Category Archives: Minor Leagues

Cardinals Young Pups Report – April

After a little hiatus due to a busy schedule I am back to update you on what is going good in the Cardinals Farm System. I will make this a monthly post to keep everyone updated on the latest and greatest from our Young Pups! Let’s jump right in…

The Good

Eduardo Sanchez/Fernando Salas – It was about the time that these 2 guys got called up that our bullpen got much more stabilized. Coincendence? I don’t think so. These guys have been used in critical spots (men on, setup and closer situations). All they have done is come through just about every time. I will also say this once again (been saying it for a year and a half)…Eduardo Sanchez is our closer of the future and the future might not be that far away which is remarkable for a TLR run team. Sanchez has a dynamite FB that runs in the mid-90s with a wipeout SL. He definitely have a closer mentality as well…if you haven’t seen him on the mound make it a point to soon!

Adam Ottavino (Memphis) - Still holding out hope Ottavino can provide us value at the MLB level (probably as a reliever/AKA Boggs) or a nice trading chip. He has 4 starts and hasn’t went deep in any and has walked way too many guys. But he also has a K/IP and has less than a 2 ERA. He also has a respectable WHIP (1.33) for having so many BB (15 in 23IP) which is indicating he is not giving up many hits. I think he could be another power arm in the bullpen.

Ryan Jackson (Springfield) – Do we finally have a legit SS prospect in our system? Not sure I am ready to give him that label but he is extremely interesting at bare minimum. The book on him coming out of Univ of Miami a few years back was his D at SS was MLB ready right then (and yes it is extremely legit – he is SOOOO SMOOTH!) but concerns that he would never hit with wood. Some gave him an Adam Everett label. Well he is showing the ability to hit the past year+. At Springfield he is hitting over .320 with a respectable .854 OPS for a SS and an OBP of roughly .400. You add the fact that he is a legit GG caliber defender and I am asking “Where do I sign up?”!!

Matt Adams (Springfield) – Man-O-Man has he had a terrific first 5 weeks of the season for Springfield. To me he is the April MVP of our Farm System. His rankings in the system to date: 4th in AVG, 1st in H, HR and RBI’s and 2nd in SLG. That’s making things happen! Problem is he is a 1B so he won’t see more than a Sept taste this year. But if he keeps this up he will at minimum be a good trading chip…and heaven forbid we don’t sign Pujols he would be in the discussion as our 2012 1B. Thats optimistic but he is turning heads right now for sure!

Tommy Pham (Springfield) – After a really slow start he is scorching hot the last 2+ weeks. He is in the athletic mold of DJ Tools was being talking about a few years ago…lets hope he doesn’t fall off like Jones. He provides an intriguing level of power and speed with good D in the OF. Keep an eye on him this year.

Nick Additon/Scott Schneider (Springfield) – Both starters are at least intriguing from a prospect standpoint. They have both got off to great statistical starts. Additon has a WHIP of 0.76 and an ERA under 3. He is also striking out close to a batter an inning. Schneider is right behind him with a WHIP just under 1.10 with an ERA under 3…not as attractive of a K ratio though. Not sure either projects as anymore than a back of the rotation type of ceiling but no one is telling them this!

Palm Beach Staff Minus John Gast and Justin Smith – Yes this includes the already famous Shelby Miller. But it also includes Mikel Cleto (acquired from the M’s for Brendan Ryan), Eric Fornataro and Joe Kelly. Out of this group Miller has the worst ERA! Miller and Cleto are strikeout pitchers and their stats are showing that…Miller especially. If I lived in Palm Beach I would try to go see as many games as possible with this staff.

Oscar Taveras (Quad Cities) – What if I told you we had a guys hitting closer to .600 with an OPS of over 1.5 in our system? His name is Oscar Taveras…now with that said he only has 22 AB’s due to an injury (that he just came back from) but this just gives you a glimpse of his talent. Some would say he is the best position player prospect in our system…well he might be in everyone’s mind after this year.

Trevor Rosenthal/Jordan Swagerty (Quad Cities) – If you don’t know these 2 names then you better get to know them in fast order. Rosenthal is a power pitchers that has enough talent to be mentioned with the likes of Miller and Carlos Martinez in our system. He might not be quite as good as either but if you are in the same sentence as those 2…well you get my drift! Swagerty being converted to a starter from closing games at ASU as panned out well so far. I was skeptical so I am excited to date he is proving me wrong.

Justin Wright (Quad Cities) – Anytime you have a 2:1 K/IP ratio you must be mentioned! Definitely walking too many hitters but it appears each outting he has lowered his number of walks which is a good sign.

