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GUYS YOU KNOW
Luke Voit is no longer a rookie (he eclipsed being rookie eligible by being on the roster for 47 days, two more than the qualifier of 45), so I'll save you some time and talk very little about him. I would like to take a second to tell you that I think it was poor form on the organizations part to have Voit waste away on the bench when he could have used that time to develop at Memphis. He still could have used time down there. Patrick Wisdom, on the other hand, was not in that boat and was more than capable of playing 1st in a pinch while providing much need depth at 3rd with the potential for power off of the bench. Oh well. I guess there's no reason to bring that up now.
1. Stefan Trosclair: Age 23, Single-A - 404 AB, 110 H, 18 Doubles, 6 Triples, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 14 SB/4 CS, 111 SO, 56 BB, 272/374/458/832
PROSPECT GRADE: C
I am really bullish on Trosclair, but that comes with the asterisk that Trosclair's production came at a level that he was too old for. He SHOULD be the starting 1B in Springfield to start the 2018 season and that'll give us a better feel for what parts of his game are and aren't sustainable.
Still, Trosclair had a very solid season. It took him a long time to get started, but when he fired up he really fired up. It took him 43 games between homeruns number 3 and 4 which included a homer-less entire month of May, but things really clicked for him after that. He finished the season on a tear. In his last 56 games he hit 12 homeruns with 25 extra base and he did that while slashing 279/391/542 in 201 AB.
The big question for this 1st baseman who looks more like a lumberjack porn star than a baseball player will be how aggressive he decides to be.
The difference between his first half struggle and second half success was that he wasn't afraid to swing and miss in the 2nd half. If he continues that he'll make things very interesting for himself.
2. Juan Yepez: Age 19, Single-A - 446 AB, 118 H, 29 Doubles, 1 Triple, 8 HR, 62 RBI, 10 SB/2 CS, 104 SO, 27 BB, 265/308/388/696
PROSPECT GRADE: C+
You know Yepez better as that kid that the Cardinals received in exchange for Matt Adams in a deal. You also probably know him as a 3B, if you know him at all.
Well, he isn't that anymore.
Yepez was a terrible fielding 3B and I'm glad the organization has already committed to the position change, Give him a second to let a position change aid a relaxing at the plate. And that's exactly what happened for Yepez. Now, the stats aren't all-star level stats, but he slashed 310/357/444 over his last 36 games of the season while mostly playing 1st base. That's not shabby for a 19 year old playing for a full season club.
Yepez was once a highly thought of International Signee with great potential. While calling him a top 25 prospect is probably a stretch, I do know that's a great finish to a season for a 19 year old at a full season level.
3. Luis Bandes: Age, 21, Rookie Level - 196 AB, 59 H, 13 Doubles, 10 HR, 49 RBI, 2 SB/0 CS, 33 SO, 8 BB, 301/327/520/847
PROSPECT GRADE: C-
Another helium pick at a position in the system that is sparsely talented. Bandes repeated Johnson City and raked accordingly. As the stat line above demonstrates, Bandes possesses big power, but he's sloppy in his pursuit of power. Now, he doesn't strike out as much as he probably should because he has tremendous hand to eye coordination, but he's been known to take an ugly swing.
The other concern with Bandes is that he isn't exactly sure-handed at first base. More than likely he fits the DH profile more than anything else. In the past the organization has flirted with the idea of keeping him in the OF, which he's played a lot in the minors, but I think his best bet is to stick at first.
In another organization you wouldn't need to bank on a prospect like Bandes and he'd be a great little prospect to throw in at the bottom of the list, but the organization is lacking depth at first are we are left to hope that Mr. Bandes can bring the power consistently in a similar way to how he did during the 2017 season. It is nice to have another potential power bat to keep an eye on in 2018 aside from Tyler O'Neill.
4. John Nogowski: Age 24, Double-A - 207 AB, 61 H, 12 Doubles, 2 HR, 37 RBI, 0 SB/1 CS, 25 SO, 27 BB, 295/378/382/760
PROSPECT GRADE: D+
By and large, Nogowski is a great little minor league depth guy. He doesn't hit for enough power to be a major league 1B even though he has tremendous plate discipline. He does play a pretty good 1B and that's worth bringing up.
The glory of Nogowski comes in his story. He was a 34th round pick by A's in 2014 but lacked a 1B profile and couldn't really play anywhere else. He was then released by the A's and signed on with an Indy ball team to start 2017. Theere, he proceeded to tear the cover off of the ball. It just so happened that the Cardinals needed a 1B in the organization, so they signed Nogowski and he had a fantastic season at first for the Springfield Cardinals.
Nogowski is rule 5 eligible, and while I don't think there's a chance that he gets taken, I do know that scouts and clubs alike were impressed with what they saw from Nogowski in his taxi squad-taste of the the Arizona Fall League. Whatever happens with Nogowski, I hope he gets a chance to keep his Cinderella story going.
5. Chris Chinea: Age 23, A+ Palm Beach - 466 AB, 121 H, 24 Doubles, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 0 SB/1 CS, 93 SO, 34 BB, 260/315/350/665
PROSPECT GRADE: D
One year ago Chinea might have found his way further up this list, but a trip through the Florida State League really handcuffed him. It does that. It's the worst.
Chinea is virtually the same age as Trosclair and he completed 2017 at a level more advanced than Trosclair did, but I just don't believe that Chinea will hit for enough power down the line to be relevant. He does have some position versatility and, as I've said countless times, you can never have enough of this type of player to fill out your organizations depth.
NEXT MAN UP
Carlos Rodriguez: 125 AB, 25 H, 3 Doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB/0 CS, 57 SO, 14 BB, 200/310/296/606
PROSPECT GRADE: F
Rodriguez was the battery mate of Bandes at Johnson City while also playing a little bit in the outfield. Physically, Rodriguez is the more prototypical defensive 1B of those two, with the frame and athleticism fitting better at the position. That said, his bat isn't even in the same solar system as Bandes'.
However, because of that athleticism, I wanted to include Rodriguez. In the past he's shown the ability to take a good AB. While that hasn't happened in recent seasons, the fact that he'll only be 21 for the 2018 season coupled with his skill-set and athleticism is enough of a reason to keep an eye on him. That's how alarmingly thin on talent this position group is. Also, I just couldn't get myself to write about Casey Grayson.
Now, when Walker Robbins, Zach Jackson, and Terry Fuller all make the position change to 1st that they need to make we'll be in a completely different boat.
Thanks For Reading!