BaseballHQ's top 15 Cardinals prospects: 2013

BaseballHQ's top 15 Cardinals prospects: 2013

In the first of a four-part series, we highlight the top 15 St. Louis Cardinals prospects from the Minor League Baseball Analyst with the details as to why they're ranked where they are.

The eighth edition of BaseballHQ's "Minor League Baseball Analyst" just became available. As always, the guide integrates sabermetrics and scouting for over 1000 minor leaguers. In-depth scouting reports and stats include batter skills ratings, runner speed, pitch repertoires, Major League equivalents, ultimate potential and much more.

Once again, authors Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney have included their Organizational Ratings for all 30 major league systems, ranking each organization's top 15 prospects, with details why, as well as a scoring of the organization in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent and overall. We'll cover a subset of that in the second article of this series.

The comprehensive information in the Analyst is more in-depth than comparable guides from well-known sources of minor league information and is used by front office personnel, scouts, fantasy players and fans from coast to coast.

It has become almost as eagerly-awaited each hot stove season as Shandler's famous "Baseball Forecaster" has been for over a quarter of a century. If readers order the Minor League Baseball Analyst from HQ directly, online updates will be included in March along with a PDF copy at no additional charge.

Following is a subset of their findings, covering their top 15 Cardinals prospects.

Please respect the rights of the authors and the associated copyrights by not reproducing this information elsewhere. You are receiving this exclusive view through the courtesy and generosity of Gordon, Deloney and BaseballHQ.

Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects - 2013

Rank, player, (position), height/weight, bat/throw, age, year drafted (round), school level (state) or country

1. Oscar Taveras (OF) … 6-2, 180 … L/L … 20 … 2008 FA (D.R.)

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Springfield (TL) 477 .321/.380/.572 8 89 0.8 23/11

Comments: Taveras has quickly developed into one of the top prospects in baseball. He has an aggressive approach at the plate and takes a viscous hack, but makes consistent contact and has good balance. Plus bat speed, excellent hand-eye coordination, and good strike zone judgment enable him to hit for power and average. A year ago, scouts wondered if he would hit for much power, but he responded by smacking 23 round-trippers at Double-A. Solid speed and a strong arm allow him to play all three OF positions. He doesn't have true CF speed or actions, but he can handle the position.

Development Path: Taveras will likely start 2013 at Triple-A Memphis, but he is not going to need much more minor-league seasoning.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Taveras has the power, contact ability, and plate discipline needed to hit for both power and average and could a multi-category fantasy stud.

Upside Rating: 9B

2. Shelby Miller (RHP) … 6-3, 195 … 22 … 2009 (1) HS (TX)

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Memphis (PCL) 136.2 4.74 1.38 3.3 10.5 3.2 0.257
St. Louis (MLB) 13.2 1.32 0.95 2.6 10.5 4.0 0.184

Comments: Miller got off to a slow start Triple-A, but was lights-out in the 2nd half, going 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA after the break and pitched well in the post-season. A mechanical adjustment and improved control fueled the breakout. Miller walked 43 in 77.1 IP in the first half, but gave up just seven free passes after that while striking out 70. Miller attacks hitters with a 92-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph. He also has a plus curveball and a change-up, which flashes plus at times, but needs to be more consistent. He has smooth, repeatable mechanics which gives him the tools to succeed as he moves up.

Development Path: Miller will compete for a spot in the Cardinals starting rotation in 2013, but will likely head back to Triple-A Memphis to get some additional seasoning. The Cardinals could use him in relief as they did in the post-season, but his future is as a starter.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: If Miller can further refine his change-up and breaking ball, he has the size, stuff, and composure to be a top-end starter with high strikeouts, lots of wins, and a low WHIP.

Upside Rating: 9B

3. Carlos Martinez (RHP) … 6-0, 165 … 21 … 2010 FA (D.R.)

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Palm Beach (FSL) 33.0 3.00 1.18 2.7 9.3 3.4 0.232
Springfield (TL) 71.1 2.90 1.18 2.8 7.3 2.6 0.232

Comments: Martinez has excellent stuff and put together a solid season, going 6-5 with a 2.93 ERA, 32 BB/92 K in 104.1 IP overall. He uses a 94-96 mph four seam fastball, a 90-93 mph sinker, a plus curveball, and a decent change-up to dominant hitters, but missed time with shoulder tendinitis and does not have a smooth delivery. Uses a high leg kick to generate plenty of torque and some nice deception, but his backside mechanics are not conventional. Not pretty to watch, but so far the results have worked.\

Development Path: Martinez and the Cardinals continue to work to improve his mechanics without messing with his stuff. He is small and slender and has not yet shown the durability needed to be a rotation mainstay. He will likely start the season at Triple-A Memphis and could be in St. Louis by the end of the season, possibly in a relief role.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Martinez has as much upside as any starter in the Cardinals system, but also has more questions to answer. In either case, Martinez is worth owning as he should get plenty of strikeouts, keep his ERA in check, and get double-digits wins or 20+ saves.

