St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Prospects Chat With Derrick Goold





Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How did Cox look to you (and to scouts) during his time in the AFL?

Derrick Goold: I did not get a chance to see him personal at the Arizona Fall League. I watched him that last weekend of his college career, and I actually got to see him take BP and workout in person at the Super Regional. Scouts/coaches/etc. said he looked like a college hitter who needed to knock the rust off early in the AFL, and that he got better later in the season. The numbers reflect that. A few people I talked with were encouraged by his play in the field there, too.

Derrick Goold: Always good to answer a question before firing off an intro. Wait? No? I'm doing this backward? Anyway, sorry for the brief delay. Had to wrap my head around having admin privileges here at Baseball America. Almost went mad with power. Thanks for popping by. Going to try and get through as many questions as possible, and know that if I don't get to it now you can always reach me at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (dgoold@post-dispatch.com), the blog I write there (Bird Land) or even on Twitter (@dgoold). Onward.

    Billy (Wilmington, NC): Is Cody Stanley the Cardinals best catching prospect? Did he end up in the 11-20 range?

Derrick Goold: He has a lot going for him coming out of the .319/.377/.507 turn this past season, and a strong season in Johnson City. The Appy League rankings had him No. 14. That wasn't enough to vault him ahead of other catchers who have done well at higher levels, though. Bryan Anderson has the incumbent tag as the organization's best catcher, but the major-league staff's reluctance to sign off on his defense has proven a drag on his ascent. Highest ranked catching prospect this year? Why that's Tony Cruz. But Stanley is on the rise.

    Jake (Miami, FL): Did John Gast impress you and scouts? Is he on the long list?

Derrick Goold: He's on the short list. There were some inside the Cardinals' organization who believed that Gast's debut was up there with Miller's, and others argued that Gast, Miller and Martinez are the most impressive pitching prospects within the organization. There was a lot to like about what Gast did to ... how to put this? ... make people forget his college stats. Scouts outside the organization spoke well of him (though not as glowingly as putting him in Miller's peer group, mind you) and in an organization hungry for a lefty pitcher Gast was a top-half prospect for me in the Top 30.

    Kelly (Jefferson City, MO): How far did Pete Kozma's stock drop this year, in your opinion? Still a top 30 guy?

Derrick Goold: Still a Top 30 guy, though entering a defining year for the former first-round pick. Kozma's performance is a riddle, and he seems to be idling at Double-A. I think it's important to rub the Porcello envy and the early overstatements out of our eyes and judge Kozma on his merits alone. Observers believe in his glove, are concerned about his bat. This hasn't changed much from when he was drafted. The error total is alarming, and better focus could be a cure. Kozma will turn 23 early in this season, and there's internal hope that he makes the climb to Triple-A this season and asserts himself as a first-round talent, one with a bat that belongs in a lineup and not a glove that leads to utility.

    Brett (Des Moines): Oscar Taveras had a solid state side debut. Did he come close to cracking the top 10 and what is his ceiling?

Derrick Goold: When I first started putting together the Top 30, Taveras stood out among the newcomers and I did give some thought to ranking him super-aggressively as a Top 10 talent. A cooler head ... OK, OK, a more conservative head ... prevailed. One reason is we've seen some young Cardinals players do similar damage in that league and then slow and even peter out at the next level or higher. Taveras has the ability to defy that trend, and with a solid year he'll zoom up the rankings — and, more importantly, stay there as his career develops. His ceiling, right now, is something to, as they say, "Dream On." Check the box scores for his name this summer, watch the K-rate and let's reconvene in the fall to discuss if his ceiling is the highest for a Cardinals' prospect outfielder in a few years. Some scouts seem to think that's possible.

    George (Houston, Tx): With a 0.974 OPS at AAA Memphis last year, Mark Hamilton seems like a hitter with nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, but like Allen Craig, with no real chance to get a lot of playing time in St. Louis. Is there no trade market for such players, or are the Cardinals keeping them to provide depth in case of injury?

