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February 1, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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State of the Farm: Would you believe in a love at first sight? Yes I'm certain that it happens all the time.”

Prospect rankings primer

The Top Ten

  1. OF Oscar Taveras
  2. RHP Shelby Miller
  3. RHP Carlos Martinez
  4. RHP Trevor Rosenthal
  5. RHP Michael Wacha
  6. 2B Kolten Wong
  7. RHP Tyrell Jenkins
  8. 1B Matt Adams
  9. 3B Patrick Wisdom
  10.  3B Carson Kelly

1. Oscar Taveras
Position: OF
DOB: 06/19/1992
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 180 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: .321/.380/.572 at Double-A Springfield (124 games)
The Tools: 7+ potential hit; 6+ potential power; 5+ arm; 5 glove

What Happened in 2012: Simply put, Taveras emerged as the premier offensive star in the minors, hitting for average and power in Double-A against much older competition.

Strengths: Elite bat speed; impressive hand/eye coordination; violent torque-heavy swing, but excellent bat control in the zone; hit tool projects to easy 7; batting title potential; raw power is 8; game power could play as 6+; uses the entire field; very hard to exploit; shows defensive aptitude; 5+ glove; arm is solid at al spots; most likely a corner, but can handle center field at present.

Weaknesses: Approach is aggressive and he doesn’t keep bat on shoulders; better pitching will challenge his see-ball/attack-ball approach; will expand his zone; one pro scouting director said Taveras’ biggest weakness is that he doesn’t play for the scouting director’s team; baserunning could still improve; routes/angles to ball in OF need refinement; minor nitpicks.

Overall Future Potential: 7; perennial all-star

Explanation of Risk: Low risk; already dominated Double-A level; high floor/cathedral ceiling.

Fantasy Future: Monster player; has the potential to hit over. 300 with 60-plus extra-base hits.

The Year Ahead: In another org, Taveras might be penciled in to the major-league lineup to start 2013, but the Cardinals can afford to put Taveras in Triple-A until a spot opens up on the 25-man. He’s going to continue to mash at a very high level in Memphis, and when injury or inconsistency opens up a spot at the major-league level, Taveras will mash there as well. His offensive ceiling could make him one of the best talents in the league, the type of player you can build a franchise around. This is a very special prospect who is likely to develop into a very special player at the major-league level. If you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon, do so quickly. This is a future star.

Major league ETA: 2013

2. Shelby Miller
Position: RHP
DOB: 10/10/1990
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2009 draft, Brownwood High School (Brownwood, TX)
2012 Stats: 4.74 ERA (136.2 IP, 138 H, 160 K, 50 BB) at Triple-A Memphis; 1.32 ERA (13.2 IP, 9 H, 16 K, 4 BB) at major league level
The Tools: 7 FB; 6 CB; 5 CH

What Happened in 2012: A slow start and slightly diminished stuff raised warning flags, but Miller quickly quelled those concerns and put together an impressive season that eventually landed him in the major leagues.

Strengths: Prototypical size/strength; power pitcher with good feel; fastball is plus-plus offering; likes to blow hitters away; curveball will settle in as plus offering; changeup shows at least average potential; pitches with purpose; looks to attack; knows how to miss bats.

Weaknesses: Can fall in love with heater at expense of sequence; command can get loose; tendency to elevate/work up in the zone; because of FB-heavy attack, secondary offerings slow to play to potential.

Overall Future Potential: High-6; no. 2 starter

Explanation of Risk: Low risk; major-league ready; stuff to play up in rotation.

Fantasy Future: Should develop into 200-IP pitcher with chance for high win totals/high strikeouts.

The Year Ahead: Miller is ready for the major-league rotation, and could offer immediate impact in that role. The 2012 season was huge for the big Texan, as the taste of failure and setback aided in the maturation process, both on the mound and off. His willingness to sequence and manipulate hitters improved as the season went on, and the grip it and rip mentality that allowed for success in the low minors gave way to a well rounded pitcher who will find success at the highest level.

Major league ETA: 2012

3. Carlos Martinez
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/2/1991
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 165 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2010, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: 3.00 ERA (33 IP, 29 H, 34 K, 10 BB) at High-A Palm Beach; 2.90 ERA (71.1 IP, 62 H, 58 K, 22 BB) at Double-A Springfield
The Tools: 7+ FB; 6+ potential CB; 7 potential CH

What Happened in 2012: A few minor injury hurdles prevented a full-scale breakout, but the Dominican arm still found his way to Springfield, where he flashed top-of-the-rotation potential.

Strengths: Small size, but not small strength; special arm speed; multiple fastball looks; two-seamer works low-mid 90s with sink; four-seam is explosive at 95+; can work 99+ in bursts; curveball and changeup can work plus; changeup might even project higher; possible 7; good feel for pitching; very good feel for secondary command/execution.

Weaknesses: Limited height; can lose angle; will toy with hitters instead of putting them away; tendency to abandon big fastball; relief whispers because of size and violence in delivery/action.

Overall Future Potential: 7; high-end no. 2 starter on a championship level team/elite closer

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; size/delivery could limit workload; some injury concerns

Fantasy Future: Has the potential to be a very good starting pitcher, with electric stuff capable of missing bats. Workload potential is a question mark. If he ends up in the bullpen, could be elite closer.

The Year Ahead: If Martinez can stay healthy and continue to refine his arsenal, he has the chance to be a very special arm. His long-term role is still up for debate, with the secondary stuff and command to excel as a starter, but with some concerns about his physical stability in a rotation coupled with his elite potential in the bullpen, others think he is destined for the late-innings. Either way, Martinez is yet another impact arm in the making, and possesses the highest overall ceiling of any pitcher in the Cardinals system.

