Blog Entry

Top 15 Prospects: St. Louis Cardinals

Posted on: November 17, 2008 3:46 pm

K:BB = strikeout-to-walk ratio
OPS = on base percentage + slugging percentage
MLL = minor league level last season
- AA
- A+ = high A ball
- A- = low A ball
- A = player played at both high, and low A ball
- a = short season A
- R = rookie league

St. Louis Cardinals Top 15 Prospects

1. Colby Rasmus OF Age: 22 MLL: AAA

Rasmus is the epitome of a five-tool player, as all five tools are plus for him. Rasmus struggled a little in AAA in 2008 hitting .252, with a .351 OBP – which is a high OBP for a .252 average. He also hit 12 homeruns, and stole 15 bases in 350 at bats. In the past Rasmus has struck out a little too much. Rasmus is a great fielder, and will stick at centerfield. Rasmus will still only be 22 next season, and will go back to AAA, with a call-up to the Cardinals soon after the season starts – he could also start the season there if he does really well in spring training. Once he does make it to the Cardinals he will be a great overall player with the potential to be a 20-20 guy every year.

2. Brett Wallace 3B/1B Age: 22 MLL: AA/A-

The 2008 draftee absolutely mashed in his pro debut, being called all the way up to AA before the year was through. Wallace hit .377, with a .427 OBP in 202 at bats in 2008. He also hit 8 homeruns – so, somewhere within a range of 25-30 homeruns had he had around 550 at bats, or a full season. Defensively Wallace has an above-average arm, and good hands, but his range is said to limit him to first. The Cardinals have decided to try to keep him at third – since they have a first basemen for now, and the future – and they sent him to the Arizona Fall League to work on his defense. If he can stick at third, he could be in the big leagues next season, but if he does not it will take a little longer to find a place for him, he is a middle of the order bat either way.

3. Bryan Anderson C Age: 22 MLL: AAA/AA

Anderson had a good year in 2008 hitting .308, with a .377 OBP, and a K:BB of just under 2:1 in 313 at bats. However, he does not have much power. Anderson is pretty good on defense, and has a strong arm. Despite being only 22, Anderson is just about ready to make the move to the big leagues. So, who do you start Yadier, the defensive phenom, or Anderson, the good defender, with good hitting skills?

4. Chris Perez RHRP Age: 23 MLL: AAA

He has yet to pitch 50 innings in the big leagues, and thus still qualifies as a rookie, so I feel obligated to keep him on the top prospect list. So, no one come to me saying he spent too much time with the big league club to be considered a prospect, he qualifies on this list, and that is all that matters. Perez is the future, and soon to be, closer for the Cardinals. He throws his fastball in the mid 90s with sinking action, and also throws a plus slider in the mid-high 80s. Perez, however, has some control problems, and has trouble staying low in the zone at times. In a perfect world I would have Perez work in the seventh, or eighth innings for a little while before moving into the closers spot, but if pitches well in spring training, he will enter the 2009 season as the closer.

5. Jaime Garcia LHSP Age: 22 MLL: AAA

Dah! Garcia has great stuff with a plus sinking fastball he throws in the low 90s, a plus curve – which he throws too often – and a changeup. He also performed well in 2008 pitching 106 innings in AAA with a 3.45 ERA, and striking out 100 batters, before being called up to St. Louis. Then he was shut down for the season, and had Tommy John Surgery. Consequently he will miss all of 2009. Garcia has the potential to be a number two, or three starter in the big leagues, but injuries continue to hurt him, and this most recent one really hurts. Garcia stays in the top five because he is young, and major league ready… once he returns in 2010… hopefully.

6. Lance Lynn RHSP Age: 21 MLL: A-

Maybe I have Lynn a little too high, but I definitely think he is top ten guy right now. His stuff is only average throwing a low 90s fastball with sink, along with an average curve, and average changeup, but Lynn has great command of all three. He did really well in his pro debut pitching close to 27 innings, while striking out 29 batters, and putting up an ERA of only 1.35. If he can duplicate his success over a full season, he could enter the top five, with a chance to be a number three starter fairly soon.