Derrick Goold: I spoke to Hamilton about this exact topic. It's difficult to be a first baseman in the Cardinals organization knowing that position is taken now and (the Cardinals hope) for years to come by this generation's Lou Gehrig. Hamilton recognizes that he's going to have to get better in the outfield to dent the Cardinals roster and be an option off the bench. He's not the first to run into that wall. (See: Stavinoha, Gall.) That leaves him with two paths this spring: Show versatile in the outfield for the Cardinals and, in games, try to hit his way into a trade. Staying healthy (less than 300 ABs in three consecutive seasons) would also up his trade value.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): Just how real a possibility is it for Cox to end up at 2B for the Cardinals? I know you have him projected as the long term 3B. But they seem to be lacking at the middle infield positions. Thanks.

Derrick Goold: They do seem to be lacking there, yes. The way it's been presented to me is this: Cox will stay at third base as long as his play there allows it and as long as the Cardinals don't need his bat elsewhere. Ahead of Cox on the depth chart at third base is David Freese and Matt Carpenter. The Cardinals have high hopes for Freese if he can stay healthy on two reconstructed ankles. If Cox's bat catapults him through the system and the playing time is there for him at second because third is taken, then voila he'll be a second baseman. If he struggles at third as he scales the system, then second is there for him as a fallback. The Cardinals need for a bona fide middle infield prospect — an impact prospect, we're talking, not complementary prospect — will not push Cox to second right now, but it certainly makes an option.

    waltdub (Iowa City): Name 3 players not in the top 30 with the most helium-potential for next year.

Derrick Goold: Helium-potential? You mean like people must be sucking gas if they think much of them? Or, helium-potential as in they'll rise with good years? Never been much of a fan of high-pitched helium humor, so I'll guess the latter and go quickly off the top of my head: — Deryk Hooker, RHP. A real difficult decision this year considering how impressive his stats were. Those had to be reconciled with some of the scouting reports I received from outside the organization and his coming back from a year stained by suspension. I have to think that if he can channel this year's success into consistency at a higher level next year, he'll helium up. — Nick Longmire, OF. Lots of fans for him, and set to climb. — Samuel Freeman, LHP. Injury swept him off the radar. He's been doing his rehab in Florida and should be ready to reassert his place this spring. Freeman is an athletic lefty who will be cast as a specialist, and with the lack of depth at that position 'round these parts he could move fast. Helium style.

    Dom (Minnesota): Hey Derrick, thanks for the chat. After reading about how great Martinez's fastball is, I was surprised that Shelby Miller had the best fastball in the "Best Tools" section. Is this because Miller is more of a known commodity at this point, whereas Martinez is more hearsay? That fastball sounds pretty impressive if the reports are true, and rarely do you hear of a 19 year old with a fastball that is potentially "one of the best in baseball".

Derrick Goold: Bingo. We went back and forth on this. I had Martinez one day, would talk to another source, and then it would be Miller. At the end we had to settle on this: Miller has thrown the fastball with more success and more data in the minors. We can't just base it on raw velocity. We do need to consider effectiveness as well. Martinez's fastball will make it's domestic debut this spring. My bet: He takes the title next year. Miller will have other accolades.

    Brent (STL): Lots of speculation about the animosity between Tony and Colby the past few months. Is Razzy going anywhere in the near future?

Derrick Goold: Maybe to No. 2 in the Cardinals order. But beyond that don't expect Rasmus to be changing his address. Rasmus is too valuable to the Cardinals: cost controlled, top producing CF in the NL last year of CFs with enough ABs at the position to qualify for the batting title, high-ceiling potential, so on and so on. Rasmus has the ability that La Russa will learn to love.

    Sammy (Islip, NY): Danny Descalso - prospect or suspect?

