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Cardinals Top 30 Prospects: Prospect #21

In conjunction with my friend Colin Garner over at The Redbird Daily, we present to you our combined list of the Top 30 Prospects in the Cardinals organization! Every other day for the next two months, From January 28th until March 29th, we will be presenting you with an exhaustive evaluation on each of the top 30 prospects in the organization starting with prospect #30 and counting down to prospect #1. This is our combined list, not our own individual lists. For additional information on how we came these rankings, CLICK HERE. Without further delay, we present...

Prospect #21, 3B/SS/2B Edmundo Sosa

Age To Start The 2018 Season: 22

Signed Out Of Panama in 2012

A+ wRC: 98 (I've omitted his wRC+ from AA and the GCL because of small sample)

Kyle Reis (Prospect #24 On Personal List, Prior To Combining Lists With Colin Garner)

What I like most about Sosa's 2017 season was how he finished. His season as a whole was definitely a disappointment and the start he got off to in the Arizona Fall League left a lot to be desired, but Sosa started to show signs at the end of his tour in Arizona that I think are super encouraging. Over his last ten games in that league he slashed 353/405/441 with 10 singles, 1 double, 1 triple, 4 strikeouts, and 3 walks in 34 at-bats. It had been a long time since we had seen that kind of steady production out of Sosa against talent that was equal to his.

Sosa also finished the regular season strong after missing almost two months due to surgery following being beaned by a ball that broke his hamate. Now, I'm not going to include the little rehab that he went on at the GCL level where he dominated - those stats don't matter - but when he made his way back to Palm Beach he hit 343/385/371 with 12 hits, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts in 39 at bats to end the season.

So, with those two small samples that we have, coupled with his prior career production, we start to get an idea of what Sosa is. While the slugging leaves a lot to be desired, you can see some signs of maturity at the plate. He's starting to walk a little bit more while striking out less, both of which are good signs.

The other thing worth noting, perhaps the most important in all of this write up, is how scouts were gushing about Sosa's defensive abilities in Arizona. The first half of the regular season was tough on Sosa and the struggle even crept into his once plus defense. He had become so ineffective at short stop before getting injured that he was moved off of the position. So, it's a big deal to read and hear that so many scouts were blown away by how advanced he played in the field. Even better, he received nothing but gushing reviews for his defense at short, third, and second.

The Cardinals have a potential question mark in the major league caliber utility infielders that can play short stop. With Edmundo already on the 40 man, the importance of his development as a defensive option at multiple positions can not be understated.

What I don't like about Sosa is his in ability to drive the ball. Just two short years ago Sosa flashed signs of being an all-around threat. He posted 7 HR and an additional 12 XBH over 200 AB at Johnson City in 2015. Since then, all of his power has dried up. As a matter of fact, Sosa's slugging descent over the last two season is part of the reason why I couldn't rank outfielder Wadye Ynfante any higher than 26 on my personal list. Take a look back, but Ynfante's 2017 and Sosa's 2015 seasons in the Appy League have a lot in common. I'm choosing to learn from Sosa as I measure my excitement for Ynfante.

Sosa doesn't possess the biggest body and he has a swing that's meant for slappin'. He recently incorporated a Yadi-esque leg kick (especially apparent during his time in the Arizona Fall League) with the hope of adding power. The problem with that is that he isn't direct through the ball with his hands. He drops them back to make contact and that'll nullify any of the extra power that the big leg kick might have added, otherwise.

(Looks a little bit like a sloppy right handed impersonation of a Kolten Wong swing, doesn't it?)

I'm all for a hitter trying to improve their slugging percentage, but I believe that it's in Sosa's best interest to spend more time refining his pitch recognition, contact percentage, and approach before trying to add power because of how his frame is built. Right now, it's just not exactly on point.

I don't penalize Sosa for missing two months, but I do worry about what all of that time off does for his development. This concern isn't exclusive to Sosa. I always worry about prolonged absences. That's especially so for light-hitting position prospects. I'm even more concerned with Sosa because of how hard it is to come back after breaking a bone in your hand. That's why I wanted to highlight his time after he came back from the injury in the "What I Like" section of this write up. It's encouraging that he had success in his return. It's still a concern, though.

Sosa's walk rate in 2017 was 5.7% and that's not nearly good enough. It needs to get better. Just like with his time in the AFL, it did get better as the season went on. He'll just be spinning his wheels if he doesn't get that rate up above 8%. That's essential for his hitting style. Either that or he's going to need to magically tap into the power potential that he showed two seasons ago. Either way, there's an approach renaissance that needs to go on for Sosa to progress as a prospect. Hopefully he'll be able to take advantage of the hitter-leaning Texas League in 2018. Otherwise, he's just a middle infield prospect who's career will peak at exactly where former Cardinals Prospect Juan Herrera's peaked: Double-A.

If I'm comparing Sosa to anyone it's.... I hate myself for this.... Pete Kozma. Right now he's exactly what Kozma was; an over-matched, defensive-first middle infielder with enough pop to fool a naive manager. Still, there's value in that. Sosa will be 22 years old for the entirety of the 2018 season, so there's still time for him to develop. If he does ultimately reach his ceiling, it'll be something similar to Yuniesky Betancourt. Like with many of the prospects on the list, it's going to take a lot of work to get there.

As always, these articles can't be done without Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. They are equally as reliant on the skills of Cardinalsgif's and NChill17. It's a pleasure to do this list with my friend Colin Garner at The Redbird Daily. A special thank you to Baseball Census for the side video of Sosa's swing.

And please remember to check out my colleague Colin Garner's write up of our #21 Prospect (Colin's personal #25 prospect, prior to combining lists) over at The Redbird Daily right HERE!!!

Thanks For Reading!

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