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Future Redbirds 2013 Top 20 Prospects

The full compilation of the Cardinals top prospects.


This is the complete list of the FR 2013 Top prospects. Individual posts can be found and commented on here.

1. Oscar Taveras
2012 Ranking: #4
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 1, azru - 1, jroman - 1


It’s unanimous. There’s a new position player donning the top of the prospect tree, and he claimed that spot by offering production for Springfield that was on par with the Cards’ last number one prospect to play CF at that level, Colby Rasmus, but they displayed quite different skill sets. What Taveras lacks in patience, he makes up for in impressive contact (reduced strikeouts by nearly five percent despite skipping a level) and continued success on balls in play. His downside is being destined for a corner outfield position. - Andy

Shelby Miller is dethroned but only because I can't vote for a 1A prospect. Miller had a good year that wouldn't have hurt his prospect status if not for Oscar Taveras having a ridiculously good year. Elite power, excellent contact skills and improving defense simply made the likelihood of Taveras achieving his ceiling more probable than last year. The media narrative is that the club challenged him and Taveras responded with exceptional character to rise to their challenge. Regardless of that accuracy, Taveras is a potential centerfielder with a high level offensive profile. Those kinds of prospects don't come around very often. Oscar Taveras is the best prospect in the Cardinals farm system. - azru

2. Shelby Miller
2012 Ranking: #1
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 2, azru - 2, jroman - 2


Shelby Miller got downgraded from his perennial number 1 prospect perch through a tremendous season by Taveras and not necessarily much he did to change his own ranking. He had struggles early in the season after rumors were floated that he was too thin and then too fat. He had a "no shake" situation as well, along with an inflated HR rate but at the end of the season, Miller had a great year as a 21 year old in AAA and made a cameo in the major league bullpen in September and in the playoffs and showed everyone why he was the top prospect and why his prospects for 2013 and beyond are still quite bright. - jroman

Shelby Miller had a good 2012. He ended extremely well with a 10:1 K:BB ratio over his last 10 starts. Even the hiccups that Shelby Miller had were remarkably normal for a pitcher his age. The visibility that Miller, a former first round pick, carries with him exacerbates small issues into large issues. Rosenthal may have excelled out of the pen in the major leagues but small sample size shouldn't trump the full history of these two players. Miller still has a bright future in front of him, much like Trevor Rosenthal. - azru

3. Trevor Rosenthal
2012 Ranking: #7
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 3, azru - 3, jroman - 3


Rumors of surprise 100-mph velocity in spring training were confirmed on national television in October, a month in which Rosenthal struck out fifty percent of the batters he faced. Of course, that feat was accomplished by relying on his fastball eighty percent of the time out of the bullpen. The eighteen games he started between double-A and triple-A last season yielded less gaudy results (though still respectable), so Rosenthal might benefit from refining his off-speed stuff before he’s slotted into the Cards’ rotation. Still, 2012 was a wildly successful year for Trevor Rosenthal. - Andy

Trevor Rosenthal’s velocity through the minor leagues is only matched by his velocity on the mound. Rosenthal spent the whole season in Quad Cities in 2011 and found himself a key part of the major league bullpen in September and October of 2012. His velocity has announcers and fellow teammates watching the radar gun after every pitch. He does have other offerings besides the elite fastball that will get major league hitters out, but when pitching out of the bullpen, why even attempt them? Rosenthal has hit future squarely in the major league rotation for the Cardinals and at 22, he has his entire future ahead of him. - jroman

4. Carlos Martinez
2012 Ranking: #2
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 4, azru - 5, jroman - 4


Asked to throw his fastball more often - a strange request for most prospects - Martinez responded well by improving his peripherals in high-A Palm Beach and then contributing in a major way to double-A Springfield’s championship season. Although his strikeout rate declined at the higher level, he incorporated a sinker that helped him induce more ground balls. While some pundits question Martinez’s durability as a starter because of a smaller body frame and high-effort delivery, apologists can point to sustained velocity for reassurance as at least one stadium radar gun registered 100-mph in September. - Andy

