Rookies on the Playoff Teams: St. Louis Cardinals

Shelby Miller - USA TODAY Sports

The NL Central Division champions relied heavily on rookies for their 2013 success, especially on the mound.

St. Louis Cardinals (97-65, First Place, NL Central)

HITTERS

Pete Kozma, SS:
Kozma was terrific down the stretch in 2012 (.333/.383/.569 in 26 games) but he’d never hit like that before, and it looks like it was an aberration. He fell to .217/.275/.273 in 143 games this year for the Cardinals, although his defense kept him in the lineup. A first round pick in 2007 from high school in Oklahoma, Kozma is 25 years old and will have to show more offense to hold a long-term starting job, although his glove should keep him around as a utility man at least.

Matt Adams, 1B:
Age 25, Adams was a 23rd round pick in 2009 from Slippery Rock University. He has some of the best pure power in the major leagues and hit .284/.335/.503 with 17 homers in just 296 at-bats this year. He strikes out a lot and struggles against lefties, but he can crush right-handed pitching. He is a better defender than his 6-3, 260 pound build may imply.

Kolten Wong, 2B:
A first round pick in 2011 from the University of Hawaii, 22 year old Wong hit .303/.369/.466 with 20 steals in 21 attempts for Triple-A Memphis. He struggled in the majors, hitting .153/.194/.169 in 59 at-bats, but more opportunities will come. He is a line drive hitter with a sound approach, good baserunning skills, and solid defensive ability at second base.

Brock Peterson, OF-1B:
A 29 year old power-hitting minor league journeyman, Peterson was originally drafted by the Twins in the 48th round in 2002. He had a strong year for Memphis, hitting .296/.364/.531 with 25 homers, and the Cardinals rewarded him with a late cup-of-coffee. Used as a bat off the bench, he went just 2-for-26 in 23 games, with 11 strikeouts. He doesn’t have a real long-term future in St. Louis and is a classic Quadruple-A type power hitter, but he earned a shot.

Adron Chambers, OF:
Drafted in the 38th round in 2007 from Pensacola Junior College, Chambers hit .252/.338/.387 with 16 steals in 101 games this year for Memphis, but went just 4-for-26 (.154) in 25 major league games. Age 26, he runs well and has a solid glove, but is unlikely to hit enough to be a major league regular. His future is as a fifth outfielder.

Ryan Jackson, INF:
A fifth round pick in 2009 from the University of Miami, Jackson hit .278/.352/.346 with nine steals this year for Memphis, but went 0-for-7 in the majors. He’s a steady defender and can handle shortstop, third, and second, but is unlikely to hit his way into a regular job, profiling as a utility guy under most circumstances.

Jermaine Curtis, 3B:
Drafted in the fifth round in 2008 out of UCLA, Curtis is 26 years old and hit .257/.355/.349 with 52 walks and 10 steals in 115 games for Memphis. He saw action in five games for the Cardinals in August, going 0-for-3 with a walk. Versatile defensively, he has good plate discipline but lacks the power to be a regular at third base.

PITCHERS

Shelby Miller, RHP:
Age 22, Miller was everything the Cardinals could have possibly hoped as a rookie starter, going 15-9, 3.06 ERA in 31 starts with a 169/57 K/BB in 173 innings, allowing 152 hits. A first round pick from a Texas high school in 2009, he has ideal size at 6-3, 215, has an impressive low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball, changeup and occasional cutters. His command is solid as young power pitchers go, and has everything necessary to be a long-term rotation anchor.

Trevor Rosenthal, RHP:
Drafted in the 21st round in 2009 from Cowley County Community College, Rosenthal was outstanding in the Cardinals bullpen this year, posting a 2.63 ERA with a spectacular 108 strikeouts in just 75 innings, walking only 20. Age 23, he touches 100 MPH and has taken huge steps forward with his command over the last two years. He should be a lights-out closer once he gets an opportunity.

Michael Wacha, RHP
: Drafted in the first round out of Texas A&M in 2012, Wacha reached the major leagues ahead of schedule and performed brilliantly, posting a 2.78 ERA with a 65/19 K/BB in 65 innings. He has an outstanding change-up to match with a low-90s fastball, and developed a more effective breaking ball this year after struggling with that at times in college. Age 22, Wacha throws strikes and makes a terrific matched-set with Miller in the rotation going forward.

Seth Maness, RHP:
An 11th round pick in 2011 out of East Carolina University, the 24 year old Maness had an effective and efficient season in the Cardinals bullpen, posting a 2.32 ERA with a 35/13 K/BB ratio in 62 innings, with an incredible 4.40 GO/AO ratio. Maness doesn’t throws as hard as Miller, Rosenthal, or even Wacha, but he has exquisite command of his sinker and changeup. He started in the minors and could get a shot as a fifth starter eventually.

Tyler Lyons, LHP:
Age 25, Lyons was drafted out of Oklahoma State University in the ninth round in 2010. He had a fine season at Memphis (3.32 ERA in 100 innings) and had moments of success in the majors, making eight starts and four relief appearances, posting a 4.75 ERA with a 43/16 K/BB in 53 innings. He uses a 90 MPH sinker, a changeup, a slider, and a curveball to keep hitters off balance.

Kevin Siegrist, LHP:
A 41st round pick out of Palm Beach Community College in 2008, Siegrist came out of nowhere to post a miniscule 0.45 ERA in 40 major league innings, with a 50/18 K/BB and only 17 hits allowed. He has a mid-90s fastball, a curveball, and a changeup. The 24 year old is death for left-handed hitters, holding them to a .118 average this season, but right-handers didn’t fare much better at .139. He started in the low minors but has been much more dominant since moving to the bullpen.

Carlos Martinez, RHP:
Age 22, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. Split the season between Double-A/Triple-A (2.49 ERA, 72/28 K/BB in 80 innings over 16 starts) and the big leagues, posting a 5.08 ERA with a 24/9 K/BB in 28 innings with the Cardinals, mostly as a reliever. He has all the stuff in the world including an upper-90s fastball, a curve, and a changeup, and at his point he just needs innings/experience and a firm role. He is fully capable of replicating Miller’s results if given a chance.

Keith Butler, RHP:
Drafted in the 24th round in 2009 from Wabash Community College, Butler posted a 2.63 ERA with a 49/11 K/BB in 41 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, then a 4.05 ERA with a 16/11 K/BB in 20 big league innings. A middle relief type, he features a low 90s fastball, a changeup, and a curve. Age 24, he fits in the back of a bullpen.

John Gast, LHP: Age 24, Gast was a sixth round pick out of Florida State University in 2010. He pitched 12 innings over three starts with the Cardinals this year, winning two games, but missed most of the season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. When healthy, he works with an 88-91 MPH fastball, a change, and a curve, projecting as a back-end starter.

Sam Freeman, LHP:
Drafted from the University of Kansas in the 32nd round in 2010, Freeman posted a 2.97 ERA with a 66/27 K/BB in 70 innings for Memphis, along with a 2.19 ERA and an 8/5 K/BB in 12 big league innings. Age 26, he can get his fastball up to 96 MPH and an adequate breaking ball and changeup. He profiles as an anti-lefty specialist.

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