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 to these rankings, CLICK HERE. Without further delay, we present...
Prospect #27, RHP Matt Pearce
Age At The Start Of The 2018 Season: 24
Drafted In The 13th Round Of The 2014 Draft
2017 AA FIP: 4.01. AAA FIP: 4.96
Kyle Reis (Prospect # 33 On Personal List, Prior To Combining Lists With Colin Garner)
What I like about Pearce is his ability to last deep into a game. Over 86 starts as a member of the Cardinals organization he's thrown six complete games, two of which were shut outs. Over that time period, no other Cardinals pitching prospect has thrown as many complete games and only one other pitcher (RHP Mike O'Reilly) has thrown as many shut outs.
As a matter of fact, Pearce's six complete games since being drafted is 3x as many as the next pitcher in the organization over that time. He's durable. He's dependable. He's steady. In this day and age of prospects, he's a rarity.
One thing that you really have to like about Matt Pearce is that he's really maximized his skills. He doesn't possess anything great - even though his command is very good - yet he still gets great results. He's a decorated prospect at this point, too. In 2015 he led Midwest league in ERA. That was a banner season for him as he shattered the Midwest League record for most consecutive innings without letting up a walk. The old record was 46.1 IP. Pearce lasted 54.1 IP.
It's not just because of the number he's wearing in this gif, but doesn't this guy look like former Cardinals RHP Jeff Suppan on the mound? Motion. Size. Everything. Even the type of contact:
Stop me if you've heard this about a Cardinals' prospect before: Pearce's best secondary offering is his changeup. It's been his most effective pitch at the minor league level and he mixes it extremely well with his fastball and curve. His fastball can reach 92/93 MPH, but it lives in the 90 MPH-range. His curveball has been effective at the minor league level, but I have my questions about how it'll play all season at AAA or if he makes the majors. He worked on a cutter last year but it wasn't a pitch that I felt like I saw enough to comment on.
Other than that, Pearce is about as dull of a prospect as you'll find on this countdown. No, that's probably not the best way to sell you on a prospect. I apologize. But if there is one guy on this list that's vanilla it's Pearce.
What I don't like about Pearce is that I just don't see how his stuff gets more advanced hitters out. We saw that a little bit in 2017 after he received the promotion to Memphis. In ten AAA starts over 54 IP he had an ERA of 6.00 and a FIP of 4.96. He allowed 7 HR, 36 ER, a batting average against of .327, and an OPS against of .895. Needless to say, Pearce was hit hard. It smells of disaster when you combine that with his 68% flyball rate over his 10 Memphis starts.
As I mentioned above, I think that his fastball/change combo has been good for him so far, but I worry that the curveball just isn't enough to be a sufficient option as a third pitch. His command is great, but there doesn't appear to be much in the way of movement to his fastball. That's problematic when you can't dial it up past the low 90's. It isn't a coincidence that his K-Rate has dropped by about 2% from 2016 through his 17 starts at Springfield in 2017, then an additional 2% from that number over his 10 Memphis starts.
If I'm comparing Pearce to anyone it's former Cardinals RHP prospect Zach Petrick. If he had any type of matching velocity I'd say Mike Mayers or a secondary offering that showed signs of being above average I'd say former Cardinals RHP P.J Walters, but there's more to Mayers than there is to Pearce. Of course, there's always the chance that Pearce finds his way into the Cardinals bullpen. There, he'll reach his ultimate peak as a Brad Thompson-type.
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.
Thanks For Reading!
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