Carlos Martinez’s great season was lost in the Taveras, Miller and Rosenthal hype this year, but he had a great one between A+ and AA. This year was his age 20 season and he actually was promoted to AA while on the DL. The Cardinals have faith in him and believe he will be able to continue his great results. As Andy said, his delivery screams bullpen to some, but most believe that late inning reliever or closer is in fact his floor as a prospect. A #1 prospect in at least 10 other organizations, his inclusion at #4 proves the strength and depth of the Cardinals system. - jroman

5. Kolten Wong
2012 Ranking: #6
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 5, azru - 4, jroman - 6


Wong posted okay production for Springfield, though his overall numbers were a little disappointing after an exciting start that included an above eight hundred OPS over the season’s first three months. Wong then suffered through a miserable July in which he was hindered by results on balls in play. Compared to his time in Quad Cities the previous year, Wong’s walk and strikeout rates both trended in the wrong direction by two percent. His performance in the Arizona Fall League was a mixed bag. Should we be comforted by his solid average or dismayed by his impatience (only two walks in 76 PA) and lack of power (three extra base hits)? - Andy

Another player that varied greatly as I tried to vary my list, I had Wong drop to #8 on one list but never higher than #4. In the end, I went with the scouting reports and the draft pedigree. The reality is that Kolten Wong's 2012 performance was a disappointment. He showed little power and so-so plate discipline. Defensive reports have been measured. I'm still waiting for Kolten Wong to truly wow me in his professional career. I hope this ranking doesn't look foolish in the future. - azru

6. Michael Wacha
2012 Ranking: 2012 draftee
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 7, azru - 6, jroman - 5


Michael Wacha pitched twenty one innings spread across three levels after the Cardinals made him their number one pick in 2012’s draft. Advertised as a fast-mover with a high floor, Wacha was utilized out of the bullpen to limit his work load and the outcome was incredible. He struck out more than half of the batters he faced and walked less than six percent. Furthermore, better than half of the balls put in play against him stayed on the ground. Yes, all of this is exciting, but Wacha will be asked to turn over lineups in 2013. Those results, good or bad, will probably leave us with more realistic expectations. - Andy

Wacha is the epitome of small sample size excitement after a numerically impressive 2012. The Cardinals put him in a position to succeed at all three levels, as they should after the draft and his conclusion in Springfield should hint at a start there in his age 21 season next year. Still quite young for a college draftee, Wacha should improve on his standing going forward, but do not expect him to keep up his 10/1 K to BB ratio. - jroman

Wacha wacha - Fozzie Bear

7. Matt Adams
2012 Ranking: #5
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 6, azru - 8, jroman - 7


There’s not much to say about Matt Adams that hasn’t been said before. He’s a big guy, who is stuck to 1B as long as he is in the NL and might be better off playing for a team that could also use him at DH. But, that being said, his ability at 1B does not overshadow the power at the plate. He strikes out a lot and doesn’t walk much, but he’s a slugger that surprisingly still hits for a high average. He got 91 PAs in St. Louis in 2012 and should rival Taveras to be the first player up from Memphis in 2013. His power will play in the majors, period. - jroman

Adams spent about half of 2012 in Memphis. He put up some of his best power numbers to date with a .295 ISO and 18 HRs in 276 PAs. He hit for average and he hit for crazy power. That combo should work in the majors. I still wonder just how bad he'll be defensively according to metrics but that remains to be seen. He had bone chips removed from his elbow at the end of 2012. - azru

8. Tyler Lyons
2012 Ranking: Unranked
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 10, azru - 10, jroman - 8


Never blessed with a great ERA, Lyons’ peripherals have always pointed to something greater. In 2012, Lyons brought his best stuff to the highest level of the minors, combining career best rates in strikeouts (24.3%) and walks (4.9%). His 3.06 FIP was best among Memphis pitchers to start at least ten games. And he’s left handed, so that’s always a plus. - Andy

Tyler Lyons doesn’t jump on the page at you, but if you keep looking, you keep being impressed. His career minor league ERA is 4.27, but he had the best stretch of his career at Memphis last year as a 24 year old. As Andy said, his strikeout and walk numbers were better at the highest possible minor league level. He has no problem getting players of both handedness out, but as long as he continues to get lefthanders out, he’ll have a surefire spot in a major league bullpen. - jroman

