As the snow is piling up and temperatures are in the teens in St. Louis it is a perfect time to envision warmer temps and Cardinal baseball! In today’s game with FA’s getting lucrative contracts it is becoming more and more important for teams to build from within to stay competitive. Like most teams, the Cardinals have focused more time, resources and money in scouting and player development in recent years. Today we will take a look at the state of the Cardinals farm system to give a view into tomorrow’s big league players and hopefully some star power. We will break it down by the following categories: Pitchers, Outfielders, Infielders and Catchers. In Part 1, we will focus on the Pitchers Category in the system. I will use a ratings system to assess the overall category and identify key players in each category. Let’s get to it.
5 Birds – The elite of prospects. These prospects will be stars in the bigs AND have enough body of work in the minors to justify the top rating. From a category perspective this would be a rare rating if the system had quite a few 5 Birds Rating Pitchers. Basically the elite of elite in a category.
4 Birds – Prospects that will have a solid body of work in the minors and will be above avg players in the bigs OR prospects with the upside of a 5 Birds Rating but not enough service time in the minors to justify the rating. From a category perspective this would be a category with a number of 4 and 5 Birds Ratings players. It would require a balance of depth and stardom.
3 Birds – Prospects that will be a regular in the bigs but won’t be a significant piece to the ball club. These prospects won’t be All-Stars nor will they be top of the rotation or middle of the order players. From a category perspective this would be a middle of the road category with few 4-5 Birds Rating players and plenty of 2-3 Birds Ratings.
2 Birds – Prospects that will be role players in the bigs. These prospects will bounce around from AAA to the bigs and most likely will play for many franchises over the years if they are fortunate enough to stick around. From a category perspective this would be many role/utility type players in the category with little to no star power.
1 Bird – Prospects that will be career minor leagues and may get a cup of coffee in the bigs. From a category perspective this is the ultimate insult. If you get a 1 Bird in any category you basically have very few players in the category that could even be role players in the bigs.
Star Power – 2.5 Birds
Depth – 3.5 Birds
Overall – 3 Birds
2009 and 2010 were huge years in boasting the farm system in general and specifically the pitching category. In 2009 the Cards drafted top prospect Shelby Miller in the 1st Round. To go along with Miller we snagged Joe Kelly (3), Scott Schneider (20) and Trevor Rosenthal (21) in the same draft. A year and a half later and these 4 appear to give a good balance or depth and star power to the system. In 2010 we proceeded to continue to put an influx of talent in our system with an exciting International Free Agent (IFA) in Carlos Martinez (Matias) to go along with 2010 draft selections in Seth Blair (1S), Tyrell Jenkins (1S), Jordan Swagery (2) and John Gast (6). These players will go along with a slew of exciting relievers in Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas, Adam Reifer and Francisco Samuel as well as a few other starters in Deryk Hooker and Lance Lynn. Overall the category has improved quite a bit from a very blah system of pitchers. Still lacking in true star power but the potential is there. Some of these raw players such as Jenkins and Martinez could catapult the star power in the system.