2013 St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports





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.

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When the Cardinals took the field for Game Five of the National League Championship Series with hopes of a second consecutive trip to the World Series, starting pitcher Lance Lynn was one of six players on the lineup card who was drafted and developed by the organization. Eleven of the 15 players who appeared in the game were homegrown, and third baseman David Freese has spent most of his career with St. Louis after arriving as a minor leaguer via trade.

This wasn't a fluke. This is the future.

"For us to have sustained success we have to be able to produce players internally," GM John Mozeliak says. "We knew without that it was going to be hard to be successful because the free-agent market was not a place we wanted to be using resources."

The Cardinals lost Game Five and squandered a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series against the Giants to fall one win shy of defending their NL pennant. But while 2012 ended in disappointment, it also marked a positive move in the first year after the departures of Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa.

Though Lynn won 18 games and was picked as an all-star in his first season as a starter, he'll be welcomed to spring training by three challengers for his spot in the rotation: Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal and Shelby Miller, not one of whom will be older than 24. Also poised to join the major league mix at some point in 2013 is outfielder Oscar Taveras, arguably the game's top hitting prospect, and second baseman Kolten Wong, a first-round pick in 2011.

The emergence of Kelly, Rosenthal and Miller affirmed the organization's optimism about its pitching depth. Taveras and Wong both played for a Double-A Springfield squad that won the Texas League championship and Baseball America's Minor League Team of the Year award. They were kept together to benefit from the postseason run, and it was the third league title in three years for Taveras, the TL MVP.

Mike Matheny, who hadn't managed at any professional level before replacing LaRussa for 2012, was every bit the steward of young talent and established players the front office had imagined. Nine Cardinals made their major league debuts in 2012. Matheny's staff also becomes an extension of development, as John Mabry was promoted from assistant hitting coach to hitting coach when Mark McGwire departed and Blaise Ilsley moved from Triple-A pitching coach to big league bullpen coach.

St. Louis took advantage of an opportunity to fortify their talent base with six of the first 86 picks in the 2012 draft. The Cardinals selected righthander Michael Wacha at No. 18, then followed with five position players: outfielder James Ramsey; third basemen Stephen Piscotty, Patrick Wisdom and Carson Kelly; and catcher Steve Bean. Wacha raced to Double-A in his first pro summer and may not need much more than another full season in the minors.

Upon their entry into pro ball, each of those players received a handbook called "The Cardinal Way." It details rules, cutoff plays and the general ethos of the organization, one reflected by the team's seventh appearance in the NLCS in 13 seasons.

"It was instilled in us at the beginning," homegrown outfielder Jon Jay says, "that it is about winning."

1. Oscar Taveras, of Born: Jun 19, 1992 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180
Signed: Dominican Republic '08 Signed by:Juan Mercado
Oscar TaverasBackground: When Taveras arrived at spring training last year, he was brought into meetings with club officials, including big league manager Mike Matheny. They presented him a challenge. His bat was fit for Double-A Springfield, but to skip High Class A Palm Beach he'd have to show his fielding and baserunning were ready, too. He did that, leapfrogged a level and continued a meteoric ascent. A year after winning the low Class A Midwest League batting title with a .386 average, Taveras was the Texas League MVP. He led the circuit in batting (.321), doubles (37), extra-base hits (67) and total bases (270) while leading his team to a league championship for a third consecutive year. General manager John Mozeliak calls him the organization's top hitting prospect since Albert Pujols. Signed for $145,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, Taveras has batted .321/.381/.525 in four pro seasons.

Scouting Report: Taveras has an innate ability to barrel pitches. Credit superb hand-eye coordination and the natural balance of his swing for the preternatural ease he brings to the plate. He's an aggressive hitter with a quick bat and the confidence he can drive any pitch he can reach within the strike zone—because he so often does. But he's not undisciplined, doesn't strike out and has proven to be an effective bad-ball hitter. Taveras saw a spike in walks as his projected power blossomed in Double-A. He set career highs with 23 homers and 37 doubles, harbingers of more power ahead. The elements of Taveras' game that once lagged behind his offense started to keep pace in 2012. He improved enough in the field for St. Louis to consider him a center fielder going forward. He finished the Futures Game in center, earning praise from his manager, former Gold Glove winner Bernie Williams. Taveras has enough speed to be an average baserunner and provide average range in center. He probably fits best in right field, where his bat and strong arm profile well. His effort and attention waned at times in low Class A, and he has been benched a couple of times in recent seasons for lapses. The Cardinals tied such moments to frustrations he had at the plate rather than apathy or a lackadaisical attitude, and he has acknowledged his need to eliminate them completely.