Major league ETA: 2013

4. Trevor Rosenthal
Position: RHP
DOB: 05/29/1990
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 21st round, 2009 draft, Cowley County Community College
(Arkansas City, KS)
2012 Stats: 2.78 ERA (94 IP, 67 H, 83 K, 37 BB) at Double-A Springfield; 4.20 ERA (15 IP, 11 H, 21 K, 5 BB) at Triple-A Memphis; 2.97 ERA (22.2 IP, 14 H, 25 K, 7 BB) at major-league level
The Tools: 8 FB; 6 potential CB; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2012: Magic season for Rosenthal, as his impressive run in the minors was overshadowed by his postseason performance that saw him strikeout 15 hitters in 8.2 innings while allowing only two hits. That’s good, right?

Strengths: Elite arm strength; can hold velocity as a starter; in rotation, can work 93-97 with comfort; in bursts, can work 97-100 mph; both cutter and curveball play well off fastball; curveball shows plus potential; can thrive in either role.

Weaknesses: Fastball-heavy arsenal; secondary stuff gets backburner treatment; changeup is average offering; command can get loose, but survives because of extreme velocity.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter/elite closer

Explanation of Risk: Low risk; already proved major league quality out of bullpen; has elite fastball.

Fantasy Future: Depending on the role, Rosenthal could be either quality no. 2/3 starter or elite closer. Impact arm.

The Year Ahead: This is the question of the moment: Will Rosenthal start or relieve? If his future is in the rotation, he will most likely start in Triple-A and work to refine his secondary arsenal. He’s very close to being a complete pitcher, as he has the fastball and the feel for the secondary stuff, not to mention he’s a baseball rat who soaks up knowledge from all available sources. If his future is in the ‘pen, you can stick him in the majors and he’s going to punish people with his elite fastball and that’s going to be the story. Like Carlos Martinez, he’s an impact arm regardless of the role, but will offer more overall value if he can develop to potential in the rotation.

Major league ETA: 2012

5. Michael Wacha
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/01/1991
Height/Weight: 6’6’’ 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Texas A&M University (College Station, TX)
2012 Stats: 1.80 ERA (5 IP, 4 H, 7 K, 0 BB) at complex level GCL; 0.00 ERA (8 IP, 1 H, 16 K, 1 BB) at High-A Palm Beach; 1.12 ERA (8 IP, 3 H, 17 K, 3 BB) at Double-A Springfield
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 CB; 6 potential CH

What Happened in 2012: Wacha provided the unexpected in ’12, showing up to professional ball with even better stuff than he showed in college, giving him the potential to be one of the steals of the draft class.

Strengths: Excellent size; creates steep plane to the plate; arm works very well; repeats; fastball in bursts can sit 94-96; in longer stints, should find consistency in the 91-95 range; curveball is major-league plus offering; very tight and lots of depth; changeup flashes plus potential; excellent approach to pitching.

Weaknesses: Has yet to work more than short bursts; unknowns about ability to sequence/face lineups multiple times; changeup wasn’t much of a factor in brief professional debut; has a lot of body to control in delivery.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; has the size/strength/arsenal, but has yet to work out of the rotation as a pro; too many unknowns for low risk despite maturity.

Fantasy Future: Could develop into prototypical mid-rotation arm, with workload potential and a solid-avg-to-plus arsenal.

The Year Ahead: Wacha is either going to stabilize as a mid-rotation prospect by proving he can hold velocity and execute his secondary arsenal, or his stock is going to drop because of a failure to do so. He was considered a “safe” pick coming out of college, the type of arm that can move fast and be consistent, but not the kind of arm that can dominate or play above his mid-rotation ceiling. Based on the small sample, Wacha looked even better than advertised, and if that proves to be true in a longer sample, he will hold steady as one of the 100 prospects in the game and a future member of the Cardinals starting rotation.

Major league ETA: 2013

6. Kolten Wong
Position: 2B
DOB: 10/10/1990
Height/Weight: 5’9’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, University of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI)
2012 Stats: .287/.348/.405 at Double-A Springfield (126 games)
The Tools: 6 hit; 5 run; 5+ arm; 6 glove

What Happened in 2012: In his first full season, Wong played 126 games at the Double-A level and then hit over .320 in 17 games in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Baseball skills; impressive feel and instincts; plus bat-to-ball ability; compact and short to the ball; can make hard contact; not empty hit tool; can turn around velo and stay back on off-speed; great hands at the plate; 6 potential at second; arm is above-average; good glove; good run.

Weaknesses: Packs a punch for size, but is still limited in that regard; below-average power; lacks high-end tools and unlikely to develop into impact talent; right-side profile on defense

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average major-league regular

Explanation of Risk: Low risk; performed well at Double-A level; mature skill-set.

Fantasy Future: Not flashy, but can do a little of everything on the field; has potential to hit .280-plus with good secondary skills (OBP, some steal, some pop).

The Year Ahead: Wong is the second baseman of the future for the Cardinals, and could achieve that eventuality at some point in 2013. He’s a gamer all the way, and despite not owning a high-impact tool collection, makes the most of his size and skills. He’s going to hit the baseball at the highest level, with enough sting to keep pitchers honest and defenses aware. It’s not a superstar profile, but Wong is the type of player that will stick around on a major-league roster for 15 years. He’s that guy.

