Cardinals top pitching prospect Shelby Miller
In recent years the Cardinals have improved their minor league system. Its been one of John Mozeliak's priorities, and he has pushed for younger players to get a shot with the big club. In recent years, the Cards have brought up some good players, and there is more on the way. Farm director John Vuch and outgoing scouting/player development director Jeff Luhnow(who's now the Astros GM) have also helped turn around the farm system. The Cardinals have always had good player development coaches, and now their farm system is productive again after being barren 5-6 years ago. Noted minor league analyst John Sickels recently described the Redbirds minor leagues system as very strong. Here's a list of some of the Redbirds top prospects.
Tony Cruz is the Redbirds most polished catching prospect, and spent some time in the big leagues last season. He could be the backup catcher next season, and caught 44% of runners trying to steal in the minors. Bryan Anderson was once the top catching prospect, but has spent the last three seasons in Triple A Memphis.
Matt Adams has been a big time hitter in the minors since getting drafted in 2009. The 23 year old left handed hitter hit .300 with 32 homers and 101 RBIs last season in Double A Springfield. Their home ballpark is regarded as a bandbox, but Adams has hit on every level so far. He will start at Triple A, and could make the big club at some point during 2012. Mark Hamilton is also in the minors, but he's already 27 and probably not the impact hitter Adams will be.
Second base has been a weak spot for this organization for awhile. But in 2011, the Cards drafted Hawaiin born Kolten Wong with their first pick. He bats left handed and throw right handed, and hit .335 with Low A Quad Cities and helped lead them to the league title. Wong hits for average, gets on base, plays good defense, has good baserunning ablility, and might hit for power when he gets older. Just turned 21, he should start of in High A or Double A next season.
Shortstop has also been a revolving door lately with the Cardinals. They re-signed Rafeal Furcal, but will soon need to come up with a long term option. Longtime prospect Tyler Greene will finally get a shot to play in the big leagues next year, maybe at second base. 2007 first round pick Pete Kozma has the best infield arm in the system, but is a weak hitter. Ryan Jackson has emerged as the top SS prospect, and was rated as the best defensive infielder in the system. He had his best offensive season last year in Double A, and could start in Triple A next year.
2010 first round pick Zack Cox is the top 3B prospect, and has hit for a high average in the minors. There has been talk of moving him to second or a corner outfield spot. More athletic than Brett Wallace, but has hit for less power in the minors than he did. Matt Carpenter is more major league ready, but he will be 26 next season and World Series MVP David Freese is blocking him from the majors. Carpenter is a candidate to be traded, due to depth at the position.
Oscar Taveras is the highest ranked non pitching prospect in the Cards system. The 19 year old left hander hit .386 in Quad Cities last year. Scouts are unsure how much power he will hit for, but he is rated the best average hitter in the system. He is likely a few years away though. Adron Chambers came up in September, and even made the postseason roster last year. He is fast, and is competing with Rule V pick Erik Komatsu for a backup outfield spot on the Cardinals next year. The Cardinals drafted two fast, athletic, toolsy center fielders out of high school last year. They drafted Charlie Tilson in the second round, and CJ McElroy(son of former reliever Chuck McElroy) in the third round. Hopefully, one of these guys can develop into a Michael Bourn or Kenny Lofton type player 4 or 5 years down the road.
You have to be excited about the Cards pitching prospects. 2009 first rounder Shelby Miller is the most polished of these picks, and has a excellent curveball, changeup, and fastball. He was excellent last season, pitching well in the offensive heavy Texas League. He was briefly suspended for an alcohol related incident, but that kind of stuff is easy to happen to someone in their early 20s. He's one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and is projected as a future ace. Miller could make the big club as early as next year. Carlos Martinez has an even better curveball, and a good fastball as well. His command needs work though, and is probably 2-3 seasons away from the big leagues. He struck out 176 hitters in 143 innings so far, but needs to cut down on walks. Right hander Tyrell Jenkins was a compensation pick in 2010, and is yet another potential ace. However, he pitched in rookie ball last year and will likely start 2012 in Low A. The Cardinals are also high on Trevor Rosenthal, who pitched in Low A. He may not have ace potential like the other 3 pitchers, but could be a solid starter someday.
Technically still a rookie, Lance Lynn could start but was a key reliever down the stretch last year. Brandon Dickson was up for a couple games last year, but his future may be as a reliever. Onetime prospect Adam Ottavino is coming off Tommy John surgery. It looks like the Cards have 3 pitchers with ace potential, and a couple who could be solid starters someday. With Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright already good to great major league pitchers, the Cards should be set for years to come.
Eduardo Sanchez pitched pretty good in the big leagues before he was hurt last year. He has filthy stuff, and should be a key reliever next season. Adam Reifer was the closer for Double A Springfield last year, and was promoted to Triple A late last year. He could be the first reliever called up next season if someone gets hurt. Acquired in the Brendan Ryan trade, Maikel Cleto posseses a high 90s fastball, but is very wild. He will need to work on his command and cut down on walks if he is going to have any success at the big league level. Jordan Swagerty is the highest rated relief prospect after Sanchez, jumped three levels last year. He will likely start in Double A next year.
Matt Adams stats
Kolten Wong stats
Ryan Jackson stats
Zack Cox stats
Oscar Taveras stats
Shelby Miller stats
Carlos Martinez stats
Jordan Swagerty stats