Upside Rating: 9C

4. Trevor Rosenthal (RHP) … 6-2, 190 … 22 … 2009 (21) Cowley County CC

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Springfield (TL) 94.0 2.78 1.11 3.6 8.0 2.2 0.197
Memphis (PCL) 15.0 4.20 1.07 3.0 12.6 4.2 0.204
St. Louis (MLB) 22.2 2.78 0.93 2.8 9.9 3.6 0.173

Comments: Rosenthal doesn't get as much attention as he should. He has a plus 93-98 mph fastball that tops out at 100 mph. He also has a nice power curve and a usable 80-83 mph change-up. He attacks the strike zone and has good movement on all of his offerings. Gets good torque from his lower half to generate plus arm speed and easy velocity. Combines plus stuff with above-average command and looked even better in relief.

Development Path: It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals use Rosenthal and Shelby Miller in 2013. Rosenthal was more dominant than Miller when both worked in post-season relief, but Miller has better command of his three offerings. The upshot could be that Rosenthal becomes a set-up reliever while Miller remains a starter.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Rosenthal has a dynamic arm and will get plenty of strikeouts , but his value will be determined by his role. Right now the club says he's a starter, but he also has the goods to one day take over as the Cardinals closer.

Upside Rating: 9C

5. Kolten Wong (2B) … 5-9, 190 … L/R … 22 … 2011 (1) Hawaii

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Springfield (TL) 523 .287/.348/.405 8 87 0.6 21/9

Comments: Wong has quickly developed into one of the best 2B prospects in baseball. The Cardinals skipped him over High-A and he responded with a solid season for Double-A Springfield. Uses a short, compact left-handed stroke and gets surprising power from his smallish frame. He has a disciplined eye and is a good situational hitter. Wong is a passable defender with a good arm, average speed, good range, and soft hands.

Development Path: Wong will start 2013 at Triple-A Memphis, but should be ready to push Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma for playing time by the middle of 2013.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: At 5-9 Wong isn't going to have a ton of power, but he could hit double-digit home runs, steal some bases, and hit for average.

Upside Rating: 8B

6. Matt Adams (1B) … 6-3, 230 … L/R … 25 … 2009 (23) Slippery Rock State

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Memphis (PCL) 258 .329/.362/.624 5 79 0.3 27/3
St. Louis (MLB) 86 .244/.286/.384 6 74 0.2 2/0

Comments: Adams has big-time power and had a chance to win the starting 1B job when Lance Berkman was sidelined, but an elbow injury closed that window. He has solid bat speed and good plate discipline that gives him the tools to hit for average and power. He had another solid year in the minors, but has yet to carve out a role in the majors. His body is thick and slow and he is a below average defender making 1B the only viable option.

Development Path: If healthy, Adams should compete for a bench role with the Cardinals in 2013. For now, he is stuck behind Allen Craig, but he should see some AB.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Adams is further proof that power-hitting 1B are not particularly difficult to find. If he ever gets a chance to play full-time, Adams could have 25+ HR potential to go along with a nice average.

Upside Rating: 8B

7. Michael Wacha (RHP) … 6-6, 195 … 21 … 2012 (1) Texas A&M

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
GCL Cards (GCL) 5.0 1.80 0.80 0.0 12.6 7.0 0.211
Palm Beach (FSL) 8.0 0.00 0.25 1.1 18.0 16.0 0.040
Springfield (TL) 8.0 1.13 0.75 3.4 19.1 5.7 0.111

Comments: Tall, lanky hurler was fantastic in his pro debut, walking 4 while striking out 40 in 21 IP. He's got a big leg kick and fires from a ¾ arm slot. Gets nice downward tilt on a 90-94 mph fastball that touches 98 mph with some arm-side run. Also has a good but inconsistent 12-to-7 curveball, a slider, and a good change-up. Wacha showed plus command in his debut, but has struggled in that area in the past. Will be fun to watch in 2013.