Other Notes:

  • Zack Cox is fairing fine in Palm Beach but he is showing absolutely no power (3 doubles and no 3B or HR). Its still early but something to keep an eye on
  • Carlos Martinez has not been assigned to a team…speculation is he will either go to Johnson City or Batavia which has not opened the season or announced rostes yet
  • Adron Chambers, Bryan Anderson and Pete Kozma are not fairly very well in Memphis at the moment
  • Lance Lynn has been avg at best so far in Memphis
  • Audry Perez has done fine but nothing outstanding at Palm Beach. My pick for our next solid C in the Bigs
  • Deryk Hooker and Seth Blair have been BRUTAL so far!

Youngsters in Spring Training

As Spring Training Winds down and all the Cardinals’ fans are itching for Opening Day let’s take a look back at how our youngsters did in Spring Training. The future of the Cards will include many of these guys, so it’s always nice to know the names, what they bring to the table and how close to the majors they are.

Keep in mind it is a small sample size, but many of these players got exposure against legit major league players so that counts for something.

The Good:

1) Matt Carpenter (3B) – Unless you have been in a cave all of Spring Training you have heard the other “Carps” name quite a bit in ST. A guy I feel could be a productive 3B for a long time in the bigs. He only tore up his roughly 50 AB’s in ST and almost won a reserve spot on the big league roster. Though he got beat out by Descalso (who we will talk about below) you got to see a player who is very close to MLB ready. He needs to work on his defense and show consistency against the higher minors competition. I personally see Carpenter being the choice if Freese were to go down for an extended period of time. He brings a high OBP, solid average and good doubles power to the table.

2) Daniel Descalso (2B/3B) - We got a glimpse of Descalso late last year and he looked like he belongs. In ST he did nothing to change that perception. Ultimately he won the reserve utility job over Carpenter which I feel was the right move. Descalso will provide a slightly above average defense at 3B or 2B and lefty bat off the bench. He is a fringe 2B starter long term but if Freese needs a day off or Skip struggles we might see Descalso a few times a week. Will be curious what happens with him once Punto is healthy.

3) Adron Chambers (OF) – A guy I am higher on than most as many see him as a 4th OF prospect. He continued off his 2010 success showing he can play with the big boys. He had a respectable average but his OBP and defense were outstanding in ST. With a logjam of outfielders he might not see the bigs until a Sept callup but if he continues to grow in the upper minors his speed and defense combo will be ready to contribute as early as mid-year.

4) Pete Kozma (SS) – We all know the story of Kozma as our #1 pick in 2007 as we let Porcello pass us by. Kozma has been extremely erratic in the minors since being drafted. The key with Kozma is consistency. If he can show his all-around game is much more consistent (which IMO is more mental than anything for him) then he can stay on the prospect map. In his limited time in ST he did show a few flashes of not giving up on him. Not sure he will be a starting shortstop in the bigs but he might be able to move over to 2B and play well there. This is a critical year for Kozma to show the Cards brass he is still worth believing in.

5) Zack Cox (3B) – Our 1st round pick from last year’s draft and being called the most advanced hitter in the draft will put a little pressure on you to move quickly. If he is nervous he sure isn’t showing it. All reports out of camp was he showed up early and stayed late and was willing to listen to the coaches and veterans to get a better understanding on how to improve. This type of attitude and approach goes a long way with coaches, veteran players, and fans. He will give you many things that Carpenter will give you with an advanced eye at the plate, good doubles power, and a solid OBP. Keep an eye on the first full year of pro ball for Cox.

6) Fernando Salas (RP) – A guy that has been a closer throughout his minor league career showed he is MLB ready right now. Though he will most likely get optioned as Brian Augenstein has also been lights out as they battle for the final bullpen spot. His stuff is not lights out but he maximizes his arsenal with a GREAT feel for how to get guys out. I see him as more of a 7th or 8th inning guy in the bigs that will always outperform his stuff. Probably the first reliever called up this year.

7) Lance Lynn (SP) – His stats in ST won’t blow you away but he showed he can get big league hitters out and have a fairly strong K rate. All positive signs. Probably the first SP that will be called up from the minors if the need arises.

8) Eduardo Sanchez (RP) – I consider him to be the closer of the future. He is a step below Salas as far as being ready for the bigs but it’s a small step. If he dominates for half a year in the upper minors he will be ready by mid-year if the need arises. Once he arrives he will most likely stick for good.

9) John Gast (SP) – A lefty from the 2010 draft class that has continued to impress since signing. I wasn’t sure he was starter material out of the draft and I think the jury is still out… though he is doing more and more to prove me wrong which is just fine with me!! Still a few years away but a guy to keep an eye on.

