2012 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.

Derrick Goold: After a brief tech glitch — let's call it keyboard error, ok? — we're up and typing on the annual Cardinals Top 10 chat. Thanks for all the questions already entered. I'll try to get to as many as possible. Off we go.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Just how close was it between Miller and Martinez for the top spot?

Derrick Goold: Not real close. Both have high ceilings and both had strong 2011s, but Miller dominated the level that Martinez experienced his first speed bump. Miller is at least a year ahead of Martinez when it comes to development. Miller is more polished when it comes to command. If you were to do a tale of the tape on both righties, most of the checks would go in Miller's column ... for now.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Doesn't Martinez have faster heat than Miller? How did Miller top him in the "Best FB" category?

Derrick Goold: Martinez does have more velocity than Miller, but as we know a fastball is not made of velocity alone. Miller has good sink and better command of his fastball. Both boast that explosive fastball that comes with easy velocity. Right now Miller's command and the movement on his fastball gives him the "tool" title.

    Frank (Chicago): How many of the top 10 do you think are worthy of being on BA's top 100 list?

Derrick Goold: I wondered the same thing as I put together the list. I think both Miller and Martinez will be in the top 50, and probably much higher. Taveras deserves consideration. So, let's go with at least three. Those decisions are made above my pay grade at BA, but I bet two for sure, likely three and next year I'm betting a certain middle infielder makes the top 100.

    Blake (St. Louis): Between pitchers John Gast and Trevor Rosenthal, who came closer to your top 10? What did you think of both of their seasons?

Derrick Goold: Rosenthal came closer to the top 10. He was one of the "big movers" this past season — coming from outside the top 30 (he received, how do you say?, "consideration" for the 2011 top 30) to the cusp of the top 10. Rosenthal's season and how went about putting up numbers in Quad Cities was impressive. He showed some fatigue late, but rallied to pitch impressively in the postseason. The past two pitchers to do that? Miller and Lynn. Good company. Rosenthal has that frame and arm strength you look for in a starter with staying power. Gast is arguably the top lefty starter prospect in the system, and there are some inside the Cardinals' office who think he belongs in the tier right below Miller-Martinez. Gast's command wasn't the same in 2011 as it was in his first pro season, and that will continue to be his focus as he climbs through the system and really gets a cleat-hold in the conversation for a rotation spot.

    Derek (Dallas, TX): Who would you say is the biggest sleeper in the system?

Derrick Goold: I guess Oscar Taveras no longer qualifies right? He was the easy call a year ago at this time. Cody Stanley deserves more attention as a hitting catcher, and it will be interesting to see his improvement behind the plate come this spring training. Some other "sleepers" OF Anthony Garcia and INF Breyvic Valera.

    Dan (St.Louis): the cards have a load of rhp, but few lhp. Is this an organizational bias on drafting and developing lhp's, or have the right arms just not been available in the draft for them?

Derrick Goold: Oh, they have coveted lefties in recent drafts. A few years ago the Cardinals had a handful of lefties lined up to draft an then watched them go click-click-click off the board before they had a chance to get one of them. The past two drafts the Cardinals have purposefully set out to select lefties (Gast, Hald, Miranda). Rzepczynski was an important part of the Rasmus trade because he's under control for so many years — and there isn't an obvious lefty zooming toward the majors in the role. (Sam Freeman was just added to the 40-man and will get a chance to enhance his stock this spring.) It's been a hole in the depth chart and one they are trying to patch via the draft so they no longer to go into the free agent pool to find lefties.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): How close to the top 10 was OF Charlie Tilson? What's the skinny on him?

Derrick Goold: Closer than any 2011 draft pick not from Hawaii. Tilson received a promotion to Johnson City this past season because there was playing time available there and a logjam of outfielders in GCL. Tilson will get priority playing time at center field because the Cardinals believe his athleticism and skills will keep him in center as he advances. He doesn't project for power, but has a good feel for the strike zone, a swing that could develop into a high-average approach and speed to turn singles into doubles. He and McElroy will be interesting to watch as they jockey position — in the rankings, sure, but mostly on the field — in the coming years.