7. Pete Kozma SS Age: 20 MLL: A

Kozma was the Cardinals’ first pick in the 2007 draft. He was touted as having great hitting ability, with some power, and being an average fielder at short. Kozma was ok in his first full season, hitting .258, with a .340 OBP, while hitting only 5 homeruns. Kozma also had a K:BB rate of less than 2:1, and stole 12 bases. These numbers may not shine, but are pretty good for a player drafted out of high school in his first full season. Kozma should become a solid hitter at shortstop, and will play just good enough defense to stay at shortstop. This, to me at least, makes him a very good prospect.

8. Jon Jay OF Age: 23 MLL: AAA/AA

Had an absolutely great season after doing poorly in his first full season, in 2007. Jay made the Texas League (AA) All-Star team in 2008, and finished the year in AAA. In all last season Jay hit .312, with a .382 OBP, and .845 OPS. He only hit 12 homers, but also stole 10 bases, and recorded a K: BB ratio of almost 1:1 (56 strikeouts to 48 walks). Jay will start 2009 in AAA, but could work himself into the mix in St. Louis if Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel, Chris Duncan, or any of their others outfielders either get traded or prove to be one-year-wonders (ok, so two years for Rick Ankiel, but I do not think it is too much of a stretch to think Duncan, or Ludwick will take steps back in 2009.

9. Jess Todd RHSP Age: 22 MLL: AAA/AA/A-

Todd’s best pitch is his average fastball which he throws between 92, and 89 mph. His slider is just average, and changeup below-average. Todd also possesses exceptional command of all three pitches. He had a terrific 2008 finishing the season with a 2.88 ERA over 153 innings across three leagues, he also struck out 136 batters in that time. Todd’s stuff profiles best at the back-end of the rotation, but I think he will excel there very soon.

10. Adam Ottavino RHSP Age: 23 MLL: AA

Big step back in 2008, Ottavino pitched 115 innings in AA with a 5.23 ERA, and 96 strikeouts. Still, Ottovino had a great 2007, and has superb stuff. He throws a 95 mph fastball, as well as a plus slider, curveball, and changeup. However, Ottavino needs to work on his control, but give Ottavino a year, or two, and he could be a second or third starter.

11. Scott Gorgen RHSP Age: 21 MLL: a

Gorgen’s best pitch is a possible plus, plus changeup. Along with the changeup he throws a high 80s, to low 90s fastball, and a curve/slurvish breaking ball. He had a great premiere to pro ball: in 54 innings Gorgen posted a 2.32 ERA with 60 strikeouts. Gorgen has good enough stuff to become a big league starter, but I would like to see him pitch a full season before top tenning him – yes, I just used “top 10” as a verb.

12. Clayton Mortensen RHSP Age: 23 MLL: AAA/AA

Mortensen fell well short of expectations in 2008, pitching a total of 139 innings with a 4.96 ERA. He also only struck out 105 batters. Mortensen has decent stuff with a fastball he throws in the 92-89 mph range, slider, and changeup. I think Mortensen has a better chance of staying in the rotation – even if it is at the back-end – than Herron, and Boggs, but I will have to see him improve next season to put him into the top 10.

13. David Freese 3B Age: 25 MLL: AAA

Before the 2008 season, Freese had not played higher than an A league. But, he comes to the Cardinals organization, they move him up to AAA, and he knocks the cover off the ball. Last season, Freese hit .306, with a .361 OBP, and .910 OPS. He hit 26 homeruns, while striking out 111 times, acquiring a K:BB ratio of almost three-to-one. I am not going to jump all over Freese just because of one solid season, but if he can repeat his success next year – possibly spring training - Freese will find himself on the big league roster, most likely as a glorified bench player.

14. Tyler Herron RHSP Age: 22 MLL: AA/A-

Herron throws his fastball between 89-93 mph, and also throws a possible plus curveball, and changeup. Herron had a bit of a disappointing season in 2008, pitching 138 innings with a 4.17 ERA, striking out 102 batters, and allowing opposing batters to hit a .277 batting average against him. Herron seems like a future fourth starter to me, but he has a couple of years before he makes it up to St. Louis.