He's got a 3.42 K/BB ratio over three seasons in the minors. Above average strikeout rates with excellent control. The one concern is he's a flyball pitcher who won't light up radar guns; does that translate from AAA to the majors? - azru

9. Tyrell Jenkins
2012 Ranking: #3
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 8, azru - 12, jroman - 9


Jenkins is another player lost in the pitching prospect mix for the Cardinals, but his upside continues to be strong for yet another season. He is still far away from the majors and still quite raw. But after just finishing his age 19 season, he’s got plenty of time to develop and no rush with the power arms ahead of him. One of these days, he will have to turn his athleticism and tools into reality. Despite the rawness, he has a career minor league K to BB ratio over 2.5. As he begins to face better hitters, he is going to be asked to do more, but he has done nothing to unravel his potential ceiling. - jroman

A few things happened last year to cause Jenkins to drop on my list: injuries prevented him from pitching a full season, he struggled to maintain mechanics and his command regressed. These things are related and, while he's young, none of them are a good sign. Jenkins probably moves up to Palm Beach in 2012 but his performance in 2013 wouldn't preclude him from simply repeating a level in Peoria. His strikeout rate continues to be good but not great for someone who was projected as a strikeout pitcher. His upside, for me, is a little lower after 2012 and the probability he reaches it is also down. - azru

10. Anthony Garcia
2012 Ranking: Unranked
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 12, azru - 7, jroman - 11


Garcia was drafted as a catcher out of a Puerto Rican high school in the 18th round of the 2009 draft. Still young at 20 years old, Garcia has since been moved to the outfield and, while he has displayed some promising power at the lower levels of the system and has something close to average patience, he strikes out quite a bit and has limited defensive ability. Shortcomings aside, his overall offensive contributions were forty-three percent better than league average, and that’s impressive enough to earn a top ten ranking in this esteemed system. - Andy

You can't teach the kind of power that Anthony Garcia has displayed so far. His .218 ISO in the minors, compiled between the ages of 18-20, is the kind of power that should get noticed. If his plate discipline continues to deteriorate, there could be some issues with his ability to get on base frequently. Defensively, he's still a work in progress as he shifts from catching to outfielder but the tepid defense from Johnson City in 2011 was improved in Quad Cities during 2012. Garcia had the 7th best ISO of players in the Midwest League with at least 100 PAs. That kind of power is impressive and unusual for someone his age. - azru

11. Greg Garcia
2012 Ranking: Unranked
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 13, azru - 9, jroman - 10


Greg Garcia has played both shortstop and second base in his career, but was positioned at shortstop in 2012 as Kolten Wong (his former middle infield mate at Hawaii) was written in pen at second base at Springfield. As Garcia got pushed to the higher profile middle infield position, he has proved that his previous seasons were no fluke. Garcia’s offensive profile looks even better at short with a high OBP and solid average. He had only 2 more strikeouts than walks in 2012! - jroman

Greg Garcia has never matched Wong in terms of acclaim from prospect gurus, but he plays the more difficult middle infield position, has superior patience, and provided better offensive production for Springfield’s championship season. His walk rate has steadily increased at each level he’s played, culminating in an impressive 15.9% last season. Furthermore, Garcia strikes out at a below average rate. There’s a sense that he’s just playing shortstop because Wong gets priority at second base, but if he can stick at that position, maybe he can be a post-Furcal answer. At the very least, Garcia offers insurance should Wong not reach his potential. - Andy

Greg Garcia walks like Matt Carpenter but can play a legitimate middle infield. He'd be below average relative to peers at shortstop and is better suited for second base. He doesn't have the draft pedigree of college teammate Kolten Wong but he put up the better 2012 season. The combination of defense and a steady, improving offensive profile snuck him into my personal top 10. He's a nice second tier kind of prospect that might surprise you. It was a mistake not to rank him last year. - azru