    Dara (Springfield, MO): Daryl Jones - prospect or suspect?

Derrick Goold: Neither. He's a Cincinnati Red.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): If Pujols sticks around, which OF position is Adams best suited for, and are you confident he can adapt?

Derrick Goold: The safe answer — and the one presented to me when I asked this same question not too long ago — is left field. This spring, if No. 5 is still around, Adams is going to get more reps in the outfield, and that will reveal where he is most comfortable and where his tools best fit. An aside: This perpetual interleague play that is coming to baseball in a couple years could increase the number of games that the Cardinals need a DH. Enter Adams.

    Frank (Chicago): Your impressions of Maikel Cleto's brief callup? What is his future role? Did he make the top 30?

Derrick Goold: His second shot at the majors was much better than his first. Cleto had an impressive season because he zoomed through three levels as a starter and had those brief sips of opportunity as a reliever in the majors. Cleto hasn't got a big arm with some electricity crackling off his fastball. Command hasn't been his forte, though it improved when he refined his delivery and stopping flying open and trying to pitch for mph instead of pitching for results. He did make the top 30. Shhh, don't tell, but he made the top 20.

    Ben (Leland Grove): You brought up the possibility of Carlos Martinez becoming a reliever. How likely is this, in your opinion?

Derrick Goold: I think the phrase was that he has the stuff of a "closer." Martinez becoming a reliever isn't something imminent. He'll continue to progress as a starter until he gives them a reason to think he cannot handle the innings of a starter or he's major-league ready and the opening in the majors is in the bullpen. He's got too high of a ceiling as a starter to push him into relief right now.

    Ryan (AZ): I see you have Ryan Jackson as your starting shortstop in 2015. Is this because you believe in his bat enough to play there every day, or is it because there is no better option?

Derrick Goold: Why can't it be both? Jackson's bat is always going to be the question. But when you talk with people who have scouted him or coaches who have worked with him, Jackson has improved on the things that will make him a viable offensive player if his glove is good enough to stay in the lineup. There's no reason, right now, to think he won't be a contributor at the plate. Jackson has a good feel for the strike zone. He's got an idea of how valuable OBP can be to a guy who projects as a No. 8 type hitter in the NL. He had a strong offensive year in Double-A and reviews of his performance in the AFL have been positive.

    Sal (St.Louis, MO): Why isn't Cody Stanley on this list? .284 avg with 17 HR 107 RBI and 89 R for a catcher in 150 or so games so far should warrant consideration, no?

Derrick Goold: By "on the list" do you mean in the top 10? If so, he didn't crack the top 10 because of the potential and performance of the players already on there. Stanley had a strong year, and he's working his way up the depth chart as a catcher. If by "on the list" you mean in the top 30 ... rest assured. He not only warranted consideration, he merited a place in the top 30. His bat is a plus, and his improvement behind the plate is noted. See above answer about "sleepers" in the system.

    Ryan (Abingdon, MD): Interesting that Tyrell Jenkins was named Best Athlete. You don't see pitchers take that tool very often. How much of that is kudos to Jenkins' athleticism and how much is an indictment on the system lacking athletes?

Derrick Goold: The Cardinals scouts and draft officials went into this past draft season with a mandate from above to add more athleticism to the system. They wanted stronger athletes and preferably stronger athletes at the middle infield positions and center field. Scan through the Cardinals' 2011 draft picks and you'll see examples of this: Wong, Tilson, McElroy, Jeffries, Williams, Peoples and so on. Two pitchers received consideration for that tool — Jenkins and Freeman. Freeman was the fastest player on his affiliate two years ago. Yes, Jenkins getting this "tool" title is a nod to his overall agility and previous success in football and track. But it also does have to do with a system that made a point this season to improve its stockpile of athletes.

    George (Houston, Tx): It seems hard to believe that Kelly, Reifer, Cleto andRosenthal, all guys who can throw it at or near 100, didn't make this list. As a preview to the Prospect Handbook (available for pre-order now!) where do these guys fit in the top 30?

