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St. Louis Cardinals 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Allen Craig of the St. Louis Cardinals (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Allen Craig of the St. Louis Cardinals (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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St. Louis Cardinals 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

I am reviewing my PRE-SEASON list of Top 20 prospects for 2011 for each organization, continuing today with the St. Louis Cardinals. This list was originally published December 13, 2010. We will look the Seattle Mariners on Friday, the Florida Marlins on Saturday, the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, the New York Mets on Monday, the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, and the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

This is a review of the 2011 Pre-Season Top 20 list. IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.

The 2012 list and new grades won't be ready until the season is over and I start writing the book.

1) Shelby Miller, RHP, Grade A-:  2.89 ERA with 81/20 K/BB in 53 innings for High-A Palm Beach, 2.48 ERA with 69/24 K/BB in 69 innings for Double-A Springfield. 150/44 K/BB overall in 122 innings. Future ace as long as he stays healthy.

2) Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Grade B:  3.73 ERA with 41/8 K/BB in 41 innings for short-season Johnson City so far, 48 hits, 2.74 GO/AO. I like him a lot.

3) Zack Cox, 3B, Grade B-:  Hit .335/.380/.439 in 164 at-bats for Palm Beach, .306/.377/.430 in 258 at-bats for Springfield, 35 walks, 82 strikeouts overall. Home run power marginal for a third baseman but he's hitting for average as expected. Defense needs work.

4) Carlos Martinez (Matias), RHP, Grade B-:  2.33 ERA with 50/14 K/BB in 39 innings for Low-A Quad Cities, 5.23 ERA with 32/19 K/BB in 33 innings for Palm Beach. Excellent stuff, command needs some work but this is expected given his age (19).

5) Seth Blair, RHP, Grade B-:  5.06 ERA with 67/61 K/BB in 75 innings for Quad Cities, 71 hits, 1.55 GO/AO. Picking up grounders but command is much worse than I expected. Disappointing.

6) Matt Carpenter, 3B, Grade B-:  Hitting .306/.429/.464 with 69 walks, 51 strikeouts in 343 at-bats for Triple-A Memphis. Excellent command of the strike zone. Defensive stats are very good despite mediocre scouting reports.

7) Eduardo Sanchez, RHP, Grade B-:  1.88 ERA with 33/16 K/BB in 29 major league innings, 14 hits, five saves. Has missed time with shoulder problems but effective when on the mound.

8) Oscar Taveras, OF, Grade B-:   Hitting .385/.432/.583 with 19 walks, 41 strikeouts in 218 at-bats for Quad Cities. Just 19 years old. I'm a believer, stock way up.

9) Deryk Hooker, RHP, Grade B-:  37 innings in Double-A, 6.14 ERA with 27/14 K/BB, 40 hits allowed. Injured most of the year.

10) Allen Craig, OF, Grade C+  Hit .336/.405/.523 with 13 walks, 23 strikeouts in 107 at-bats for the Cardinals until knee injury. Major league career stats: .290/.351/.466 in 221 at-bats. That's not really a fluke; he's a really good hitter, he just needs health and opportunity.

11) Lance Lynn, RHP, Grade C+:   3.84 ERA, 64/25 K/BB in 75 innings for Memphis, 3.27 ERA with 37/10 K/BB in 33 innings for the Cardinals, 25 hits, 1.59 GO/AO. Looks legit to me.

12) Joe Kelly, RHP, Grade C+:  2.60 ERA with 62/34 K/BB in 73 innings for Palm Beach, 56 hits, 1.96 GO/AO.  5.86 ERA with 36/17 K/BB in 35 innings for Springfield, 41 hits, 2.22 GO/AO. ERA in Double-A is deceptive and he could take a big step forward next year with even small command refinements.

13) Jordan Swagerty, RHP, Grade C+:  1.75 ERA with 80/18 K/BB in 82 innings combined between Quad Cities and Palm Beach, just 60 hits, 1.82 GO/AO. Outstanding component ratios, could move rapidly next year.

14) Adam Reifer, RHP, Grade C+: Has missed almost entire season with knee injury suffered in April Triple-A game.

15) Cody Stanley, C, Grade C+:  .266/.318/.430 with nine homers, 21 walks, 74 strikeouts in 305 at-bats for Quad Cities. Has thrown out 36% of runners. Plate discipline has taken a big hit against full-season pitching, stock down.

16) John Gast, LHP, Grade C+:  3.95 ERA with 59/28 K/BB in 82 innings for Palm Beach, 3.88 ERA with 36/23 K/BB in 51 innings for Springfield, 1.40 GO/AO combined. A decent year, but K/BB is deteriorating at the higher level and I'd be leery of pushing him too fast until that improves.

17) Tommy Pham, OF, Grade C+:  .294/.372/.517 with 18 walks, 40 strikeouts in 143 at-bats for Springfield. Out with a wrist injury, unfortunate since he was building on strong finish to '10 season. In 264 Double-A at-bats over two seasons, is hitting .314/.398/.527 with 36 walks, 68 strikeouts.

18) Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, Grade C+: 3.46 ERA with 114/32 K/BB in 101 innings, 83 hits, 1.57 GO/AO. Very solid performance in all respects, an overlooked prospect who deserves more attention.

19) Nick Longmire, OF, Grade C+:  .240/.296/.346 for Quad Cities, 21 walks, 62 strikeouts in 283 at-bats. Good tools, performance not here yet.

20) Blake King, RHP, Grade C: Got killed with command problems at Memphis (11.08 ERA, 19/20 K/BB in 13 innings). Cardinals gave up. Claimed on waivers by Astros, sent to Double-A, 2.87 ERA with 42/25 K/BB in 31 innings, 20 hits for Corpus Christi. He has the stuff, but held back by his control.

More good than bad here. Miller is outstanding, and if Martinez and Jenkins develop as expected, this system has three possible number one starters. Of course, keep in mind that if you have three great pitching prospects, you're doing well to get one actual pitcher out of the bunch, but the point is that they have them. Taveras looks great, while Cox and Carpenter give a couple of OBP/batting average-oriented corner bats that should be ready soon.