Derrick Goold: Prospect, and one who is highly rated because of the organization he's in, mind you. Descalso helped his stock by showing versatility late last season, and he'll come into spring training with a chance to win a bench job as the backup second baseman and an option to spell others at third base. On the brink of the majors, he does a lot of things well enough to be a prospect until he proves otherwise.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Are the Cards considering moving Stock back to the mound? Your thoughts on his season? Is he still on your top 30?

Derrick Goold: This question is going to dog Stock's development until it actually happens. He is still in the Top 30, though to be candid he is ranked in the Top 30 partially because of his potential as a pitcher. The Cardinals haven't offered any indications of an imminent move. Though it should be noted that there are people in the organization who would have moved him to the mound already.

    waltdub (Iowa City): A name starting to float around Cardinals prospect circles is Trevor Rosenthal, a 21st round pick in 2009. Have heard his fastball hits 98mph with good location. Did he make the top 30? What can you tell us about this sleeper?

Derrick Goold: An excellent sleeper to bring up. Thanks, waltdub. Rosenthal does it did operate in the mid-90s and a shift back to relief served him well. Rosenthal has less than 60 innings in pro ball, none higher than Appy League. I think the term "sleeper" fits best for him right now. If I were to, say, just go through the system and rank the Top 30 arms, he'd be up there. Probably way up there. I'm eager to see what he does with it at a higher level and in a late-inning role.

    George (Houston, Tx): Derrick, Thanks for the chat and your great work for BA and the Post Dispatch. The Cardinals seem to get a bit shortchanged in the various rankings of minor leagues, which consistently have them ranked in the bottom 10-20%. According to a recent "Ask BA", the Cardinals' minor league system was the second youngest yet produced the highest winning percentage in all of baseball, despite fielding 7 US-based teams (most organizations have only 6). I know that winning isn't everything when it comes to evaluating minor league systems, but shouldn't there be some correlation between the two? Is it just that the Cardinals excel in attracting and developing good managers?

Derrick Goold: The Cardinals have put an emphasis on aggressive promotion (that leads to young rosters) and winning throughout the system (they believe it lets prospects know of the pressure to contend at the major-league level). I think what helps the Cardinals perform well as teams in the minors sometimes works against them getting highly ranked as an organization. The Cardinals have a lot of complementary players who will appear in the majors and a handful who will stick in the majors. They have, in recent years, lacked that high-ceiling impact prospect ... that top-tier, top-100, high-watt, big-hype prospect, and when they have had one (Rasmus), they've had one. There was a time when the Cardinals would kvetch about the system rankings and point to a minor-league org that has developed, as an example, Yadier Molina in the past decade. The overall rankings do value sizzle, and while the Cardinals' winning percentage in the minors should be applauded, also note that officials will tell you the purpose of the minor leagues is to produce players who will impact the major-league winning percentage. The Cardinals have done that (trading players for Matt Holliday, I think, counts), but are in a situation where they need to do it more ...

    Jason (Dallas): Derrick, Thanks for all your great coverage of the Cards - means a lot to an out of town fan. Can you tell me what the signing of Lance Berkman does to Allen Craig's near-term future? Is he strictly a bench player? AAA-bound? Trade bait? Thanks

Derrick Goold: It means Craig should pack an infielder's glove for spring training. Berkman's signing means Craig will be taking grounders at third. He's positioned to be on the big-league bench as a right-handed complement for Berkman (who hit .171 from the right side vs. LHP) and an option at third (if good there in spring), outfield and first base.

    George (Houston, Tx): Is the fact that the "best Tools" table lists 15 different prospects without a single repeat indicative of good depth in this system, or lack of truly elite talent, or was it just that you tried to include as many prospects as possible to pique our interest and goad us into buying the Prospect Handbook (mine is already ordered by the way)?