Major league ETA: 2013

7. Tyrell Jenkins
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/20/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 192 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Henderson High School (Henderson, TX)
2012 Stats: 5.14 ERA (82.1 IP, 84 H, 80 K, 36 BB) at Low-A Quad Cities
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential CH; 6 potential CB

What Happened in 2012: Up and down season for the former multi-sport athlete, showing glimpses of greatness immediately followed by glimpses of gloom.

Strengths: Plus athlete; legit arm strength; fastball is plus pitch; both secondary pitches show plus potential; multiple sources put future changeup ahead of curveball; pitch shows excellent late fade to the arm side; can throw strikes despite being raw.

Weaknesses: Pitchability behind raw stuff; slot inconsistency; works better in three-quarters, but will bring arm over the top to get more velocity but loses movement and command; still has a long way to go.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 2/3 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; pitchability needs to improve; still raw.

Fantasy Future: Could develop in a number of different ways; has arsenal potential and delivery to start; flashes electric potential.

The Year Ahead: Jenkins will most likely move to High-A, where the environments should help him survive even if his fastball command remains loose and his secondary arsenal inconsistent. He has a lot to work on and a long way to go, but with an athletic delivery and the feel for three pitches, he has a chance to put the pieces together and emerge as a high-end prospect. His breakout might not be on schedule for ’13, but the potential is there and the patience has a chance to pay off.

Major league ETA: 2015

8. Matt Adams
Position: 1B
DOB: 08/31/1988
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 230 lbs (listed)
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 23rd round, 2009 draft, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (Slippery Rock, PA)
2012 Stats: .329/.362/.624 at Triple-A Memphis (67 games); .244/.286/.384 at major league level (27 games)
The Tools: 7 power; 5+ potential hit

What Happened in 2012: Called up to the majors in late May, Adams failed to deliver on the promise that his minor-league production suggested was possible.

Strengths: Very large raw power; game power should at least play at the plus level; shows hittability; not just all-or-nothing power bat; glove is solid; arm is solid.

Weaknesses: Approach can get aggressive; fastball eyes can leave him in front foot for off-speed; mistake hitter that didn’t see as many mistakes at major-league level; defensive profile puts pressure on bat; well below-average run.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: Low risk; nothing left to prove at the minor-league level; some Four-A concerns.

Fantasy Future: Has the potential to hit .275-plus with 25 HR at the major-league level

The Year Ahead: Adams has nothing left to prove in the minors, as he crushed Double-A in ’11 and improved on that performance in his 67-game run in Triple-A in ’12. Despite falling short in his initial major-league trial, Adams has the offensive skill to make the necessary adjustments in a longer look. He’s not going to be a star, and the defensive profile puts his future success on the back of his bat, but he’s not just a swing for the fences masher. Adams can really hit, and if given a full season to fail and adjust, he could be ready to make good on that potential.

Major league ETA: 2012

9. Patrick Wisdom
Position: 3B
DOB: 08/27/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, St. Mary’s College of California (Moraga, CA)
2012 Stats: .282/.373/.465 at short-season Batavia (65 games)
The Tools: 6+ arm; 5+ glove; 6 power potential

What Happened in 2012: After a somewhat disappointing junior season at St. Mary’s where he managed to hit only .252, Widsom was popped in the supplemental first round and performed well right out of the gate.

Strengths: Broad chest/broad shoulders; very good present strength; very promising defensive profile at third; very strong arm; accurate; glove is above average; major league quality defender; 6 power potential; can drive the ball with authority; good overall approach at the plate.

Weaknesses: Unlikely to hit for a high average; swing can show some length; struggled with velocity in junior season; how much power will play?; well below average run.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average major-league regular

Explanation of Risk: High risk; 21-year-old college talent, but only short-season experience and questions about the bat.

Fantasy Future: Has potential to hit ~.260 with 25-plus home runs; not a stolen base threat.

The Year Ahead: Wisdom will move to full-season ball, and if he has any major holes in his swing or his approach, we will soon find out. Wisdom’s up and down junior season left a lot of talent evaluators skeptical of his professional profile, but scouts who saw him in the New York-Penn League came away impressed with the promise at third and the power potential in the bat. 2013 will help bring the real profile into the light.

Major league ETA: 2015

10. Carson Kelly
Position: 3B
DOB: 07/14/1994
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2012 draft, Westview High School (Portland, OR)
2012 Stats: .225/.263/.399 at rookie level Johnson City (56 games)
The Tools: 6+ arm; 6+ power potential

What Happened in 2012: A very promising two-way talent in high school, Kelly was drafted as a third baseman and began his long journey with a clip in the Appalachian League.

Strengths: Big raw power; very big arm (was low-90s+ on mound); excellent strength (present); more potential in hit tool than rookie numbers indicate; has bat speed and can drive the baseball.

Weaknesses: Defensive projection at third is shaky; lacks ideal lateral movements; well below-average run; might end up at first base at full maturity; swing can get long; will chase out of the zone; still raw.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; could be first-division type at third; bat has potential to play at first.

Explanation of Risk: High risk; only 18 years old; very long way to go.

Fantasy Future: If everything goes as planned, could be prototypical third base bat, with plus power potential.

The Year Ahead: Kelly is very young and could use more time at the team complex before returning to short-season ball over the summer. The impact potential is there, with plus weapons in the arm and the raw power, but it’s not going to be an overnight situation. More than anything else, he just needs to play against quality competition day in and day out, and even if the numbers don’t reflect the potential, the ceiling is quite high.

Major league ETA: 2016 

Prospects on the Rise:

1. IF/OF Starlin Rodriguez: Toolsy and ready to take the next step forward in 2013. With Wong positioned as the second baseman of the future, look for Rodriguez to log time at different positions, with the speed and instincts for center field. Not a future star, but a player that could hit for some average, steal 20-plus bases, and surprise you with 10-plus HR pop. Good player that could put up numbers in Double-A.

