Baseball season is almost here and with it comes the future stars of Major League Baseball in Springfield. Last season, the team finished third in the standings, missing the playoffs, but they did see plenty of former teammates graduate to the big leagues. Much of the first place St. Louis squad at one time played in Springfield. Recent additions to the big club include Tommy Edman, Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill and Dakota Hudson. This year, we’ll be seeing the next crop of future stars for St. Louis and plenty of visiting players who will go on to play in the majors for their respective teams. If you find yourself out at Hammons this year, here are a few names to watch for!
The true #1 prospects for the organization, Carlson is already showing how he earned that ranking this spring. He’s a non-roster invite to Spring Training and has hit .357 to this point. The question with Carlson is not if but when he’ll ascend to the majors. He’ll have to beat out Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas to earn that major league spot. If he doesn’t make it, he’ll likely be reassigned to AAA, but could make some appearances in Springfield. If he does, you’ll want to catch those games for sure. He played 108 games in town last season and led the team in nearly every hitting category. Scouts love this guy because of his power, his defense and his ability to hit from either side of the plate. Watch out for Carlson!
Right now, scouts have Gorman as the second best prospect in the system, largely due to his potential to hit lots of homers into the right field bleachers at Busch in a few years. Last year, Gorman graduated from A+ to A and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue his progression and end up in Springfield this year. If he does, drivers on National need to watch out during game times.
Liberatore came over from the Rays this offseason in the Jose Martinez trade. Many people speculated his involvement in a deal to land Colorado rockies 3B Nolan Arenado, but that didn’t materialize. Instead the Cardinals have one of the best lefties in the minors, ranked #6 by MLB.com. Liberatore throws in the low to mid 90s and mixes in a sharp curve and a slider to keep hitters off balance. He figures to be at the helm of a lot of Springfield’s wins when he makes the squad.
Is this the heir apparent to Yadier Molina? Herrera impressed scouts in each of his past two seasons, hitting over .280 and producing a lot of runs from the right side of the plate. He’s still just 19, so those numbers project well for Herrera in higher leagues. It looks like he’s still got quite a bit of learning to do behind the plate, but MLB scouts are encouraged by his progress.
Montero struggled last season at the plate mostly due to injuries. Before that, he was a top five prospect for the organization. He was the post season MVP for the Single A club in 2018. If he can bounce back to those numbers in 2020, he’ll rise up the list again. The Cards love him because of his size (6′ 3, 215) and his power. Some scouts see him sticking at third due to his strong arm and expect him ot hit around 20 homers a year for the big club some day.
Last year, Rondon made 20 starts for the Springfield squad and it’s safe to say he was the staff ace for much of the season. He’s struggled so far in Spring Training, so he’ll likely start the season back in the minors. The pitch to watch with Rondon is his changeup. He’s been working on it a lot and scouts love how he uses it to fool batters against his fastball. If he does come back to SGF, we’ll be in for more great starts when he takes the mound.
Oviedo didn’t wow anyone with his production in Springfield last year, but the organization still loves his because of his massive frame (6’6, 210) and his heater. Ovideo has hit up to 98 MPH with his fastball, but it dipped down a few notches last year. If he can put it all together, he’s definitely one to watch for future seasons.
Torres is really young, just 19 at the time of this writing. He’s also a huge kid at 6’4, 200. He’s projected to have lots of power and some speed to go along with it. He’d have to really find his way in the lower leagues to get to Springfield in 2020, but it’s possible!
Thompson has thrown 3 perfect innings this Spring Training, but he’ll probably still begin the season in the minors since he’s only made a dozen or so appearances with the team so far. Thompson is a former first round pick out of the University of Kentucky. The Cards love his fastball and slider. His promising Spring makes it seem likely he’ll advance in the minors this year, so watch out for him at Hammons.
Luken Baker is a beast. He’s 6’4, 265 lbs and packs a major punch at the plate. A lot of scouts are projecting a rise in the ranks for Baker this year, so watch out for him. If he lands in the Queen City, he’ll be easy to spot on the diamond. He’s limited to 1B due to his massive size, but it’ll be his bat that he’s known for.