In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.
I was chatting with my colleague Meg Rowley recently when Harry Frankfurt’s essay “On Bullshit” came up. This was not actually about our midseason list making process, but it could have been. Frankfurt separates “bullshit” from “lying” by virtue of the speaker’s knowledge of the truth. You lie knowingly. You bullshit merely to convince. No one can claim objective, absolute truth of ordinal rankings or prospect outcomes. Some of us sure act like it of course. But especially within a midseason list I find myself on slipperier footing. The tiers get mushier. “I don’t know” feels like an appropriate answer more often than it should in this line of work. Here are five prospects we ranked last week. I really don’t knowing the numbers are right, but I must still venture to convince.
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The Cardinals are calling upon one of the top arms in the minors to aid their run for the playoffs.
The Situation: Barring a 1995 Mariners-esque comeback, the Cardinals are not going to catch the Cubs. They’re right in the thick of the wild-card race despite some so-so starting pitching, however, and they’re going to call on Alex Reyes to see if he can be part of the solution.
Background: Similar to what Lucius Fox did last June, Reyes “defected” from New Jersey to the Dominican Republic in 2012, and the Cardinals were able to sign him $950,000 that December. After impressing the next summer in the Appy League, Reyes struck out 137 batters in 109 innings for Low-A Peoria in 2014 , and quickly became one of the most intriguing right-handed pitching prospects in baseball. That stock went up substantially in 2015 after dominating in the Florida State League, and he more than held his own as a 20-year-old in Double-A later in the year. He was throwing well in the Arizona Fall League, but then a marijuana suspension not only cut his AFL stay short, but caused him to miss the first couple months of the 2016 season. Pitching in the treacherous PCL, he’s posted a 4.96 ERA, but he’s also struck out 93 hitters in just over 65 innings, and the Cardinals believe he’s ready to contribute.
At times, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing a prospect’s path from amateur ball to the big leagues is relatively standard; then we get snapped back to reality where every prospect’s path is wildly different. Enter, Roemon Fields. After first playing JUCO ball and then transferring to NAIA Bethany, where he ran track and played baseball, Fields was working for the Seattle Postal Service when the Blue Jays signed him out of an amateur exhibition series. Fields stands out for his lean body with fast-twitch athleticism, and his explosiveness on the field. An exceptional runner, Fields consistently got down the line in 4.01-4.08 seconds over the weekend, putting pressure on defenders every time the ball was in play, and he showed an ability to easily utilize his speed both on the bases and in center field. Fields is still raw at the plate, but he hung tough during at-bats, fouling off difficult pitches before finding one he could put in play; typically via a solid line drive or ground ball. At nearly 25 years old, Fields has a limited window to impress and reach the big leagues, and while his future likely resides on a major-league bench, if anywhere, he has some potential to develop into a top of the order, slap-hitting burner. While Fields has taken a unique path to Double-A since signing late in 2013, his journey becomes a nice secondary note after seeing him play for several games. – Mark Anderson
A scouting- and fantasy-based look at one of the top arms in the Cardinals system.
It’s not often you see a native of the U.S., much less New Jersey, signed in the international period, but that’s what took place when Alex Reyes left the states for the Dominican Republic. The Cardinals signed him for just under $1 million ($950,000) in December of 2012 and threw him right into Short-Season ball as an 18-year-old. It’s an aggressive assignment not to go through any complex leagues, but his familiarity with the U.S. likely played a part in their willingness to push him. Reyes started 2014 in Low-A, where he’s just under three years younger than the average player for the level, noteworthy because even if the production is mild, it would be considered a success based on his age relative to the level.
Reyes has received praise in the prospect community, and attention from dynasty leaguers thanks to a precocious skillset. That skillset remains unrefined though, and that bears itself out in the numbers. A 3.39 ERA is plenty to write home about from an 18 year old in Short-Season ball, but it’s worth nothing that along with his head-turning 27 percent strikeout rate, he produced an elevated 11 percent walk rate. Where he truly shined though is in limiting the long ball, as he allowed only one home run in 58 1/3 innings.