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Ozuna & Piscotty: Scouting The Prospects

It’s been a busy couple of days for the Cardinals. As busy as it's been, it’s been even more exciting for the Cardinals fan base than anything.

There's been a lot of turnover at the minor league levels of the organization. First, we'll take a look at what the Cardinals gave up. From there, we’ll pivot to what they’ve gained. Before writing for Birds On The Black I was writing over at The Redbird Daily. All of the ranking that I mention from this point on are rankings that were reflected during the midseason rankings that I did there. You can track down the list of 30-21 HERE, 20-11 HERE, and 10-1 HERE.

Who They Sent

TO MIAMI A four man package of prospects went to Miami in the trade for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna cost the Cardinals three pitchers and an outfielder.

The centerpiece of that trade was flame throwing 22 year old RHP Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara is a decorated prospect that possesses a nasty change up and a dynamite sinker. What he doesn’t possess is command and consistency. His ceiling is that of a top of the rotation pitcher but his floor is that of a fringe bullpen arm. He’ll really need to harness the nasty to make a sustained impact. He has a smooth motion, a projectable frame, and an electric arm and he can dial his fastball up to the 100’s. I had Alcantara as my 11th best prospect in the organization at the mid-point of the season.

The next pitcher that went to Marlins was RHP Zac Gallen. Gallen was a 3rd round pick in the 2016 draft out of UNC. There are a ton of flashy prospects in the Cardinals minor league pitching arsenal, but Gallen is not one of those guys. Gallen is polished and impressive. He has advanced command of four pitches, all of which profile at various levels of average. Gallen is the wild card of the four names the Cardinals sent to the Marlins. If he reaches his peak you’re talking about something close to Kyle Lohse. That’s a pretty damn good pitcher. Gallen was my 18th ranked prospect in the organization at the break.

The third pitcher involved in the trade is LHP Daniel Castano. The former 19th round pick out of Baylor University had an impressive 2017 season at State College, a level that he was a little too advanced for. Still, the 2.57 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 91 innings pitched was something to be encouraged by. He's a big body, too, measuring in at 6'4, 230. Castano is the lottery ticket in this deal. If everything goes well he might end up as a really nice 5th starter, but more than likely his ceiling is that of a John Gast-esque swingman. Castano was not in my mid-season rankings, but I was giving him mild consideration for the Top 30 Prospects List that my friend Colin Garner at The Redbird Daily and I plan to roll out in 2018 near the start of spring training.

Finally, the last piece of the Ozuna trade was 21 year old outfielder Magneuris Sierra. Just a few short weeks ago while ranking the Top 5 OF in the organization, as part of the series I did on the top 5 players at each position in the organization, I wrote this about Sierra:

"I want you to know that, to be contrarian to Baseball America, Sierra is absolutely the best defensive outfielder in the organization. That might change as Oscar Mercado gets more seasoning and consistency in the outfield, but right now it's Sierra. That being said, If Sierra were on the top 5 list below he'd be 5th on that list. Currently, he doesn't have any type of offensive profile. He doesn't take enough walks or steal enough bases to utilize his plus-speed and he doesn't hit the ball often enough or hard enough even when he squares up a ball. He's still only 21, so maybe he'll grown into it."

That all still rings true. Sierra was ranked 7th in my mid-season rankings, but I must admit that I was drinking the kool-aid that he stirred together while at the major league level. As I’ve been prepping for the 2018 Top 30 list, he keeps popping up in the 15-20 range. He’s electric and speedy and a ton of fun to watch but, aside from his defense, he doesn’t do enough with the skill that he possess to project him as a starter in the majors. There is still a ton of development that he’s capable of doing, but I think he profiles best as a 4th outfielder. As I’ve said before, if he has a career like former Cardinals outfielder Kerry Robinson then he’s done pretty well for himself.

Who They Received

FROM OAKLAND Before we get to it, I just wanted to say that I can’t remember a time, ever, that the Cardinals traded a player and I didn’t hear one criticism about that player from the fan base. Stephen Piscotty was a true professional as a Cardinal. It’s impossible to say a bad thing about him and not feel bad about yourself for saying it. Good luck to him and his family.

I really like the two player package that the Cardinals received from the A’s. That list starts with SS/Utility IF Yairo Munoz. First, let’s work on learning how to pronounce the Dominican-born 22 year old’s name together:

Yes, I know. I’m still going to butcher it. Sorry about that. Forgive me, Yairo.