Derrick Goold: Great question, and I think one that dovetails with the overall theme of the Cardinals' system and the rankings. It's a bit of both. The Cardinals have good depth of similar-type players, and yes a thin-slice of elite talent. I'm looking here at my notes from the Top 30, and it was tricky once we got past, say, the top 7, 8 or so to distinguish between a group of prospects. I'd almost prefer to rank them in tiers or groups. A Prospect Pyramid would be a better representation of the Cardinals' organization than a straight list, and I think the "best tools" list is a reflection of that. It was not a goal of mine to list a different name for every tool ...

    Steve (St. Louis): There's been a lot of fanfare surrounding Matt Carpenter lately. Do you beleive he'll be able to maintain his high OBP in Memphis or the majors?

Derrick Goold: I'm among the folks who believes the fanfare is deserved. There's no reason to think that OBP won't follow him to Memphis. I spoke with him earlier this offseason, and the Cardinals have worked him to alter his mechanics at the plate. He swings from a standstill, and coaches believe that's part of why his power doesn't match his profile. If he's able to keep his refined approach while adjusting to a better-engineered swing, then he'll get a chance to show how well his OBP translates to MLB. One step ... OK, two steps ... at a time.

    Ryan Jackson (St. Louis): do I have enough offense to become an all star shortstop?

Derrick Goold: In the Texas League? Or, All-Star at the top? Ryan, if you could produce consistently at the plate ... nothing too outrageous, just along the lines of that .292/.342/.392 start you had there in Palm Beach ... then up you go. Your glove has won fans inside and outside the organization, but you'll forgive the Cardinals if they're a little reluctant right now to get giddy about an all-glove, inconsistent-bat shortstop. It's too soon. There are indications that you could hit well enough to keep that glove in the lineup. All-Star? Put it this way: It's much better to be the starter in Memphis then an All-Star Springfield. Dig?

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of last year's 30 top Cardinal prospects which guy has moved up the most spots in the 2011 list? Which prospect has dropped down the most slots?

Derrick Goold: A quick look at the rankings and OF Daryl Jones and C Robert Stock dropped the most. Of the top 30 from 2010, the biggest climb appears to be Joe Kelly, who moved up 11 spots.

    Ben (Leland Grove): With such a clear overabundance of young relievers on the horizon, which of them do you see having the best shot at being a mainstay in St. Louis over the next five years?

Derrick Goold: Sanchez tops that list. Reifer, Kelly and ... well, I wouldn't put it past Ottavino, if he undergoes a shift to the bullpen. A lot of that will hinge on his health and the Cardinals' need. Salas is a nice fit for a certain role, but it's one that we've seen the Cardinals use a lot of different pitchers in during recent years. I'm interested to see what Blake King does with major-league coaches watching this spring.

    Steve (St. Louis): Are there prospects who are expected to stick at 2b/ss that the organization has high hopes for? Could Grabriel Hernandez have a bounceback, or Breyvil or Cesar Valera?

Derrick Goold: Yes, a bounce-back is certainly possible. Valera is a good name to keep in mind. I could have mentioned him earlier as a "sleeper" etc. We just talked about Ryan Jackson, who fits this question. Yunier Castillo. At second, Luis Mateo and Jason Stidham are mentioned highest on the depth chart.

    St. Louis (St. Louis): Tommy Pham really exploded once he was moved up to Springfield. Was this a result of playing in the hitter-friendly Texas League for a small sample size, or was there a change in his approach that will help him sustain that kind of success in the future?

Derrick Goold: I hope not literally! Ick. Pham had a resurgent season and his production did takeoff in Springfield. All of the factors you name could be a part of it. Just as likely is a player who has matured into his ability and was faced with career-threatening competition. Springfield had some interesting developments this season in the outfield, what with Chambers and Pham surging and Jone struggling — and playing time on the time.

    Brett (STL): How far away is Miller's change from being a plus pitch?

Derrick Goold: 60 feet, 6 inches.

    Shawn Nelson (Chippewa Falls,Wi.): Hello Derrick,I was wondering what you think about Daniel Bibona and Joe Kelly. Think they can stick as starters? Thanks.