Derrick Goold: Kelly settled in around the 94-95 this season. Reifer missed time with injury. Cleto and Rosenthal were both talked about above. Speed thrills. And a few years ago speed might have been enough to crack the top 10 in the slim pickings of the Cardinals' organization. Heck, I sure it would have been. But the system has rebounded and velocity alone doesn't crack the top 10, especially not when you're talking about three high-velocity pitchers already in there (Miller, Martinez and Lynn) and two who can throw in the 94-95 range (Jenkins and Sanchez). As of now, all of the pitchers you mention are ranked in the top 30. Rosenthal just missed the top 10. Cleto and Kelly are top 20 talents. Reifer is coming off injury and that should be considered as a factor in his ranking.

    Sammy (Tampa, FL): Thoughts on Robert Stock at this point? Should he revert back to pitching?

Derrick Goold: Excellent question. Stock was sent to High-A Palm Beach with the idea that it would be the tiebreaker. If he succeeded there, he could continue as a catcher. If he ran into troubles — the kind of troubles he had in Low-A Quad Cities — then the organization would approach him about pitching. Well, Stock did well in Palm Beach. He didn't electrify the box scores but his .262/.339/.349 line was respectable and the reviews of his play behind the plate and handling of the pitching staff were strong. He'll come to spring as a catcher, and it wouldn't be a surprise if 2012 sets up like that assignment to Palm Beach: the season that decides what role he'll play in the next season.

    Laura (St Louis, MO): Impressions of Adron Chambers?

Derrick Goold: Well, he had a couple at-bats that helped get the Cardinals into the postseason and he did score a spot on the postseason roster. Chambers' speed made that possible, but his approach at the plate earned the longer look. Chambers could emerge this spring as a fourth-outfielder option. A lot will depend on how the Cardinals shape their roster in the coming month or so, but Chambers will have the opportunity to play his way onto the bench. His success in September gives him a head start.

    Dan (St.Louis): Cards spent a lot on Roberto De La Cruz and he is just now beginning to develop his power but has a long way to go. Martinez was a find, Mateo Wagner didn't work out. Do you see them going more with the smaller bonuses and signing more players from Latin America, as they did last year, or still being in the hunt for the bigger names, when it makes sense. thanks.

Derrick Goold: Well, the new CBA changes this equation a little bit. I imagine this question was asked before the news came out. The Cardinals plan to still be active in Latin America because of the success of Martinez, the rise of Taveras, the arrival of Sanchez and so on. The emphasis has usually been on finding talent, but the Cardinals also have been willing to invest money when they fall for one of the talents there, as they did with DLC and Mateo. They aren't pocketbook shy.

    Rachel (Missouri): I think the Cardinals should move to the American League. That way, I can watch Matt Adams be the DH with Albert Pujols hopefully staying here :D

Derrick Goold: You shouldn't have even let this idea out into the universe. Take it back. Take it back now.

    Dawson (Calgary): Do you really think David Freese is good enough to fend off Zach Cox? What kind of stat line could Freese put up, if healthy for a whole year?

Derrick Goold: I do really think that yes. Health has always been the drag on Freese's production. If he bats sixth in the Cardinals' lineup — or even fifth, depending on Pujols' future — Freese will drive in a lot of runs. He may settle in that .265-.275-.280 average range and he may not be a 20-homer guy, but he will consistently drive the ball from line to line for doubles. He was able to adjust this season as pitchers started testing him inside, and he'll have his fits of strikeouts, but overall he's a "damage"-type hitter who will consistently drive in runs.

    Indiana Cardinal (Lowell, Indiana): Who in the system made suprising biggest move forward and who made the most disappointing regression this past season? Thanks for your work on this list and chat.

