A Minor Review of 2016: St. Louis Cardinals

Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as a early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues.

The Graduate: Aledmys Diaz (SS): Diaz came out of nowhere to limit the impact of the loss of injured veteran Jhonny Peralta in 2016. The freshman hit .300 and produced more power than expected (17 homers). The middle infielder doesn’t look like a one-hit wonder or fluke, either. Along with the ability to hit for average, he produced above-average pop while striking out at a low rate (13%) and showed a willingness to take a free pass. Diaz’s defence was worse than expected at shortstop but he’s earned the opportunity to prove himself capable during the 2017 season.

The Riser: Sandy Alcantara (RHP): Alcantara is a beast on the mound and (frighteningly) may not be done filling out his frame. He fires his heater up to the 100-101 mph range but does so with modest command. Even so, he struck out 153 A-ball hitters in 122.2 innings, and also induces an above-average number of ground-ball outs which helped him keep the ball in the yard in 2016 (just four homers allowed). His secondary stuff needs work and he may be toying with too many pitches. He currently has four offerings and might be better off scrapping the slider and focusing on his curveball and changeup. Alcantara, 21, has a long way to go but he could develop into a top-of-the-rotation arm.

The Tumbler: Nick Plummer (OF): Now 20, the 2015 first-rounder has played just 51 games in his pro career so far after missing all of ’16 due to injury. In his debut season, Plummer hit just .228 despite showing strong patience at the plate with 39 walks in 51 games. Unfortunately, he also had contact issues (56 strikeouts) which won’t be helped by the long layoff. He’ll need to hit for average to be a valuable player with the bat because he’s not likely to produce more than average power and his speed is solid but won’t make him a huge threat on the base paths. If he reaches his potential, Plummer looks like a fringe-average big league regular.

The ’16 Draft Pick: Delvin Perez (SS): A failed drug test caused Perez to slide to the Cardinals at the 23rd slot of the 2016 draft. The teenager performed exceptionally well in his pro debut and hit .294 with just 28 strikeouts in 163 at-bats. He also showed good speed on the base paths and potential to be a plus fielder. Perez’s current approach at the plate doesn’t produce much pop but he has good size and could develop home run aptitude as he matures as a hitter. The Cardinals will probably hold him back in extended spring training before letting him lose on a short-season league in the summer of 2017. Once he hits full-season ball, though, he could be a quick mover if he keeps hitting for a decent average.

The Lottery Ticket: Junior Fernandez (RHP): Like Sandy Alcantara above, Fernandez can deliver his four-seam fastball up into the triple-digits and sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. Despite that fact, he struck out just 88 batters in 122 innings in 2016 due to the lack of consistent secondary offerings – specifically a breaking ball. His changeup is decent but he likely won’t stick as a starter unless he can harness his curveball. Fernandez struggled in high-A ball during the second half of ’16 so he’ll likely return to that level to begin ’17 but he could see double-A at some point.

For reference sake, here is the 2015 Review.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Manny Ramirezmember
5 years ago

Marc- Thanks for these columns. Do you think Luke Weaver can be a fantasy SP next season, or does he need further refinement? The minor league stats are dope, but the stuff isn’t necessarily overpowering. Is he similar to Joe Musgrove?

Kyle Sharamitaromember
5 years ago
Reply to  Manny Ramirez

He’s only on the MLB roster is there’s an injury. Waino, Martinez, Leake, Lynn, and Reyes are the starting 5.

And, Weaver may not even be the 6th guy if the cards decide to keep Wacha as a starter, OR stretch Rosenthal out to start.

I can’t see how a AAA starter who will rely on control and groundballs to succeed in the big leagues is a good player to draft in fantasy…

But then again, I don’t play, so……