2. OF CJ McElroy: The fastest player in the Cardinals organization, the Texas-born outfielder has major-league bloodlines and a chance to develop into an impact talent. He will attempt to add switch-hitting to his profile, giving the electric athlete another dimension to his game. It might be one step back in order to take two steps forward, but he has the raw ability to emerge as a major player of interest in 2013.

3. OF Charlie Tilson: Injured for all of the 2012 season, a fully healthy Tilson is ready to step back into the prospect spotlight. With incredible hands at the plate and instincts for the game that impress even the most seasoned major-league evaluators, it won’t shock many to see the former second-round pick jump into the top 10 by this time next year.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013

1. RHP Maikel Cleto: Cleto is a large man with a large fastball, and the potential to be a force at the back of a major-league bullpen. With a fastball that works 96-99 and a mid-80s slider, he is going to miss barrels, but will need to refine his max-effort mechanics if he wants locate his offerings and execute to his potential.

2. SS Ryan Jackson: His bat isn’t going to keep pitchers up at night, but the overall profile will find a home at the major-league level, and he just might surprise a few people that want to sleep on his bat. It’s a glove-first profile, with legit baseball skills and instincts, and he should develop into a solid utility option going forward. 

3. LHP John Gast: A solid but not spectacular starter, with a solid-average arsenal and the ability to execute and sequence. The soon-to-be 24-year-old isn’t going to dominate, but he has a chance to find a home at the back of a major-league rotation, and should get his first taste of major-league action at some point in 2013.

Top 10 Talents 25 and Younger (born 4/1/1987 or later)

  1. Oscar Taveras
  2. Shelby Miller
  3. Carlos Martinez
  4. Lance Lynn
  5. Trevor Rosenthal
  6. Michael Wacha
  7. Kolten Wong
  8. Tyrell Jenkins
  9. Matt Adams
  10. Patrick Wisdom

There are organizations that get the nod for having “depth,” typically abundant with low-minors high-ceiling youngsters, but light years from the Show and in the infancy stages of the development process. And then there is St. Louis. The Cardinals not only boast a system deep with talent, but one filled with potential big-league regulars and impact players pushing into and through the upper levels.

 The prospect-heavy 25-and-Younger list starts with Oscar Taveras, a rare combination of explosive hands and the ability to keep them under control without sacrificing that explosiveness. Taveras profiles as a classic third hitter, with his future as a franchise corner outfielder coming into focus. Shelby Miller carried his first taste of the majors and September call-up into a spot on the NLCS roster. The righty’s bat-missing arsenal could inject more youth into the Cardinals’ rotation as early as 2013, and he offers the organization a potential front-line starting fixture for seasons to come as he matures. 

Fellow right-handed starter Lance Lynn kicked off that process in 2012, bringing an element of nastiness and the type of stuff to keep major-leaguer hitters at bay in a middle-of-the-rotation role after logging a full season’s workload in 2012. Former international signee Carlos Martinez bests both Miller and Lynn’s arm strength, with an explosive fastball that can touch the high 90s and a future that may see him anchoring a rotation. Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, and Kolten Wong are fast-trackers who should continue the youth movement on the roster or give St. Louis the option to acquire an established piece. Rosenthal and Wacha factor into the ever-important young arms race, while Wong can establish himself as the second baseman of the future. Tyrell Jenkins is an intriguing arm, more promise than product presently, but with the talent a development staff loves to work with. 

Corner infielders Matt Adams and Patrick Wisdom finish off the robust list. Both have some questions on how their bats will ultimately translate, but possess the potential to round into average regulars, which illustrates just how deep this system is. St. Louis has become a model for player development and the output can prove to be a vital factor in being a perennial contender. –Chris Mellen

A Parting Thought: Damn, this system is good.

Last year's Cardinals rankings

Special thanks to Nick Faleris, Mark Anderson, Chris Mellen, and Jason Cole for their input and influence with this list. 

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

72 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


That is quite a review. The biggest takeaway for me is that the Cards won't have homes for all of these players and that some kind of package deal for Stanton would still leave them with a deep system. Cards can replace pujols and Marlins get a treasure trove of major league regulars.

Feb 01, 2013 03:37 AM
rating: 0

Except that a power based corner OF is really not what the Cards need. I get that Stanton is good enough that you'd create a space for him, but you could improve the team more by upgrading the middle infield without burning half your farm system.

Feb 01, 2013 04:50 AM
rating: 5

Whats the middle of the road case for Oscar ? He's going to gain weight.

Feb 01, 2013 04:02 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Middle of the road case is that he's only a first-division player.

Feb 01, 2013 06:42 AM

This system has an amazing turnaround over the past 5 years (from worst to first?) especially considering the success of the major league squad over that period. Is there something here to be learned? Who would you credit?

Feb 01, 2013 04:54 AM
rating: 2

i don't think you can give credit to 1 or 2 people. they drafted the right people and then they developed them. That's an organisational success.

Feb 01, 2013 07:03 AM
rating: 1

Agreed, but since Luhnow oversaw the turnaround of the system, quite a bit of credit should given to him IMO. Certainly bodes well for the challenge that lies ahead for the Astros.