Derrick Goold: Seth Blair had a difficult and curious season. He has all of the traits and stuff of a prospect pitcher and wasn't able to put it together into production this season. He looked uncomfortable at times and looked frustrated at other times. It seemed like one or two things went awry early and the season snowballed on him. He appeared distracted at times and focus was a concern. If there was one player who needed a reset button to the season it was Blair, and this winter he gets it. He'll start fresh in spring.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): What are you hearing about Matt Adams? I thought he'd be rated higher than 9th. I feel he is very underrated. All he's ever done everywhere he's gone is hit - for average and for power. I think if given a shot as an everyday first baseman - either in St. Louis or elsewhere (depending on Albert of course) - he will put up big numbers. What do you think?

Derrick Goold: Adams could have been higher. I'll admit that I had to double-check Lynn and Sanchez because I initially thought there was no way they were still eligible. Had they not been on the DL in the majors during the season, Adams would have been higher because Lynn and Sanchez wouldn't have been eligible. Adams was once described to me as Freedie Freeman with more power and less of a glove. That's a quality player however you order the caveats. Adams can hit and hit for power. He has a low-maintenance swing — a coach called it "foolproof" — and doesn't succumb to the strikeout in his search for homers. So much of his future with the Cardinals hinges on others, but he has hit his way into being an asset for the club.

    Grant (NYC): What did scouts have to say about RHP Joe Kelly? Top 30 guy to you?

Derrick Goold: Most people I talk to about Joe Kelly remark about how he's altered his career path with his performance as a starter. Kelly didn't start the season with the same velocity he had in the past, but he gained it as the season continued, and he continued to be more advanced and refined as a starter than originally imagined. He did get consideration for the top 10. Kelly will have to improve his command to crack the top 10 and ascend either as a starter or a reliever. Though, I did like how he approached this season, working the command of his fastball, the usage of his breaking ball and establishing his ownership of the inner edge of the plate.

    Indiana Cardinal (Lowell, Indiana): Do the Cards still think highly of Robert Stock? Is there any consensus within the organization as to who would be the catcher of the future if Molina leaves after 2012 or starts to age while with Cards going forward?

Derrick Goold: The Cardinals think highly of Stock, yes, but there are other catchers in line ahead of him for that role as Molina's understudy or replacement. Tony Cruz is at the top after his impressive turn in the majors this season. Bryan Anderson is still around and shouldn't be ignored just because he has been around long enough to have been Colby Rasmus' roommate in their first full season assignment. Cody Stanley was already mentioned and he deserves a spot ahead on the depth chart right now.

    George (Houston, TX): Rightly or wrongly, Tony LaRussa had a reputation for preferring veteran players to younger players regardless of ability. Any word on Matheny's willingness to play younger players?

Derrick Goold: That was something that the Cardinals stressed during interviews with all six of the finalists for the job, and it was something they actively sought out in some of the candidates. Sandberg, McEwing and Maloney all had experience nurturing and shaping and developing prospects at the minor-league level, and the Cardinals believe that the next manager must be able to do some development on the job and must be open to integrating younger players into everyday roles. I thought a recent comment from pitching coach Dave Duncan was telling. He said that Matheny was a good fit for where the organization wants to go in the next several years, not just in the next year.

    Dan (St): The Cards have began a pipeline of talent to the bigs. I have been a Cards fan for...a long time. I remember Jorgue Roque and Leon Lee as big minor league talents. this is the best system I can remember as far as depth of talent. does this validate the Mo/Luhnow approach to drafting, or have they just gotten lucky with some picks? it seems the high choices are tending to pan out more than before. thanks.

Derrick Goold: It seems that way because it's true. The depth has improved. Now the Cardinals are out to see if the impact can improve. They've been able to find and use complementary players from inside the system. The expectation for the Cardinals now should be that their system is advanced enough to produce an impact player, an everyday player, a core player. Allen Craig has that potential. Jason Motte could be that internal answer at closer. The next impact one must come from the pool of Miller, Martinez, Wong, Cox ... and so on. The Cardinals have raised the bar on their minor-league system. Pundits, writers and fans should do the same.

    Noel (Portland, OR): Should Oscar Taveras' inability to take a walk be a concern?