Derrick Goold: Kelly prolonged his turn as a starter with success this season until those innings began to mount on his arm. He did enough to at least set the Cardinals up to view him as a starter, as of now. His upside as a reliever might be too much to ignore once he's had a starter's innings to refine his pitches. I think Bibona will have a chance to show where he's best suited.

    Greg (New York): Hey Derrick,do you think Cox is an all-star one day or is that too much to ask??? Thanks!!!

Derrick Goold: Too much? Well, it's certainly too soon. Let's see what he does with some at-bats in the minors first. At least, say, 12. I'll say this: I'm intrigued to see what he does — and how much the Cardinals actually expose him to playing time — during his first major-league spring training. He comes into the system with higher expectations as a position player than Rasmus did, and arguably the most in, what?, a decade?

    Lance Lynn (ST LOUIS): Can I please stay???

Derrick Goold: Yes. ... Hold on second, someone is trying to sell me something on the phone. ... Apologies. ... OK, back. Yes, Lance, yes. Most definitely. The Cardinals are going to need you to contribute as Wainwright's salary climbs, Carpenter reaches the end of his contract (option for 2012), Lohse ends his deal and so much of the payroll will be invested in two position players. You can stay. Heck, you'll be fitted for a non offensive-lineman number.

    JAYPERS (IL): What are Daryl Jones' shortcomings?

Derrick Goold: I think it's fair to wonder how much Jones really recovered from his knee injuries of 2009, and how much the lack of his legs and a slow start corroded his 2010. Few players in the system are in bigger need of a rebound season than Jones, who was the highest ranked position player in the system a year ago.

    Jasen (FLL): Do you expect Martinez to stick at SP? Do any of his other pitches grade out at as a plus or plus plus pitch like his fastball?

Derrick Goold: That's the plan. Martinez will get a look for a full-season assignment this spring, but performance alone won't dictate that. The Cardinals will also consider how quickly he acclimates to the States and the best situation for him to learn and develop. That could be in extended spring with a debut at GCL, for example. That could also mean a look at Palm Beach. "It all depends on how polished he is," one exec told me. His curveball has late break, and he's used it as an out pitch. His changeup has natural sink to it, and that something the Cardinals will try to sharpen into a plus-pitch. And, stop if you've heard this before, but he's working on a sinker that he cannot control now but projects as a pitch he could throw in the low-90s.

    Steve (St. Louis): Considering an unproven commodity like Jenkins checked in at #4 it was a little surprising that Oscar Taveras didn't make the list. Could you tell us the biggest knocks on his game, and what you expect from him in 2011?

Derrick Goold: I think is a fair question, and it's one that really deserves discussion beyond the chat. Jenkins comes out of the draft and scores a spot at No. 4 in the rankings. Taveras has actually put in a half season in the system, and does not crack the top 10. Beyond the difficulty of a pitcher-player comparison is the obvious imbalance of information. For me, it comes down to ceiling and the quality of the information/scouting, not just stats. A trusted judge of talent described Jenkins as "a raw pitcher, real raw, but athletic." He has a good aptitude for pitching, and the potential to develop four pitches that he already throws. With Taveras there seemed to be a lot of applause for his present and more questions about where it takes him. Quad Cities will help reveal that. A while back — what an hour ago? scroll up, you'll find it — I mentioned Gast being mentioned alongside Miller and Martinez. I should add that Jenkins had his fans too when it came to folks outlining where the Cardinals rotation could be headed in the distant future. While not as polished as Miller was coming out of high school, some evaluators saw Jenkins as eventually in that group.

    Toby (Boston): With Dave Duncan having more influence in the minor league system on the pitching side, does that mean that it will somewhat mirror that of Boston's system, where each level is taught the same methods in order to ease their movement through the system, rather than each stop teaching in their own way that may clash with one another? Thanks!