The Future: St. Louis discussed bringing Taveras to the majors last September but opted not to push him without guaranteed playing time. That could wait until 2013. He'll come to major league spring training with a chance to make an impression. He's positioned to replace Carlos Beltran in right field when the veteran's contract expires at the end of this season, but proving proficient in center could open an alternate and swifter route to the majors. The Cardinals want him to play regularly at the start of the year, and that could mean some seasoning in Triple-A Memphis. He projects as the club's No. 3 hitter of the not-too-distant future, and expectations are as high as his batting average. "You always have this feeling that he's half a level ahead of where he's playing," says Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who oversaw Taveras' signing when he was Cardinals vice president of scouting and player development. "He's the guy who sells tickets in the future."

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 Cardinals (R) 237 35 61 13 8 1 42 28 36 9 4 .257 .338 .392
'10 Cardinals (R) 30 1 5 1 0 0 2 1 5 1 0 .167 .194 .200
'10 Johnson City (R) 211 39 68 13 3 8 43 12 41 8 5 .322 .362 .526
'11 Quad Cities (LoA) 308 52 119 27 5 8 62 32 52 1 4 .386 .444 .584
'12 Springfield, MO (AA) 477 83 153 37 7 23 94 42 56 10 1 .321 .380 .572
Minor League Totals 1263 210 406 91 23 40 243 115 190 29 14 .321 .381 .525

2. Shelby Miller, rhp Born: Oct 10, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Brownwood (Texas) HS, 2009 (1st round).  Signed by: Ralph Garr Jr
Shelby MillerBackground: The 19th overall pick in 2009, Miller signed for $2,875,000. He struggled for the first time as a pro last year, going 4-8, 6.17 in his first 17 Triple-A starts before resetting his mechanics and getting told he couldn't shake off his catcher. He went 7-2, 2.88 with a 70-7 K-BB ratio in 57 second-half innings and rode that success into a September callup and a postseason role.

Scouting Report: Miller has an overpowering fastball that averaged 94 mph in the playoffs and can touch 97 mph. It has late, heavy movement that makes it more difficult to square up. He learned in 2012 that his heater is more effective when he utilizes his plus curveball and developing changeup. He went from throwing the fastball four out of every five pitches to 70 percent of the time in the second half. His control and command improved late in the year as well. St. Louis was concerned that he adopted a diet and workout plan that cost him muscle, so it helped him choose a different approach that will strength and stamina.

The Future: The team's top pitching prospect since Rick Ankiel will come to spring training with a chance to win a spot in the rotation. A potential No. 1 starter, Miller also could claim a spot in the bullpen while he waits for an opportunity to start.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Quad Cities (LoA) 0 0 6.00 2 2 0 3 5 3 2 0 2 2 .357
'10 Quad Cities (LoA) 7 5 3.62 24 24 0 104 97 51 42 7 33 140 .237
'11 Palm Beach (HiA) 2 3 2.89 9 9 0 53 40 20 17 2 20 81 .201
'11 Springfield, MO (AA) 9 3 2.70 16 16 0 87 72 28 26 2 33 89 .217
'12 Memphis (AAA) 11 10 4.74 27 27 0 137 138 78 72 24 50 160 .252
'12 St. Louis (MAJ) 1 0 1.32 6 1 0 14 9 2 2 0 4 16 .180
Major League Totals 1 0 1.29 6 1 0 14 9 9 2 0 4 16 .176
Minor League Totals 29 21 3.73 78 78 0 384 352 352 159 35 138 472 .234

3. Carlos Martinez, rhp Born: Sep 21, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 165
Signed: Dominican Republic '10 Signed by: Juan Mercado
Carlos MartinezBackground: Then known as Carlos Matias, Martinez was suspended for a year by MLB when he couldn't present the paperwork needed to finalize a $160,000 deal with the Red Sox in 2009. The Cardinals spent weeks piecing together the proof needed sign him for $1.5 million in 2010. He has blistered opponents ever since, shaking off shoulder tendinitis early last year to reach Double-A at age 20 and throw seven shutout innings in Game One of the Texas League championship series.

