This is a completely half-assed list!!!!
OK, so hear me out: I'm breaking the Dirty Thirty-Five into five subsets of seven players for our mid-season report. Why am I doing this? Because that's literally all of the free time that I have. I TRULY, TRULY apologize for not having more time. I swear, I'll do everything that I can to make up for this moving forward.
Anyway, before we get started, remember to check out the article that highlights the Five Players From The 2019 Draft that I'm keeping the closest eye on. That should come out right after we finish with the countdown. The depth of info, or lack-thereof, is because of the lack of free time I have. I promise that I've peered over countless hours of video and reports to give you my humble and honest opinions, albeit quick, on each and every player that I comment on. Besides, in this world of "TL;DR", my long and drawn out nonsense is probably best consumed three or four paragraphs at a time.
So, the system isn't in great shape right now. I'm just being honest. I hope that I have more time in the future to write about that. As of right now, I believe this to be the most concise list of top prospects in the organization. TRUTH BE TOLD, outside of the top 20 prospects, things aren't exactly rosy right now within the organization. Only time will tell, of course.
Over this five day countdown, I hope to give you more context in regards to that topic.
This also comes with one final warning: while I have watched hundreds of hours of video, and read countless reports on these players, this is the least amount of research that I have ever done for a countdown. While I have people I trust at nearly every affiliate in the organization, I usually use MiLB. TV as my primary method of investigation and cross-checking. However, MiLB update their service and it's terrible, and that has really ruined the experience for me. On top of that, the system has been terribly boring, for the most part. And with the pitching in the organization taking such a large step backwards as compared to past seasons, it's less and less interesting to watch a start.
STATS IN THIS POST ARE CURRENT AT START TIME ON 7-10-2019.
I've rambled on long enough. It's countdown time!!! So, without Freddy Adu, Birds On The Black and Prospects after Dark presents....
THE DIRTY THIRTY-FIVE: PROSPECTS 14-8
Prospect #14: UTIL Edmundo Sosa
Signed as an International Free Agent in 1884 (July of 2012)
So, here is Edmundo Sosa dancing. The 40-grade hip sway is a little alarming, but he's got the energy:
Anyway, during this valley-filled minor league season within the Cardinals organization, Edmundo Sosa remains a vital resource for evaluating. That's to say, he is what he is, and I am so grateful for that.
Sosa is a .260 hitter. He's probably always going to be a hitter that hits between .235 and .265. He's probably not going to get on base much. Unless things get weird, you can count on an OBP ceiling of right around .315. Even better, he's going to do this while supplying surprise slugging. He svelte but strong and quick with his hands, and he's probably going to supply a slugging percentage in the .380 to .420 range, depending on how he's deployed. Even better, most of that slugging is going to happen when he's being attacked lower in the zone. An impressive aspect to his power is that a lot of it ends up towards the opposite field:
Sosa is quick enough to to turn a single into a double, and he has good instincts on the base-paths. On top of that, he's a reliable defender at three infield spots: third, short, and second. He can be flashy, and he has an arm to complete the flashy play.
And that, my friends, is the beauty of Edmundo Sosa, and why he is occupying the 14th spot on our countdown. He's a rare known commodity. You'll be able to bank on him being a taxi-squad-type utility infielder for a couple of years. He's not going to do too much. He doesn't have the offensive capabilities of Yairo Munoz or Tommy Edman. He doesn't even have the offensive upside of Prospect #22 Ramon Urias. But what he does have is a more defined skill-set, and that's so valuable.
Sosa has more pop that Greg Garcia, without the selective approach that Garcia showed. For someone like me, someone that has to try to evaluate roughly 250 players within the organization, Edmundo Sosa is a jackpot of reliability.
Prospect #13: Catcher Ivan Herrera
Signed as an International Free Agent in July of 2016
I'm just gonna go ahead and try to get in front of this one: I do not have a feel, at all, for what kind of a catcher Herrera is. It seems like he has a very strong arm, and it seems like his pop-time is right where it needs to be; at the two second-ish mark. It seems like he does a good job of blocking behind the plate, even though that clearly needs works. I have no feel for what kind of framer he is, but he seems below average there. He also seems kind of slow moving side to side.
But this is just how it "seems", to me. I really do not have a feel for it. He's definitely inconsistent. That much is certain. However, for a 19-year-old, I think that he's "fine" behind the plate. He needs to get better and more consistent, but I don't think that there's any indication, at this juncture, that he won't be able to stick as a catcher. BUT, AGAIN, EVALUATING CATCHERS IS WHAT I DO THE WORST, AND I DO A LOT OF STUFF POORLY.
Herrera makes a BIG jump up this list, from 22nd to 13th. This is, in large part, because Ivan Herrera is a very good and disciplined hitter with a quick swing, a solid approach, and terrific plate coverage. If I could guess at what a 19-year-old Andrew Knizner would have looked like if he had spent his upbringing as a catcher, I'd guess that it'd look a lot like Herrera.
Early in the season, Herrera was a force. Over his first 46 games, from the start of the season until June 23rd, Herrera hit 288/382/436 with six home runs and six doubles in 191 plate appearances. To demonstrate how good his approach has been, his walk rate over that time was 12%. At the same time, his strikeout rate was 19.4%. That's high, but not that high for a kid that was 18 year's old for the first two months of the season. To give you an idea as to just how productive Herrera has been for Peoria, his wRC+ after June 23rd was 139.
Truth be told, it really wasn't until the last week or so that he's started to show signs of fatigue. Often times, he's been in the middle of the Peoria lineup, too. That's a lot to ask from a kid that has only been 19 for a little over a month. Still, Herrera hasn't backed down. I feel like Herrera might be trying a little too hard to pull the ball right now, and one of the things that he was doing very well early in the season was going with the pitch to the opposite field. He's still doing that, just not as frequently. Again, this recent struggle feels more like fatigue, to me, than anything else.
You probably aren't over-whelmed by the 13 extra-base hits in 221 plate appearances. I get it. I don't blame you. But let me tell you that Herrera is slow. I mean, not Yadier Molina-level slow, but Carson Kelly-level slow. There aren't going to be many singles that he turns into doubles. Plus, you know.... HE'S FREAKING RECENTLY TURNED 19 YEARS OLD AND HE'S HITTING REALLY WELL AT A FULL-SEASON AFFILIATE! So, you know, calm your nerves!
Herrera has started and played the entire game in 53 of the teams 85 games at the time that this article was composed. There should be some signs of fatigue with that, from a player that has never caught this much, this early in the season. What I know for sure is, Herrera is the type of prospect that every organization would love to have. With continued development and hard work, Herrera's future appears to be as a backstop for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Prospect #12: RHP Griffin Roberts
Palm Beach Cardinals
Drafted 43rd Overall in the 2018 draft
Griffin Roberts was suspended for the first 50 games of the season for testing positive for, what he called, "cannabis".
If only the minor leaguers were treated the same way as the major leaguers. If only they had proper representation....
Anyway, Roberts broke the rules that he agreed to and he was punished for it. That's the lesson to be learned here.
Since coming off of the suspension, it's been a mixed bag for Roberts. There are times when he appears to be that dominant slider-thrower that we know he's capable of being. Those moments rarely come early in a start, though. Eleven of the twenty-seven runs that he's allowed have come in the first inning (as of 7-7-2019). He throws a lot of pitches in that first inning, too. He's not just throwing pitches right down the middle; he's also throwing a lot of pitches for balls. I can't speak to if this is a preparedness issue or something else, but I do know that it's strange to see a former college reliever-turned-starter struggle so badly to begin a game.