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St. Louis Cardinals Top 20 2013 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Shelby Miller
Shelby Miller
Dilip Vishwanat

The St. Louis Cardinals farm system continues to churn out talent. Here is a look at what the pre-season list looked like, and how these players have performed. Remember please, this is the PRE-SEASON list. This is not a new list! These are the pre-season grades and rankings.

This list was originally published December 23, 2012 and was revised on January 15, 2013.

1) Oscar Taveras, OF, Grade A: Hampered by leg injuries all season, he's still managed to hit .306/.341/.462 in 46 games for Triple-A Memphis. I've noticed a tendency to start downplaying Taveras' ability in some circles but I don't think there is anything wrong with him that getting healthy won't fix. He is still an excellent prospect. No, I'm not worried about his strike zone judgment.

2) Shelby Miller, RHP, Grade A: 10-6, 2.77 ERA in 19 major league starts, 118/30 K/BB in 111 innings, one of the best pitchers in the National League. Quite a debut and not a fluke in any way. A year ago, people were wondering why he had pitched so poorly in the first half of the season in Triple-A.

3) Carlos Martinez, RHP, Grade A-:
Borderline B+: 2.05 ERA in 53 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 44/17 K/BB, has done the roster shuffle when the big league team needed an arm and has an 11/4 K/BB in 11.2 innings. He just needs to pitch, still a premium talent.

4) Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, Grade B+: Borderline A-: 2.23 ERA with an incredible 71/10 K/BB in 48 major league innings. Like Miller, this is not a fluke in any way.

5) Michael Wacha, RHP, Grade B+:
2.68 ERA with 60/18 K/BB in 74 innings for Memphis, has held his own in three major league starts. Very successful debut season for 2012 first-round pick who got this high ahead of schedule.

6) Kolten Wong, 2B, Grade B:
Hitting .300/.361/.461 for Memphis, 15 steals in 16 attempts, 31 walks with just 50 strikeouts in 347 at-bats, solid defense. He'll be ready for the majors in 2014.

7) Matt Adams, 1B, Grade B:
Hitting .305/.363/.513 in the major leagues in 154 at-bats. He can mash.

8) Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Grade B-: 4.70 ERA with 40/25 K/BB in 59 innings between Low-A and High-A, hampered by injuries and currently on the disabled list with shoulder problems. Projectability and raw talent remain very impressive but health is an increasingly serious concern.

9) Anthony Garcia, OF, Grade B-:
Hitting .246/.309/.446 with 12 homers in 260 at-bats for High-A Palm Beach. Power bat, but over-aggressive approach (17 walks, 76 strikeouts) won't work at higher levels.

10) Carson Kelly, 3B, Grade B-:
Hit .219/.288/.301 in 43 games for Low-A Peoria, then was sent to the New York-Penn League where he is hitting .273/.336/.359 through 34 games. Good glove at third base, but hitting has been disappointing thus far, granted he just turned 19 earlier this month. Still has lots of time.

11) Patrick Wisdom, 3B, Grade B-:
Hitting .230/.307/.422 with 13 homers, 36 walks, 101 strikeouts in 339 at-bats for Peoria. Contact problems are pretty serious from the looks of it, but too soon to conclude that he won't fix it.

12) Stephen Piscotty, OF, Grade B-:
Hitting .287/.342/.473 with 12 homers, 22 walks, 33 strikeouts in 300 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Has played well defensively moving from 3B to RF, and the low strikeout rate with power is a good combination. Out with a hamstring injury. Stock ahead of Wisdom and Kelly at this point.

13) Greg Garcia, 2B-SS, Grade C+:
Hitting .230/.331/.328 in 81 games for Memphis. Stock down, but still has a shot as a utility guy perhaps.

14) Seth Maness, RHP, Grade C+:
2.70 ERA with 19/5 K/BB in 33 innings out of the major league bullpen, succeeding due to his incredible control.

15) John Gast, LHP, Grade C+:
1.16 ERA with 35/13 K/BB in 35 innings in Triple-A; three starts in the majors; bothered by shoulder and lat trouble and will be out the rest of the year.

16) Starlin Rodriguez, 2B, Grade C+: Hitting .265/.325/.394 between High-A and Double-A, currently converting to the outfield. He's shown signs of being a solid prospect at times but he's 23 and getting buried in this system.

17) Ryan Jackson, SS, Grade C+:
Hitting .291/.366/.376 for Memphis, 42 walks, 75 strikeouts in 342 at-bats. I think he would make a fine utility infielder and if I were trading with the Cardinals, I'd be targeting him.

18) Maikel Cleto, RHP, Grade C+:
6.81 ERA with 67/65 K/BB in 70 innings in Triple-A, split between Memphis and Omaha after being claimed on waivers by the Royals in June. No mystery here: great arm, but still struggles to use it.

19) Tyler Lyons, LHP, Grade C+:
3.00 ERA with 75/17 K/BB in 87 innings for Memphis, made six major league starts with 5.51 ERA with 21/11 K/BB in 33 innings. He is a lefty who can throw strikes which should get him more chances, here or elsewhere.

20) Breyvic Valera, INF, Grade C+:
Hitting .299/.354/.367 for Low-A Peoria, 20 years old, has fanned just 22 times in 381 at-bats. He also seems like good trade bait.

OTHER GRADE C+: Tim Cooney, LHP; Victor De Leon, RHP; James Ramsey, OF; Boone Whiting, RHP

OTHERS: Steve Bean, C; Michael Blazek, RHP; Keith Butler, RHP; Adron Chambers, OF; Victor De Leon, RHP; Adam Ehrlich, C; Eric Fornataro, RHP; Sam Freeman, LHP; Silfredo Garcia, RHP; Sam Gaviglio, RHP; Pete Kozma, SS: Jake Lemmerman, INF; Dixon Llorrens, RHP; C.J. McElroy, OF; Mike O'Neill, OF; Jorge Rondon, RHP; Kevin Siegrist, LHP; Lee Stoppelman, LHP; Jordan Swagerty, RHP; Charlie Tilson, OF; Colin Walsh, OF-INF

A first place team, with lots of home-grown talent on the major league roster and a thriving farm system backing it up. It doesn't get much cooler than that from a player development or prospecting point of view.

Most prospects have met or exceeded expectations, with Miller and Rosenthal in particular turning out better than the Cardinals could have possibly hoped a year ago. Martinez, Wacha, and Wong are all ready for full shots in 2014, and Oscar is excellent if he can stay away from the doctors.

Some of the mid-range guys have had problems but others have emerged. Outfielders James Ramsey and insane on-base machine Mike O'Neill in Double-A bear close watching next year. Pitchers Keith Butler, Tim Cooney, Boone Whiting, Lee Stoppelman, Kevin Siegrist, Michael Blazek. . .

The Cardinals will shoot for ceiling early in the draft but they also have a habit of discovering college guys in later rounds who exceed expectations, with Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter the two best examples. They have impact toolsy-type talent in the organization, as well as more polished guys who can be good role players and who sometimes turn into something more.The system works and I don't see any reason to think that will change.