Scouting Report: Martinez is an aggressive pitcher with a fastball that regularly hums at 94-98 mph and hit 100 in his first Springfield appearance. He has a biting curveball and a changeup that's more effective when he doesn't throw it too hard. Both could develop into plus pitches. He has a natural delivery but sometimes strays from it and his command wobbles. Some scouts see him as too small to handle starting, but his frame belies a wiry strength and his efficient mechanics will help.

The Future: Martinez is set to return to Double-A in 2013, though he'll have the chance to pitch in the Triple-A rotation at some point during the year. He's another Cardinals fireballer poised to make a big league impact, though the organization's pitching depth may mean he'll have to break in as a reliever.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Cardinals (R) 3 2 0.76 12 12 0 59 28 8 5 1 14 78 .137
'11 Quad Cities (LoA) 3 2 2.33 8 8 0 39 27 10 10 1 14 50 .189
'11 Palm Beach (HiA) 3 3 5.28 10 10 0 46 49 31 27 2 30 48 .262
'12 Palm Beach (HiA) 2 2 3.00 7 7 0 33 29 12 11 0 10 34 .227
'12 Springfield, MO (AA) 4 3 2.90 15 14 0 71 62 27 23 6 22 58 .225
Minor League Totals 15 12 2.76 52 51 0 248 195 195 76 10 90 268 .208

4. Trevor Rosenthal, rhp Born: May 29, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Cowley County (Kan.) CC, 2009 (21st round).  Signed by: Aaron Looper
Trevor RosenthalBackground: Area scout Aaron Looper advocated selecting Rosenthal in the 21st round of the 2009 after seeing him throw all of one inning, believing the athletic righthander personified the gut-feeling picks the Cardinals encourage their evaluators to make. A shortstop at the start of his Cowley County (Kan.) CC career, he signed for $65,000 and emerged as a prospect when he struck out 11 in his first full-season start in 2011. He skipped a level last year, advanced from Double-A to the majors and became St. Louis' shutdown middle reliever in the playoffs.

Scouting Report: Rosenthal was a revelation in the postseason, with half of his fastballs in October clocked at 99 mph or faster. He works in the mid-90s as a starter and consistently hits 98 and tops out at 101 as a reliever. He spots his fastball low in the strike zone. He also has a hard curveball and a solid changeup, pitches the Cardinals believe the blend will allow him to be a big league starter. The key for him will be able to maintain his improved command.

The Future: Like Shelby Miller, Rosenthal will come to spring training with the opportunity to take a spot in the rotation, but can slide easily into a late-inning relief role as well.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Cardinals (R) 4 1 4.88 14 0 0 24 25 17 13 0 10 26 .258
'10 Johnson City (R) 3 0 2.25 10 6 1 32 23 10 8 1 7 30 .193
'11 Quad Cities (LoA) 7 7 4.11 22 22 0 120 111 62 55 7 39 133 .235
'12 Springfield, MO (AA) 8 6 2.78 17 17 0 94 67 33 29 6 37 83 .192
'12 Memphis (AAA) 0 0 4.20 3 3 0 15 11 7 7 1 5 21 .196
'12 St. Louis (MAJ) 0 2 2.78 19 0 0 23 14 7 7 2 7 25 .171
Major League Totals 0 2 2.74 19 0 0 23 14 14 7 2 7 25 .169
Minor League Totals 22 14 3.54 66 48 1 285 237 237 112 15 98 293 .217

5. Kolten Wong, 2b Born: Oct 10, 1990 B-T: L-R Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Hawaii, 2011 (1st round).  Signed by: Matt Swanson
Kolten WongBackground: The Cardinals hadn't drafted a second baseman in the first round in 25 years (Luis Alicea) before taking Wong 22nd overall in 2011. Since signing for $1.3 million, Wong has hit .300, reached Double-A, played in the Futures Game and won two league championships. He slumped late in the season due to fatigue, but went to the Arizona Fall League and batted .324.

Scouting Report: Wong springs from a compact stance to deliver consistent sharp contact. He has surprising power for his size, mostly to the gaps, but also has the potential to hit for double-digit home run totals. He's so proficient as a bunter that Texas League opponents had to reposition their defenses against him. Wong doesn't walk a lot, but he has a keen sense of the strike zone and enjoys a slash-and-attack approach as a leadoff hitter. His arm is fit for second base and his instincts have improved, making him a solid defender. He is an average runner and has good sense on the basepaths.

