Updated: May 1, 2019
THIS IS A COUNTDOWN!!!!! Over the next forty-something days, starting on February 12th and ending on March 28th, I will be rolling out my Top 35 prospects in the Cardinals organization. We call it "The Dirty Thirty-Five" because it's marketable, I think. Also, we call it that because my write-ups and evaluations are a little different. I’m kind of a quirky and goofy guy, and the evaluations fit that personality. I've already written about the four players that graduated off the list. I've also written about the guys that just missed the list. You should check those out because you're going to have questions about my sanity afterwards. The article about the guys that didn’t make the D35 is really freaking good. This list is my own. It's terrible. I'm fine with it. Remember, have fun with these lists. Ranking prospects is a joke, but it's fun so treat all of the prospect ranking accordingly.
Ryan Helsley - Right-Handed Pitcher
Drafted in the 5th Round of the 2015 Draft
AAA Memphis & St. Louis
STATS AS OF 5-1-2019
This, too, will be a story told more in .gif's than anything else. This one is old, but it's a fun one!
With Helsley, it's simple: He possesses a four pitch mix that's really good, and a high-spin fastball that he uses in the upper half of the zone extremely well. His other three pitches (curve, change, and cutter) are all average-or-above offerings. Sometimes, he gets too cute late in counts, but he usually does well in getting ahead of hitters. He just needs to get better at putting hitters away. That, by the way, is a crazy thought for someone that's averaged more than a strikeout per inning over his minor league career.
This next .gif is a changeup that's been trailed by that sex machine @cardinalsgifs. Take some time to really enjoy how fooled the left-handed hitter is. The changeup is really good versus lefties.
This next .gif is of his curve. For him, this is a flat version of it. In truth, it might actually be his cutter. I just wanted you too see how good it is when it isn't good. Take a look at the left-handed hitter here. He, too, has been fooled:
This next .gif is just your standard amount of filthy to Texas Rangers' prospect Willie Calhoun. Guess what? He's fooled, too:
Okay, okay. I've picked on left-handed hitters enough for one article. Let's talk about how bad right-handed hitters look against Helsley:
I have very little to say, so here's another one!!! It features some of that high-heat that we were talking about!
Every article or write-up that I've put together about Helsley has featured some graphic detail of how strongly his lower-half is built. I can only imagine that his mom or girlfriend or probably god would be terribly embarrassed by it. Maybe even Mr. Ryan Helsley, himself.
So, I'm going to do a little more of that.
That lower half of his looks like what would happen if a horse and a human had a child, but that child kept all of the skin-traits of a human. Reproductive organ and all. If I had my guess, Helsley could pop my head like the pimple it is with one gentle squeeze between those muscular ham-hocks. If his baseball career fizzles out, he'll win one of those talent show's on The T.V by squishing other objects between those tree trunks.
This offseason, Helsley was added to the Cardinals 40-man roster. That will provide him with a pretty clear path to the majors. That, of course, comes with the caveat and warning that he did get shutdown after his June 9th start last year (and a failed rehab assignment in August) following shoulder fatigue. So, the only major concern with Helsley is health. As of right now, as I write this before spring training fires up, the health of that right-shoulder does not appear to be of further issue. Keep an eye on his arm action, as well. He has arm action that is long, and you can almost see why shoulder fatigue would creep in.
Over the last three years, I've probably written about Helsley more than any other prospect. That's because he's my personal favorite prospect. He's gone from being the most underrated prospect in the organization (and potentially in all of baseball), to being someone that I've just talked too much about. So, that's why you got the .gif's instead!
THE BOTTOM LINE
If he stays healthy, Ryan Helsley will make his major league debut sooner rather than later, and certainly in 2019. He throws a devastating four-seam fastball and three additional pitches that play off of each well. Helsley commands his repertoire, too. I've always pegged Helsley as a middle of the rotation starter, but the truth is that the Cardinals will probably utilize him out of the bullpen before that ever really becomes an option. You're going to love him in any role because he's a man. How could not root for one of the few players with Native American ancestry/blood to ever be drafted?! Of all of the major league debuts that I anticipate happening in 2019, Helsley's has me the most excited. Now, we just sit back and hope that the shoulder fatigue issue that ended his 2018 season in June (not including his one-start rehab assignment) doesn't creep back up.
*SPRING TRAINING UPDATED*
Helsley had the single most impressive inning in camp, but that was about it. After that first inning in the first game of Spring Training, Helsley really struggled to find both his groove and the strike zone. Just like with Prospect #6 Genesis Cabrera, the struggles that Helsley has had this spring will not stop him from aiding the major league club during the 2019 season. It just won't happen from day one, it appears. I can't wait to see a healthy Helsley pitch during the 2019 season. AND LOOK AT THESE LEGS! THEY'RE BIGGER THAN EVER!!! (And I think that his arm-motion has shortened up, too).
MAY 1st UPDATE
Helsley is healthy and he's back to pitching like the beast that he is. He had a nice little taste of the major league bullpen, and he should be in the starting rotation instead of Dakota Hudson, but here we are again, back in Memphis, pitching out of the bullpen because that doesn't make any sense at all.
He should be in the majors. He should be in A rotation, at least. Either way, really.
Thank you to FanGraphs for the stats!
Thanks For Reading!!