2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Ranking the Fantasy assets for the St. Louis Cardinals

A two-year playoff drought has most of us not even recognizing the Cardinals anymore.

But they're there. They're trying. And if I may be so bold, they're still good.

It's just taking a little while to transition from their last wave of talent to their next one, which is part of the reason Tommy Pham needed so long to break through. Granted, he also had some physical issues holding him back, but as big a reason was the Cardinals' glut of outfielders who weren't exactly fixtures but were also too good to bench. Now, though, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk are gone and Pham is entrenched, coming off maybe the best offensive season for any Cardinal since Albert Pujols.

And there's more to go with him now. The Cardinals made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason, pilfering Marcell Ozuna from a too-eager-to-tear-it-all-down Derek Jeter and company, and now they have the middle-of-the-order pop they've lacked since, again, Albert Pujols -- who, it's worth pointing out, they were right not to re-sign back when they had the chance.

They've had a harder time letting go of their other sacred cow, Adam Wainwright, who's basically just taking a spot from Jack Flaherty or Alex Reyes at this point. This final year of his contract is when we can expect him to see him finally put out to pasture.

Cardinals in Scott's Top 300
PlayerRoto RankH2H RankRoto Pos RankH2H Pos Rank
#40 #55 #10 #11
#54 #59 #14 #14
#55 #48 #16 #16
#74 #75 #13 #13
#150 #132 #40 #40
#165 #157 #7 #6
#183 #224 #13 #14
#217 #201 #57 #42
#267 #221 #75 #78
#268 #227 #76 #79
#271 #283 #66 (at OF) #65 (at OF)
#295 NR #29 #30

Players in Scott's Top 100 Prospects

Cardinals prospects
14 Alex Reyes
Though out until at least May because of Tommy John surgery, Reyes figures to step into a big-league role as soon as he recovers, as he was in line to do after turning in a 1.57 ERA during a late-season trial in 2016. He compares to Michael Kopech in terms of stuff and strikeout ability, but of course must prove his health.
Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful
38 Jack Flaherty
Flaherty finally enjoyed the velocity bump the Cardinals long projected for him. With his fastball rising from the low- to mid-90s and his slider peaking at the same time, a bona-fide pitching prospect was born. With Luke Weaver and Alex Reyes also emerging, he'll have to wait his turn.
Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring
58 Carson Kelly
A self-made prospect who has become a premium defender behind the plate after being drafted at third base, Kelly looks like another Jonathan Lucroy in the making, but he'll probably have to settle for backing up Yadier Molina the next three years.
Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: pencil him in
70 Tyler O'Neill
O'Neill harbors some of the most power potential of any minor-leaguer, as demonstrated by him overcoming a slow start to homer 25 times in his final 61 games. The Marcell Ozuna trade blocks him for now, but he could use some more seasoning after an up-and-down year.
Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful
98 Harrison Bader
Bader brings an infectious energy to the ballpark, but the Cardinals seemed to have no reservations about blocking him with Marcell Ozuna this offseason. He has some pop but isn't an especially disciplined hitter and doesn't profile as a big base-stealer either, so he may wind up being only a modest Fantasy contributor.
Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful

Things to Know

  • Alex Reyes still has some best-pitching-prospect-in-the-game residue even after having Tommy John surgery last year, and I would guess he'd have more helium as a sleeper if his recovery wasn't expected to extend into the 2018 season. But he should be ready to go in May, and by that point, Adam Wainwright's destructiveness will be evident to all.
  • In addition to recurring shoulder issues and dwindling production Michael Wacha has just one 180-inning season on his resume, so it's possible Wainwright won't be the only one phased out of the rotation this year. If Reyes and Jack Flaherty both get the chance join Luke Weaver in the starting five, the Cardinals will have an honest-to-goodness youth movement on their hands. And let's not forget ace Carlos Martinez is only 26.  
  • There's also Miles Mikolas, whose effectiveness is a mystery to all after he spent the past three years in Japan. He was great there, compiling an ERA just over 2.00 and a WHIP around 1.00, but he averaged less than a strikeout per inning -- not as dominant as I'd like to see against inferior competition. So while the Cardinals obviously have a good feeling about him, he's not sure thing either. Bottom line is that for all their rotation surplus, doors will open. The kids will get their chance. They all matter on Draft Day.
  • As a 28-year-old rookie last year, Jose Martinez showed the kind of batted-ball profile that spawns batting title contenders, and when he got a chance to play regularly last September, he hit .353. The Cardinals would prefer to play Matt Carpenter at first base, but there's still a chance they bring in an experienced third baseman. As things stand now, Martinez looks like a sleeper.
  • For now, the Cardinals are saying they're comfortable with Luke Gregerson at closer, and the 33-year-old is only two years removed from filling that role for the Astros. But he doesn't have the ideal stuff for it and may be only the team's third-best reliever behind Tyler Lyons and Dominic Leone. He's risky, in other words, and I'm not sure the Cardinals don't bring in someone better before the season starts.

Lineup & Rotation

Batting order    
1 Dexter Fowler RF
2 Tommy Pham CF
3 Matt Carpenter 3B
4 Marcell Ozuna LF
5 Jose Martinez 1B
6 Yadier Molina C
7 Paul DeJong SS
8 Kolten Wong 2B
SP Carlos Martinez
SP Adam Wainwright
SP Michael Wacha
SP Luke Weaver
SP Miles Mikolas
CL Luke Gregerson
RP Tyler Lyons
RP Dominic Leone
Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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