Derrick Goold: There will be more of a consistent message carried throughout the system with Dave Duncan having increased influence and John Vuch being promoted to farm director. Does that mean every pitcher will have his two-seam grip inspected each morning before taking the field? No. But it does mean that there will be less messages to sift through. The goal will be for pitchers like Lance Lynn, Miller, Kelly, Reifer, Kopp, etc. to start doing things in the minors that will HELP THEM in the majors — not just GET THEM to the majors. Duncan will have a larger say in exactly what that means to him. Boston is an interesting example. I look back to what a few coaches will tell you the Cardinals had several years ago, with (new Cubs pitching coach) Mark Riggins and Dyar Miller as the dominant voices for pitching in the minors.

    Michael (Milwaukee): Where would Austin Wilson have wound up on this list if he had signed? I'm guessing at least #2 or #3.

Derrick Goold: Now there's a press-box conversation starter. I'm going to steal this question and ask it later, if you don't mind. My first thought is probably No. 4. But then, as we've established, I'm pretty conservative. The hype would be high. Heck, Tony La Russa might lobby for a higher ranking.

    jstrange (ofallon, mo): It seems as if the Cardinals have a pretty stout collection of guys with big fastballs. Some, albeit may end up as relievers but based on the reports of the top 10 pitchers all have or at least have potetial for mid-90's heat. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this becoming a more prevelant philosophy? Get as many hard throwers as you can and if a few pan out, great... Also, did Cleto get any love in the top 30? Any chance of getting any kind of preview to his scouting report? Much obliged sir

Derrick Goold: Yes, power arms have been on the Cardinals' shopping list, and they have experimented with buying in bulk. This is a trend that I've tried to map over at the blog I write at StlToday.com, starting with maybe about five years ago when the Cardinals had one, if that, pitcher with a fastball that averaged in that plus velocity. For awhile there, the Cardinals did not have a prospect who threw 95+, and that was about the time that the Cardinals also did not have (if I remember correctly) a minor-league starter throw more innings than hits allowed. Since, there has been a dedicated effort to acquiring more power arms, and you're starting to see that philosophy increase the velocity at every level. Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte and Blake Hawksworth all had power elements for last year's big-league bullpen. Ottavino, Reifer, Kelly, Sanchez, Samuel ... all are lurking in the minors with 95+ fastballs. I think you described the approach well. Cleto did not make it.

    waltdub (Iowa City): Where does Oscar taveras rank? What's his scouting report?

Derrick Goold: Taveras, as we've discussed above, was a tricky one to rate. He was a comet this season, streaking onto the radar and impossible to ignore. He's in the lower half of the rankings, and here is some of what you'll read about him in the Handbook: "Taveras was third in the Appy League with a .322 average, fourth with 43 RBIs, fifth in slugging (.526), sixth with a .889 OPS and considered the second-best position prospect in the league. Coaches see a five-tool type, with the OK arm and good range to play center if he gets more consistent with his routes. His speed is about average. Taveras has a lefthanded stroke that preternaturally makes contact with the sweet spot and allows him to drive the ball to all fields."

    Mike (STL): Were the scouting reports written before the Berkman signing? For Allen Craig, it says "They've earmarked him for an expanded role in 2011, and he may begin the season in a right-field platoon with Jon Jay." This has to be a pre-Berkman view, yes?

Derrick Goold: Yes. The scouting reports were all written PB.

    Kyle W. (Columbus, OH): Can David Kopp be a middle rotation big league starter by 2012?

Derrick Goold: I get the sense there are lot of people who would like to see him develop exactly like that. Kopp took a big stride this past season, and he is one of these power-armed righties that we talked about above. He made every start this past season, and that's what sets him up for consideration as a middle- or late-rotation guy. If not, he's got the stuff to emerge as a reliever, too.

    Harris Levine (Bakery, NY): Adron Chambers - what's his future look like? He played fairly well this year overall, 40 BB/ 68 SO between two levels with a 379 OBP. What type of talent do you think he can turn into at the MLB level?

