This is the second leg of our seven part journey through the Cardinals minor league system as we rank the top prospect within it.
I like all of the prospects in this grouping, but it's probably the least glamorous group of the bunch. One of the prospects in this group is a player that I am not to keen on but you can't deny his proximity to the majors and the tool that he uses to make himself a potential major leaguer.
As always, these little write ups for each prospect are just a tasting. Within the next few days a more complex and in-depth write up on each individual prospect will go live. There, you'll find what they do well, what they don't do well, and who they might look like if they were to reach their maximum potential.
LET'S DO IT!
Prospect #30: RHP Alvaro Seijas
Previously Ranked 28th
2016 International Signing
The stats are rough for Seijas. The teenager has had a rough go of it during his first taste of full season baseball. I almost dropped Seijas off of the list entirely, but then I remembered to keep everything in context.
See, Seijas' rotation and international signing mate Johan Oviedo has had a brutal run for Peoria. I was always higher on Oviedo because of his size and because I believed he could be over-powering. However, watching Oviedo's command fail him this season has caused pause in any type of positive evaluation. Now, with that in mind, what Seijas has done at Peoria doesn't look so bad. His command isn't completely in the toilet, although his emotions do tend to get the best of him when he struggles to find the zone. He's struggling, but his velocity is still solid, sitting in the low-mid low 90's, and he's still a teenager pitching against advanced hitters.
So, what I'm getting at is, Seijas stays on the list because we don't completely give up on teen aged prospects that were once highly touted until they give us a reason to. Oviedo and his extreme command issue is a major concern, so off of the list he goes for now. Seijas stays because the promise is still there. With a good fastball and a breaking pitch that shows signs of being very good, Seijas stays on the list. He falls down the list because it's been rough this year.
The second half of the season is going to be big for Seijas. It's going to be a hot summer and that always bodes well for the teen aged international signings.
Prospect #29: LHP Evan Kruczynski
Palm Beach Cardinals
9th Round pick in the 2017 draft
Kruczynski has spent quite a bit of time on the Palm Beach DL and that would usually scare me away from adding him on to the list. The good news is that the injury wasn't arm related (it's a hamstring strain). So, he gets a small pass.
Here's the thing about me and Kruczynski: I don't think I took him seriously enough after the Cardinals drafted him. When I compiled my final list for the preseason Dirty 30, Kruczynski wasn't anywhere near the top 40. He had a nice debut for the organization, but it wasn't exactly stand-out or eye-popping.
Early on in this season I made a point to watch every Palm Beach game that Milb.TV televised. It was there that I was first exposed to Kruczynski and just how good he is capable of being. You know what? He can be really good.
Kruczynski represents a rarity in the organization as it is currently constructed: he is left handed starting depth with back-end of the rotation potential. His curve ball is really good and his change up plays well with his fastball. He has smooth mechanics with arm action that is quick and a little deceptive. Kruczynski is back to pitching for Palm Beach now and everything seems to be back on schedule. I believe that he has an arsenal that could make a major league debut if he stays on his current developmental track.
Prospect #28: OF Scott Hurst
3rd Round pick in the 2017 draft
I am a believer in Scott Hurst, which is something that I couldn't say during the preseason rankings.
Then, to start the season, Hurst was marooned on "Extended Spring Training Island" while Jonathan Machado and other, less-talented or less-developed players were assigned to full season affiliates. It seemed like my suspicion of Hurst talent was warranted.
However, Hurst replaced Machado when Machado failed to hit his slender body-weight for Peoria to start the season. Hurst has impressed since. Now, I do not think that there is much in the way of power for Scott Hurst to develop. It could come, especially when/if he makes it to the Texas League. No, where Hurst's bread is buttered is in his ability to drive the ball to all fields in any count. There isn't a more Jon Jay-esque player in the Cardinals organization than Hurst. He's never off balance in the box. He's rarely fooled, infrequently over-matched, and every plate appearance feels like a professional at-bat.
Hurst is a good outfielder, too. I questioned his ability to play center field but I am now convinced that he'd be able to do it amply if given the chance to do it day in and day out.
I really like Scott Hurst and I'm anxious to see how he progresses with a promotion. He flashed surprising power during his final collegiate year and I'd love to see him tap into that. While none of his tools will "wow" you, he does many different things very well. He's a pretty well-rounded player.
Prospect #27: RHP Connor Jones
2nd Round of the 2016 draft
This right here, this is the one. I've never been the biggest fan of Connor Jones. He's just boring. When the Cardinals drafted Jones he was coming off of a poor-ish season at Virginia. The prior year, he looked like a sure fire first round selection, but his Junior year was so bad that he fell out of the top three rounds for most scouting services.
So, of course, the Cardinals selected Jones in the second round because of his heavy fastball that induces an appropriate amount of ground balls.
Without getting into too much detail, it's worth noting that The University of Virginia ruins their pitchers. They make them conform to a pitching style. Most Virginia pitchers die out in the minors. It's a reputation that is built on facts. So, we know for a fact that Jones is never going to strike out a lot of batters. We know that he is going to struggle with repeating his mechanics and he is going to struggle with trying not tip his pitches.
But what I didn't expect is that Jones would be doing well enough at AA to warrant any type of attention. However, that's exactly what he is doing. How is he doing it? With that heavy fastball/sinker combo and a large amount of grounders.
If he manages to clean himself up and utilize the curve ball to it's max he might end up being a Lance Lynn-type pitcher but on a shorter time line. I, however, do not think there is any way that happens and he is more than likely an interesting piece at the back end of the bullpen.
But I've sold Jones short so far so maybe I'm doing it again.