All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don’t get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get out of the top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you are looking for.
1) Colby Rasmus, OF, Grade A-: I’m going to cut him some slack due to youth. Power, speed, walks, defense are all still here. Not going to hit for a great average right away.
2) Brett Wallace, 3B, Grade A-: Monster bat should be ready within a year. Glove at third should be adequate in the short run.
3) Chris Perez, RHP, Grade B+: Outstanding closer-quality stuff, just needs to throw strikes.
4) Daryl Jones, OF, Grade B: I buy into the improvement being real. Has always had the tools and skills improved rapidly this year. This is an aggressive grade but I’m comfortable with it.
5) Jess Todd, RHP, Grade B-: Strike-throwing inning-eater type if used as a starter, could be more dominant in shorter stretches if used in pen.
6) Jon Jay, OF, Grade B-: I like him more than a lot of people, but I think he can play center and put up solid numbers. Another aggressive grade, but both Jay and Jones have impressed me and I think both tend to be underrated..
7) Jason Motte, RHP, Grade C+: Gotta love the strikeouts, but questionable secondary stuff precludes higher grade. Should be fine short reliever.
8) Bryan Anderson, C, Grade C+: This ranking may surprise some, but I’m starting to wonder if we could be looking at a Sean Burroughs situation here, where the line drive bat just kind of stalls at an early age. Am I overreacting?
9) Mitchell Boggs, RHP, Grade C+: Live arm, still trying to put everything together, another guy who could be a decent starter or dominate more in the pen.
10) Jaime Garcia, LHP, Grade C+: Hard to rank due to Tommy John. A grade B+/B if healthy.
11) Pete Kozma, SS, Grade C+: I rather like him and I think he might end up being a better hitter than people think.
12) David Freese, 3B, Grade C+: An older prospect and plate discipline looks spotty, but he has power and a good glove at third.
13) Adam Reifer, RHP, Grade C+: Excellent stuff, dominated the New York-Penn League, need to see at higher levels. Could hit the Top 5 next year if all goes well.
14) Allen Craig, 3B, Grade C+: A personal favorite, could rank as high as 9 or 10 depending on criteria. I think he’ll hit, though glove isn’t the best and he’s got a lot of competition.
15) Lance Lynn, RHP, Grade C+: Polished college pitcher, could rank much higher once we see him against better hitters.
16) Niko Vasquez, SS, Grade C+: Good performance in pro debut, strikeouts and defense are questions. Has higher potential.
17) Clayton Mortensen, RHP, Grade C+: Gets grounders, could be an inning-eater, but strikes me as overrated by some other sources.
18) Francisco Samuel, RHP, Grade C+: Outstanding stuff, command is wobbly.
19) Fernando Salas, RHP, Grade C+: Throws strikes, great K/BB and K/IP marks, but gives up a lot of fly balls.
20) Richard Castillo, RHP, Grade C+: Very young pitcher with high sleeper potential.
21) Deryk Hooker, RHP, Grade C+: Another young sleeper, and a breakthrough candidate for 2009.
22) Roberto De La Cruz, 3B, Grade C+: Young Dominican with power, big bonus, and reportedly has good strike zone judgment.
23) Shane Peterson, OF, Grade C+: High OBP college guy with gap power, but not many homers.
24) P.J. Walters, RHP, Grade C+: Uses a nasty changeup to rack up large numbers of strikeouts.
Others: Nicholas Additon,LHP; Jermaine Curtis, 3B; Anthony Ferrara, LHP; Eric Fornataro, RHP; Scott Gorgen, RHP; Tyler Greene, SS; Luke Gregerson, RHP; Tyler Henley, OF; Tyler Herron, RHP; Steven Hill, 1B-C; David Kopp, RHP; Gerardo Mannbell, SS; Adam Ottavino, RHP; Shane Robinson, OF; Nick Stavinoha, OF.
As usual, don’t sweat so much about where the Grade C+/C types rank exactly on this list. After I get past the top 10 I don’t worry so much about exact placement, since I’m trying to concentrate on the book right now. Some of the Grade C guys could be C+ in the book, and vice versa.
NOTE TO READERS:
I’ve received criticism lately about these lists being “incomplete” and not detailed enough. These aren’t supposed to be in-depth reports, folks, these are preliminary grades from the book and thumbnail blurbs. That is what "full reports are in the book" means. I thought everyone understood that.
SYSTEM IN BRIEF
The Cardinals system is rapidly improving. Rasmus, Wallace, and Perez all have strong impact potential, and the B/B- guys all look like useful role players at least and possibly regulars.
After that you have a gigantic mass of Grade C+ prospects that are difficult to rank. Some of these Grade C+ guys look like role players, but others could end up with much higher grades next year once we get more data. The Cardinals continue to focus on college guys in the draft, but are now popping an occasional high school ceiling player (Kozma, Vasquez, Hooker,
Overall I think Cardinals fans should be optimistic about the way this system is going.
Full reports on these players and over 1,000 others can be found in the 2009 Baseball Prospect Book. Pre-order for January 31st shipping now!