HEY! We did it!! We finished that completely unnecessary and exhausting tour through the Cardinals system!!! YOU'RE WELCOME, AMERICA.
Anyway, I want to spend a little time going over some of the additional thoughts that I have about my list. Some of these thoughts have already been stated within some of these posts. Most of it, as you'd suspect, is the mindless ramblings of a madman.
- My first thought is simply "Dylan Carlson is way ahead of the rest of the pack, and it really isn't even close."
- Second, as I've stated in four different posts, I think there's an argument to be made that prospects two through five could be put in any order. It's really just a matter of personal preference, coupled with how objective you want to be. It's pretty well documented that I'm not necessarily as high on Nolan Gorman as others are. I'm not saying that he isn't worthy of the two spot. He absolutely is. He also has all of the underlying tools of an elite prospect. However, I definitely don't view him as a top 50 prospect in baseball right now. He has the potential to be, and he's close, but he's just not there yet. I don't view any of the prospects in the organization other than Dylan Carlson as part of the top 50-75 prospects in baseball. But I do believe that Gorman, Liberatore, Herrera, and Thompson are all prospects that could, and should, be considered top 76-125 prospects in baseball. There's a real chance that the Cardinals will have five players on top 100 prospect lists when things get re-ranked at the midseason mark. That is, if there is a midseason.
To hit on the point one more time, at this very moment, I do not view the Cardinals as having a second prospect that is deserving of a spot in the top 75 prospects in baseball. That is only at this moment. I expect that to change by midseason time. Gorman has shown tremendous growth in spring training, and I have a feeling that ZacK Thompson is going to fly up the national rankings, too.
- This isn't Cardinals related, but Reds' lefty Nick Lodolo was the most dominant pitcher that I watched during the 2019 season. The lefty out of TCU looked like a Cy Young contender pitching to College freshmen when he was pitching at the A-level. That's how much more advanced he was than that level.
- I still have no idea how to handle minor league relief pitchers. As I stated at the end of the Kodi Whitley post, I'd really like a re-do. I was probably over-aggressive ranking Junior Fernandez sixth, and I was definitely dumb for ranking Whitley 17th. If I were to do it all over again, Whitley would be 11th. That's a major leaguer, right there. He's going to be a valuable major leaguer for years. I don't think that's the case with many others on the list.
With Fernandez, it's a little more complicated. He's a major leaguer right now, and with a high ceiling at that. Torres and Montero have serious approach concerns, so he had to go ahead of both of them. At the same time, he isn't near the prospect-caliber of the top five. Had I just kept rookie-eligible Genesis Cabrera, Andrew Knizner, and Ryan Helsley on the list, then Junior would have been ninth. That makes a lot more sense for him. Ninth and 14th for Fernandez and Whitley, respectively, makes more sense.
In my mind, I view the D35 in subsets of interchangeability. That is, I think there are arguments to be made that the prospects within these groups could be in any order:
Nolan Gorman, Matthew Liberatore, Ivan Herrera, and ZacK Thompson.
Junior Fernandez, Elehuris Montero, Jhon Torres, Angel Rondon, and Johan Oviedo.
Kodi Whitley (again, I really screwed up with this one, and we are going to change it)
Malcom Nunez, Jake Woodford, and Griffin Roberts.
Tony Locey, Luken Baker, Justin Williams, and Alvaro Seijas.
Patrick Romeri and Trejyn Fletcher.
Julio Rodriguez, Logan Gragg, Andre Pallante, Brendan Donovan, Pedro Pages, Evan Kruczynski, Mateo Gil, Justin Toerner, Tommy Parsons, Alex FaGalde, and Evan Mendoza.
Juan Yepez, Chandler Redmond, Ricardo Sanchez, and Delvin Perez (and any of the players that were mentioned in the best of the rest article).
In addition to those tiers within the D35, I think there's an argument to be made that prospects 36-50 could all be lumped into the same category/tier as prospects 32-35. I also believe that the difference between prospect #21 on the list and prospect #50 that was unlisted isn't that big of difference. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Cardinals have a solid amount of depth even beyond the top 35. Obviously this group wouldn't be described as "high-end", but they are talented minor leaguers that have, at least, a little potential of making a major league debut or more.
Now, you might be asking "Prospect 36-50?!?! WHERE IS THAT LIST?"
Well, here ya go (and, again, from here it gets pretty interchangeable): #36 - John Nogowski (Again, refer to "Five Prospects Out" article at the onset of the D35 for profiles and further clarification on prospects 36-40), #37 - RHP Jack Ralston, #38 - 1B/OF Todd Lott, #39 - RHP Michael YaSenka, #40 - 2B/3B Max Schrock, #41 - OF Lars Nootbaar, #42 - OF Conner Capel, #43 - RHRP Seth Elledge, #44 - RHP Francisco Justo, #45 - RHRP Bryan Dobzanski, #46 - RHRP Edgar Escobar, #47 - Utility Fielder Yariel Gonzalez, #48 - Utility Infielder Irving Lopez, #49 - 2B/3B Ramon Mendoza, and #50 - OF Tyler Reichenborn.
