Cardinals Top Prospect Oscar Taveras
The Cardinals system is stocked with talent, especially on the pitching side. Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly played big roles on last year's team, and Trevor Rosenthal and Shelby Miller both were key contributors in the fall. There are several more talented pitchers in the system. Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong look to be impact position players when they reach the big leagues. To make this list, a player has to have rookie eligibility for 2013.
1) Oscar Taveras, RF, 20 years old
Taveras is possibly the best Cardinals hitting prospect since Albert Pujols. He will most likely open the season in Triple A Memphis next year, but if any outfielder goes down I would expect Taveras to get the call. A left handed hitter, Taveras hit a league high .321, slugged .572, with 23 home runs, and 94 RBIs, and led the Texas League with 37 doubles. In 2011, he hit .386 with a .444 on base pct., and .584 slugging pct. in Single A West Palm Beach. Taveras has also improved his defense and baserunning, and plays some center field. Taveras was the Cardinals minor league player of the year in 2012.
2) Shelby Miller, RHP, 22 years old
The Cardinals #1 pick in 2009 had a up and down season. Miller had a miserable first half, and was encouraged to throw more of his secondary pitches in the second half. After having a ERA well above 6 after the first half, Miller turned it on in his last 10 starts. He pitched 59.1 innings, had a ERA of 2.88 during that span, struck out 70, and only walked 7. Miller also dominated the Reds on the season finale. Miller had excelled in Single A and Double A, and last year's struggles might be the best thing that could of happened to him. He now knows he can't just rely on his heater to get batters out. Miller will be competing for a rotation spot in spring training.
3) Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, 22 years old
Rosenthal was drafted the same year as Miller was, and had been overlooked until last year. He opened eyes during spring training, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun. Rosenthal also had an outstanding year in the minors, and was promoted to the big leagues over Miller in August. Rosenthal pitched out of the bullpen and had a 2.78 ERA in 22.2 innings with 25 strikeouts. In the postseason, he was lights out. He pitched 8.2 innings, with 15 strikeouts, and had 0.00 ERA and 0.46 WHIP. Rosenthal has the ability to be a bigtime starter in the big leagues, but may open next season out of the bullpen.
4) Kolten Wong, 2B, 22 years old
Wong was a big part of a team that won the Texas League championship last year. In his first full minor league season, Wong batted .287 with a .348 on base pct., hit 9 home runs, drove in 52, and stole 21 bases. The 2011 first round pick is also good defensively. With light hitting Daniel Descalso as last year's primary second baseman, Wong will be given every chance to win the position this spring.
5) Carlos Martinez, RHP, 21 years old
Yet another flamethrower in the minors, Martinez pitched on two different levels last year and was part of the Springfield Cardinals Texas League championship. Martinez missed some time due to injury, but had a 2.93 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 104.1 innings pitched. He can also reach speeds up to 100 mph. In a few years, the Cardinals could future a rotation of young guns like Martinez, Rosenthal, and Miller.
6) Michael Wacha, RHP, 21 years old
The Cardinals spent their first round pick last year on Wacha from Texas A & M. Wacha pitched well in limited action last year in the minors. He had a 0.86 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 40 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched. He made 2 starts, but pitched 9 games out of the bullpen. Was projected as a number 3 starter coming out of college.
7) Matt Adams, 1B, 24 years old
Adams has crushed minor league pitching at every level, and has the best pure power of any hitter in the system. He hit .329 in Memphis last year and hit 18 home runs in only 276 at bats. In 2011, Adams hit 32 home runs and 101 RBIs. Adams wasn't as successful in a midseason callup last year. He hit .244 with 2 home runs in 91 at bats in the majors. Adams is also a man without a position since Allen Craig is now the Cardinals everyday first baseman. Matt Carpenter has also proven he could fill in if needed. I think Adams will eventually hit better in the big leagues his second time around. But since Adams is limited to first base, I could see the Cardinals using him as trade bait.
8) Anthony Garcia, OF, 20 years old
In Single A Quad Cities, Garcia was their best hitter. He hit .280, had a OBP of .359, hit 19 home runs, and 74 RBIs. Garcia bats right handed, and is a corner outfielder. After Taveras, he is their best outfield prospect.
