Tag Archives: cardinals

Gearing Up Again

Time to get back into writing gear, though I do have some under my belt already for the 2020 season. The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020, now on newsstands near you, featured a few articles by yours truly.

We changed things up for the prospect section focusing not only on impact prospects for 2020 but rankings for keeper/dynasty leagues too! I pieced together the article, wrote a few of the profiles, and all the long-term prognosis. I also wrote the Prospect Retrospective piece and an article recapping my 2019 AL Tout Wars victory “Six Degrees of Fantasy Baseball Victory”. You’ll be able to buy it online in PDF or physical edition soon at thefantasyguide.com soon!

Enough advertising, time to take a glance at the Cardinals and Rays deal.

The Cardinals moved Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena to the Rays for Matt Liberatore, Edgardo Rodriguez and swapped competitive balance picks with the 38th overall pick going to the Rays and the 66th coming back to the Cardinals.

Cardinals outfield for 2020 is now up in the air with one less veteran to take up playing time. Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, Tommy Edman, Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, and Justin Williams are all in the playing time mix with Dylan Carlson poised to possibly take spring training by storm and maneuver his way into the starting lineup as a 22-year old with fewer than 100 plate appearances of experience in Triple-A.

Liberatore is a well-regarded left-handed pitcher and former 2018 first-round pick of the Rays, drafted 16th overall and is instantaneously one of the Cardinals top five prospects or better. He more than held his own as a 19-year old at A-ball showing a four-pitch arsenal with an already plus fastball, but his calling card will be his plus to plus-plus curve. The changeup and slider are both still works in progress, but that’s to be expected for a 6’6” pitcher who just turned 20 this past November. He is at least two to three seasons from the Majors and at this moment time looks like a middle of the rotation starter. The feel-good here has childhood friends Liberatore and third base prospect Nolan Gorman reuniting and cheering them on to both reach the Majors together as starters are something to embrace.

Edgardo Rodriguez is currently listed as a catcher, but it remains to be seen whether he will be able to stay there defensively. That said, despite missing most of 2019 due to injuries, his hit tool remains well regarded as a disciplined contact hitter with some power potential. He’ll likely move up to full-season A-ball this year but could also see more time in rookie ball given his minimal experience and age. While he is unlikely to ever be regarded as highly as Liberatore as a prospect, there is a chance he ends up having a more productive career. That is not an endorsement, just a brutal consideration given the youth of these two players and the variability of what may befall them between now and the time in which they shot at the majors.

On the Rays side, their decidedly left-handed hitting outfield needed another right-handed compliment. Neither Kevin Kiermaier nor Austin Meadows has extreme righty/lefty platoon splits. It is more that Martinez has an extreme bat against righties including a career .331/.405/.570 line when contrasted against his new teammates’ more modest abilities. Arozarena should also be a factor at the MLB level this coming season and is something of a dark horse candidate as an impact prospect. A later bloomer, the 24-year old is a good defender who can handle all three outfield positions, above-average foot speed, and a quick bat, but high single to low-double-digit homerun power. His upside is likely that of a fourth outfielder but has enough skills and tools to potentially be a right-handed centerfield compliment to Kiermaier.

Piscotty Gets A New Shot

2017 was a lost year for Stephen Piscotty who struggled with his health, his swing, and with family issues with respect to his mother’s health. The Cardinals were sensitive to the latter in targeting the A’s as his destination since he grew up in the Bay Area. The deal to Oakland gives Piscotty both a second chance to succeed as the penciled in opening day right fielder for the A’s and perhaps, most importantly, the opportunity to live close to home.

So what does the future hold as a hitter? When drafted, it was done with the expectation that his power would eventually emerge and it did in 2016 with his twenty-two homerun output. However, he faded power-wise as that season went on and 2017 saw a reversal of his ground-ball, fly-ball, and home run per fly-ball trends. In his favor, Piscotty did translate his minor league walk rates to the Majors but seems to have settled in around the 20% strikeout rates area. Heading into 2018 it is difficult and unwise to expect a full rebound to his 2016 levels of play, though a return to the .270-plus level batting average seems well within reach. Keep your expectations modest with a .260 to .270s batting average, mid-teens home run output. There is potentially nice room for profit in particular for OBP-leaguers this upcoming season, particularly if he is nominated late and the room is risk-adverse.

In exchange, the Cardinals received a duo of minor leaguers. Yairo Munoz is a middle infield/third base prospect who at the moment projects more as a utility player with a good glove and throwing arm. He makes contact regularly, but is overly aggressive and has low to mid-teens homerun out potential. He could see time in the majors this year in a backup role.

Max Schrock is not a tools guy but is intriguing second basemen. The former 13th round pick has excellent plate discipline, making contact more than 90% of the time on a regular basis while drawing walks over 7%, producing on-base-percentages in the .370 to .380 range. Other than that, Schrock has modest speed and power. The 23-year old lefty will move up to Triple-A in 2018 and could also see some time in a utility role for the Cardinals. He is exactly the type of player who if given a chance to start would at the very least not embarrass, but who could surprise and thrive with an opportunity, but it’s a big IF at the moment.