The Future: The Cardinals have shuttled through several second basemen since Fernando Vina left after 2003. Wong will bring some stability to the position in the near future, and he'll get a chance to audition for the starting job this spring. He figures to open the season in Triple-A and arrive in St. Louis during the summer.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'11 Quad Cities (LoA) 194 39 65 15 2 5 25 21 24 9 5 .335 .401 .510
'12 Springfield, MO (AA) 523 79 150 23 6 9 52 44 74 21 11 .287 .348 .405
Minor League Totals 717 118 215 38 8 14 77 65 98 30 16 .300 .363 .434

6. Michael Wacha, rhp Born: Jul 01, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Texas A&M, 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Ralph Garr Jr
Michael WachaBackground: Wacha and Shelby Miller were the jewels of Texas A&M's 2009 recruiting class. While Miller signed out of high school, Wacha went 27-7 in three years with the Aggies before turning pro for a $1.9 million as the 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft. The Cardinals eased him into pro ball as a reliever, and he responded by striking out 45 in 24 innings (including the Texas League playoffs).

Scouting Report: Wacha pitches with a 90-93 mph sinking fastball as a starter, though he worked from 94-97 while coming out of the bullpen in his pro debut. What makes his fastball devastating is his changeup, the best available in the 2012 draft. He uses a circle grip and throws it with deception and a late fade. Wacha would have gone toward the top of the draft if he had a better breaking pitch. His slider shows more promise than his curveball, though neither figures to become better than average. His command and competitiveness are two more pluses in his favor.

The Future: After reaching Double-A in his pro debut, Wacha will return to Springfield in 2013, this time as a starter. It's easy to project him as a mid-rotation starter, and he could turn into something more if he finds a reliable breaking ball.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Cardinals (R) 0 0 1.80 3 2 0 5 4 1 1 1 0 7 .211
'12 Palm Beach (HiA) 0 0 0.00 4 0 0 8 1 0 0 0 1 16 .040
'12 Springfield, MO (AA) 0 0 1.13 4 0 0 8 3 1 1 0 3 17 .111
Minor League Totals 0 0 0.86 11 2 0 21 8 8 2 1 4 40 .113

7. Matt Adams, 1b Born: Aug 31, 1988 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 230
Drafted: Slippery Rock (Pa.), 2009 (23rd round).  Signed by: Brian Hopkins
Matt AdamsBackground: Like Trevor Rosenthal, Adams has become an emblem of the Cardinals' ongoing success in later rounds of the draft. He signed for $25,000 as 23rd-round pick in 2009 after leading NCAA Division II in hitting (.495). He has continued to rake, batting .318/.365/.565 in four minor league seasons and hitting 74 homers in the last three years, including two for St. Louis last summer.

Scouting Report: Adams has a muscular, stout frame, but his light-tower power doesn't come from his physique alone. He has a compact, spring-loaded swing that means he doesn't need a loop or uppercut to generate distance. A coach called his stroke foolproof, one that should allow him to hit for power and average. He has drawn offensive comparisons to Freddie Freeman, though Adams isn't as agile a fielder. He's an adequate defender at first base, but his well below-average speed makes playing left field a stretch.

The Future: Adams missed the final month of the season to have bone chips removed from his right elbow, a condition that had bothered him for more than a year. He should be healthy for spring training. Though he has nothing left to prove in the minors, he's blocked by Allen Craig and has no apparent path to a starting job with the Cardinals.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 Johnson City (R) 115 15 42 6 0 6 25 9 20 0 0 .365 .406 .574
'09 Batavia (SS) 130 16 45 11 0 4 27 11 21 0 0 .346 .394 .523
'10 Quad Cities (LoA) 464 71 144 41 0 22 88 33 78 5 1 .310 .355 .541
'11 Springfield, MO (AA) 463 80 139 23 2 32 101 40 90 0 1 .300 .357 .566
'12 St. Louis (MAJ) 86 8 21 6 0 2 13 5 24 0 0 .244 .286 .384
'12 Memphis (AAA) 258 41 85 22 0 18 50 15 57 3 1 .329 .362 .624
Major League Totals 86 8 21 6 0 2 13 5 24 0 0 .244 .286 .384
Minor League Totals 1430 223 455 103 2 82 291 108 266 8 3 .318 .365 .565

8. Tyrell Jenkins, rhp Born: Jul 20, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 192
Drafted: Henderson (Texas) HS, 2010 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Ralph Garr Jr
Tyrell JenkinsBackground: The Cardinals wooed Jenkins from a football commitment to Baylor by drafting him 50th overall and paying him $1.3 million in 2010. They knew his development would require patience and didn't give him his first full-season assignment until 2012. He missed a month with shoulder soreness and two weeks with a strained lat muscle at low Class Quad Cities, and he was inconsistent when he took the mound.

