*MLB Prospect Watch will be recapping each farm system as a whole, focusing on particular players who did something noteworthy this season. For the next 30 (business) days, we will be featuring one organization per day.
9/29 - Pittsburgh Pirates
The graduation of Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong, both of whom submitted relatively disappointing debuts, leaves the Cardinals organization without the impact talent they have featured at the top in recent years. Instead, what they do have is a number of mid-ceiling players who are likely to reach their pinnacles over the next few years. It's not a bad setup to have, especially for an organization who continues to let high-price veterans go and replace them with young talent, but if they need a significant impact player in the next calendar year, they may have to look outside the organization.
Biggest Step Forward: Sam Tuivailala, RHP: When you start the season in the Florida State League and finish it in the majors, it qualifies, by definition, as a huge step forward. Tuivailala did just that, as the converted infielder made huge developmental strides towards becoming a pitcher, not just a thrower. He still needs to take steps forward with the command of his fastball and the consistency of his slider, but if and when it all comes together, he could close games for any team.
Take a Step Back: Vaughn Bryan, OF: It wasn't a huge step back for Bryan, who didn't have a terrible season in his first taste of full-season ball, and any struggles were somewhat expected given the rawness in his game, but the lack of power production for a guy who some project to have plus power was disappointing. He's still a plus athlete and a raw player, so all is far from lost, but a repeat of the Midwest League may be in order.
Ready for the Majors: Marco Gonzales, LHP: Gonzales didn't appear ready for the majors when the Cardinals called upon him in the middle of the season, and at that point, he probably wasn't. But he was close, and some struggles at the top could go a long way towards his development. Gonzales is a high-floor/low-ceiling player who will be a candidate for the Cardinals rotation next season and will absolutely be called upon at some point, even if he doesn't make it out of spring training.
Statistical King: Magneuris Sierra, OF: There's a lot to like about Sierra, including his up-the-middle profile that should stick as he grows, and his bat control, but it's easy to get over-excited about him hitting .386 in a short GCL season. He's a good hitter, though he'll likely never slug .505 again. It's a leadoff hitter's approach, which will be fine when paired with his center field defense and speed, but there's a long way to go before he's a guy the Cardinals can start planning around.
Newest Addition: Luke Weaver, RHP: Weaver, a Florida State product, was selected towards the back end of the first round this June (27th overall), but saw limited action after signing after a long college season. He pitched briefly in the Gulf Coast League before two brief Florida State League appearances. There's not much to take away form his short pro experience. Weaver profiles as a high-floor mid-rotation starter who could start back in Palm Beach next year and move quickly.