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St. Louis Cardinals Top 20 Prospects for 2010

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St. Louis Cardinals Top 20 Prospects for 2010.

All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd! 

1) Shelby Miller, RHP, Grade B: I love the ceiling, but we need to see how he adapts to pro ball, if he can stay healthy, etc. etc.

2) Jaime Garcia, LHP, Grade B-; I like him and the Tommy John recovery looks like it went well, but I hope they let him build up his stamina rather than pushing him too quickly.

3) Lance Lynn, RHP, Grade B-: Projects as an inning-eater number three starter type. K/BB in the Texas League wasn't great, could use some Triple-A time.

4) Robert Stock, C, Grade B-: I preferred him as a pitcher in college, but letting him hit makes sense: if he makes it, you have a power-hitting catcher with good defense. If he doesn't hit, you just move him back to the mound. Could be one of the best catching prospects in the game by July.

5) Daryl Jones, OF, Grade B-: I keep expecting power to develop but there's no sign of it. Cutting him some slack on '09 numbers due to injuries.

6) Eduardo Sanchez, RHP, Grade B-: Underrated power arm needs more attention, could be a major league closer if command sharpens a bit more.

7) Allen Craig, OF, Grade B-: I really like the bat, just needs to play.

8) David Freese, 3B, Grade C+: Almost a B-, injury was badly timed, turns 27 in April, looks like a .270 hitter with 20 homer power, solid glove.

9) Jon Jay, OF, Grade C+: I just like the guy. Always seems to rip the ball when I see him. I'd love to have him as a fourth outfielder.

10) Joe Kelly, RHP, Grade C+: Nasty power sinking stuff, college results didn't match arm, this could/should change in pro ball but he was erratic in the NY-P, too, so maybe it won't.

11) Dan Descalso, 2B, Grade C+: He was great in the Texas League but went back to being mediocre after promotion.

12) Tyler Henley, OF, Grade C+. Similar to Jay....perhaps a bit more pop but a bit less speed, another guy who could be very good as a fourth outfielder.

13) Blake Hawksworth, RHP, Grade C: Deserves credit fighting back from injury. Can be a nice middle reliever.

14) Tyler Greene, SS, Grade C: Lots of speed, some power, good tools, still held back by spotty plate discipline. Could hit .280 with 20 homers some year, then .180 the next year.

15) Steven Hill, C-1B, Grade C: Remember Todd Greene? The short guy with tons of power who could play outfield, first base, catch a bit, but who couldn't draw walks? This is his clone.

16) Pete Kozma, SS, Grade C: If he'd gone to Wichita State, this would be his junior season. Too young to write off just yet.

17) Francisco Samuel, RHP, Grade C: Blistering stuff, with no idea where it's going.

18) Scott Bittle, RHP, Grade C: He could move through the system very quickly, if his arm doesn't disintegrate like the crew of the USS Exeter after being exposed to the Omega IV biological weapon virus.

19) Mark Hamilton, 1B, Grade C: Remember him? Looked like an injury-plagued bust but rebounded this year, got a place on the 40-man. Don't see how he fits in the lineup other than as trade bait.

20) Tyler Norrick, LHP, Grade C: Another 40-man roster addition, power lefty arm with a high strikeout rate.

OTHERS (All Grade C): Matt Adams, 1B; Nick Additon, LHP; Bryan Anderson, C; Adron Chambers, OF; Kyle Conley, OF; Roberto De La Cruz, 3B; Scott Gorgen, RHP; Trey Hearne, RHP; Virgil Hill, OF; Ben Jukich, LHP; Blake King, RHP; David Kopp, RHP; Casey Mulligan, RHP; Adam Ottavino, RHP; Tommy Pham, OF; Adam Reifer, RHP; Shane Robinson, OF; Fernando Salas, RHP; Scott Schneider, RHP; Niko Vasquez, INF; P.J. Walters, RHP.

Trades and graduations thinned this system out fast compared to last year, however, I actually like it better than these grades imply.

Shelby Miller and Robert Stock could both be B+ or A- prospects a year from now, once we get a full season of data to look at. Garcia and Lynn could both be in the starting rotation in 2011 and both have a reasonable chance to be very good pitchers. Sanchez has closer potential. Jones, Craig, and Freese could all develop into regular players under the right circumstances and at worst could be good role players, while Jay, Descalso, Henley, Greene, and Hill could all be useful if deployed properly. Jon Jay remains a personal favorite for reasons that I find hard to quantify.

There is a large batch of arms who could be very good relievers if they throw strikes (Kelly, Samuel, Norrick, King, Reifer) as well as an assortment of pitchability types.

The system needs more impact talent, but Miller and Stock should help provide that, and there's a huge batch of Grade C depth. There were about 10 other guys I could easily have written up as Grade C prospects with potential.