10) Ryan Jackson (SS) – A slick fielding SS that was knocked as a fringe hitter. He showed last year he could hold his own with the bat as long as he has the glove. With a solid year and if Kozma falters he will certainly become the best SS in the system. Impressed in camp to get the eye of the staff.

11) Adam Reifer (RP) – In his limited work in camp he showed the ability to get hitters out with a good K rate. I see him being another back of the bullpen pitcher for us which is one of our systems’ greatest strengths. A year and a half away.

12) Shelby Miller/Carlos Martinez (SP) – The two most exciting prospects in our system didn’t disappoint in camp. Both are still a few years away and Miller is ahead of Martinez from a timetable perspective. They both show top of the rotation stuff so all they need is experience. It says a lot when the coaches, veteran players and front office stops what they are doing to watch you throw a bullpen. That happened for both of these guys this spring.

The Bad:

1) Tyler Greene (SS/2B/OF) – Most have seen Greene play and not impress over the past year or so. His only saving grace is he is showing a decent ability to backup Colby Rasmus in CF and give a RH compliment (per se). His abilities always outshine his performance and I just don’t see this working out. If he is still on the big league club by mid-year, I will be surprised.

2) Mark Hamilton (1B) – An older prospect trying to do anything to get a chance in the bigs. With Albert Pujols in front of you, that is a tough task! Anyone thinking Hamilton might be able to take over the starting 1B if Pujols leaves via FA after the season is kidding themselves. The one thing he brings to the table is power and a lefty. That rings no better than a power bat off the bench long term. Not impressed.

3) Francisco Samuel (RP) – A Futures Game participant a few years ago still can’t get his control on the mound. His stuff is impressive but if you can’t throw strikes you will never make it. He still has a long way to go in that realm.

4) Joe Kelly (SP) – I like Kelly long term as a starter but he showed he is still a ways off from being ready… which shouldn’t be surprising. Some think he is better suited for the bullpen but I still see a back of the rotation starter. I was hoping to see a little better performance in ST though.

5) Maikel Cleto (RP) – The pitcher we received from the M’s for Brendan Ryan. The book on him is power arm but rarely knows where it’s going. That held true in camp as he still has a lot of work to do and might never make it.

Overall, we had plenty of bright spots from our youngsters in camp that shows we have hope for some guys over the next few years to contribute. Will be great to watch some of these kids grow this year from the lower minors to making that big jump to AA.

State of the Cardinals Farm System – Recap/Overview

In the 4 part series we looked at the overall systems pitching, outfielders, infielders and catchers respectively. Now we will recap the system and give a brief write-up of the top prospects of each category. The trend across all categories is we have some exciting raw talent with minimal pro experience. Some of these guys will pan out, some will come out of nowhere to put themselves on the prospect map and some will flop. The thing about prospects is there is no such thing as a “sure thing”. Some of the most coveted prospects in baseball have never panned out (recent years look at Alex Gordon, Cameron Maybin and Brandon Wood to name a few). But the excitement for the next wave of young talent is undeniable and the best you can do is put together your best assessment based on in person scouting, video clips, other analyst write-up and anything else you can get your hands on to review the talent of a specific player. I love prospect hunting and hope the articles can get others excited as well!

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.

Overall:

