Future Redbirds 2013 Top Prospects: #20 - #16

Ryan Jackson ranks number 1 on the Cardinals top bubble blowing prospect list. - Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Who makes the cut in one of baseball's best farm systems?

The rules are simple: fewer than 30 IP or 130 plate appearances. Without further ado.

20. Boone Whiting
2012 Ranking: #20
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 16, azru - 17, jroman - N/A

Comments:

Boone Whiting retained his grip on a top-20 prospect spot despite missing most of 2012 to an injury by accumulating more than fifty innings pitched between single-A, double-A, and the Arizona Fall League. He continued to rack up impressive strikeout totals - especially in the AFL - despite an arsenal that doesn’t overpower hitters. It will be interesting to see what a full season at double-A looks like. - Andy

Whiting has the fastball velocity that doesn't allow for many second chances in the minors. He's gotten enough results, injury notwithstanding, to keep moving forward. He's never going to light up a radar gun but his changeup is a thing of beauty and should be enough to keep him competitive in the minors. - azruavatar

19. Jordan Swagerty
2012 Ranking: #14
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 17, azru - 16, jroman - 20

Comments:

Swagerty lost all 2012 to Tommy John Surgery, but the only good thing about it is that it happened during Spring Training, which will allow him enough time to return for most if not all of 2013. The Cardinals might limit his innings again as they did in 2011 by putting him in the bullpen, but all signs still indicate that he can still be a starter long term although the injury may have set his timetable back a year or two. - jroman

The placement of Swagerty on prospect lists last year, largely reflected the odds of whether someone thought he would stick in the rotation. The repertoire is there and he had success at it during his limited 2011 trial run. Long term, I still see him as a reliever though potentially a very good one. - azruavatar

18. Ryan Jackson
2012 Ranking: #12
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 18, azru - N/A, jroman - 14

Comments
:

The shine certainly has faded from Ryan Jackson’s star after a quality 2011 at Springfield. Even during 2011, he was still only an average offensive player, but his plus defense always kept him afloat. He moved up to Memphis this year and the questions about his offensive potential only got louder as his wOBA got lower. I rated Jackson the highest amongst the 3 of us because I still think the defense will play in the majors at shortstop, which is the field’s most demanding position. - jroman

There’s not much offensive upside with Ryan Jackson but he’s always been advertised as an impressive fielder at shortstop, which left me rooting for league average production. In that regard, he had delivered until 2012 when his .325 wOBA was eleven percent below the league average. Plus defense at shortstop and slightly below league average offense would still be a valuable combination for the Cardinals, and something they could need sooner than later with Furcal’s injury history and Kozma’s minor league track record. - Andy

Utility player who probably never hits above league average but almost certainly has a MLB career. Here's the first litmus test on how much we value certainty versus upside in this year's list. - azruavatar

17. John Gast
2012 Ranking: Unranked
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 19, azru - 19, jroman - 13

Comments:

Gast is the lefty specialist who, in spring training, taught the other lefthanded pitchers his patented pick off move. Gast pitched across 2 levels in 2012 as a 23 year old, ending up in Memphis and not missing a beat. He strikes out over twice as many as he walks. His ERA and FIP did not inspire much confidence in Memphis, but his peripherals remained strong and he suffered a blip in his BABIP. I like Tyler Lyons better than him, but the probability is similar whether or not either will be a successful major league pitcher. The lefthandedness sure helps though! - jroman

Look over Gast’s minor league career and a couple of shiny ERAs will stick out at you. Of course, one of those occurred in low-A against far inferior competition in 2010. And the other happened in double-A in 2012, but it was aided by unsustainable results on balls in play and strand rates. Both were small sample sizes. Gast supposedly refined his breaking ball after reaching triple-A but it didn’t have much carryover into his stats. Gast’s time at double-A and triple-A combined for an ERA and FIP near four, which is just enough to be interesting but not enough to be exciting. - Andy

16. Starlin Rodriguez
2012 Ranking: Unranked
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - N/A, azru - 11, jroman - 17

Comments:

Starlin Rodriguez has provided well above league average offense for high-A Palm Beach, where he has accumulated over six hundred plate appearances. While I’m usually ready to pounce on the bandwagon of any middle infield prospect who hints at offensive potential, Starlin missed my list by just a few spots because he doesn’t do anything exceedingly well. He doesn’t hit for much power or draw walks, but he does enjoy tremendous results on balls in play. I question how long he can sustain that success given strikeout rates and batted ball rates that hover around league average. - Andy

Behind Mike O'Neill and Alan Ahmady, Rodriguez was the best hitter on the Palm Beach squad who played there for any appreciable length of time. He's consistently been an above average hitter in the minors and plays a good second base. He's behind a crush of middle infielders in the system right now but he turned 23 last week so he's not far off from the college track development timeline in the minors. If his BABIP numbers go to hell, he's going to fall apart as a prospect. If they don't, he'll hit for average and enough power to keep him a threat at the plate. As a legitimate middle infielder, he's worth watching. - azruavatar

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