12. Seth Maness
2012 Ranking: Unranked
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 11, azru - 18, jroman - 15


I understand why azru and Jeff gave Maness a lower ranking, but his astounding walk rate was just too enticing for me to overlook. You’ll certainly find players lower on this list who have greater potential, but you won’t find anyone who can match Maness’ success thus far. He’s a two-trick pony who relies on impossible control (ten walks in 160+ innings last season) and a groundball inducing sinker. That’s not a very intimidating animal, but it is one that Maness has ridden successfully to double-A. We’ll see if it can take him further. - Andy

I’m never going to be certain that Maness will continue to avoid the walks until I see it in the majors, but the ground ball tendencies are great news for his potential. However, with a fastball that does not quite light up the radar gun, he will have to have some serious command and control going forward to be a major league prospect. However, there is no denying the fact that Maness has kept up his numbers as he has moved through the system. Only time will tell if he can keep it up permanently. - jroman

13. Carson Kelly
2012 Ranking: 2012 draftee
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 9, azru - N/A, jroman - 16


The Cardinals paid one million dollars over slot to sign Kelly, one of the youngest players they drafted in 2012. It’s pretty difficult to project a 17-year-old, but talent evaluators seem to believe he can stick at third base and he flashed some raw power in his first taste of professional ball. Besides the nine home runs in 222 PAs, I was most pleased by his strikeout rate (14.9%) which was far below the league average. On the other hand, Kelly only walked in 4.5% of his plate appearances, so he could use a little more patience, but he obviously has plenty of time to develop that as he matures. - Andy

I'm always slow to move on newly signed players. Carson Kelly carries a ton of risk in his projection given his age and his current skill set. He's a boom or bust kind of prospect and, while it's great to see those kinds of players taken when the farm system already has depth, the bust rate on these prospects is very high. His two-way status at draft time (he sits low 90s on the mound) skewed some of the reporting on his abilities given the novelty factor of a prospect who could legitimately go either way. Maybe Kelly excels as a third baseman or maybe he's the next Sam Tuivailala. I'm betting the latter. - azru

14. Maikel Cleto
2012 Ranking: #15
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 20, azru - 14, jroman - 12


Cleto is a guy who is very often overlooked, especially because he was up in the majors for a cup of coffee in both 2011 and 2012 and did not necessarily know where his 100 MPH fastball was going. However, his fastball allows his other offerings to be at an increased velocity as well, including an average 91 MPH splitter and 87 MPH changeup. Despite the fact that he walks a lot of batters, he still strikes out twice as many. His future is in the major league bullpen, but if he puts his at least one of his secondary offers together, he can be an elite end of bullpen asset. - jroman

Of those pitchers with at least fifty innings pitched in triple-A’s Pacific Coast League, Cleto struck batters out at the fourth highest rate (28.4%). It was easy to overlook his 2012 numbers because of terrible results on balls in play, but he took some impressive strides (compared to 2011 in Memphis) by increasing his strikeout rate by seven percent and decreasing his walk rate by four percent. He still needs to improve his control, but his ability to miss bats makes him difficult to ignore. Another right handed pitcher who throws 100 MPH. Ho-hum. - Andy

I had Cleto as low as 19 and as high as 12. He throws hard but he's also a reliever. Certainty versus updside. - azru

15. Stephen Piscotty
2012 Ranking: 2012 draftee
Individual Rankings: AndyB83 - 14, azru - 15, jroman - 18


Piscotty was one of the players I was not thrilled by the Cardinals selecting in the draft, but so far, he has proved more than capable in the first part of his career with his 134 wRC+ in 237 PA. His hit tool was never in question, it was whether he could stick at 3rd to justify the hitting profile and limited power. So, far he was used at 3B almost exclusively at Quad Cities and his value will really continue to depend on his ability to stick there. He’ll continue to hit and continue to get on base and should be quick moving through the system. - jroman

Stephen Piscotty can hit. That I've come around on from draft time when I wasn't terribly enamored of this pick. I think he hits enough to be interesting in a corner outfield position because I don't see him sticking in the majors as a 3rd baseman. The Cardinals lack pure bat prospects in the system right now besides Matt Adams but they've found ways to incorporate guys like Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter at the big league level despite questionable fielding. The 2012 draft selection before Piscotty, James Ramsey, did not make this year's list. Widely panned at the time of the draft, he faltered in Palm Beach while Piscotty excelled at Quad Cities given limited playing time. - azru

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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