Under Jocketty, the Cards had a miserable track record of in their attempts to find and develop quality young arms. Aside from Matt Morris and Adam Wainwright that is, and kudos to Jocketty for stealing him from Atlanta. The saving grace was Duncan and his ridiculous ability to turn retreads and never-has-beens into solid contributors: Jeff Weaver, Lohse, Kile, Suppan, Pinero, Kent Bottenfeld, Todd Wellemeyer, Ryan Franklin, Westbrook, Penny, Marquis, Garrett Stephenson, Andy Benes, Woody Williams. I completely forgot about some of these guys until I googled it. That's not even including what he did for A's with Stewart, Welch, and Eck. Has there ever been a pitching coach more deserving of being in the HOF?

Feb 01, 2013 08:46 AM
rating: 1
Richard Bergstrom

People thought Leo Mazzone was a Hall of Famer until he left Bobby Cox.

Feb 01, 2013 12:58 PM
rating: 4

jeff luhnow (now the Houston GM) deserves most of the credit. he developed the international presence that brought in Taveras and Martinez; he revamped the scouting system; and he combined sabrmetrics with good scouting. made great hires all around.

under luhnow, the cards drafted so many low-round gems that it can't be a fluke ---- jaime garcia rd 22, trevor rosenthal rd 21, matt adams rd 23, matt carpenter rd 13, luke gregerson rd 28. that's a lot of WAR to harvest on the 2nd and 3rd days of the draft.

Feb 01, 2013 08:59 AM
rating: 10

Made my day, thanks!

Feb 01, 2013 06:38 AM
rating: 0

Well done as always, Jason. But, as a Cub fan, this article made me a bit ill.

Feb 01, 2013 06:47 AM
rating: 6
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Yeah, the Cardinals are a dangerous org. They know how to recognize talent, acquire it, and develop it. They are stacked at both the major and minor league levels. They are going to be competitive for a very long time.

Feb 01, 2013 06:52 AM

I second this.

Feb 01, 2013 07:47 AM
rating: 2

I'm a White Sox fan and I envy what the Cardinals AND Cubs have, so ha!

Feb 01, 2013 11:43 AM
rating: 2

Is CJ McElroy the son of CJ McElroy (the former pitcher)?

Feb 01, 2013 07:02 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Yes. Son of former pitcher Chuck McElroy.

Feb 01, 2013 07:09 AM
Shaun P.

8. Matt Adams
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 230 lbs (listed)

I haven't stopped laughing since I read this, Jason - awesome and sublime at the same time. Thank you!

Feb 01, 2013 07:10 AM
rating: 1
Dan W.

Matt Adams = Jason Kubel, right? I'm not asking for a comp - I'm just saying that it's pretty clear that they're the same person. Has anyone stopped to figure out what will happen when ARZ and STL play this year? This could be the greatest scandal since the Mark Reynolds blindness saga.

Feb 01, 2013 07:27 AM
rating: 3

Kolton Wong and Shelby Miller were born on the same day?

Feb 01, 2013 07:37 AM
rating: 2

I hit the inappropriate button by accident, sorry :)

Feb 01, 2013 10:05 AM
rating: 0

This is a very solid analysis. I would have made a couple of minor tweaks -- swapped Rosenthal and Martinez, bumped Adams' future potential up half a notch (it's "potential," after all; you nailed the most probable trajectory), and maybe moved one of the Garcias, Anthony or Greg, into the #9 and/or #10 spot. But these are a matter of taste.

Two questions. First, nobody in their right mind expects Pete Kozma's month of glory last year to carry over into the rest of his career, but what was your reasoning in putting Ryan Jackson on the "Factors on the Farm" list and leaving him off? Seems to me that exactly one of those two will probably spend significant time on the roster this year. Or do you think Jackson has that sewn up?

Second, much has been made of the "worst to first" transition this system has (apparently) made. Fact is, however, several important contributors to the successful teams of the last two years -- Jon Jay, David Freese, Allen Craig, Mitchell Boggs, Jaime Garcia -- were already in the system by the beginning of 2008. Might the system have been underestimated back then?

Feb 01, 2013 07:45 AM
rating: -3
John Douglass

Entering 2008 Freese was coming off a .396 wOBA in a high-A season he played at a completely age-inappropriate 25 years old. Boggs was a AA starter with only a 17% K rate and a K/BB under 2.00 at age 23. Jay had split a year between high-A and AA that was unremarkable, especially as a somewhat finished draft pick from the U.

It's much more likely the Cardinals upper level player development system exceeded expectations in finishing off those players than prospect writers were undervaluing their skill sets at the time. I'd give credit to Luhnow, Vuch and Mozeliak without discrediting KG, BA, Law, etc.

Craig hit everything in the minors, I'd say he was a valid miss. Garcia was appropriately ranked IMO at #5 by KG back in 2008.

A lot of the elite talent in this system now, that makes it a fairly easy #1--Miller, Taveras, Martinez, Jenkins are results of a slight shift in the STL paradigm. They hit on two first/sandwich-round HS pitchers (Miller and Jenkins) who didn't fit their traditional draft strategy under Jocketty, and they hit really big on two international signings (Taveras and Martinez) who also don't fit the typical STL player development profile of polished college players. Take those four out and it's a pedestrian system, with Rosenthal, Wacha, Wong and Adams in the top 4. Not bad, but not great.

Feb 01, 2013 09:14 AM
rating: 2

A general question.

When is a reliever more valuable then a starter?

After watching Rosenthal in the playoffs and at the end of last season, he looked like Kimbral. His scouting report matches that and it wouldn't surprise anyone to see him "close" at that level.

By comparison, his ceiling is that of a #2 starter which means he's more likely to be a 3/4 (coin-flip statistics).

So would an organization prefer a 3+ win reliever or 2/3 win starter?

