Three St. Louis Cardinals Prospects That Are Ready to Climb Rankings

Last month the Top 50 Cardinals prospects list dropped as part of our January Top 50 extravaganza. Even in a slightly depleted system thanks to December trades, the Cardinals still have a strong system thanks to an impressive amount of upper minors depth.

In dynasty baseball we’re always looking for the next rising prospect. Who’s going to make a splash and warrant a pick up? I turn the magnifying glass onto the system and try to pick out a few names that have the skills to be helium babies, along with some just-for-fun peak projections.

Jordan Hicks, RHP

If it weren’t for Alex Reyes, Hicks would own the biggest and best fastball in the Cardinals’ organization. His 70-grade piece is heavy, generating ground balls and weak contact. He pairs it with a plus curveball that buckles knees given the large miles per hour difference. The 21-year-old Texas native pitched 105 inning last year between the Midwest League and Florida State League and the results were encouraging. He finished with a 2.74 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 95 strikeouts (8.1 K/9).

How To Become A Riser?

Hicks needs a thirds pitch. His changeup is below average and weak enough that it’s possible the Cardinals scrap it altogether for something else like a slider. He also needs to repeat his delivery. In the video above his arm slot varies from pitch to pitch and it leads to pitches in the dirt or way above the strike zone. Because of these deficiencies, Hicks is labeled as a reliever. In fact, in the AFL he made eight appearances out of the bullpen, though that’s more because the rosters are stacked than anything else.

If everything came together, though, we’re looking at a No. 3 starter. Hicks still has about two years to work things out in the minors to get there.

Peak Projection: 3.25 ERA/1.17 WHIP/180 Ks/190 IP

Oscar Mercado, OF

Speed is critical in today’s fantasy game and whenever a prospect puts up a 13 home run, 38 stolen base season we should pay attention. Mercado finished his Double-A season by slashing a career-best .287/.341/.428 as a 22-year-old. His defense has improved greatly over the last few years to the point where it’ll be one of the big reasons he gets into games. While we don’t care too much about defense, we like anything that’ll help him get more at bats. Last season Mercado decided to tap into his power at the expense of his strikeout rate (jumped to 21 percent from 2016’s 14 percent mark). That he was able to be so productive in a league that skews toward pitching is encouraging.

How To Become A Riser?

Do it again in Triple-A. Mercado’s hit tool has always been in question and considering he has a mediocre approach at the plate, one or the other has to improve so he can use his wheels. If he can repeat 2017’s success at the highest minor league level, he’ll start getting that exposure he deserves.

Peak Projection: 85/12/67/31 with .265/.323/.436 in 55o plate appearances. 

 Elehuris Montero, 3B

On July 25, a rehabbing Brad Ziegler gave up two hits to Cardinals rookie-ball players in an inning. One of them was to Elehuris Montero. He can hit major league pitching, y’all! Kidding. But you can see the hit in the video above. What you can also see is the foundation for a patient hitter with natural loft in his swing that should lead to 20-25 home runs. This season was Montero’s first stateside and overall it was impressive. He had an .838 OPS with an 11 BB% and 16 K%. He’s gradually increased his walk rate and dropped his strikeout rate, too.

How To Become A Riser?

The jump from rookie ball to full-season ball is a big one. If the Cardinals get him to Low-A and he performs well as a 19-year-old, then he just has to keep doing his thing and the adoration will follow. As with any rookie ball player, he can also afford to lay off the breaking stuff away. But it’s almost unfair to nitpick at that at this stage.

Peak Projection: 78/26/97 with .279/.348/.493


Videos courtesy of
Article featured image of Jordan Hicks – courtesy of BaseballCensus

Looking for the cure that'll force me to stop joining new fantasy baseball leagues each year. I pay the bills as a Video Production Coordinator for USF Athletics in Tampa. Raised in Miami, bachelor's from FIU, master's from UF. I tweet all baseball all day from @EddyAlmaguer.

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