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UCB Project: Top 7 Cardinal Prospects

Posted on September 28, 2012 at 7:15 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals | United Cardinal Bloggers
Every year about this time, the United Cardinal Bloggers sit down with one of their trademark projects, listing out the top seven prospects from the Cardinal organization.  Before we take a look at what my list looks like for 2012, this is the fifth year we've done this and so it seems like a good time to look back over the last four lists and see just how they've turned out.

Rasmus, Wallace, Garcia and Freese weren't bad and Anderson has had some tastes at the big league level.  Todd has as well, though with Cleveland when he was traded for Mark DeRosa.  He's back in the Cardinal organization now, but not on the prospect lists.

2) Garcia
4) Jones

Mateo's contract was voided the day I posted that list due to eye problems.  He eventually signed on with Arizona, but hasn't done much in his minor league career.  Miller made his debut this year, of course, and Sanchez had his moments last year.  Stock converted from catcher to pitcher this season.

1) Miller
3) Carlos Martinez (Matias then)
5) Sanchez

Cox was traded off this season for Edward Mujica, but all the rest are still in the organization, most of them on the big-league roster right now.

1) Miller
2) Martinez
3) Cox
7) Jenkins

Again, Cox is the only one no longer with the organization.  He's also the only one that is not still regarded highly.

So now let's take a look at the 2012 crop and see where they rank in my personal opinion.

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1) Oscar Taveras, RF
2012: .319/.379/.570, 83 R, 37 2B, 7 3B, 23 HR, 94 RBI, 10 SB (AA)

No matter where you put that up, that's an impressive line.  Taveras made a huge jump in 2012, not in location--he played at Springfield all season long--but in reputation and production.  A number of national prospect mavens became quite fond of Mr. Taveras and it seems very likely that had not Springfield been pushing for a championship, Taveras would have been in Memphis by July.

There seems little that he can not do, though as a non-prospect expert I have to note that he went from 8 to 23 home runs and you wonder if he can sustain that.  Given the fact that he is maturing and that his overall batting numbers at A ball were strong as well, though, that doesn't seem to be much of a concern.  There was talk of Taveras making the jump to the bigs in September, but Springfield's run to the Texas League title erased those faint thoughts.  He'll go to spring training with a Memphis ticket next year, but will be one Carlos Beltran injury away from making his debut.

2012: 11-10, 4.74 ERA, 136.2 IP, 138 H, 24 HR, 160 K, 50 BB, 10.54 K/9 (AAA)

It was a tale of two seasons for Miller.  He got off to a slow start in Memphis, fueling talk that he was pouting because he didn't make the major league team out of spring training.  The slow start continued to progress, though, until he reached midseason at a crossroads.  His ERA stood around 6, balls continued to leave the yard and, for the first time, he didn't seem to be untouchable when it came to trade talks.  Had Miller peaked too early?

After a couple of starts off, things finally started to click.  Over his last 10 starts at Memphis, he posted a 2.88 ERA (which included one clunker of a start when he gave up five runs in four innings) and struck out 70 in 59.1 innings.  More impressive, over that span he only walked 7, most of which happened in two separate starts where he walked three.  Between July 20 and August 21, he struck out 51 and walked just one.

This turnaround got him the call to the bigs when rosters expanded in September and he's done nothing to dissuade people from believing he has a future in the bigs.  He picked up his first win pitching in extra innings recently and has a 2.70 ERA in his first 6.2 innings.

2012: 4-3, 2.90 ERA, 71.1 IP, 62 H, 6 HR, 58 K, 22 BB, 7.32 K/9 (AA)

Martinez dealt with some injury issues this season, but when he was on the mound he did nothing to harm his case for being in line for the big leagues.  John Mozeliak has stated that the core of that Springfield team could have likely moved up to Memphis earlier in the season, but he wanted to keep them intact to enjoy winning.  Martinez probably could have taken that ride to AAA and likely will start there in 2013, but my suspicion is that a strong start to the year there and he could find himself in the big league bullpen before the All-Star Break if there's a need.

2012: 8-6, 2.97 ERA, 109 IP, 78 H, 7 HR, 104 K, 42 BB, 8.59 K/9 (AA and AAA)

Rosenthal has had a full season.  Not only did he spend a lot of time with that Springfield group, he then made the jump from AA to the big league bullpen and didn't disappoint.  He was demoted when Mujica was acquired from the Marlins at the trade deadline, but that had more to do with his options than what he had done at the major league level.  His brief Memphis numbers (only three starts after his MLB demotion) are skewed by one six run outing at Fresno; otherwise, he looked sharp there as well.  He got the call back up when Brian Fuentes was placed on the restricted list and hasn't looked overwhelmed at all.

Given his potential as a starter, you'd think that he would be set for a Memphis tour of duty to start 2013.  If the Cards weren't flush with starting pitching, though, he'd be a strong candidate to be in that role in St. Louis next year.  As it is, he may have to wait until 2014 to get a full shot at the rotation.

2012: .288/.348/.406, 79 R, 23 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 21 SB (AA)

Out of all the people on this list, Wong may be the one with the easiest path to the major leagues.  The pairing of Daniel Descalso and Skip Schumaker at second base doesn't set anyone's heart aflutter, so it's not surprising that some people were calling for Wong's promotion earlier this summer.  Wong could draw a few more walks (only 44 in 580 plate appearances) but if he can continue to develop into a table-setting second baseman that can play an above-average second base, he's going to be a Cardinal quickly and for quite some time to come.  Assuming the Cards don't sign a one-year veteran to man the position, I'd think Wong has an outside shot at winning the job next spring, but more likely would be in line for a mid-season callup.

2012: 0-0, 0.86 ERA, 21 IP, 8 H, 1 HR, 40 K, 4 BB, 17.14 K/9 (Rookie, A+ and AA)

Not a bad year for a guy that spent most of it pitching for Texas A&M.  Wacha was the Cards' first round pick in the 2012 draft and, given the new early signing deadline, got his signature to paper early enough to get his feet wet in the minors.  Saying he made a splash is an understatement.  More like a cannonball.

The Cards plan for him to be a starter, but they used him in relief after his signing due to his workload in college.  He was so dominant at the lower levels that he made it to Springfield before the end of the season, pitching eight innings out of the pen during their pennant chase and allowing one run while striking out 17 and walking three.  He'll likely be in Springfield's starting rotation next season and there are a number of pitching bodies in front of him, but if he keeps this up he could be knocking on St. Louis's door by the end of 2014.

7) Matt Adams, 1B
2012: .329/.362/.624, 41 R, 22 2B, 18 HR, 50 RBI, 3 SB (AAA)

Adams really didn't do anything to deserve being dropped on this list.  As you can see, he had no troubles in Memphis and actually got to spend a good bit of time in St. Louis, hitting .244 with two homers in 91 plate appearances.  Adams still has significant power and with a few adjustments could easily become a very nice player in the big leagues.

Unfortunately for Adams, he's stuck, which leads to his slippage.  Allen Craig has laid his claim to first base and even if you wanted to move Craig to the outfield to take advantage of Adams, Taveras will likely block that path shortly.  Adams is a great guy and a strong prospect, but it would seem like his future in Cardinal red is less likely than his use as a trade chip in the next few months.

Others deserving mention: Tyrell Jenkins, RHP; Greg Garcia, SS; Chris Swauger, OF; Seth Maness, RHP; Stephen Piscotty, 3B

Would have made the list if he still had status: Joe Kelly, RHP

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Carlos Beltran (6)
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Matt Holliday (4)
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Matt Carpenter (3)
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2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
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2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
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Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
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John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%

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