Scouting Report: Jenkins has a long, lithe frame that made him a successful quarterback and sprinter in high school. It also creates the leverage for 93-96 mph fastballs and the strength to maintain velocity throughout his starts. He'll develop more power as he matures and more command as he tames his delivery. He has ditched an exaggerated leg kick and has sought to settle on more fluid mechanics that he can repeat. Jenkins gets depth on his curveball with an over-the-top arm slot that scouts don't love and he doesn't always throw it with enough power. He's developing a solid changeup.

The Future: Jenkins has caught the attention of big league manager Mike Matheny, who personally invited him to big league camp last spring. A spot in the high Class A rotation awaits Jenkins in 2013, when a mix of maturity and pitcher-friendly Florida State League parks could elicit the breakout the Cardinals are hoping for.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Johnson City (R) 0 0 0.00 2 2 0 3 2 0 0 0 2 2 .182
'11 Johnson City (R) 4 2 3.86 11 11 0 56 63 33 24 3 13 55 .273
'12 Quad Cities (LoA) 4 4 5.14 19 19 0 82 84 53 47 5 36 80 .254
Minor League Totals 8 6 4.53 32 32 0 141 149 149 71 8 51 137 .260

9. Carson Kelly, 3b Born: Jul 14, 1994 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Westview HS, Portland, Ore., 2012 (2nd round).  Signed by: Matt Swanson
Carson KellyBackground: Though he was the Cardinals' sixth pick (second round) in 2012, Kelly tied for the second-highest bonus ($1.6 million) in their draft class. The highest-drafted Oregon prep player since 1996, he also drew some interest as a pitcher with a low-90s fastball and good changeup. St. Louis coveted his power at the plate, which he showed off by hitting nine home runs at Rookie-level Johnson City, and signed him away from a commitment to Oregon.

Scouting Report: Kelly has a sturdy build that has already matured into muscle. He has a calm, quiet stance at the plate and an easy, balanced swing that creates natural carry. Some scouts don't like his preswing hand movement he uses for a timing mechanism, but that's fixable. His batting average sagged as he struggled with quality secondary pitches and the overall speed of the pro game, but he has the tools to develop into a solid hitter. He has good arm strength and reliable hands at third base. He doesn't run well and will have to enhance his lateral movement to remain at third.

The Future: Kelly won't turn 19 until the middle of his first full pro season and there's no need to rush him. Patrick Wisdom, a 2012 supplemental first-rounder, is ticketed for third base at the Cardinals' new low Class A Peoria affiliate, so Kelly likely will head to short-season State College. He could make his full-season debut by the end of the year.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Johnson City (R) 213 24 48 10 0 9 25 10 33 0 0 .225 .263 .399
Minor League Totals 213 24 48 10 0 9 25 10 33 0 0 .225 .263 .399

10. Stephen Piscotty, of/3b Born: Jan 14, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Stanford, 2012 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Matt Swanson
Stephen PiscottyBackground: Even with a new scouting director, Dan Kantrovitz, helming their draft for the first time, the Cardinals continued to load up on polished college performers in 2012. They used the 36th overall pick on Piscotty, who won the 2011 Cape Cod League batting title (.349) and hit .340 in three seasons at Stanford. After signing for $1,430,400, he immediately went to low Class A, where he impressed observers with an .824 OPS and a big league approach.

Scouting Report: Piscotty has a seasoned sense of the strike zone and gets a good read on pitches. His line-drive swing is built more for high batting averages with plenty of doubles rather than home runs. The soft spots in his robust résumé that kept him from being a first-round pick followed him into pro ball. Piscotty lacks true home run power and went deep just four times in 210 at-bats. Though he has a strong arm, he lacks the hands and range to play a good third base and made 22 errors in 36 pro games there.

The Future: St. Louis will move Piscotty to right field and advance him to high Class A in 2013. The position change will put even more pressure on him to add more home run power. His ability to do so will determine if he emerges as an everyday outfielder or a high-average utility cornerman.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Quad Cities (LoA) 210 29 62 18 1 4 27 18 25 3 0 .295 .376 .448
Minor League Totals 210 29 62 18 1 4 27 18 25 3 0 .295 .376 .448