According to many independent publications, the St. Louis Cardinals have the top farm system in baseball. While the Major League team has provided plenty of entertainment over the last decade, many fans love to focus on the future. With that in mind, here are the updates on the Cardinals top prospects based on their game performances over the last 72 hours. In order to qualify for the report a player must still be rookie eligible, with less than 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched on the Major League level. As a result, players like Shelby Miller do not appear below.
The top 11 prospect list remains unchanged. John Gast, formerly #14, was dropped from the list entirely due to news of a season-ending shoulder surgery. Shoulder surgeries tend to have a lower success rate than elbow surgeries, and Gast already had just playable stuff at the MLB level. James Ramsey jumped up to #11 from #15 based on an increased showing of power in AA.
Legend: BA = Baseball America, MLB = Major League Baseball Website, BP = Baseball Prospectus, JS = John Sickels, FR = Future Redbirds (outsider rankings are from the beginning of the season)
#1 – Oscar Taveras, OF (Rated #3 by BA, #3 by MLB, #2 by BP)
Season: 46G, 186 PA, 5 HR, 25 R, 32 RBI, 5 SB, .306 AVG, .341 OBP, .462 SLUG (AAA)
Last 10 Games: No games played due to injury
Trending: Same. Was best prospect entering year and despite injury he remains on top.
Notes: The only thing that has been able to slow down Oscar Taveras assension up the Cardinals’ system has been a high ankle sprain which has robbed him of nearly half of this season. When he has played Taveras has put up excellent numbers for a 21 year-old at the AAA level. If not for the injury, Taveras may have already taken over for Jon Jay. Taveras last game played was July 15. The team has not given any timetable as to when Taveras will be back in game action.
#2 – Carlos Martinez, RHP (Rated #38 by BA, #33 by MLB, #43 by BP)
Season: 3 G, 11.2 IP, 6.94 K/9, 0.77 BB/9, 2.31 ERA (AA); 9G, 46 IP, 8.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.76 ERA (AAA), 10G, 11 IP, 8.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 5.56 ERA (MLB)
Last 10 Games. 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB, 0.00 ERA (MLB); 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA (AAA)
Trending: Up, but he was already in top five of Cardinals prospects before season started.
Notes: Despite have his season delayed by visa issues Martinez has done nothing but impress on the AA and AAA level. In his short stints at the MLB level he has shown off a fastball consistently registered 95+ MPH and a solid changeup and curveball. Martinez also appears ready, and may have the highest ceiling of all Cardinal starting pitching prospects, which is saying a lot.
In the last month Martinez showed the same pattern of struggling a bit in a relief role at the MLB level, then absolutely dominating when starting at the AAA level. One wonders what Martinez would do if he actually got a start at the MLB leve.
#3 – Michael Wacha, RHP (Rated #76 by BA, #83 by MLB, #56 by BP)
Season: 12 G, 68 IP, 6.88 K/9, 2.38 BB/9, 2.78 ERA (AAA), 3 G, 17.2 IP, 7.13 K/9, 2.04 BB/9, 4.58 ERA (MLB)
Last 10 Games: No games played since June 11.
Trending: Down, but still very high clearly. Wacha was ranked as the second best prospect by some after an unbelievable end to last year and an excellent spring training. He has come back down to earth a bit in 2013, but he is still a potential top of the rotation starter.
Notes: Wacha has put up a very good ERA at AAA, but his strikeout rate has gone down from the astronomical 15 K/9 rate he had last year in A/AA. Wacha’s MLB debut was impressive, but then he struggled to throw a good curveball for strikes and MLB hitters figured him out a bit. Once he refines that breaking ball a bit Wacha should be up to the Majors for good.
Wacha has not pitched a game since June 11. Wacha has no known injury. The team is simply worried about Wacha’s innings load and has decided to rest him in hopes of having him available at the MLB level later in the year. It is a sort of reverse Strasburg strategy if you will.
#4 – Kolten Wong, 2B (Rated #84 by BA, #79 by MLB, #90 by BP)
Season: 92 G, 403 PA, 8 HR, 60 R, 34 RBI, 17 SB, .299 AVG, .364 OBP, .464 SLUG (AAA)
Trending: Up, Wong was ranked high to start the season but has improved his stock even more with great numbers at the higher level of the minors.
Last 10 Games: .297 AVG, 37 AB, 7 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 7 BB, 4 SB, .413 OBP, .514 SLUG
Notes: Wong is ready, but he is now waiting for the Cardinals to resolve a logjam that involves Matt Carpenter and David Freese. After struggling a bit to begin the year Wong has turned it on over the last month and shown increasing power as he figures out AAA pitchers. Reports on Wong’s defense are also positive.
Over the last ten games Wong continues to show he has figured out AAA pitching. In addition, Wong’s triple and four stolen bases display an athleticism currently lacking on the MLB team. It is hard to envision a scenario where Wong is not starting for a team early next year, either on this team or another.