Development Path: Given how quickly he progressed in '12, it would not be surprising to see Wacha start the year at Double-A or even Triple-A Memphis. Scouts have been all over the map on Wacha in the past and he will need to prove he can repeat his debut.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: If Wacha can maintain improved control and command of his breaking ball, he has the stuff to be a good #2 starter with lots of strikeouts. His ability to limit walks will determine exactly how valuable he will be.

Upside Rating: 9D

8. Tyrell Jenkins (RHP) … 6-4, 180 … 20 … 2010 (1-S) HS (TX)

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Quad Cities (MWL) 82.1 5.14 1.46 3.9 8.7 2.2 0.263

Comments: Jenkins is an athletic hurler who had a solid season despite a rather ugly ERA. Competes well with a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96 mph. He also throws a good 1-7 curveball and a nice change-up. Jenkins is still a bit raw and projectable and battled a shoulder injury in '12 that limited him to 19 starts. Has loose, easy arm action, which leads to easy velocity. Comes at hitters with a low 3/4 delivery gives some deception and good movement on his fastball. Some work to do yet, but the upside is substantial.

Development Path: Despite throwing just 82 innings at Low-A, Jenkins will likely make the jump to High-A in the FSL. If healthy, he could be poised for a nice breakout season.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Jenkins is less polished than Miller, Martinez, Rosenthal, and Wacha and could be a very erratic fantasy starter.

Upside Rating: 8D

9. Patrick Wisdom (3B) … 6-2, 210 … R/R … 21 … 2012 (1-S) St. Mary's

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Batavia (NYPL) 241 .282/.373/.465 11 79 0.5 6/2

Comments: Wisdom works hard to get the most of his tools and looked just fine in his professional debut. Wisdom has a good all-around game—average bat speed, moderate power, and decent plate discipline. He has good athleticism and raw power, but is a below-average runner and is limited to a corner slot.

Development Path: Wisdom will likely take his hard-charging style to the Midwest League in 2013 where he should get a good test.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: if Wisdom can tap into his raw power, he should be able to hit for a decent average, but most likely he ends up being an average fantasy contributor.

Upside Rating: 8D

10. Ryan Jackson (SS) … 6-3, 180 … R/R … 24 … 2009 (5) Miami

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Memphis (PCL) 445 .272/.334/.396 9 85 0.6 2/0
St. Louis (MLB) 17 .118/.167/.118 6 83 0.3 0/0

Comments: Jackson is an athletic SS with good speed and plus defense. Questions about his offensive potential have been answered with two solid seasons at the plate. He makes consistent contact with a nice line-drive stroke. He doesn't have much power, but did hit double-digit home runs again. He has plus range, soft hands, and a strong arm. Played 2B when called up to the majors where he struggled in limited action.

Development Path: Jackson will battle playoff hero Pete Kozma for a spot on the Cardinals bench. Both are slick fielders, but Jackson provides better offensive production and can also play 2B.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Once Rafael Furcal leaves the Cardinals, Jackson should take over as the Cardinals everyday SS and could develop into a nice low-end fantasy option in NL only formats with a bit of power and a .280 hitter.

Upside Rating: 7C

11. James Ramsey (OF) … 6-0, 190 … L/R … 23 … 2012 (1) Florida State

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Palm Beach (FSL) 210 .229/.333/.314 13 76 0.6 1/9

Comments: A college senior in 2012, Ramsey was older than most other 1st round picks and surprisingly struggled in his pro debut. Ramsey is a good athlete, but other than speed, none of his tools are considered plus and there is the possibility that he ends up being a bit of a tweener—not enough speed for a true CF and not enough power for a corner. The Cardinals like him in CF and remain confident that he will hit and show moderate power. He exhibits average pop to the pull side and has a disciplined approach at the plate. He has a simple swing that makes consistent contact.

Development Path: Ramsey will likely head back to the Florida State League to and will need to show he can for average and power.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Despite a slow start, Ramsey has a nice set of skills and should develop into an average CF. Will more likely chip in across the board than dominate any particular category.

Upside Rating: 8D

12. Steve Bean (C) … 6-2, 190 … L/R … 19 … 2012 (1-S) HS (TX)

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Johnson City (APPY) 80 .125/.263/.213 16 66 0.5 1/2
GCL Cardinals (GCL) 50 .320/.424/.400 14 81 0.7 0/0

Comments: Strong, athletic backstop was the 59th overall pick in the '12 draft. Known for his defense, he receives the ball well with surprising agility and a plus throwing arm. Scouts are mixed about whether he will hit and he struggled at Johnson City, but was much better when sent down to the GCL. He isn't going to hit for much power, but he could provide a bit of offense while limiting the running game.