Derrick Goold: Chambers soared into the prospect rankings this season, leapfrogging several outfielders drafted ahead of him (granted, there were a lot; he was 1,153rd overall) and many who were considered higher prospects than him. He's got the fourth-outfielder label now, and the Cardinals outfield is a crowded place at the majors and for years to come. Given a crack at Memphis this year, Chambers could cement that fourth-outfielder potential, and we've seen others take advantage of that role to turn themselves into something more.

    Steve (St. Louis): From limited info and interviews I've gathered that Nick Longmire is one of those guys coaches will want to see succeed. He seems to have a great head on his shoulders and a passion for the game that'll be ignored by sabremeticians, but not coaches. How much of an impact can that kind of intangible have on a player's development, and does this organization value it any more or less than another? After all, the ML team has been flooded with frustratingly great character players.

Derrick Goold: Steve is asking questions quicker than I can answer them. Unless there are a lot of Steves from St. Louis logged on today. I don't get the sense that Longmire will be "ignored" by sabremetricians. Though granted there is not way to reliably measure LUV+ (that is, Passion vs. League Average) or GORP (Grit Over Replacement Player). All I've heard are positives about Longmire, his coachability and his upside. He had a strong debut, one that popped him into the top prospect lists for NY-Penn League. Intangibles have a strong impact. Let's take Joe Mather as an example. As he stalled at High-A, Mather was almost released a few times — it once came down to him and another player — but Mather endured, he won coaches over with his intensity, his athleticism and, yes, his GORP. He found a gear eventually and got to the majors. There are a lot of examples of players hanging around beyond the time their stats say goodbye and getting the kind of instruction, opportunity and such to eventually find a toehold and excel. You're right, though, Steve. Character can't hit. But I have to believe that lacking it can keep a player from getting a chance to hit.

    Jasen (FLL): Do the Cards plan on using Sanchez as the closer down the road or more of a setup man? Who has the better chance at closing Motte or Sanchez?

Derrick Goold: Setup man. Fireman something like that. Motte has the better chance to close, and that's only partially because he'll have the sooner chance to close.

    Jasen (FLL): What's the word on Bryan Anderson? Any chances he will contribute in the majors?

Derrick Goold: The word is improving. Anderson has an important fan in Mike Matheny. He still has to win over the major-league pitchers. This spring, Anderson will be cast in the No. 3 role and that will give him innings, BP and exposure to the major-league pitchers that he hasn't had before. (Matt Pagnozzi got this experience last spring.) He's got gain fans on the mound to get the call to the majors.

    waltdub (Iowa City): How far from the top 10 was Adam Reifer? Many of us consider him to have better stuff than Swagerty, and better results than Joe Kelly. Speaking of Joe Kelly, his numbers were phenomenal until his rough August. What happened to him that month? Injury? Fatigue? I saw him in mid-season and his fastball is outstanding.

Derrick Goold: I'm bullish on Reifer, have been since his debut. Lots to like. The rankings are a collaborative effort, so lots of opinions get mixed into the gumbo you eventually see as the Top 10, the top 20, the Top 30. Swagerty had an edge coming from elsewhere with his college experience, his closer role, and the high opinion several evaluators had of his pitches. Kelly has the current upside of potentially sticking awhile as a starter. (Hence, the innings load that contributed to August.) Reifer to me is a power arm who could have a strong spring and throw his name into the mix for the inevitable midseason cameo at the major-league level.

    Josh (St. Louis): Do we see Adam Reifer in St. Louis this season?

Derrick Goold: See above. Ask me in March.

    Steve (St. Louis): Of the toolsy outfielders, who would you say has a greater chance of putting it all together, Reggie Williams or Virgil Hill?

Derrick Goold: Steve! Long time no talk! I feel like we've grown apart. Williams, right now.

    Mark (Fargo, ND): How close were Francisco Samuel and Adam Reifer to the top 10? Do eithe project as future closers?

