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 light to medium editing within each write-up, as well.
Please enjoy! Please have fun! Please let me know what you think!
RHP Tommy Parsons
Peoria, Palm Beach, Springfield, & Memphis
Undrafted Free Agent, 2018
When I did Parsons' write-up for the pitcher's rankings, I compared him to Jason Simontacchi. What I meant by that is, Simontacchi kind of came out of nowhere when he made his major league debut in 2002. He was older for a prospect and came from an obscure college. I don't remember there being much build up for his major league debut. But then again, there was never really much build up for a prospects debut back then, outside of the elite. Simontacchi had also never really done anything that would "wow" you statistically at the minor league level.
However, none of this stopped Simontacchi from making it to the majors. I distinctly remember "Simo-Man" fever sweeping Cardinals Nation in the summer of 2002. It actually left quite an impression on a then-15-year-old Kyle Reis. In many ways, I now wonder if the excitement and out-of-nowhere success of Simontacchi helped to ignite my passion for prospects. Who knows, really. I'm a mess.
I don't know if "Parsons Fever" will sweep Cardinals Nation the way that the debut of Jason Simontacchi did, but I do know that Parsons has a chance to make a major league debut. Sooner rather than later, at that. I know that he is tremendously gifted, and I know that I am impressed that he's gone from undrafted D3 player to AAA starter in 13/14 months.
I love the gif above for multiple reasons. First, that's Yadi behind the plate. Second, the hitter is Mariners prospect Evan White. For those that don't know, the Mariners' signed White, who has never played a game in the majors, to a Major League contract in November. He's an impressive young man, and he's going to spend the rest of his career in the majors, more than likely. It's a good at-bat, a great display of how Parsons is effective, and it shows off a bit of his arsenal (the AB starts with the big breaking ball, and is followed by a fastball inside, and the grounder-inducing change).
I really like Parsons repertoire. He is a fastball/change/curve righty, and all three pitches can be very good. I think that there's an argument to be made that his low-to-mid 90's fastball can be his third best pitch on any given night. He can run that thing up to 95-ish, but he commands it and throws it more consistently when he is pitching in the lower 90's. His consistent velocity was down at the end of the season as compared to the mid-point of the season, and that's something to keep an eye on. Because of this, 20 of the 30 home runs that he let up on the season came over his last ten starts. It's definitely more difficult to get away with shaky command of your fastball when you have a little more velocity.
Parsons can also drop in a deep 12/6 curveball when he's really dialed in. Some nights he really has command of it, and other nights he is just throwing it. To be completely honest, more often than not he isn't hitting his spot with it. It can still be deadly when he doesn't have a feel for, yet still playing it off of the fastball up in the zone.
What makes Parsons unique is that he has the potential to have three flashing-above-average pitches, anchored by a plus-flashing changeup. He has good arm-speed when he throws it, and it comes from a nearly identical release point as his fastball. Like with the curve, the main issue is that he doesn't always have a feel for where he is going to throw it. Sometimes the command is pinpoint, sometimes it'd be generous to call it a crapshoot. However, when he has command of it, he REALLY has command of it (as Pirates #3 prospect Jordan Swaggerty helps to demonstrate in the gif below).
The main issue with Parsons is that he lets up a lot of home runs. Like, more than any other prospect in the system, and by over 20%. Without thinking too deeply about it (so I'm sure I'm wrong), I can't think of the last time that a Cardinals' Minor Leaguer allowed that many long balls and was still worth mentioning. He allowed 30 home runs in 27 minor league starts, and only two of those home runs came while he was throwing the "juiced" major league baseball at AAA. It's one of the downfalls with his willingness to pitch up in the zone; sometimes he doesn't get the ball up enough. Also, as we mentioned when we broke down each one of his other offerings, sometimes he just doesn't have a feel for either the change or the curve. This is when a lot of the damage is done against him. Parsons is going to need to contnue to work on the feel, command, and consistency of those two pitches. He throws strikes nearly 69% of the time, so he clearly isn't afraid to throw strikes.
Beyond that, I don't have much to say about Parsons, really. Sometimes he over-throws his curveball, and that will cause him to lose command of his other pitches for a short period of time. He also loses shape on the curve when he over throws it. Needless to say, he needs to continue to refine both his feel and his command of this pitch. His fastball can get flat sometimes, but he has decent enough command of it that he doesn't usually get blistered when it does flatten out. Parsons is just a really solid, high-floor/low-ceiling pitcher. If I'm betting, he will either be Jason Simontacchi or Zach Petrick when it's all said and done. Either way, that's a pretty successful undrafted free agent signing.
I'm sure that it won't surprise you to find out that I am rooting hard for this former… Well… I don't know what in the hell kinda league he was playing in before he was an undrafted free agent. Whatever league it was (It was D3, and I'm trying way too hard to be funny), it's pretty damn cool that he's been able to get this far so quickly.
The goal from here is to cut down on the home runs, and that is only going to happen if he can continue to progress his command of his entire repertoire. Sometimes his curve is above-average, sometimes he doesn't have a feel for it. Rinse, lather, repeat with his change and fastball, too. When he is commanding and feeling all three pitches, he is something special to watch. This young man has a chance at a major league debut, and if he continues to progress then it might be something similar to what we've seen out of Daniel Ponce de Leon, from a role/success standpoint. There was a rough draft version of this list that was more optimistic about Parsons in which he was a top 25 prospect in the organization, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if that's where he is when we revisit the list.
Look at that beautiful pic by @Cardinalsgifs. THE. BEST.
Thanks For Reading!!