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 a 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.
To prepare you for the first part of this countdown, the back seventh of these rankings are comprised of what I'm going to call "Misfits." Think of this group of players as being on the fringes of prospect status for one reason or the other, yet still needing a little shout out or love.
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.
Delvin Pérez was originally the 35th prospect on the list. However, because of the addition of our new #35 prospect, Delvin Pérez is now the 34th prospect on the D35.
With Ramón Urías being claimed off of waivers by the Baltimore Orioles on February 11th, I have to add a player to the list. This is that player.
Please enjoy! Please have fun! Please let me know what you think!
LHP Ricardo Sánchez - Age 23 (On April 11th) - AA - Waivers Via Seattle
Ricardo Sánchez was acquired from the Seattle Mariners when the Mariners tried to pass Sánchez through waivers. After watching a couple of starts, I was still planning on omitting Sánchez from the D35 until I was able to see more of him. Those plans have changed.
The Cardinals had to drop utility infielder Ramón Urías off of the 40-man roster to make it happen. We'll get to that move more a little later.
There are a couple of things that are immediately evident when you begin to watch Sánchez. First, Sánchez throws a lot of strikes. About 65% of the time during the 2019 season, as a matter of fact. He also uses the lower half of the strike zone extremely well, and he isn't afraid to go inside on right-handers.
Because he is usually working ahead of hitters, and because he works so well in the lower part of the zone, Sánchez also gets a fair amount of groundballs. In 2019, he induced groundballs at a rate of 50.4%. Because of the way Sánchez works in his offspeed offerings, it also seems like he surrenders a lot of weak contact. So far, so good.
I have to believe that there is a little extra deception in Sánchez's delivery that I'm not picking up on. I have to believe that he does a tremendous job of repeating his mechanics. One clear thing is that Ricardo Sánchez does a great job of tunneling his pitches. Often times, you'll see him go fastball, breaking ball, then follow it up with a changeup. He doesn't slow down his arm. He'll throw all three pitches in a similar quadrant of the zone. At least one will get an awful swing from the hitter. This is a "rinse, lather, repeat" process, game-in and game-out.
Sánchez's throwing mechanics are fascinating to me. The way that he whips his arm reminds me of what we generally see from a pitcher of Asian descent. It comes from a similar angle, and it follows a similar path from the glove through the release. He doesn't have the distinct leg action of many Asian pitchers, but that whip-action-arm is very reminiscent. It feels like some combination of all of that and Marco Gonzales. His motion is definitely free and easy, and that is a positive.
So far, all of this is good. Where I get weird with Sánchez is when I watch the movement on his pitches. Now, it's always hard to tell this stuff from camera angles, and it's even more challenging to tell this stuff from minor league camera angles. However, It just doesn't seem like there's much movement on his fastball. He does a particularly good job of mixing his mid-to-low-90's fastball and changeup, but I worry that older and more experienced hitters are going to torch him.
Sometimes his curveball is REALLY lively, but he can slow himself down to throw it. Also, he leaves way too much over the middle of the plate. It's more of a weapon against lefties than it is against righties, as you might suspect.
Another thing worth noting, Sánchez doesn't give runners at first a second thought some times. He takes for granted that he's left-handed and assumes too often that they aren't going to go on him. Sánchez does work quickly, and I LOVE that.
Much like with Matthew Liberatore, I'm anxious to see how things go after a little time in the Cardinals organization. If I am being 100% honest, I hate that the Cardinals subbed Ramón Urías out of the organization for this arm. I understand that you can never have enough pitching as an organization, and I also appreciate that left-handed pitching is an expensive commodity. But I also understand that sometimes the Cardinals over-pursue a position that they are weak at. Also, with the three batter minimum enacted for relievers, it's peculiar that the Cardinals have acquired three left-handed pitchers this offseason to go with four already-rostered lefties ahead of them. Sure, it might be a "get a bunch of guys and see what sticks" approach for the future, but it's reasonable to assume that the left-handed relief role is going to thin out soon. The LOOGY role is undoubtedly going to go away. This means that there are fewer opportunities for a left-hander in baseball moving forward. It just doesn't make that much sense to load the deck for fewer opportunities. I'm probably over-thinking it.
Entering his age 23 season, Ricardo Sánchez is a left-handed paradox. He has demonstrated command of three pitches (all of which can be lively) but without consistent movement or location to match. Limited in stature at 5'11", and bulky-framed, Sánchez's pitching mechanics make him really unusual to watch. In a day and age when left-handed pitchers are going to have fewer roles, I would have preferred that the Cardinals kept Ramón Urías than having acquired Sánchez. There is a foundation to build upon here, and pitching is the currency of baseball (and something that you can never have enough of), but I just think that Sánchez is limited. I do appreciate and respect that the Cardinals at least appear to be targeting pitchers that can spin the ball at high RPM's, at least. He feels like the Yairo Muñoz of pitchers, too me. There's probably a better analogy to be made to Max Schrock because of left-handedness and strike-throwing-to-contact-making nature of each, but who cares, really. I'm adding this late into the article and I'm just rambling even more incoherently than I usually do, at this point.
If only there was still a Ray King-like role for lefties in baseball. If he does manage to put it all together, then the Cardinals will have themselves a fun little version of Tim Cooney. I am very much open to being swayed into a Ricardo Sánchez believer in 2020.
Look at that beautiful pic by @Cardinalsgifs. What a mensch.
Thanks For Reading!!