ST. LOUIS -- Despite the recent graduation of several prospects to the Majors, the Cardinals' farm system is still rich with up-and-coming talent, evidenced by the inclusion of two right-handed pitchers on MLBPipeline's Top 100 Prospects list for 2016.
That list, which was unveiled during an MLB Network special on Friday, includes both 21-year-old Alex Reyes (No. 13) and 20-year-old Jack Flaherty (No. 80). Neither of the two had been featured in last January's Top 100 Prospects list, though both did crack the distinguished list midseason in 2015.
Reyes, the third-highest ranked right-handed pitching prospect in the game, had a terrific 2015 season marred only by the ending. Making 13 starts for High-A Palm Beach and another eight with the Double-A Springfield club, Reyes posted a 2.56 ERA, a 13.6 K/9 ratio and 1.21 WHIP over 98 1/3 innings.
Reyes, who signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, was then invited to the Arizona Fall League, a finishing league of sorts for the Minor League's best. He fared well there, too, until a second positive drug test -- triggered, he said, by marijuana -- left him with a 50-game suspension. He began serving that suspension in November but will miss an additional six weeks to open the 2016 season.
Not only does the time lost decrease Reyes' chances of making a big league impact in 2016, but it also cost him an invite to Major League Spring Training.
Flaherty just wrapped up his first full Minor League season, spending all of it with the low-A club in Peoria. A period of dead arm/fatigue cost Flaherty most of the first two months of the season. But his strong finish helped his prospect stock surge.
Flaherty, drafted out of high school as the 34th-overall pick in the 2014 Draft, went 9-3 with a 2.84 ERA, 97 strikeouts and 31 walks in 18 Class A starts. That helped him move up 20 spots from his place as the 100th-best prospect in MLB Pipeline's midseason rankings.
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2016 season are eligible for the list. The rankings follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.