Star Power – 2.5
Birds Depth – 3 Birds
Overall – 3 Birds

The Cards overall Farm System has a mix of just about everything but definitely has some weaknesses as well. Catchers and power relief RHP is the strength of the system. MI, LHP and advanced OF are the key weaknesses of the system. 2010 was a critical year to restock talent after making a number of trades to deplete our system depth. The Cards Brass did a solid job of providing an influx of talent but we still lack star power. If there is one thing that will be exciting to watch over the next year is how some of these raw talents in our lower minors progress. If many progress well it will give our overall system a boast. Another critical stage of our systems growth will be another aggressive year in the 2011 Draft and IFA process. I don’t see us making any significant trades of MLB talent to get more talent in the system (Pujols WILL NOT be traded under any circumstance IMO). The 2011 Draft is being touted as one of the best and deepest draft class in recent memory. That bodes well for us being able to obtain high end talent to add to our depth. Below is a look into the top talent in each category. Enjoy!
Top Pitching Prospects:
1)Shelby Miller (RHP) – A true ace in the making. He has everything you look for in a pitcher: mound presence, maturity, intimidation, work ethic and most importantly a solid array of pitches. He won’t arrive before late 2012 and most likely 2013 but we should see him finish the year in AA with maybe a taste in AAA to finish the year. As exciting as a Cards pitching prospect since Rick Ankiel
2)Carlos Martinez (Matias) (RHP) – One of the biggest splashes the Cards have taken in the International Market (2010). A RHP with FB and command that is extremely advanced for his age (19). He throws mid-upper 90’s with movement and solid command of both sides of the plate. His secondary pitches are underrated. CB and CH project as plus pitches and his SL will be either avg or above. Still many years away.
3)Eduardo Sanchez (RHP) – To me the closer in waiting. The difference in Sanchez from Perez, Motte, Boggs, etc is his control of dominate stuff. He provides a combination of a mid-upper 90s FB to go with a hard biting CB. Should be a mainstay in the STL bullpen starting early to mid-2011.
4)Lance Lynn (RHP) – A polished workhorse from the 2008 Draft that will have a chance to get a spot start or 2 in the bigs this year. Lynn has a 4 pitch arsenal (FB, CB, SL, CH) with no pitch that will overwhelm you but all are at least avg offering. His control is iffy at times and he will give up more long balls than you want but a solid #3 SP ceiling. Has a chance to have a long career as a middle-back of the rotation asset.
5)Tyrell Jenkins (RHP) – One of the exciting 2010 Draft picks for the Cards. A raw talent that is extremely athletic. Bought him out of a football scholarship as a QB to Baylor. He was a 4+ sport athlete in HS so he never focused on one sport. Now that he has chosen baseball I anticipate the raw tools being refined and he will show what the excitement is all about. A fluid motion with a plus FB with movement. His secondary pitches need work and refinement. A true high risk/high reward prospect…something the system was lacking.
Best of the Rest (in no particular order): Adam Reifer, Deryk Hooker, John Gast, Seth Blair, Trevor Rosenthal, Jordan Swagerty and Joe Kelly

Top Outfield Prospects:

1)Nick Longmire – A product of our 2010 Draft. He can play all 3 OF positions but projects best as a RF in the bigs. He will have above avg or above D skills across the board. He has both gap and HR power and plays the game the way fans and coaches love…max effort all the time. He needs to cut down on his Ks and be a little more selective but that should come with experience. Has a chance to go as high as AA if all goes well in 2011.
2)Adron Chambers – Projects best as a CF with his speed and solid D but is currently blocked by Rasmus. I am higher on his ceiling that most and see him as a solid regular in the bigs with solid leadoff hitter potential. I see him as a .280-.285 hitters with an OBP of .360+ and 30+ steals. Unfortunately with an abundance of OF in the bigs fighting for playing time I see him more as trade bait unless we deal others to make room for him. One way or another he will provide value to the Cards whether it be via trade or production in the bigs.
3)Oscar Taveras – A unique talent with plenty to like as a prospect. His stance and swing are a bit awkward and sometimes gets his rhythm out of whack. His natural ability says he could be a .300+ hitter with power but he has a lot to prove and clean up over the next few years. One of many exciting prospects in our lower minors.
4)Tommy Pham – Very athletic OF that started to put it all together in 2010. He showed a great eye at the plate in 2010 with an OBP of just under .400 between High A and AA. He will never be a power hitter but his speed will allow him to have plenty of doubles, triples and SBs. Could arrive for a cup in Sept of 2012 with a chance to make the club out of ST in 2013. Exciting talent for sure.
Best of the Rest (in no particular order): Tyler Henley, Daryl Jones, Virgil Hill, Reggie Williams Jr and Chris Edmondson

Top Infield Prospects:

1)Zack Cox (3B) – Our 1st Rd pick from the 2010 Draft was the most advanced hitter in the draft but fell to us due to signability issues. Some think he might be a 2B but I just don’t see it. Will be an avg D 3B but will hit for a solid avg and have a high OBP. His power will be modest and he won’t provide speed. Even though there are no sure things from a prospect perspective it would be hard to imagine him not becoming a productive big leaguer. Should arrive for a cup in 2012 and will be fighting for a spot on the roster out of ST in 2013.
2)Matt Carpenter (3B) – Carpenter advanced very quickly after we drafted him in 2009. I guy I was high on in College and thought he was a 5-7 Rd type of guy for the draft…we snagged him in the 13th Rd which is showing to be quite a bargain. He has shown an advanced approach at the plate with a good eye. Don’t see him being an all-star caliber player but will play a solid 3B and have a high OBP with moderate power. With Freese, Cox and Carpenter all in the mix for 3B it will be interesting to see how the Cards handle all 3 of them. I see Cox with the highest upside with Carpenter close behind and Freese as the guy keeping the position warm.
3)Daniel Descalso (2B) – Got a taste late in 2010 and will be battling for a utility spot in 2011. He won’t wow you with any of his skills but will be avg across the board. A lefty hitting 2B he is avg on D and will be a doubles hitter with a .285ish avg. Nothing special but could be a cheap option to replace Skip in 2012.
Best of the Rest (in no particular order): Ryan Jackson (SS), Pete Kozma (SS), Mark Hamilton (1B), Niko Vasquez(3B) and Matt Adams (1B)