9) Seth Maness, RHP, 24 years old
Maness doesn't get a lot of hype, but he's put up better results than more hyped pitchers in the Cardinals system. Drafted in 2011, Maness started out in Single A, but pitched his way up to Double A Springfield. Maness was 14-4, with a 2.97 ERA in 169.2 innings pitched. He doesn't have as much raw talent as other pitchers, but he has outstanding command; only walking 10 batters all of last year. I'm not sure how high his ceiling is, but he could be a solid innings eater in the big leagues.
10) Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, 20 years old
The most dissapointing of the Cardinals top pitching prospects, Jenkins has struggled with command and had some injuries. Jenkins is a strikeout pitcher, but posted a 5.14 ERA in Single A Quad Cities last year. The raw talent is there and youth is on his side, but Jenkins will have to improve. It will probably be at a few seasons before he's ready for the big leagues.
Other Top Prospects
Greg Garcia, SS, 23 years old
Overshadowed by teammate and fellow Hawaiian Kolten Wong, Garcia is his double play partner. In Springfield last year, Garcia hit .284, with a .408 OBP, 10 home runs, 51 RBIs, and 10 steals. Possibly passed Ryan Jackson as the Cardinals best SS prospect, although Jackson is better with the glove.
Carson Kelly, 3B, 18 years old
The Cardinals drafted three third baseman in the high rounds last year, with Kelly being the youngest and having the highest ceiling. Has bigtime power, and hit 9 home runs in 213 at bats in Rookie League last year. Kelly needs a lot of work on patience at the plate, though. He was only 17 when he was drafted, and will have plenty of time to refine his skills in the minors.
Patrick Wisdom, 3B, 21 years old
The most refined of the three third base draft picks of 2012 and has the best glove. Wisdom is patient at the plate and has some power.
Tyler Lyons, LHP, 24 years old
Lyons has good command, doesn't allow a lot of walks, and has strikeout ability. However, his ERA was a little north of 4 last year. Lyons is the Cardinals most ready left handed starter, though.
Kevin Siegrist, LHP, 23 years old
Siegrist is also a lefty, and made it up to Double A Springfield last year. In 2011, Siegrist had an outstanding season in two different Single A teams. He had a 2.26 ERA, and went 8-4 in 107.1 innings pitched.
Ryan Jackson, SS, 24 years old
Pete Kozma, SS, 24 years old
Jackson was the Cardinals highest rated SS coming into last year, but was leapfrogged by Pete Kozma last year. With Rafael Furcal's status uncertain coming into the year, Jackson and Kozma are next in line. Kozma hit well down the stretch and in the playoffs, but made costly errors in the NLCS. Kozma also has a career .236 average in 5 plus minor league seasons. Jackson didn't fare well in his limited opportunities after his callup. Both of these players will turn 25 in the spring, and I'm skeptical if either will be good enough to be regular big league shortstops. For now, the Cardinals will make due with one or both of these guys in Furcal's absence. Even if Furcal is healthy, he will need to be spotted more than he was last year.
Starlin Rodriguez, 2B, 23 years old
Rodriguez is a switch hitting second baseman who played for Single A West Palm Beach last year. Rodriguez has a similar skill set to Wong, good on base skills, some pop, good on the basepaths. Rodriguez has a solid glove, but not as good as Wong's. With the Cardinals revolving door at second base at the major league level, it's good to have two good 2B prospects. The Cardinals haven't had a solid second base prospect since Adam Kennedy in the late 90's.
Adron Chambers, OF, 26 years old
Despite playing parts of two seasons in the majors and the postseason both of those years, Chambers is still a rookie. With Skip Schumaker gone, Chambers will be given a chance to be the Card's fourth outfielder next year. Chambers hit .319 in the big leagues last year, but hasn't had that kind of success in the big leagues. He is one of the fastest players in the organization, and hopefully he don't flop like Tyler Greene. The Cardinals could use some more guys who can steal bases on the major league roster.
Sam Freeman, LHP, 25 years old
Freeman pitched well in the minors last year, splitting time in Springfield and Memphis. Freeman had a 1.89 ERA, 1.14 WHIP in 47.2 innings pitched. He also pitched 20 innings with the Cardinals last year, but wasn't as successful. He had a 5.40 ERA in the big leagues. Newly signed Randy Choate will be the second lefty next year after Marc Rzepczynski. Freeman most likely will start the season off in Triple A, but will be first in line if they need another lefty in St. Louis.
Carlos Martinez pitching in the Futures Game