Feb 01, 2013 07:58 AM
rating: 0
John Douglass

BP's WARP doesn't credit any RP with a 3-win season for at least a few years. That's a rare animal. Rivera was 4.6 in a year he pitched over 100 innings and he hasn't gone over 2.2 in any other season.

If the choice is between a player who's 3+ wins at one position or the same player giving you 2-3 wins at another, I think you clearly take the former, unless you have a 3++ win player there already and putting the player in the spot he gives you 2-3 wins is best for your team. I think they have to use Rosenthal in both roles to ultimately find out where he gives them the most value. Barring injury, there won't be a real opportunity for that until 2014 when Carpenter and Westbrook are off the books.

Feb 01, 2013 09:31 AM
rating: 2

Im sorry, but no one is a kimbrel :P

Feb 02, 2013 22:01 PM
rating: 1

Wow. What a system.

Jason, what should the Cards do with Taveras? Keep him marinating in AAA so that he can refine his outfield defense? If his bat can handle MLB pitching, just wondering if the glove would be enough to supplant Jay in CF?

Feb 01, 2013 08:02 AM
rating: 2

With this very possibly being the #1 system, their 11-15 prospects would easily make other teams' top 10s. Could you please provide a list of who those guys would be? Thanks.

Feb 01, 2013 08:34 AM
rating: 1

I'm not the good perfesser, but to help him along, here are a few other names you might hear about:

Stephen Piscotty, 3B/OF; Greg Garcia, MIF; Anthony Garcia, OF; Mike O'Neill, OF; Breyvic Valera, MIF; Kevin Siegrist, LHP; Seth Maness, RHP (a personal favorite of mine who may provide the ultimate answer to how far a pitching prospect can advance with middling velocity and preternatural command/control); Boone Whiting, RHP; Jordan Swagerty, RHP. Most all of these guys, as well as others Jason mentions in the "Prospects on the Rise" and "Factors on the Farm" sections, would have a chance of appearing on some teams' top tens, with the rankings among them being probably a matter of taste.

Feb 01, 2013 13:11 PM
rating: 1
David Martin

I remember seeing a video clip of Carlos Martinez from last summer and it seemed to my (untrained) eye that the finish to his delivery was a little less out of control than i remember seeing. I remember thinking that in the previous season he had a much more pronounced odd-looking leg kick after he released the ball. Have you heard of or seen any evidence that his "violent" mechanics are improving?

Feb 01, 2013 08:57 AM
rating: 2

After-kick = cue the Pedro comp.

Feb 01, 2013 09:21 AM
rating: 2
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I would say that the violent recoil once featured in his finish has improved. His overall mechanical profile is a red flag to some, but not to all. There is some effort there, but he makes it work and he can hold his stuff into games.

Feb 01, 2013 11:01 AM

Is it healthy to have a man crush on Oscar Taveras?

Feb 01, 2013 09:53 AM
rating: 1

I sure hope so. Otherwise we're gonna have to form a support group or something.

Feb 01, 2013 10:49 AM
rating: 0

LOL. I know! I'm not a Cards fan at all, but man that is an impressive farm. Wow.

Feb 01, 2013 12:40 PM
rating: 0

I haven't seen you post an "8" yet? Can you tell me the last "8" you've graded?

Feb 01, 2013 09:55 AM
rating: 2

Respect the 8.


Feb 01, 2013 17:19 PM
rating: 0

Yeah thanks, read the article when it came out. I was asking when and if he ever gave a prospect a grade total of an "8" and if so who was the last? The article defines how an "8" is evaluated in each category (arm,speeed, etc) not total grade. But thanks for the effort on the reply.

Feb 02, 2013 05:54 AM
rating: 0

Rosenthal's FB is rated 8

Feb 01, 2013 18:04 PM
rating: 1
Karl Barth

Billy Hamilton's speed is an 8.

The last time Hamilton was the topic on Up and In, I seem to recall Jason and Kevin agreed that if there were a number higher than 8, Hamilton would have it.

Feb 04, 2013 12:54 PM
rating: 0

7+ for Taveras' potential is as close as it gets, but IIRC I think JP mentioned once that you likely would not see an 8 from him, as even 6 is a difficult/stressful grade to give on bestow.

Feb 01, 2013 10:05 AM
rating: 0

Professor, what about the Cards' minor league scouting/administrative staff post-Luhnow? Do we have the people in place to carry on Luhnow's success in rebuilding the Redbirds' farm system? Maybe an idea for a good article to not only rank each team's prospects, but also their staffs as well. Thanks for the awesome work on each team - great for fantasy and reality also!

Feb 01, 2013 10:23 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

The success of the farm is never the singular work of one man, in this case Luhnow. He played an important role, but the same can be said of the scouts that first identified the talent and the player developmental staff for nurturing that talent. The Cardinals have a ton of prospects, but they also have a ton of talented on/off the field personnel that make it all happen. The staff in place will keep the pipeline flowing.

Feb 01, 2013 11:05 AM

You made my day, Jason! Thanks!

Feb 01, 2013 15:02 PM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

Might be interesting some day to see an article on which organizations do best at finding talent, which do best at developing pitchers, hitters, fielders, etc. Perhaps identify the kinds of things they do. For example, what do the Braves do that helps them continually churn out pitching prospects that usually perform around league average and are durable?

Feb 01, 2013 15:05 PM
rating: 0

I would think that its a good sign that 3 of the guys drafted last year are in the top 10, granted the Cards had 5 early picks. I think Mo has a pretty good idea what it takes and seems like the staff has just kept on going.

