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St. Louis Cardinals Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 16: Lance Lynn #31 of the St Louis Cardinals pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the game at Miller Park on July 16, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 16: Lance Lynn #31 of the St Louis Cardinals pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the game at Miller Park on July 16, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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St. Louis Cardinals Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Moving forward with our mid-season reviews of our pre-season Top 20 prospect lists, we switch back to the National League with an examination of the St. Louis Cardinals. Remember, this is the pre-season list. It is not a new list.

This list was originally published October 19th, 2011.

The next three teams on the list for review are the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, and Detroit Tigers.

1) Shelby Miller, RHP, Grade A: 5.40 ERA with 97/46 K/BB in 88 innings in Triple-A, 95 hits allowed, including 17 homers. Has gone backwards in all phases of the game, but he's still just 21, and hasn't allowed a run in his last two starts. Stock has declined, but still a very good prospect.

2) Carlos Martinez, RHP, Grade B+: 2.71 ERA in 14 starts between High-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield, 57/17 K/BB in 66 innings, 56 hits. Adapting well to Texas League, stock continues to rise.

3) Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Grade B+: 5.12 ERA with 54/28 K/BB in 58 innings, 57 hits for Low-A Quad Cities. Has had issues with health and command, but upside remains very high.

4) Kolten Wong, 2B, Grade B+. Hitting .295/.367/.416 with 15 steals, 36 walks, 46 strikeouts in 346 at-bats for Double-A Springfield. "Todd Walker with a better glove" comp still looks right to me.

5) Oscar Taveras, OF, Grade B+: Hitting .325/.378/.578 with 18 homers, 29 walks, 47 strikeouts in 351 at-bats in Double-A. His weakest month is July, he's hitting "just" .323/.375/.477 this month. I believe in him.

6) Lance Lynn, RHP, Grade B: 11-4, 3.27 ERA with 115/35 K/BB in 110 innings in the majors, 97 hits. One of the best rookies in baseball this year, and it isn't a fluke.

7) Zack Cox, 3B, Grade B: Hitting .254/.294/.421 with 12 walks, 63 strikeouts in 299 at-bats for Triple-A Memphis. The "negative intuitive vibe" I had turned out to be better than the optimistic scouting reports, but he is too young to give up on.

8) Eduardo Sanchez, RHP, Grade B: 5.49 ERA with 17/15 K/BB in 20 innings for Memphis, 6.60 ERA with 13/13 K/BB in 15 innings in the majors. Being undone by command problems.

9) Jordan Swagerty, RHP, Grade B: Tommy John surgery.

10) Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, Grade B: 2.78 ERA with 83/37 K/BB in 94 innings, 67 hits in Double-A, just moved up to the major league bullpen. Can't complain here, took the step forward I was hoping to see.

11) Matt Adams, 1B, Grade B: .361/.390/.686 in Triple-A, .244/.286/.384 in 86 major league at-bats. He has nothing left to prove in the minors and I think he will figure things out if he gets more playing time.

12) Matt Carpenter, 3B, Grade B-: .286/.357/.476 with 15 walks, 34 strikeouts in 147 at-bats in the majors. Another in the recent Cardinals line of solid-to-excellent hitters who play better in the majors than their tools say they should and who exceed the expectations of traditional scouts.

13) John Gast, LHP, Grade B-: 1.93 ERA with 41/13 K/BB in 51 innings in Double-A, 4.52 ERA (but an 8-2 record) in 70 innings in Triple-A with a 53/22 K/BB, but 84 hits allowed. Lefties with decent stuff and decent control get plenty of chances, and that's what Gast is.

14) Maikel Cleto, RHP, Grade C+: 4.81 ERA with 44/10 K/BB in 34 innings in Triple-A, 29 hits. Posted a 15/2 K/BB in nine major league innings but gave up 13 hits and seven runs. Throws hard and major league teams will keep giving him chances as long as that is true.

15) Ryan Jackson, SS, Grade C+: .274/.340/.408 with 37 walks, 59 strikeouts in 358 at-bats for Memphis. Strong glove, and I think the bat can improve. Utility player at least.

16) Charlie Tilson, OF, Grade C+: Toolsy outfielder out with shoulder injury.

17) Joe Kelly, RHP, Grade C+: 2.86 ERA with 45/21 K/BB in 72 innings, 75 hits in Triple-A, 2.75 ERA with 25/14 K/BB in 39 innings in the majors, 41 hits. Components don't support the major league ERA (4.34 FIP), but I think he can be a useful inning-gobbler.

18) Brandon Dickson, RHP, Grade C+: 3.87 ERA with 52/22 K/BB in 93 innings for Memphis, 106 hits. Non-traditional prospect at age 26, not overpowering but keeps the ball down and throws strikes, which is a profile that can result in surprising success, at least in the short run, if you have a good team behind you.

19) Cody Stanley, C, Grade C+. Has played just 14 games in High-A due to drug suspension.

20) Tommy Pham, OF, Grade C+ : Limited to 12 April games in Double-A by a shoulder injury.

I love the way the Cardinals have built their farm system. There are some disappointments here, but the guys who have reached the majors have produced, and I think that will continue. They have shown the ability to identify players that other teams discount for some reason or another, and the system features both players with tools and players with refined skills.

Among guys who didn't make the pre-season list, control artist Seth Maness and his 81/7 K/BB ratio and 1.96 GO/AO is a pitcher to track closely. 2B Tyler Rahmatulla hasn't hit in High-A yet, but he tore up Low-A and has some sleeper markers. OF Anthony Garcia's power bat is intriguing, and LHP Kyle Hald is another strike-thrower to track.

The draft went well: Michael Wacha, James Ramsey, Stephen Piscotty, and Patrick Wisdom could all zip through the system, and the Cardinals should have considerable credibility now with their choices of college players given their track record. I love Carson Kelly's upside. Kurt Heyer's superior feel for pitching fits well into the Cardinals philosophy.