Cardinals Final Report





Best Player: Eager to see exactly what they had in the slugger from Division II Slippery Rock, the Cardinals pushed first baseman Matt Adams ahead a level, skipping high Class A Palm Beach. He responded with a record year.

Adams, who turned 23 on Aug. 31, shattered Colby Rasmus' franchise record for homers with 32 at Double-A Springfield, and he was one of two hitters in the Cardinals system to drive in more than 100 runs. Adams hit .300/.357/.566 and had a late-season stab at the Texas League triple crown. Adams has legit power from the left side and a high-average hitter's feel for the strike zone.

Best Pitcher: Righthander Shelby Miller asserted his place as the organization's top prospect with a 9-3, 2.70 turn through the Texas League and its hitter-friendly environs. Miller, the 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft, started the year in high Class A, an assignment the Cardinals conceded was conservative. Nine starts later he had 81 strikeouts in 53 innings and a promotion. Overall, Miller struck out 170 and walked 53 in 140 innings, going 11-6, 2.77.

Miller, 20, became more assertive and more comfortable with his breaking balls later in the season, but his power fastball is elite enough to ride into the Triple-A rotation, perhaps as early as when spring training breaks in 2012. A late-season suspension for an alcohol-related violation of team rules doesn't dim his prospect status.

Keep An Eye On: When the initial rosters were announced for the Arizona Fall League, the only player younger than teen outfielder Oscar Taveras invited to the finishing school was Bryce Harper. Taveras, 19, hit .386/.444/.584 in 308 at-bats at low Class A Quad Cities. The plate appearances needed to qualify for the Midwest League batting title were added as hitless at-bats, and he still won the batting crown with a .351 average.

Two stints on the disabled list with a hamstring injury were all that slowed Taveras, a Dominican native who signed for a $145,000 bonus. Although his bat owned the league, Taveras needed to improve on other facets of the game, including defense.

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• On their way to a second consecutive Appalachian League title, Rookie-level Johnson City won 45 regular-season games, the most in the franchise's history since 1976, when the schedule was expanded.

• Among the Cardinals' September promotions was Adron Chambers, an outfielder brought up for his speed. Chambers, a 38th-round pick in 2007, hit .277/.368/.415 at Triple-A.