Top Catching Prospects:

1)Audry Perez – A solid combination of defense, hitting avg and raw power. All he needs now is experience to develop his overall game. Put on the prospect map by KLaw in 2010 when he put him as the Cards 10th best prospect…no one knew anything about him at the time. After his 2010 campaign anyone paying attn to Cards prospects knows him now. Be patient as he is many years away.
2)Cody Stanley – Another 2010 Draftee that has solid skills across the board. His D is solid and he calls a nice game. He will hit for decent avg and have decent pop. Can definitely see him being a solid regular in the bigs for a long time but never make an all-star game.
3)Bryan Anderson – Everyone that remotely follows the Cards prospect scene has heard of Anderson. He was always young for his level and has played a roller coaster from his projections from year-to-year. What you like about him is he bats lefty handed and has potential to hit for a good avg with pop. The question with him continues to be his defense…will he be good enough to stay their long term? To me he will have to get traded to find out what he can do unfortunately.
Best of the Rest (in no particular order)**NOTE – I view Robert Stock as a Pitching prospect and not a Catcher**: Steven Hill, Charles Cutler and Juan Castillo

State of the Cardinals Farm System – Part 4

In the first 3 parts we looked at the overall systems pitching, outfielders and infielders respectively. In 4th and final part we will focus on the catchers. Overall we have great depth and upside with the catchers in our system. We have a mix of offensive and defensive oriented catches along with a few that will be solid on both sides. Here’s a closer look into this category…

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.

Catchers:
Star Power – 4 Birds
Depth – 4 Birds
Overall – 4 Birds

I am impressed with the overall catcher category for the Cards. I have 3 catchers in my Top 30 (Perez, Stanley and Anderson) with Steven Hill just missing. Perez has the chance to be the real deal on both sides and to me is our catcher of the future. Still a number of years away but definitely exciting. Stanley is the next best prospect and he tends to project as a solid defensive catcher and should hit enough to be a productive starter in the bigs. We all know the story of Bryan Anderson. Unfortunately for him I see him more as trade bait (if he comes out of the gates well this year) since we passed on him for the backup catcher in the bigs this year. He has improved behind the plate but still leans more on the offensive side. Hill is a very intriguing prospect that has a solid mix of average and good power. Problem is I don’t see him sticking at catcher. I also want to point out I haven’t mentioned Robert Stock as I don’t feel there is any way he sticks at catcher. He is a much more attractive prospect as a pitcher. Also as a side note we have a Jesus Montero as a catching prospect…unfortunately he is nothing close to one of the best prospects in baseball in Yanks catching prospect Jesus Montero!

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.
Infielders:
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.

State of the Cardinals Farm System – Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at the overall systems pitching. 2009 and 2010 have done wonders for the pitching prospects. So how about the Outfielders? Well the OF’s are not as attractive as our pitching but there are plenty of exciting and breakout candidate players. Without further ado…

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.

Outfielders:
Star Power – 2.0 Birds
Depth – 3.0 Birds
Overall – 2.5 Birds

We don’t have any obvious OF stars in the making. What we do have is plenty of raw toolsy OF’s with potential to be pretty good or better…but many years away. Late in 2008 the Cards signed a 16 yr old OF from the Dominican by the name of Oscan Taveras. 2 years later he is one of the obvious bright spots among our systems OF. In the 2009 draft we snagged an extremely athletic OF in the 6th round named Virgil Hill. Never hurts when both your parents were Olympians! In 2010 we got a few other interesting OF’s including my favorite OF in the system in Nick Longmire. To go along with Longmire we snagged 2 more extremely athletic and raw OF’s in Reggie Williams Jr and Anthony Bryant along with a late rounder with potential in Chris Edmondson. These newcomers join a cast of OF’s that include Tommy Pham, Adron Chambers and Daryl Jones to give some hope to our overall group. Another comeback player to keep an eye on is Tyler Henley who should be ready around Spring Training after missing half of 2010 due to Tommy John. There are no 4 or 5 Birds ranked OF’s but plenty of 2 or 3 Birds with great potential to sky rocket as they mature as players. Toolsy OF’s are hard to predict so only time will tell who will pan out.