bit of a leg up on the previous prospect on the D35 (Trejyn Fletcher) is that Romeri was drafted out of the IMG Academy. For those of you that don't know, the IMG Academy is a school in Florida that has basically turned into a baseball farm/factory for high school players. I've had it described to me as the closest thing that the United States has to a Caribbean baseball academy. The kids that go there are groomed to play baseball. That are some of the most elite high schoolers in America, and they just understand the game. From what I understand, it's like taking AP baseball classes, but at the high school level.
That's why Romeri was batting seventh in that lineup. To give you an idea of how good Romeri's team was, he was one of six players drafted in 2019 from his class. Four of his teammates went ahead of him, three of which came within the first 52 selections in the draft. Since 2015, 13 players have been selected from IMG. His seasoning, conditioning, and preparation is evident, and you have to believe that the IMG Academy is a huge part of the reason why.
But beyond his education in baseball, I just really like Romeri as an athlete. He strikes out too much, but he has a surprisingly smart approach for a player that strikes out more than 25% of the time. It doesn't always work out for him, but you can tell that he'll shorten up a bit with two strikes. He'll also gets a little more defensive and chop to the opposite field when needed. He kind of reminds me of the 18-year-old version of Brady Whalen in this regard. One thing that Romeri is going to have to do is get a little lift on his swing. I love his raw power potential, and I love what he's done with the swing that he currently has. It's quick and direct, and it stays in the zone forever. I also love what he does with his hands at both start and finish. What I don't like is how flat his swing is. Sometimes, Romeri has to dip his body to make contact, which causes his head to move and his hands to drop, and it's part of the reason why he is striking out as much as he is. I'm not saying that he needs to go complete uppercut or anything like that, but he needs to adjust that swing so that he's not swinging tabletop-flat and dropping his body to make desired contact.
The thing that really sticks out about Romeri, and this is a sad cliché that I'm sorry about using, is the sound off of the bat. Because he has such a consistent feel for the barrel, you'll hear that beautiful crack when he makes contact. In 162 plate appearances in the GCL, Romeri hit six doubles, three triples, and six home runs. There is real in-game power in his swing, and it even appears that there's more to be had. Most of this is generated from the quickness in his hands combined with the timing in his lower half. There's a ton of lower-half leverage in that swing, and I LOVE that. Give me lower-half leverage, bat-speed, and aggressiveness all day, every day. Romeri really drives through the baseball, and you gotta love that.
I'm anxious to see if the Cardinals give Romeri some time in center field during the 2020 season. I firmly believe that he can handle it, but we are going to have to wait and see. I've been told that he has a solid arm that has the chance to profile well in RF. I know that the showcase videos that I've watched of him proves this to be true. Right field is where he's spent most of his time so far in the system. However, the Cardinals haven't been afraid to test this type of player with the center field assignment. Especially considering that everything I've seen and heard about Romeri indicates that he plays with a ton of speed. With those great baseball instincts, a solid baseball rearing, and early proof of damage at the plate, Romeri is a prospect that could be the ultimate steal beyond the top ten rounds of a draft. The road is long and tough from here, and I'm anxious to see if the toolsy Romeri is up for the challenge.
If ever there was a prospect that personifies the modern game of baseball, it's Romeri. An athletic, barrel-finding, slugging teenager with the ability to work a decent amount of walks, Romeri is also going to strikeout a ton. His swing is a little too flat for my liking, but time will tell how long it stays that way. The timing and shortness of his swing is a thing of beauty, as is his bat speed. The minor leagues are tougher than anyone gives them credit for, so it's going to be a long journey for this young man. Luckily, even though he is still very raw, it should be less of a learning curve than other raw-type prospects will have to go through. It's a weird combo of things with Romeri: he seems like a high-floor high school draftee.
As compared to other 18-year-olds within the organization, and other high school draft picks over the years, there appears to be something different about Romeri (Carlson withstanding). Whether he'll be a version of Bryce Denton, Brady Whalen, or something more dynamic than either of those two remains to be seen. Ranking him this high is probably unfair to him, but I'm doing it anyway. I really like Romeri's skills and potential, and that's all that I know right now.
Look at that beautiful pic by @Cardinalsgifs. What a mensch.
Thanks For Reading!!