Derrick Goold: Samuel has to be more consistent, like he was late in the season. What Samuel lacks that some of the guys with power arms (those less power power arms, if there is such a thing) have is the ability to maintain velocity while also throwing strikes. Samuel dials it down a little to increase his command, and that costs him. Closer? There are other guys ahead of these two for that role.

    Rob (Alaska): Who's your best bet for a front of the rotation starter and how far away are they?

Derrick Goold: OK, a bunch of quick hits to finish off strong here. Let's start with this one. Shelby Miller is. He should finish the year about 4 hours away from the majors, down I-44.

    Petey Pablo (Carrboro NC): Have the Cards soured on Steven Hill behind the plate, or was his removal from the 40 simply a function of Cruz's growth?

Derrick Goold: That's probably a little too strong. Hill has the bat. Cardinals aren't convinced he'll stick behind the plate. He was removed from the 40-man because he was less of a Rule 5 risk than others. Cruz's stock at catcher is up, up.

    Craig (Omaha): Hi Derrick, Do you see Dan Descalso taking over at 2B in 2012 or is he just an organizational player ? Thank you

Derrick Goold: Is it a cop-out to say that 2011 will decide? Then I'm copping out. What happens this year will answer that question. The job is open for someone to seize it.

    Steve (St. Louis): You're right, Derrick, we need to catch up, whadya say? How about...the press box on opening day? I might need some help getting in.

Derrick Goold: Credentials are non-transferable. Sorry, Steve. But at least we'll always have this chat.

    Steve (St. Louis): Quick hit-Who's starting at third in St. Louis in 2012?

Derrick Goold: David Freese.

    jstrange (ofallon, mo): outside of the organization as a whole, were there any draft picks/international signings from this past year that may have flown under the radar who sticks out with at least a plus tool? A "super-sleeper" prospect who may take a few years to even break the prospect lists???

Derrick Goold: Does Hector Corpas count? Then him.

    Andrew (Connecticut): How would you rank the pitching prospects in the system compared to other systems? It seems like with Miller, Martinez, Jenkins, Blair, Reifer, Gast, Kelly, Hooker etc. we have much more high-upside players in the lower parts of the system. I know we don't have many high-impact pitchers in AA or above, but it seems like the potential upside of our young pitchers could be in the top 15 or even top 10. Thoughts?

Derrick Goold: Another interesting exercise. If you were to rank organizations purely on pitching prospects, I think it's fair to say that the Cardinals could rate the top half. Not sure about Top 10. There are more pitchers with high upside in the organization right now than when I started doing the rankings for the system. Don't confuse upside with guarantee, but the potential for these arms has certainly gotten better.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): Thanks for the chat Derrick. My question concerns both Jon Jay and Allen Craig - and what their roles will be with the Cardinals in 2011, in your opinion. I like the signing of Berkman for the Cardinal line up, but i don't see his knee holding up in playing the OF. Is Craig the logical guy to step up in your eyes? Is Jay just too lacking in power to be anything more than their 4th OF?

Derrick Goold: Last one. We hit on the Craig situation a little earlier, and yes he is the logical guy to slide into right field if Berkman falters or the Cardinals need a platoon for that position. That's not to dismiss Jay's chances, though. The Cardinals aren't so rigid that they would keep running Craig out there for his untapped power if it's Jay that's producing, getting on base and making things happen. There will be playing time for Jay because of his versatility. And with the way the Cardinals use their roster, dust doesn't gather on the fourth outfield. Thanks to all who joined in this brisk, three-hour chat. I've come to think of it as my final exam at the end of the Prospect Handbook Semester. If I missed or didn't get to your question please don't hesitate to reach me at dgoold@post-dispatch.com, on Twitter, or even on the Facebook page for the blog I write at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Search: Goold's Bird Land. Enjoy the rest of winter. Cardinals pitchers and catchers report in 30 days.