You could easily go deeper than that and expand the list to 75 or so of similar-type prospects. If we were to do this, we would be including players like Michael Baird, Terry Fuller, Leandro Cedeno, Brady Whalen, Roel Ramirez, Connor Jones, Jesus Cruz, Kramer Robertson, Tyler Statler, Tommy Jew, Connor Coward, Rickey Coinside, Ludwin Jimenez, Dennis Ortega, Jeremy Randolph, Connor Lunn, and many others! I, however, will not be doing that here lol.
- Why in the hell did I rank Kruczynski 26th?!?! What in the hell is wrong with me?!?! That one is going to backfire. Oh well. I'm happy to have stuck with one of my guys.
- As I stated in his write-up, I am a little worried that Ivan Herrera isn't going to be immediately able to live up to some of the hype that is being thrown on him. I think that people are just a half of a season/a season ahead of it. I believe that he is going to have a great year, but catchers take a little extra time.
- I believe that I ranked Tony Locey too high, as well. His fastball is so damn explosive, and I LOVE an explosive fastball. However, I worry about the rest of it.
- To reiterate, first baseman Luken Baker is going to have a massive offensive season in the Texas League as compared to the offense that he put up in the Florida State League. I could easily see the double number (32) staying the same, but with ten extra home runs.
- If you've watched any spring training game, then you know that RHP Johan Oviedo is poised for a breakout season. If you had to pick one pitcher and hitter as breakout candidates on the national prospect scene, Oviedo and Baker are your guys, respectively.
- If you are looking for deep sleepers, Logan Gragg would be the pitcher, and Brendan Donovan would be the hitter that I would recommend. I have high *HOPES* for both. Neither profile as top 150-200 prospects in baseball, but both have the abilities to profile as potential Major League contributors. I'd also like to point out that outfielder Patrick Romeri might be the ultimate sleeper within the organization.
- If you are looking for DEEP DEEP sleepers, guys that aren't on the D35 that could bust onto the scene, I'd recommend OF/1B Todd Lott (who was one of the best of the rest) and RHP Michael Baird. If you'd like to go one additional level beyond the DEEP DEEP, I'd recommend right-handed pitcher Francisco Justo and outfielder Tyler Reichenborn.
- OF Lars Nootbaar and RHRP Roel Ramirez are two more polished "prospects" that deserve some recognition in this category, as well. I'm not buying into Nootbaar until he shows that he can slug the ball, and I'm not buying into Ramirez until he shows more than just a fastball. However, they are within major league proximity and they have some advanced tools that make them worth extra attention.
- The Patrick Romeri and Trejyn Fletcher debate/battle is going to be a fun thing to follow.
- I honestly still have no idea what to think of Ricardo Sanchez, the lefty that the Cardinals acquired for off of waivers from Seattle. I'm probably missing something, I guess. I'm really going to key in on him when the season starts up. He seems like a perfectly fine minor league depth arm and not much else. I am amazed that he is viewed so highly nationally.
- Once again, I am thankful to all of you for participating in this. Thank you for allowing me to rattle like the asshole that I am for two months about the system.
- My last thought about the Dirty Thirty-Five is, I just don't know what to think moving forward. I can't begin to understand what this break in baseball that has been caused by COVID-19 is going to mean for the kids on the farm. I don't know what it's going to mean for the short season affiliates, especially the affiliates that were threatened by contraction before this pandemic. I don't know what it's going to mean for the draft. I know that I am especially worried for those affiliates that were being threatened with contraction, and I know that the owners will do everything that they can to save money. I know that makes me worry about the long term future of baseball.
More importantly than anything else, I gotta say "THANK YOU" as loudly and as boisterously as the text format will allow. I'm incapable of explaining what the D35 means to me, and the loudest thank you won't begin to equal the amount of gratitude that I truly feel toward the people that support it. And not just the D35, but also Birds On The Black and Prospects after Dark. This is YOUR community. The supports of both of these "things" have cultivated something wonderful and beautiful, and I'm immensely flattered to be a part of those overlapping communities. You are all something special, in both agreements and disagreements.
I couldn't (nor would I) do any of this without @cardinalsgifs. To my fourth brother, to my partner in crime, I say "THANK YOU" and that I'm sorry that everyone hates me now lol.
Thanks For Reading!! Thanks For EVERYTHING!!