Alex Reyes remains the top prospect in the Cardinals' organization despite missing this season, but the list below him has changed. (File)

By Rob Rains 

Now that the trading deadline has passed, it’s time for the annual re-ranking of the top prospects in the Cardinals’ organization, a list that has undergone some changes since last summer.

The name at the top of the list hasn’t changed, even though Alex Reyes has not thrown a pitch since last September. Others have either played well enough to move up the list, or struggled to the point where they have moved down a few places.

Two players new to the organization made their way onto the list; one who signed as an international free agent and one acquired through a recent minor-league trade.

Once again, the list is dominated by pitchers and outfielders, which will no doubt set up position battles in the spring or provide the Cardinals with some quality trading chips this winter.

Since this is 2017, we have added one more spot to our list: so here is STLSportsPage’s list of the top 17 prospects in the Cardinals’ organization, as well as an under-the-radar selection for each of the eight minor-league affiliates. All statistics are through Sunday’s games:

1. Alex Reyes, RHP – He has been the best prospect in the organization for a few years now, and even having to sit out this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery has not changed that status. Reyes will still be just 23 years old next season, and still has rookie eligibility as he returns either to a spot in the rotation or the bullpen – depending on the speed of his recovery. Major-league ETA: 2018

2. Carson Kelly, C – Adding more offensive production to his already excellent defensive skills moved Kelly up three spots in the rankings from a year ago, when he was fifth on this list. Now generally regarded as the top catching prospect in the game, the 23-year-old Kelly appears to have finished his minor-league duty and will now serve as the backup to Yadier Molina, likely for a couple of years, before moving into the starting role. Major-league ETA: now

3. Jack Flaherty, RHP – The 21-year-old Flaherty was sixth on this list in 2016 when he was pitching for Class A Palm Beach. A great start at Double A Springfield earned a promotion to Triple A Memphis earlier this season and Flaherty’s selection as the organization’s representative in the Futures Game. An increase in velocity and his ability to throw four pitches for strikes should have him competing for a spot in the Cardinals’ rotation during next year’s spring training. Major-league ETA: 2018

4. Harrison Bader, OF
– Bader’s success in Triple A this season earned him a brief promotion to the major leagues last month and the 23-year-old should be back in September. Bader, who also was fourth on this list last year, has spent the majority of his time in Memphis playing center field but also can play the corners. He also has shown the ability to hit for power and average and is an above-average runner and defender. Major-league ETA: September

5. Dakota Hudson, RHP
– After being drafted out of Mississippi State a year ago, Hudson made his pro debut and was ranked 12th on this list after only two months in the organization. He is making the biggest jump on this list, all the way to fifth. Hudson, 22, was a member of Springfield’s rotation through late July when he was promoted to Memphis. Some scouts project Hudson as a future closer in the majors, thanks to a wipeout slider. Major-league ETA: September

6. Tyler O’Neill, OF – Acquired from the Mariners for LHP Marco Gonzales in July, O’Neill, 22, joins the group of talented outfielders in the top levels of the Cardinals’ farm system. As soon as the native of Canada arrived, the right-handed hitter became one of the best power-hitting prospects in the system and hit four homers in his first 12 games in Memphis, increasing his season total to 23. Major-league ETA: 2018

7. Magneuris Sierra, OF – Fans in St. Louis already have seen brief glimpses of Sierra’s potential in his short callups to the majors this season. The 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic actually has a higher average in 52 major-league at-bats than he does in his minor league games. Primarily a center fielder, Sierra also is playing the corners at Double A Springfield and working on becoming a better basestealer. He also was ranked seventh on this list a year ago. Major-league ETA: 2018

8. Delvin Perez, SS – The top pick by the Cardinals in the 2016 draft, Perez had the biggest drop on this list, where he was second last year. Still only 18, the shortstop struggled at the start of the season at Johnson City and was sent back to the Gulf Coast League for a couple of weeks. He has hit better since returning to Johnson City in late July but remains a long-term project for the organization. Major-league ETA: 2021

9. Adolis Garcia, OF – The second newcomer on this list, Garcia was signed after defecting from Cuba just before the start of spring training. The 24-year-old began the year at Double A and took some time to adjust to the league and professional baseball, but then began performing well and was promoted to Memphis, where he has had to battle for playing time because of all of the outfield prospects there. It would not be surprising to see the Cardinals give him a look in the majors in September. Major-league ETA: September

10. Johan Oviedo, RHP – Another native of Cuba who signed as an international free agent last year, Oviedo, 19, was ranked third a year ago and really is not any less of a prospect now, but was simply passed by others on the rise in the organization. The 6-foot-6 Oviedo began this year at Johnson City before being promoted to State College. Major-league ETA: 2021

11. Luke Weaver, RHP – As was the case with Oviedo, Weaver really did nothing wrong this season but still slid down one spot on this list simply because of the performance of others. He has had an outstanding season at Memphis and the almost 24-year-old Weaver really has nothing left to prove at the Triple A level. He now just needs a chance to pitch at the major-league level, whether it is in the rotation or the bullpen. Major-league ETA: September

12. Jordan Hicks, RHP – After just missing this list last year, the 20-year-old Hicks has joined the ranks of the organization’s top right-handed pitching prospects. Hicks began the year at Class A Peoria, going 8-2, before being promoted to Palm Beach, where in his first five starts he struck out 24 and walked four in 22 innings with a 1.23 ERA. Major-league ETA: 2020