Development Path: Depending on how he looks this spring, Bean could make his full-season debut in the MWL, which is a tough hitting environment.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: If Bean can continue to hit, he has the defensive skills to develop into an above-average regular backstop but without a lot of home run power.

Upside Rating: 8D

13. Colin Walsh (2B) … 6-0, 190 … B/R … 23 … 2010 (13) Stanford

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
GCL Cards (GCL) 8 .125/.125/.125 0 87 0 0/ 0
Quad Cities (MWL) 353 .314/.419/.530 14 85 0.9 16/4

Comments: Walsh is a 22-year-old switch hitter who had a nice breakout season in '12, including a career best 16 home runs. Walsh was a bit old for the MWL and spent time at a variety of positions, including LF, DH, 1B, 3B, and 2B, but saw the majority of action at 2B. Has good bat speed and controls the strike zone well. Has below-average speed and defense, but he can definitely hit.

Development Path: Walsh will move up to High-A in the FSL where he will again play a variety of positions as it is clear that the Cardinals are grooming him to be a utility player.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Walsh's bat is good enough that he could force his way into getting regular playing time as a super-sub, but isn't likely to have much of a fantasy impact.

Upside Rating: 7C

14. Carson Kelly (3B) … 6-2, 200 … R/R … 18 … 2012 (2) HS (OR)

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Johnson City (APPY) 213 .225/.263/.399 4 85 0.3 9/0

Comments: Strong and agile, Kelly is already physically strong and has nice athleticism. Defensively he has good hands a plus arm. He pitched in high school and has a low-90s fastball. Has good raw power and makes consistent contact. Could be more selective in his approach, which would enable him to drive his pitches more effectively. He is an average runner, but should be able to stick at the position.

Development Path: Kelly need to improve his approach at the plate and will likely make his full-season debut at Low-A.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Long-term, he has the raw tools to hit for 20+ home runs, but might struggle to contribute in other areas..

Upside Rating: 8D

15. Jordan Swagerty (RHP) … 6-1, 170 … 23 … 2010 (2) Arizona State
Did not pitch.

Comments: Swagerty missed all of the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery in March. He should return to action by the middle of 2013 and still has a bright future. Prior to the injury he featured an 90-94 mph sinking fastball that ran in on hitters quickly and topped out at 96 mph. His best pitch was a plus 83-85 mph slurve that has big, late-breaking action. He also has a nice change-up. His solid three-pitch mix gives him a chance to start once he reaches the majors, otherwise he can be effective in relief.

Development Path: Swagerty will start the season on the DL as he works his way back from surgery. When he does return to action it will likely be for a rehab assignment in short-season or rookie ball.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Assuming a complete return to form, Swagerty still has the upside of a mid-ration starter or a power reliever.

Upside Rating: 8C

2013 contributors: Seth Blair (RHP), Kevin Siegrist (LHP), Boone Whiting (RHP), Eduardo Sanchez (RHP), Eric Fornataro (RHP), Maikel Cleto (RHP), Mike O'Neill (OF), Adron Chambers (OF), Tyler Lyons (LHP) and Audry Perez (C).

Terms
Ctrl – control rate – walks per nine innings. The best pitchers will have three of less.

Dom – dominance rate – strikeouts allowed per nine innings. The best pitchers will have six or higher.

Cmd – command ratio – strikeouts/walks. Upper echelon of command pitchers will be at 3.0. Lower than 1.0 (more walks than strikeouts) indicates little chance of success.

ct% - contact rate – (AB-K)/AB – Ability to get the ball into play. The best have 90 percent or better while hackers are at 75 percent or less.

Eye – batting eye – BB/K- measures a hitter's strike zone judgment. Over 1.00 correlates to .300 hitters. Less than .50 signals a low batting average.

Player Potential Rating - a player's upside potential on a scale of 1-10

10 – Hall of Fame-type player
9 – Elite player
8 – Solid regular
7 – Average regular
6 – Platoon player
5 – Major League reserve player
4 - Top minor league player
3 - Average minor league player
2 - Minor league reserve player
1 - Minor league roster filler

Probability Rating - a player's realistic chance of achieving his potential on a scale of A-E

A - 90% probability of reaching potential
B - 70% probability of reaching potential
C - 50% probability of reaching potential
D - 30% probability of reaching potential
E - 10% probability of reaching potential




In Part two, we will analyze the Minor League Analyst's organizational ratings for the National League Central Division clubs with scoring of each in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent, depth and overall and compare them to recent past seasons.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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