Munoz brings an interesting bat and super utility potential with him to St. Louis. It’s a cheap cop-out, but a lot about what Munoz does reminds me of former Cardinals short stop/now utility infielder Aledmys Diaz, but with more swing and miss. The big test for Munoz will be how he adjusts at the plate. He strikes out a lot and is super aggressive. I’ve watched a ton of video on him and I can’t figure him out. It seems like he is in constant adjustment mode with his hands and left elbow. Take a look. The first video is from 2016:

Now, from 2017. Also notice how he seems to have dropped a few pounds:

He does explode through the ball when he makes contact and he has an interesting amount of pop, hitting 13 homeruns and 26 doubles while slashing 300/330/464 in 446 AB spread over AA and AAA in 2017. In my opinion, he did a lot to improve his stock and showed strong improvement at the plate in 2017.

Unless things get weird, Munoz will start the season at Memphis where he’ll get time at 2nd, SS, and 3rd. When we get to the 2018 rankings, look for Munoz to fall in around the 13-20 range.

Organizationally, the Cardinals are weakest at 1st and 2nd base, and the acquisition of second baseman Max Schrock is immediately a huge upgrade to the 2nd base depth in the organization. As a matter of fact, Schrock is already the best 2nd base prospect in the organization.

Schrock is an extreme contact hitter. He has a great approach at the plate and he plays an average 2B. He was drafted by the Washington Nationals and traded to the A’s for former Cardinals LHP Mark Rzepczynski. Schrock is everything that the Cardinals hoped they were receiving in Luke Dykstra when they traded Jaime Garcia to the Braves this past off season. In 2016, Carson Cistulli wrote a great article for Fangraphs that you can read HERE. It’s worth checking out.

On twitter, I compared Schrock to former Cardinals second baseman Aaron Miles. I stand by that, but I will say that he has an ultimate upside of D.J LeMahieu. The pint-sized Schrock will most certainly start the season in Memphis. He is the ultimate sleeper prospect and the Cardinals might have received a gem. I am completely torn on where to put Schrock on my top 30 list when it goes live, but it’ll be in the 13-20 range and probably ahead of Munoz.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, the Cardinals did a great job of trading from one of their organizational strengths, outfield, to enrich one of their weaknesses. While the group of infield prospects still isn’t strong, Munoz and Schrock effectively replace Aledmys Diaz and Eli Alvarez in the organization, respectively.

The Rule 5 Draft

The Cardinals did not select anyone in the major league phase of the rule 5 draft, but they did take two interesting outfielders in the minor league phases. Since the Cardinals abstained from the major league portion of the draft (mostly because they had a full 40 man roster at the time of the draft), they won’t have to add a player to the 40 man. Also, the two outfielders selected in the minor league portions of the draft can be assigned to the minors at the Cardinals discretion.

21 year old, right handed hitting Angel Moreno and 17 year old, right handed hitting Jean Selmo are two very interesting, very raw prospect and they are both worth keeping an eye on.

Now, this is the part where I usually launch into a quick, Cliff Notes-esque rundown of the prospects, but, honestly, I hardly know anything about these guys. Derrick Goold wrote a great little piece for STLToday that you can find HERE, and you should read it.

What I can tell you is that I am a fan of Selmo. Now, of course, that comes with the warning that I always give: I'm as much of a fan as I'm capable of being of a 17 year old with the little experience that Selmo has. I see the raw tools, athleticism, and talent (plus a very beautiful swing) and I get a little fired up.

Everything that I've read about Selmo is glowing. He has the potential to be an impact prospect in a few years. I'm anxious to see how the kid fills out.

I'm not as big on Moreno as I am on Selmo, but that's mostly because there isn't a ton on Moreno. It isn't easy to track down reliable info on him. So, my impressions of Moreno are based almost solely on his statistical impact, which has been modest to this point. He seems pretty athletic. As Goold's article states, he'll start, or at least get a chance to start, the 2018 season at Palm Beach. Good luck, my friend!

There is still the potential for some significant moves for the Cardinals. They are still linked to players like Manny Machado, Alex Colome, Evan Longoria, and Josh Donaldson. We'll have you covered here at Birds On The Black as it all goes down!!

Special thanks to my Man Nicholas Childress for the gif's, along with Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and STLToday for their contributions.

Thanks For Reading!!

1 comment

1 Comment

Ben Cerutti
Ben Cerutti
Dec 15, 2017

My write up, sans Rule 5 guys (looks like we had the same idea today...):

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