Derrick Goold: Interesting question. I have wondered the same thing and asked around this summer about that. The oversimplified answer is: The kid loves to hit, and he knows he's good at it. Taveras has the ability to get the barrel on the ball and often does go outside of the strike zone to do it. He's not swinging and missing at the pitches. He's just opting to drive them. The belief is that as pitchers gain more control and try to lure him outside of the strike zone to hit their pitches, Taveras will readjust and show more patience. He's not lacking walks because he has an inflated sense of the strike zone or a penchant for wild swings. He just likes to hit.

    James (Toronto, ON): What can we expect from 3B Matt Carpenter and will he get a chance to play everyday with the Cards given the fact he's performed well in AA and AAA these past two years?

Derrick Goold: Carpenter is blocked right now from an everyday spot because the Cardinals have a starter at every spot he'd fit. After a slow start in Memphis, Carpenter validated his status in the organization with a turn as the Redbirds' starting third baseman. For the second consecutive season, Carpenter was one of the system's leaders in OBP and he was able to increase his pop at the plate by swinging from less of a standstill than in the past. Carpenter has fans at the major-league level — even with the new coaching team in place — and it's feasible that he'll get a long look for a bench spot in the majors, and that he'll be asked to show increased versatility this spring with time in the outfield. Carpenter is in a pinch with Freese above him and Cox coming from Double-A. Versatility will be ladder to the majors.

    kevin (bristol): Most exciting player to watch in the system is....

Derrick Goold: ... Oscar Taveras. (You did say player.)

    mike mckay (boston): Zach Cox is not in your 2015 lineup. Are his tools lacking or are people speculating a trade?

Derrick Goold: Blame Kolten Wong. Or, rather, blame the Cardinals for drafting a second baseman like Kolten Wong. Had there not been an obvious second baseman available for that 2015 lineup, then Cox would have been there. Look, as one of the editors tells me each year as I fret and worry and rewrite and reorder and fret some more over the future lineup: it's a glorified depth chart. Freese is there at third because he's there at third now. A lot can happen in the next three seasons that would change that lineup for 2015. The Cardinals, for example, hope that Pujols re-signing is one of those things and that he's playing first base in 2015. There's no guarantee Molina will be under contract with the Cardinals in 2015. And so on. Don't read Cox's absence from that lineup as any indication or indictment of his place in the system. The ranking is a far better read than the lineup.

    Lloyd (Lakewood): Could Zack Cox move to 1B if Pujols leaves?

Derrick Goold: I suppose so. But isn't Allen Craig the more likely future option at that position? Cox figures to move to second base if that's the spot that is open in the near future at the major-league level and his bat is ready for the challenge.

    Mike (Scottsdale,az): Tyler Lyons just an organizational guy?

Derrick Goold: In this system, no lefty is "just" an organizational guy. Lyons received a spot in the Arizona Fall League to show that he's more than that, and I think his performance there will increase the opportunity he gets. He had 28 strikeouts and seven walks in 29 innings out in the desert, and there are indications that what he's done at High-A will translate to the higher, hitter-happy level waiting for him next summer.

    Chris (Fayetteville, NC): Is Tyler Rahmatulla a sleeper candidate? He seemed like he was a big deal at UCLA two years ago, and he was the best player on Johnson City's club.

Derrick Goold: Sure. He moved into the No. 3 spot in the order and held onto it for a championship club. He showed some intriguing double power there, and proved playable at second base. I think he's on the radar. A player like him coming from a program like that has to show he can do the same thing at a full-season club before he really blossoms as a prospect. Right now, he has people's attention.

    Jack (Florissant): Would "poor man's Roberto Clemente" be an unfair comp for Taveras?

Derrick Goold: A "poor man's Roberto Clemente" is still a "poor man's 3,000-hit Hall of Famer." I'm hesitant to apply that label to a young hitter who is already in the majors let alone one who doesn't have a regular-season base hit outside of the Midwest League. Call me gun shy, but I have a hard time hanging such comparisons on young players. I remember a Cardinal draft pick who was described as "Derek Jeter-like" on the day he was drafted. What a way to start a kid's career. He's immediately set up to fail. That draft pick is now an outfielder. I imagine if you told him he'd be the next Andrew Brown, he'd be thrilled.