#5 – Stephen Piscotty, 3B, OF (Rated #18 Team Prospect by MLB, #14 by JS, #10 by BA, #15 by FR)
Season: 63 G, 264 PA, 9 HR, 30 R, 35 RBI, 4 SB, .348 OBP, .477 SLUG (A+); 17 G, 70 PA, 3 HR, 5 R, 6 RBI, .296 OBP, .406 SLUG (AA)
Last 10 Games: .237 AVG, 38 AB, 3 R, 9 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .286 OBP, .421 SLUG
Trending: Up, Piscotty has emerged as the best hitting prospect early on from the 2012 draft.
Notes: Piscotty was drafted out of Stanford in the first round of the Cardinals 2012 draft. Piscotty was seen as an advanced hitter, but there were questions about the power. Piscotty displayed power in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, and earned a promotion to AA just a year after being drafted. Piscotty now appears to be the team’s best hitting prospect behind Wong and Taveras.
Pisotty has only played in two games since the All-Star break due to an apparent hamstring.
#6 – Tyler Lyons, LHP (Rated #11 Team Prospect by JS, #8 by FR)
Season: 14 G, 87 IP, 7.8 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 3.00 ERA (AAA), 6 G, 32 IP, 5.79 K/9, 3.03 BB/9, 5.51 ERA (MLB)
Trending: Up. Lyons was known by few Cardinals fans in 2012 but has made his presence known in 2013 with a solid MLB debut before struggling in his last few starts and getting demoted.
Last 10 Games: 4 W, O L, 2.89 ERA, 62.1 IP, 46 H, 4 HR, 13 BB, 54 K
Notes: Lyons was not seen as a top prospect by many entering 2013, and he is still not on the level of Martinez and Wacha. Still, Lyons showed nice velocity for a lefthander and his curveball and changeup were plus pitches when on. The problem for Lyons is his walk rate went up in his last few MLB starts and he lost all ability to locate within the strike zone. After lasting only 1.2 innings in a start against the Rangers Lyons was demoted to AAA.
Since his demotion, Lyons has done nothing but impress at the AA level. Lyons now has a string of six quality starts in a row, which earned Lyons an apparent promotion as he reportedly will be called up to face the Pirates in a key series this week.
#7 – Robert Kaminsky, LHP (Not with team at beginning of 2013)
Season: 0 W, 0 L, 0.00 ERA, 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 9 K, 1.25
Last 10 Games: Same.
Trending: Kaminskly has just begun the year so it is too early to make any solid judgments. Having said that, there is at least a hint of the quality of Kaminsky’s stuff based on his 9 K over just 4 IP.
Notes: Kaminsky earns a spot on the top 10 without ever having thrown a professional pitch thanks to reports on his repertoire, which includes a fastball which sits at around 94 MPH and the most developed breaking ball of all high school left-handers. If Kaminsky were three inches taller (he is 5’11”), he may have been a top 10 draft choice. Instead, the Cardinals drafted him in the first round, number 28 overall. Kaminskly does not have the floor of fellow first rounder Marcos Gonzales (see below), but he has a much higher ceiling. Stay tuned. With 50 quality professional innings pitched Kaminsky could shoot up this list.
#8 – Marco Gonzalez, LHP (Not with team at the beginning of 2013)
Season: 0 W, 0 L, 7.20 ERA, 5.0 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 1.60 WHIP (GCL)
Last 10 Games: Same
Trending: Gonzalez has struggled a bit in the Gulf Coast League, but the sample size is far too small to make any judgments at this point. Gonzalez college track record is the real basis for this ranking.
Notes: Gonzales does not have Kaminsky’s stuff, as his fastball reportedly sits in the high 80’s. Still, Gonzales features the best changeup from the 2013 draft, and that pitch impressed Cardinals MLB pitchers like Adam Wainwright when Gonzales threw a brief bullpen session at Busch Stadium. Some scouting reports said Gonzales was the most developed college arm in the draft. Like Wacha, Gonzales could shoot up the system and see the MLB level some time next year. Gonzales does not have a high ceiling, but he is a good bet to be at least a back of rotation starter should he stay healthy.
#9 – Kevin Siegrist, LHP
Season: 13 G, 20 IP, 15.75 K/9, 3.15 BB/9, 2.25 ERA (AA), 5 G, 7.2 IP, 10.57 K/9, 2.08 BB/9, 1.17 ERA (AAA), 16 G, 14 IP, 12.6 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.63 ERA (MLB)
Last 10 Games: 0 W, 0 L, 7.2 IP, 1.17 ERA, 3 H, 4 BB, 10 K
Trending: Skyrocketing up
Notes: Where did this guy come from? The answer is that Siegrist has been with organization since 2008 when he was drafted in the late rounds. After putting up good numbers as a starter in the rookie leagues and single-A Siegrist was converted to a reliever in AA. The results speak for themselves. Siegriest has dominated, even at the MLB level. Yes, he will likely just be a reliever, but he will be a very good one and those players are valuable, particularly when they are left-handed and cheap like Siegrist.
