To put the finishing touches on prospect week here at VEB, we thought it would be a good idea to look at all the lists posted here over the last week and see if we could identify some trends or any other interesting info.
Everybody Loves Oscar
While this could be the next great CBS sitcom, I'd prefer it be the title of the next great weekend sports show in St. Louis during the offseason, where Taveras and a band of other baseball misfits are followed around by cameras as they peruse their favorite local haunts.
The facts are these:
- 81 out of 81 VEB members voted him first.
- 3 out of 3 VEB editors voted him first.
- All the talent evaluators across baseball voted him first in the organization and in the top 3 in baseball overall.
Let's just hope the ankle his healthy and he's raking spring training pitching by mid-March.
Parity & Depth
If we break down the top ten for each list, we find that most of the lists have the same players, but there's a significant difference in where certain players are ranked:
Grichuck and Kaminsky all appear within a couple spots of each other and there's some debate about where Gonzales and Wong fit in, but the big disagreement is on Tim Cooney. Baron thinks he's the best pitcher in the system, I have him behind only Alex Reyes. Ryan and the rest of the community are less impressed and slotted the Wake Forest alum near the back of their Top 10. Should make Cooney and interesting player to watch in the early part of the season at Memphis.
Hitters & Pitchers
Next lets take a look at how the top 20 breaks down in terms of position players and pitchers:
The popular opinion through much of the offseason was the the Cardinals were as system top heavy on hitters with a bunch of young a promising pitching on the way after graduating Martinez, Miller, and Wacha to the majors. Our lists don't reflect this, however and mine in particular: Outside of my top four pitchers that are in nearly everyone's top 8, I've got only Boone Whiting, a high floor starter in position to help the club this year if needed, and Sam Tuivailala because I have a thing for guys who throw 100 mph and strike out a third of the guys that stride up to the plate. That's just 6 total pitchers in my top 20 prospects, and doesn't include former top prospects like Jenkins and Swagerty, who are returning from injury, or low minors breakthroughs from 2013 like Cory Jones and Zach Petrick. I see those guys more as relievers in the long term, since neither has a good third offering.
Note: I thought about breaking this down by position, but the amount of outfielders on this list was kind of depressing after you realize that there are only three starting outfield spots on the big league club at any one time. Something's got to give on that front: There just aren't enough PA's available should the toolsy guys in the lower minors, like Bryan and Tilson, break toward their ceilings this year. On that note...
Distribution of Talent
So who's going to a Memphis game this year? Show of hands?
What's wrong with the rest of you? I don't know how you get them all on the field at the same time, but that Memphis squad might have a shot of beating the Houston Astros in a 7 game series if they played it in April (although, to be fair, the Astros AAA squad might have a shot at that too). Regardless, if you have a chance to get out and see Memphis in April or early May, you'll likely see Piscotty, Grichuk, and Taveras in the outfield (if you believe Mozeliak on his word), Garcia at SS, O'Neill leading off and DHing, and a rotation of Cooney, Whiting, and Lyons (who would have made a lot of lists had he been eligible I would imagine).
Memphis isn't the only exciting team to see. Low-A Peoria will likely start the year with Reyes and Kaminsky in the rotation, Tyrell Jenkins joining them at some point, and Tuivailala closing games. Zach Petree (one of my picks to click this year) will probably join them no later than June as well, so you're really going to have to try and miss a quality arm when you go to a Chiefs game. You'll also get a look at Vaughn Bryan, who's probably the best pure athlete in the entire farm system heading into 2014.
Tomorrow I will be moderating the VEB Roundtable, which will be our final look at the prospect class before Spring Training gets into full swing next week.
We'll look back at these lists at the mid-point of the season and again at the end and see how well we ranked players, whether our breakout candidates broke out or fell on their faces (don't let me down Anthony Garcia...) and whether anyone we didn't talk about made a name for themselves in the first three months.
Until then, the Daily Farm Reports will be around to keep you updated about what's going on down on the farm.