Lets keep making our way through the National League as we look at the Central division; including 2013 Division champs, and owners of the best record in the NL, the St. Louis Cardinals. Since these rankings are not those of Minor League Ball, but my own personal rankings, I'll be keeping this series in the FanPosts.
SS Javier Baez sent 37 baseballs sailing over the fences in 2013 with 20 stolen bases and 75 extra base hits.
Notes: 3B Christian Villanueva seems like the odd man out in the 3B carousel in Chicago. He made a great case to stay in the fray this year hitting 41 doubles, 19 home runs and a .261 average as a 22 year old in AA. He was tied for 3rd in the entire minor league in doubles. RHP Erick Leal dominated Arizona League hitters this year as an 18 year old. The 6'3 Colombian only walked 8 batters in 48.2 innings with 52 strike outs and a 2.77 ERA and 2.28 FIP. An impressive part of his campaign is his success while working with a .343 BABIP.
Graduations - CF Brett Jackson, 3B Josh Vitters
RHP Robert Stephenson posted a 2.99 ERA while limiting batters to a .216 average and striking out 3.89 batters to every walk.
Notes: LF Jesse Winker put together one of the best hitting seasons by a teenager in A ball in the non-Buxton division. He hit .281 with an .841 OPS, 63 walks to 75 K, 16 home runs, 18 doubles and 76 RBI. RHP Ben Lively had one of the best debut's by a 2013 draftee. In 13 starts and 41 innings, he posted a 0.88 ERA, .155 batting average against and 12.29 K/9. He also struck out 4.31 batters for every walk.
Graduations - LHP Tony Cingrani, RHP JJ Hoover
RHP Jimmy Nelson struck out 9.63 batters per 9 innings while amassing a 3.25 ERA in 27 starts between AA Huntsville and AAA Nashville.
Notes: RF Michael Reed was a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy season on the Brewer's farm. He didn't show any power but he did hit 37 extra base hits with 26 stolen bases and a .286 average. He worked 71 walks which bumped his on base percentage to .385. LHP Hobbs Johnson only threw 21 innings after being drafted in the 14th round but he made them count. Between the Pioneer and Midwest Leagues, the 22 year old southpaw allowed 20 hits but struck out 32 batters for a 13.71 K/9 and only walked 4 batters. He had a 0.86 ERA and 0.87 FIP despite a .392 BABIP.
Graduations - RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Tyler Thornburg, 2B Scooter Gennett, OF Logan Schafer, OF Khris Davis, OF Caleb Gindl, RHP Jim Henderson
CF Gregory Polanco hit .285 this year with 38 stolen bases and 30 doubles while advancing to a cup of coffee in AAA at the age of 21.
|19||Michael De La Cruz||CF||17||DSL|
Notes: RHP Jason Creasy was drafted in the 8th round in 2011 and took a huge step forward this year in Low A West Virginia. He threw 108.1 innings while striking out 8 batters per 9 innings and 4 batters for every walk. He finished the year with a 2.74 ERA and 3.15 FIP between 13 starts and 19 relief appearances. LHP Wei-Chung Wang signed for $350K out of Taiwain in 2011 but had to have Tommy John soon after. 2013 was his first pro season and he spent it in the GCL as a 21 year old. The 6'1 160 lb port sider posted a sterling 42 K to 4 BB with just 37 hits in 47.1 innings.
Graduations - RHP Gerrit Cole, LHP Justin Wilson, RHP Bryan Morris, RHP Vic Black
(EDIT- Harold Ramirez added at 10. Wei-Chung Wang dropped to HM. Buddy Borden removed.)
St. Louis Cardinals
CF Oscar Taveras was limited to just 174 AB due to injury but still hit .310 with 18 extra base hits and 32 RBI's.
Notes: RHP Zach Petrick started the year by allowing 4 ER in 66 innings for a 0.55 ERA between Low A Peoria and A+ Palm Beach. He also walked 12 while striking out 78 in the same span. He "struggled" once he reached AA with a 3.99 ERA, 44 K, 15 BB, and 44 H in 47.1 innings spanning 9 starts. Another starter to keep an eye on is RHP Julio Mateo. Mateo was an all-star in the Dominican Prospect League before signing with St. Louis in August of 2012. The 6'3 180 lb right hander posted a 2.50 ERA in 50.1 innings in the DSL despite having 55% of runners he left on base score. He struck out 10 per 9 innings while only walking 2.9 per 9. He also limited batters to a .561 OPS despite a .292 BABIP.
Graduations - RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Trevor Rosenthal, RHP Michael Wacha, 1B Matt Adams, RHP Seth Maness, LHP Tyler Lyons