Feb 01, 2013 11:06 AM
rating: 0

Last year KG had Shelby Miller ranked #1 in the organization and said he was a future star in the mold of Matt Cain. This year you have him ranked #2 and project him as a no. 2 starter. Do these differences reflect a difference of opinion between you and KG on Miller's upside? a slight downgrade from last year due to 2012 performance? or is Miller essentially the same guy, but Matt Cain is only a no. 2 starter on this scale?

Feb 01, 2013 10:28 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Evaluations change as players get closer to maturity (or at least graduation from prospect to player). Of course, it's also a subjective exercise, so what I call a number two might be a number one to others.

Feb 01, 2013 11:08 AM

From what i remember from older scouting reports, there were also questions on Cain when he was coming up. Not that he wouldn't be good, but I don't think he had a #1/"Ace" tag on him either. A #2 tag is very high.

Feb 01, 2013 11:09 AM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

For a long time, people thought Matt Cain was also a number 2. He was underrated for a very long time.

Feb 01, 2013 13:00 PM
rating: 0
Arm Side Run

Lots of people still think Matt Cain is a #2 (myself included.) I'm not sure if you're talking about him being underrated as a prospect, but BA has him as the 13th and then 10th best prospect in baseball his last two eligible years

Feb 01, 2013 17:25 PM
rating: 3
Richard Bergstrom

Underrated as both a prospect and as a major leaguer.

Feb 01, 2013 19:51 PM
rating: 0
John Douglass

The other side of that coin is he's a little overrated by some. I don't think he is a genuine number one/ace, and he might have been a tick overrated as a prospect when he was higher on BA's prospect lists in 2005-2006 than Tulowitzki, Fiedler, Hamels, Josh Johnson, Pedroia, Andrus, McCutchen, Braun, Hanley Ramirez, and Ryan Zimmerman.

Feb 02, 2013 06:40 AM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

Well, based on that list, I'd still take Cain over half of them especially considering some of their durability issues. As an aside, I'd take Braun, McCutchen and Fielder easily before Cain. Hamles and Cain is almost a wash.

Now, Cain might not have the Randy Johnson/Pedro Martinez low WHIP, insane K/9 type of numbers... But he's been very durable for quite a few years with a high level of performance.

The moral of the story is that, in reference to Shelby Miller, being projected as a #2 is not a death sentence.

Feb 02, 2013 07:43 AM
rating: 0
John Douglass

Ending up a #2 isn't either. It means you're one of the top 0.05% percent of people who competitively pitch baseballs.

Feb 02, 2013 12:31 PM
rating: 1
John Douglass

I'd add: look at shortstop WAR up to/including age 23 all time. Andrus is top ten. He's far more a standout than Cain, who's among a lot of ~4 WAR SP.

Feb 02, 2013 12:33 PM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

Because WAR counts defense and defense can be all over the map.

Feb 02, 2013 18:10 PM
rating: 0
John Douglass

Because a player who gets on base 34% of the time and plays plus D at SS over 600 games before playing in his age 24 season is an incredibly valuable and rare player.

Feb 02, 2013 23:44 PM
rating: 1
Richard Bergstrom

Hey Andrus is definitely a positive asset. However, if we play the WARP game, the difference between Andrus and Cain is 0.5 WARP over the last four years in Andrus's favor. He's also had a declining FRAA FWIW. I'm just saying Andrus isn't clearly better than Cain and it may come down to a matter of taste.

Feb 02, 2013 23:59 PM
rating: 0
John Douglass

Andrus as a 20-23 y.o. in those four years was a half-win more valuable than Cain at 24-27 in the easier league, so maybe Andrus > Cain by a lil more than the half-win gap in WARP esp given Andrus' youth.

The point I wanted to make, though, is that it's kinda goofy to say Matt Cain, rated #10 by BA, was underrated as a prospect, when several more or as valuable players were rated below Cain. It's equally goofy to say he's overrated now when he's widely acknowledged to be a #2. There are maybe 6-8 bona fide #1s, and maybe 12-18 true #2s. Can is one of the 9-25th best pitchers in the game, and calling him a #2 isn't underrating him.

So. If Shelby Miller is projected as or ends up to be a #2 and falls somewhere in that range of 9th-25th best SP in MLB, that will be quite an accomplishment. Saying now that he has #2 potential is, similarly, praising the kid. We've gotta stop looking at #2 as a knock on pitchers. It's an A-.

Feb 03, 2013 07:26 AM
rating: 1
Richard Bergstrom

I thought WAR was supposed to normalize between league difficulty differences.

According to BP, Andrus is worth 0.5 wins more. Now, Andrus may have more potential value for doing what he did at a younger age and at a "skill position", but if we're using BP WAR as a metric, the actual value difference is just 0.5, not 0.5 + potential. Perceived or forecasted value may be 0.5 + potential, but not the actual value.

All things considered, though, it's also a little early to do entire career comparisons based on just four seasons.

Goofy? You could go to any year of any draft and find an All-Star that was drafted before a Hall of Famer. Similarly, you could find a solid major leaguer who was drafted after a bunch of busted prospects. That doesn't mean that All Star or that solid major leaguer wasn't underrated.

Part of the issue just might be that there are more pitchers than starting shortstops. Andrus gets compared to just 29 other players. Cain gets compared to 150 pitchers. For many teams, I'd think Cain would be the ace. Lincecum's 2013 hiccup aside, Cain's usually the #2 to Lincecum.

*mumbles to himself*

Heck, if we use WAR, I don't think Cain even breaks the top 25 for 2012. Maybe my perception of him is just better because of his low ERA and WHIP in a pitcher's park. Though I wonder why my eyes aren't as rosy for Andrus in a hitter's park... so maybe I'm overvaluing Cain in general when studs like Kyle Lohse out-WARP him...

