Welcome to the annual series: ‘A Minor (League) Review of 2015.” This series is a great way to receive a quick recap of the ’15 minor league season for your favorite club(s), while also receiving a brief look toward the 2016 season and beyond. It can also be a handy feature for fantasy baseball players in keeper and Dynasty leagues.
The Graduate: Randal Grichuk, OF: The Cardinals received a lot of value from rookie outfielders in 2015 between Stephen Piscotty, Tommy Pham, and Grichuk. All told, they compiled 5.7 WAR with Grichuk leading the way at 3.1. He played all three outfield positions and was surprisingly good in center field. At the plate, he started tapping into his raw power more consistently (.272 ISO) and went deep 17 times in 103 games, while adding 30 more extra base hits. He remained extremely aggressive at the plate — which limits his effectiveness at times — with a strikeout rate of more than 30% and a BB-K rate of 22-110.
The Riser: Edmundo Sosa, SS: The Cardinals also saw good returns in 2015 from pitchers Alex Reyes and Jack Flaherty but Sosa saw his value increase even more. The young shortstop has shown the ability to hit at every level he’s played and he’ll very likely open 2016 in full season for the first time. Soon to be 20, he gives the Cardinals a premium shortstop prospect who plays solid defence, hits for average and possesses both gap power and the speed to steal 15-20 bases. At this point, he just needs polish and plate appearances to polish his immense raw talent.
The Tumbler: Patrick Wisdom, 3B: The 52nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, Wisdom has done nothing to quiet the concerns over his ability to hit professional pitching. The third baseman is a solid fielder but he was lucky to get out of A-ball as quickly as he did and he’s been stalled in Double-A for the past two seasons. Wisdom, 24, doesn’t have great pitch recognition but he possesses some pop when he makes contact. On the plus side, he saw the power output increase and his strikeout rate decrease during his second go around at the level.
The ’15 Draft Pick: Harrison Bader, OF: The Cardinals focused on outfielders early in the 2015 draft and came away with a couple of promising players in Nick Plummer (1st round) and Bader (3rd). I wasn’t personally a huge fan of the Plummer pick but Bader could end up being a steal. He had an excellent debut with the bat and earned a quick promotion to A-ball where he hit more than .300 and stole 15 bases in 54 games. He also showed more pop than expected.
The Lottery Ticket: Junior Fernandez, RHP: The Cardinals don’t spray and pray the international market like the larger market teams such as the Cubs and Dodgers but they have immense success thanks to excellent scouting. The club has acquired the likes of Alex Reyes, Magneuris Sierra, Edmundo Sosa, Sandy Alcantara, and Fernandez.This young hurler can tickle triple digits and has a promising changeup. Just 18, he’ll open the 2016 in full season ball and could fly up prospect rankings in 2016 if he continues to follow the same development path. Fernandez has the potential to develop into a top-flight starter if he can improve his breaking ball.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.