Over the last 10 games Siegrist has struggled a little more with control walking three batters in his last three appearances. Still, Siegrist continues to impress with his raw stuff.
#10 – Carson Kelly, 3B (Rated #9 Team Prospect by MLB, #12 by JS, #9 by BA, #13 by FR)
Season: 36 G, 149 PA, 1 HR, 13 R, 18 RBI, 1 SB, .336 OBP, .358 SLUG (A-); 43 G, 168 PA, 2 HR, 18 R, 13 RBI, .288 OBP, .301 SLUG
Last 10 Games: .385 AVG, 39 AB, 2 R, 15 H, 2 2B, 6 RBI, .436 OBP, .821 SLUG
Trending: Down a bit, but it is still very early in Kelly’s career and he has time to learn. After struggling in A Kelly was demoted to A- where he seems to have found his stroke and/or confidence again as evidence by his stats over the last 10 games.
Notes: Kelly was drafted as the player with perhaps the highest ceiling from a 2012 draft that included Michael Wacha. The team was thrilled to lure Kelly away from a commitment to Oregon with a $1.6 million signing bonus. Kelly was two-way player who featured a fastball in the low 90’s and impressive power as a hitter. Early on Kelly’s power has failed to show up, but he is still just 19 years old which is quite young for the single-A level he is playing at. Kelly is down on the list, but not yet out as he tries to figure out professional pitching. If the hitting never comes around the team can always try to convert him to a pitcher as they have done with other prospects.
#11 – Alexander Reyes – RHP
Season: 6 G, 25 IP, 11.9 K/9, 5.0 BB/9, 3.96 ERA (R)
Last 10 Games: 6 G, 25 IP, 11.9 K/9, 5.0 BB/9, 3.96 ERA (R)
Trending: Way up. Reyes had not thrown a professional pitch before this year but his early numbers and scouting reports have his stock on the rise.
Notes: Reyes could very well be the next “steal” of the Cardinals from the Dominican Republic. The Cardinals signed Reyes for $950,000 in December of 2012. Reyes grew up in the United States, but moved to the Dominican so he could sign at earlier age. The Cardinals took advantage by giving him the equivalent of first round money for a Dominican player. Reyes reportedly features a fastball that sits in the low 90’s and is well developed relative to other Dominican pitchers. His first four professional games have featured a very high strikeout rate, but also an unacceptably high walk rate. Despite the dearth of numbers, his potential gets him on this list.
#12 – James Ramsey (Rated #13 Team Prospect by MLB)
Season: .261 AVG, 18 G, 61 AB, 17 R, 22 H, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .481 BP, .557 SLUG (A+); .250, 69 G, 256 AB, 44 R, 13 HR, 32 RBI, 6 SB, .356 OBP, .456 SLUG (AA)
Last 10 Games: .262 AVG, 42 AB, 6 r, 11 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, .326 OBP, .548 SLUG
Trending: Up. Ramsey earned a quick promotion to AA with his play in high-A ball this year. He struggled in Springfield at the start, but has since hit more consistently and displayed some power that many thought was not there.
Notes: Ramsey was a controversial pick among some Cardinals analysts when he was drafted in the first round in 2012. Many believed Ramsey, who was drafted as a senior out of college, had limited potential and at best projected as a Skip Schumaker type of player. While it is very early, Ramsey has thus far been a success, rising to the AA level and succeeding there just a year after he was drafted. Ramsey best tools is likely his ability to hit and play centerfield, but it is believed his other tools (power, speed, arm) are just average to above-average for his position.
#13 – Patrick Wisdom (Rated #19 Team Prospect by MLB)
Season: 97 G, 396 PA, 13 HR, 49 R, 59 RBI, .230 AVG, .312 OBP, .417 SLUG (A)
Last 10 Games: .211, 38 AB, 4 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 4 RBI, .286 OBP, .263 SLUG
Trending: Down a bit due to offensive and defensive struggles. Over the last ten games Wisdom’s struggles have continued. Wisdom continues to struggle to make contact, and he has not had his usual power to compensate.
Notes: Wisdom was drafted in the supplemental first round of the Cardinals 2012 draft. The scouting reports said Wisdom had an excellent glove and potential plus power, but that he struggled to make consistent contact. Wisdom has had a surprisingly large amount of errors this year, calling into question his defense a bit. The power has been as good as advertised, but the contact rate has been as bad as advertised with a 26 percent strikeout rate. If he is to stay on this list Wisdom will have to show more consistent defense and lower that strikeout rate.
The Next Six
#14 – Seth Maness – RHP
#15 – Tim Cooney – LHP
#16 – Michael Blazek – RHP
#17 – Ryan Jackson – SS/UTIL
#18 – Oscar Mercado – SS
#19 – Thomas Pham – OF
#20 – Seth Blair – SP