    Jason Catania (New York): Thanks for the chat. Your gut tells you: Shelby pitches more/less than 50 innings for the Cards in 2012?

Derrick Goold: Less.

    kevin (bristol): What affect will the new CBA have on a team that has gotten a lot of recent 1st rounders to fall due to spending (Cox, Wallace, miller) and some big name international signings (taveras, martinez, etc). Not to mention that jenkins was a supplimental pick...Do you think the cards can continue to exploit the market to add talent to their farm system?

Derrick Goold: This is a great question and one that is difficult to answer as the ink dries on the new CBA. The Cardinals have worked within a budget and only recently have been willing to push the "slot" envelope to acquire talent through the draft. They will have to alter their approach, but knowing the Cardinals they'll lean on their ability to scout and, via analytics, identify amateur players' potential better as their best way to exploit the market. That approach won't be handcuffed by the new CBA. If anything, it will be more essential in the new draft paradigm.

    bobby (stl): What are Cards Plans with former 1st RD pick Adam Ottavino? I just saw he was added to 40 man roster after he was taken off.

Derrick Goold: I think the phrase some of my peers use is ... "developing." At the end of the regular season there seemed to be mutual interest in finding Ottavino another organization. The Cardinals weren't going to just give him away, but they were open to trading the righty if the right deal developed. Ottavino was frustrated by how the organization handled his shoulder injury in 2010, and how the perception he was hurt may have eased his way off the 40-man roster. It's interesting that the Cardinals have put him back on the 40-man. Could they move him to another team? Sure, again, for the right deal. Could they move him ... out of the rotation? There has always been some thought that Ottavino could blossom as a reliever if given that chance. Heck, a few years ago, the major-league pitching staff kept him around in spring training just to see how he handled the role of relief and the pressure of competing for a major-league job. Ottavino has a place on a pitching staff, somewhere and in some role. The Cardinals just get first dibs on deciding if it's with them.

    John (St Louis): What kind of upside do you see in Taveras' bat? Are we talking about a guy who can hit .300 with 20-25 HR in the middle of a lineup?

Derrick Goold: Taveras has done nothing to alter the high expectations for his bat. That kind of power surge might be a little much to expect — but then I'm always conservative when it comes to predicting power — but a high average seems reasonable. Taveras is going to get the opportunity to reach Double-A before he turns 20. The rest of his game needs refinement. He's got to improve as a baserunner and fielder to truly succeed at the Double-A level and advanced beyond it.

    Greg (St. Charles): What are scouts saying about Boone Whiting? Is he another one of these guys with enough command to dominate at lower levels, but not enough stuff to succeed at the higher levels?

Derrick Goold: The Cardinals have had their share of pitchers like that in recent years, and we've seen how Double-A or even High-A exposes them and they plummet from the top 30 and eventually vanish from the system. Scouts I spoke to think Whiting has a better chance to advance and succeed than the pitchers like that who came before him. First, Whiting has more oomph behind his pitches than the other ones. Second, he has a better complement of pitches and doesn't have to over-emphasize one pitch. Third, there are the swings and misses. Whiting really took the rotation when he got a chance. And to the others who asked about whether he made the top 30 ... short answer: yes.

Derrick Goold: Thanks for filling up the inbox here. Sorry that I couldn't get to all of the questions. I hope that I was able to touch on a lot of the topics and address some of the questions that were asked several times. As always, if you have further questions please don't hesitate to write me at dgoold@post-dispatch.com. I'm going to be putting together a mailbag about the top 10, the top 30 and the Cardinals' prospects as a whole for the blog I write at StlToday.com, Bird Land. I'll include your questions there to continue this discussion. You can also find me on Twitter (@dgoold) or almost everyday in the pages of the Post-Dispatch. Thanks again. Happy Thanksgiving.