13. Sandy Alcantara, RHP – The only reason Alcantara, 21, is not higher on this list has been some inconsistent performances at Double A Springfield. He can reach triple digits with his fastball, but is still working on the rest of his pitches and needs to cut down on his walks (48 in 110 innings). Becoming more consistent will be the key to Alcantara’s progress in the organization. He was ranked 16th on this list last year. Major-league ETA: September 2018

14. Dylan Carlson, OF
– One of the youngest players in a full-season league, the 18-year-old Carlson has spent the season at Peoria and has posted a .271 average since June 1. The switch-hitting Carlson also has earned high marks for his baseball IQ and maturity. He skipped over two levels in making the jump from playing in the Gulf Coast League in his first pro season last year, when he also was ranked 14th on the list of Cardinals’ top prospects. Major-league ETA: 2020

15. Edmundo Sosa, SS – An injury is the primary reason Sosa dropped from eighth on this list last year to 15th. He suffered a hamate injury and has played only one game since May 31 and might miss the rest of the season as well. Sosa, 21, had played well enough the first two months of the year to earn a promotion from Palm Beach to Springfield. It would not be surprising for the Cardinals to make him one of the players sent to the Arizona Fall League to try to recover some of his lost playing time. Major-league ETA: 2019

16. Jake Woodford, RHP – Yet another highly-regarded right-handed pitcher, Woodford moves down three spots on this list from last year, but has had a solid season at Palm Beach. At 20, Woodford is still developing physically and has allowed more than three runs only once in his last 13 starts since the middle of May. Major-league ETA: 2021

17. Jonatan Machado, OF – Ranked ninth on this list a year ago, the 18-year-old Machado fell after a discipline issue kept him out of the lineup at the beginning of the Gulf Coast League season in his first full year in the organization. A prototypical leadoff hitter, Machado had almost as many stolen bases (four) as he did strikeouts (five) while hitting .324 in his first 20 games. Machado is the third native of Cuba to make this list. Major-league ETA: 2022

Two players fell off this list who were ranked among the top 16 players in the organization last year, right-handed pitchers Junior Fernandez, who was ranked 11th, and Alvaro Seijas, who was 15th, but the Cardinals remain high on both. Other players who just missed making this list were catcher Dennis Ortega, second baseman Eli Alvarez (injured for much of this year), outfielder Randy Arozarena (another Cuban signee), and left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber.

Here is the added list of a prospect for each team in the organization who is more of an under-the-radar performer:

Memphis – At 26, right-handed reliever Josh Lucas is a little older than most prospects, but he has had a big season in Triple A. He leads Memphis with 11 saves to go with an 8-1 record and has struck out 59 batters in 53 innings while issuing only nine walks. He was a 21st round pick of the Cardinals in the 2010 draft out of a junior college in Florida and has moved up steadily through the organization since coming back after Tommy John surgery in 2013.

SpringfieldAndrew Knizner was drafted by the Cardinals in the seventh round in 2016. The 22-year-old catcher began this season in Peoria, making the Midwest League All-Star team, before he skipped over Palm Beach and was promoted to Springfield in June. At Double A he has shared the catching duties while posting a .336 average and throwing out seven of 16 runners trying to steal.

Palm Beach –Another player drafted last season who has made a quick impression is infielder Andy Young, the team’s 37th round choice from Indiana State. Young, 23, also made the Midwest League All-Star team after a strong start at Peoria before he was promoted to Palm Beach, where he has a .248 average while starting games at second base, shortstop and third base. Combined between the two teams he has 16 homers.

Peoria
Stefan Trosclair has played mostly first base since he was drafted in the 20th round last year out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He made the jump from the Gulf Coast League to Peoria this season, where he has hit 10 homers and driven in 44 runs to go with a .280 average and 13 stolen bases. The 23-year-old Trosclair hit for the cycle on Friday night.

State CollegeDaniel Castano is a 22-year-old left-handed pitcher selected by the Cardinals in the 19th-round last year from Baylor. Moving up from Johnson City, Castano has led the Spikes with a 7-2 record and a 2.54 ERA, striking out 56 batters in 56 innings while issuing only seven walks. He has also only allowed one home run.

Johnson City – A 19-year-old native of Venezuela, left-handed reliever Fabian Blanco has struck out 30 batters in 23 innings while issuing only six walks. Blanco, in his first season on a U.S.-based team after pitching for two years on the Cardinals’ team in the Dominican Summer League, has converted five of six save opportunities as he shares the closer role with Jacob Patterson, another left-hander.

Gulf Coast Cardinals
– An 18-year-old third baseman from the Dominican Republic, Ele Montero is tied for the team lead with four homers, has driven in a team-leading 26 runs and posted a .300 average in the first 33 games this season. He received a $300,000 bonus when he signed at 16 in 2014 and played the last two years in the Dominican Summer League.

Dominican Summer League Cardinals
– One of the best pitching prospects at this lowest level in the organization this season has been 18-year-old right-hander Hector Soto, a native of Mexico, playing his first professional season. Soto has been used as both a starter and reliever, compiling a 2.20 ERA in his first 10 games with 18 strikeouts and just five walks in 20 innings.

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