Anyway, I do agree with your last paragraph. #2 isn't a knock.

Feb 03, 2013 09:00 AM
rating: 0

ive gotta disagree strongly with several of the assesments mentioned above. first off, a player's propsect ranking relative to other prospects should really have no impact on whether or not that player is under/overrated...secondly, to say that there are only about 8 true #1s is what seems "goofy" to me...just off the top of my head....Strasburg, Halladay(assuming last year was the result of an injury), Kershaw, Lee, Sabathia, Price, Verlander, Lester(prior to last year), Weaver, Felix, Hamels, Greinke, and Cain are all number 1s...and you could make an argument for guys like Sale, Gio, Dickey, Darvish, Waino, and Cueto among a few others...still, i think theres at least 15 #1s right now, if not more...pitching is dominant...also, in terms of WAR, over the last 3 seasons, Cain has 12.3 WAR, while Andrus has only 10.6 WAR.

Feb 04, 2013 10:48 AM
rating: 0
John Douglass

Look at the pitching leaderboards, pick your site, pick your WAR, pick your range of years. There's clear separation between real aces and the rest of the pack.

I picked Fangraphs from 2007-2012. In roughly the same # of starts I see Sabathia with 38.1 fWAR, Halladay with 37.6, Verlander with 36.1, Lee with 32.7, Felix with 32.0, Greinke with 31.0, and Cain with 23.3. (Kershaw has 1 fWAR less than Cain in 48 fewer starts.)

If I sort BBREF from 2009-2012, shortening the window and changing the metric, I still get Cain in 11th, averaging 2 wins/year less than Verlander and Halladay, 1.5 wins/year less than Kershaw and Lee, and over a win per year less than CC and Felix. (BBREF credits Josh Johnson with 2.5 more WAR than Cain in that span, over 30 fewer starts).

If you want a "number one" or "ace" definition with an umbrella big enough to include Cain (and Lester, and Hamels, and Weaver) then you have to allow that some aces are 35% less valuable than others. I'm not sure one can make a good case for that.

Feb 04, 2013 11:32 AM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

Basically, for a mid 90s comparison, it's like saying Pedro Martinez is an ace and Tom Glavine's a #2.

Feb 04, 2013 14:45 PM
rating: 0

As a Cardinal fan since 1955, it is very exciting to enjoy both the high level talent and the depth of talent, to go along with what has already surfaced to the majors.

Another exciting aspect of this system is that, after the 2013 season, if the prospects develop as projected, players like Beltran, Furcal, Mujica, Cedeno and Westbrook will likely move on, and guys like Chris Carpenter, Scrabble, Wiggonton (year 2 of 2 on a small $ contract and Choate (year 2 of 3 on a small $ contract) could also be gone. Wainwright potentially could sign elsewhere (hopefully not). Thus going into 2014 if all of those players departing are replaced by players from the farm system, with the exception of Holliday the entire 25 man roster will be players developed by the Cardinals. Even if Wainwright resigns with the Cards, he and Freese came through the Cards system after being acquired via trades while they were minor leaguers.

I realize the Cards may go outside the system for a SS, as opposed to playing with Kozma, Johnson or Garcia, and it is very possible that another middle reliever, bench bat or loogy could be signed from outside the system, but maybe not.

Does anyone have any idea of historically what team has ever had the most "homegrown" (thus including Freese and/or Wainwright) players on its 25 man roster at any one point in time?

Thanks for any responses.

Feb 01, 2013 10:31 AM
rating: 1

interesting to see that Lynn is ranked ahead of Rosenthal in the top 10 under 25....question though...im not crazy to think that Rosenthal's ceiling as a starter is much higher than Lynn's, am i?

Feb 01, 2013 11:13 AM
rating: 2

Is Shelby Miller a weightlifter or is that his natural build?

Feb 01, 2013 11:52 AM
rating: 0

Not to get off topic of the #rig or Oscar Taveras, but Are we ever going to get the promised report on Trevor Bauer (traded post-Indians Top 10, pre-D'Backs Top-Ten? Thanks.

Feb 01, 2013 16:23 PM
rating: 2

Just to clarify, when you say someone has a 7 hit tool that doesnt take position into account does is?

Feb 01, 2013 17:10 PM
rating: 0

prospects will break your face

Feb 01, 2013 18:31 PM
rating: 1

Jason, you talk about making adjustments and the value of failure in helping "cure" a prospect into a major leaguer. I know its hard to unknow what has happened, but does Shelby Miller's 2012 downs then ups make him a better prospect in your view than if he had a uniformly great season (performance more like the 2nd half)? Does it increase his floor, his ceiling or both?

Feb 02, 2013 05:30 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I absolutely believe that failure is a vital component in the developmental process. Re: Miller, yes, I think his maturity was elevated because of such failures and setbacks. Every player is going to fail, but how they respond to that failure is what separates them from the rest. Some need to fail early and some need to fail late, but it's win-win if the player learns and grows from the experience. As is so often the case, the inability to fail and respond is what dooms players.

Feb 02, 2013 07:47 AM

Jason - I'm confused by the Michael Wacha entry. Everything else I have seen written about him -including in Spring Training" - says that he has a plus or even plus-plus change-up, but not much of a breaking pitch. See for instance http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130227&content_id=42040994¬ebook_id=42061510&vkey=notebook_stl&c_id=stl But your write-up implies the reverse?

If you're half-right, and the others are half-right, then he'll either be an ace or a wash-out. :)

Mar 05, 2013 12:58 PM
rating: 0
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