15. Mitchell Boggs RHSP Age: 24 MLL: AAA

Boggs’ stuff features a low 90s fastball, curveball, and a slider/cutter. Boggs spent 2008 in AAA, pitching 125 innings, striking out 81 and posting an ERA of 3.45. If needed – or if he impresses in spring training – the Cardinals could use Boggs as a fifth starter but, I think he is most likely to become a stable part of the Cardinals bullpen, starting in 2009.

Strengths: How about everything. Ok, a bit of an exaggeration, but they have a number of impact position players waiting to bust into the big leagues in the next 18 months. They also have a number of potential starting pitchers, and a great closer. Their greatest strength is their hitters with Rasmus, Wallace, and Anderson all just about ready for the big leagues, and Kozma should be a an above-average shortstop.

Weaknesses: Garcia’s injury, and Ottavino’s decline leaves them without a potential front-of-the-rotation pitcher, but they have a lot of back-enders to make up for it.

Next Up: the NL Central wrap up, followed closely by the NL West, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks


Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: December 4, 2008 3:08 pm

Top 15 Prospects: St. Louis Cardinals

Huh, it comes to my attention that I do not have Daryl Jones on the list.  I am going to have to correct, at some point.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: November 18, 2008 2:08 pm

Top 15 Prospects: St. Louis Cardinals

Todd - Maybe I undervalue him a little bit, but I do have high hopes for the guy.  He is going to be a big league starter, but I think the position player ahead of him have more upside - although I could cede John Jay, and move Todd up to 8. 

Ottavino - If you saw him this year, then you have a different opinion of Adam than I.  In 2007 Ottavino looked like an ace, but he definitely regressed in 2008.  He still has great pure stuff, and if he refines his command he can be a good middle of the rotation starter.  I like the upside.  You may be right, and Ottavino will continue to perform poorly, or he may bounce back in 2009.

Boggs, Herron, and Mortensen all have big league starter potential, yes I will take that over a reliever.

You have to remember I am taking a look at each organization from a wide scale.  I create these lists based upon a combination of 2008 performance, past performance, and their overall tools, and potential.  

Since: Jun 2, 2008
Posted on: November 18, 2008 12:38 pm

Top 15 Prospects: St. Louis Cardinals

Good stuff.  All in all, I have to say this is a very strong list.  I'm assuming you do a ton of research for these features, but I have to ask where the bulk of your information comes from.  Just curious, because it reads as if you're stacking the list yourself.

I try to follow the Cardinals minor league system pretty closely, and I actually live in Springfield (their AA city).  I've literally watched several hundred games over the last several years, and I have to say overall, I think your scouting reports are pretty reliable.  I didn have a few thoughts:

Jess Todd - I think you may have underrated him a bit.  The times I've seen this guy, he was GOOD.  His fastball was consistently 91-92 mph and had pretty good movement.  His slider wasn't anything special, but it had enough movement in the other direction to differentiate it from the fastball.  He was also throwing it hard, with a range of 84-87, and that combined with the movement makes me think it may be more of a cutter.  You're right about his command.  He hits his spots consistently, and he works both sides of the plate while running the ball in and away from hitters.  He pitched at three levels this season, and was effective at all of them.

Adam Ottavino - From what I've seen, I actually think you're overrating this guy.  He may have been suffering from off days the two or three times I saw him this season, or maybe he was hurt, but either way he was ineffective.  The fastball looked good, typically around 94-95, but his control was awful and his offspeed pitches simply weren't there.  It's very possible he'll improve (still 23 years old), but the impressions I got weren't very good.  Of course I only saw two or three starts out of what was likely 20+.

Jason Motte - You may not place too much value on a reliever who doesn't project to be a closer, but I would argue he projects to be better than the last few players on the list.  I'm sure you've read about him, but if not, he very well may Perez's "setup man of the future."  In the minors, he threw a four-seam fastball that literally touched he 100's on occasion.  But since he got to St. Louis (end of this season), it looks like he may have switched to a 2-seamer, because his ball appears to have more movement and is closer to the 95-97 range.  His biggest flaw right now is secondary pitches.  However, given that he's a converted catcher (defensive catcher of the year for his high-A team) he's a little behind in the development process.  But at least his background should give him a good idea of what he's doing on the mound.

Just a few thoughts.  All in all, good work.

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