2014 St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Prospects

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When second-year manager Mike Matheny gathered his flock for their first official team meeting of spring training 2013, the expectation he set for them was four words long and easier said than done: “Win the World Series."

1. Oscar Taveras, of
2. Carlos Martinez, rhp
3. Kolten Wong, 2b
4. Stephen Piscotty, of
5. Marco Gonzalez, lhp
6. Tim Cooney, lhp
7. Alex Reyes, rhp
8. James Ramsey, of
9. Rob Kaminsky, lhp
10. Carson Kelly, 3b/c
Best Hitter for Average Oscar Taveras
Best Power Hitter Xavier Scruggs
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Mike O'Neill
Fastest Baserunner Charlie Tilson
Best Athlete C.J. McElroy
Best Fastball Carlos Martinez
Best Curveball Rob Kaminsky
Best Slider Carlos Martinez
Best Changeup Marco Gonzales
Best Control Tim Cooney
Best Defensive Catcher Audry Perez
Best Defensive Infielder Patrick Wisdom
Best Infield Arm Patrick Wisdom
Best Defensive Outfielder Tommy Pham
Best Outfield Arm Stephen Piscotty
No Player, Pos (Age) Peak Level
1. Michael Wacha, rhp (22) Majors
2. Oscar Taveras, of (21) Triple-A
3. Shelby Miller, rhp (23) Majors
4. Trevor Rosenthal, rhp (23) Majors
5. Carlos Martinez, rhp (22) Majors
6. Kolten Wong, 2b (23) Majors
7. Matt Adams, rhp (25) Majors
8. Stephen Piscotty, of (23) Double-A
9. Marco Gonzales, lhp (22) High Class A
10. Tim Cooney, lhp (23) Double-A
11. Alex Reyes, rhp (19) Rookie
12. Joe Kelly, rhp (25) Majors
13. James Ramsey, of (24) Triple-A
14. Rob Kaminsky, lhp (19) Rookie
15. Kevin Siegrist, lhp (24) Majors
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 Blake Hawksworth, rhp Out of baseball
2005 Anthony Reyes, rhp Out of baseball
2006 Anthony Reyes, rhp Out of baseball
2007 Colby Rasmus, of Blue Jays
2008 Colby Rasmus, of Blue Jays
2009 Colby Rasmus, of Blue Jays
2010 Shelby Miller, rhp Cardinals
2011 Shelby Miller, rhp Cardinals
2012 Shelby Miller, rhp Cardinals
2013 Oscar Taveras, of Cardinals
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 Chris Lambert, rhp Out of baseball
2005 Colby Rasmus, of Blue Jays
2006 Adam Ottavino, rhp Rockies
2007 Pete Kozma, ss Cardinals
2008 Brett Wallace, 3b Astros
2009 Shelby Miller, rhp Cardinals
2010 Zack Cox, 3b Marlins
2011 Kolten Wong, 2b Cardinals
2012 Michael Wacha, rhp Cardinals
2013 Marco Gonzales, lhp Cardinals
J.D. Drew, 1998 $3,000,000
Shelby Miller, 2009 $2,875,000
Rick Ankiel, 1999 $2,500,000
Chad Hutchinson, 1998 $2,300,000
Zack Cox, 2010 $2,000,000
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Looking around the Cardinals clubhouse he not only saw the weight of history—Willie McGee, Red Schoendienst and Jim Edmonds, all World Series winners, sat nearby—but the lift of the present. Talent harvested from the best farm system in baseball populated the room. Matheny believed this group should aim for championships, plural.

Inspired by their past and built for the future, the Cardinals intended to win in the present.The Cardinals, who grew increasingly younger as a roster through October, tied for the best record in baseball (97-65), won the National League pennant and appeared in the organization's fourth World Series in 10 years. They came two wins shy of the franchise's 12th World Series championship, but in their Game Six loss to the Red Sox they started a 22-year-old phenom, had a 25-year-old first baseman and closed with a 23-year-old flamethrower.”To have our minor league system be able to produce and really sort of define this club, I think it said a lot about the organization," general manager John Mozeliak said. “When you think about creating that sustained model to always be competitive, year in and year out, it really does start with how you procure the talent and how you develop it."

Injuries to closer Jason Motte, shortstop Rafael Furcal, and ace Chris Carpenter at the start of the year helped clear the pipeline for a gush of rookies.

After the Cardinals debuted nine players in 2012—not including manager Matheny—the Cardinals had a tops-in-baseball 20 rookies reach the majors in 2013.The Cardinals received 36 wins from rookie pitchers and 109 of the 162 regular-season games were started by pitchers age 26 or younger.

By the playoffs, nearly 70 percent of the club's innings were thrown by pitchers 26 or younger.Rookie righthander Michael Wacha, less than 18 months removed from Texas A&M, led the way with 30 2⁄3 innings, four wins and the NL Championship Series MVP. Shelby Miller, another rookie righty, won 15 games but threw only one inning in October in an aim to conserve innings.

Of the 25 players on the Cardinals' World Series roster, 23 were under control for 2014 and 18 had been drafted or signed as amateurs by the Cardinals. Carlos Beltran, one of the other two, became a free agent and was not a guarantee to return because the Cardinals have outfielders Oscar Taveras, the organization's top prospect, and Stephen Piscotty on deck.

The roster churn at the major league level created ripples in the minor leagues. Of the 100 players who started the year on full-season rosters, 63 moved up. Outfielder James Ramsey, Piscotty and lefty Tim Cooney—three 2012 draft picks from the college ranks—asserted themselves in early promotions to Double-A and are poised for Triple-A in 2014.

Pitching remains the wealth of the organization, while the graduations of second baseman Kolten Wong and first baseman Matt Adams to the majors creates opportunity for hitters after Taveras and Piscotty.

The Cardinals may have to reach into their purse of pitchers to fill another hole in the majors: shortstop, where they made due with Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso in 2013. They have the depth to do that and still contend—for years to come.