State of the Cardinals Farm System – Part 3

In Part 1 and 2 we looked at the overall systems pitching and outfielders respectively. In Part 3 we will focus on the infielders. Overall we have some attractive infielders but most of them play the same position – 3B. We are lacking on talent up the middle and 1B is always hard to predict since many big league 1B came up playing another position. Let’s jump right in.

Rating System:
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 – 2.0 Birds
Overall – 2.5 Birds

Overall we are lacking solid depth in the infield. We have a few exciting guys that play 3B (Zack Cox and Matt Carpenter) and both are not that far away. They are also the only 2 infielders in my Top 20. Looking past those 2 I have 5 other infielders ranked between 21 and 30: Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson (SS), Daniel Descalso (2B), Mark Hamilton (1B) and Niko Vazquez (3B). Matt Adams (1B) just missed out on my Top 30. Out of this group of players none projects to be a 5 Birds talent and only Cox would get a 4 Birds rating. Carpenter is probably a 3.5 Birds rating and everyone else is 2.5 Birds or less. Needless to say it’s hard to get excited about this category as a whole. There has been talk of Cox giving it a try at 2B if that gets him to the bigs quicker but I just don’t see it working out. Carpenter could be on the fast track if he gets off to a hot start and Freese either falters or gets injured. I wouldn’t say it’s crazy to think we might see Carpenter as early as mid-season. Descalso has a chance to stick in the bigs starting in 2011 and be an avg 2B. So if Skip falters you could see plenty of the left handed hitting 2B this year. Hamilton is stuck behind Pujols but got a taste at the end of 2010. Unless we lose Pujols to FA Hamilton won’t be in the plans for the Cards. The rest of this group won’t get a look in 2011. The only other player that has a chance to get a Sept callup is Kozma since he is already on the 40 man. Let’s hope that the Cards look for infield depth and star power in their 2011 venture into the draft and IFA process. It would be great to have a SS prospect to get excited about as it has been a long time.