St. Louis Cardinals: Top 10 Prospects

St. Louis Cardinals

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, 2009.

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1. Colby Rasmus, of
2. Brett Wallace, 3b
3. Chris Perez, rhp
4. Jess Todd, rhp
5. Bryan Anderson, c
6. Clayton Mortensen, rhp
7. Daryl Jones, of
8. Jason Motte, rhp
9. David Freese, 3b
10. Pete Kozma, ss
Best Hitter for Average Brett Wallace
Best Power Hitter Colby Rasmus
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jarrett Hoffpauir
Fastest Baserunner Daryl Jones
Best Athlete Daryl Jones
Best Fastball Jason Motte
Best Curveball Jaime Garcia
Best Slider Chris Perez
Best Changeup P.J. Walters
Best Control Fernando Salas
Best Defensive Catcher Nick Derba
Best Defensive Infielder Pete Kozma
Best Infield Arm Tyler Greene
Best Defensive Outfielder Colby Rasmus
Best Outfield Arm Jon Edwards
Catcher Yadier Molina
First Base Albert Pujols
Second Base Pete Kozma
Third Base Brett Wallace
Shortstop Khalil Greene
Left Field Ryan Ludwick
Center Field Colby Rasmus
Right Field Rick Ankiel
No. 1 Starter Adam Wainwright
No. 2 Starter Jess Todd
No. 3 Starter Clayton Mortensen
No. 4 Starter Kyle Lohse
No. 5 Starter Todd Wellemeyer
Closer Chris Perez
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 J.D. Drew, of Red Sox
2000 Rick Ankiel, lhp Cardinals
2001 Bud Smith, lhp Out of baseball
2002 Jimmy Journell, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Dan Haren, rhp Diamondbacks
2004 Blake Hawksworth, rhp Cardinals
2005 Anthony Reyes, rhp Indians
2006 Anthony Reyes, rhp Indians
2007 Colby Rasmus, of Cardinals
2008 Colby Rasmus, of Cardinals
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Chance Caple, rhp Out of baseball
2000 Shaun Boyd, of Camden (Atlantic)
2001 Justin Pope, rhp Phillies
2002 Calvin Hayes, ss (3rd round) Out of baseball
2003 Daric Barton, c Athletics
2004 Chris Lambert, rhp Tigers
2005 Colby Rasmus, of Cardinals
2006 Adam Ottavino, rhp Cardinals
2007 Pete Kozma, ss Cardinals
2008 Brett Wallace, 3b Cardinals
J.D. Drew, 1998 $3,000,000
Rick Ankiel, 1997 $2,500,000
Chad Hutchinson, 1998 $2,300,000
Brett Wallace, 2008 $1,840,000
Shaun Boyd, 2000 $1,750,000
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St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals had followed a tried and true pattern over the past decade, contending with veteran-laden teams and using their farm system to provide an occasional supplement or, more frequently, to bring back older players in trades.

Since 2005, St. Louis has pledged to restock and lean on its system to do what it long had counted on free agents and trades for. The initiative became more prominent—and more pressing—following the firing of general manager Walt Jocketty and the promotion of assistant GM John Mozeliak to replace him at the end of the 2007 season. At the same time, Jeff Luhnow became the overseer of both scouting and player development.

Mozeliak worked to break down the walls that had developed in the front office and get everyone pulling in the same direction. He determined to clear the way for prospects to get to the majors. If there was a need, a prospect was promoted. The same practice will be in place for 2009 as well, when the Cardinals expect the arrival of outfielder Colby Rasmus and a handful of nearly-ready pitchers.

They went into 2008 viewing it as a transition year and performed slightly better than expected, finishing 86-76, though they missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1998-99. More important to the organization's long-term plan, 11 Cardinals made their major league debuts, including the first members of the 2004, 2005 and 2006 draft classes to reach St. Louis.

Righthanders Clayton Mortensen (supplemental first round) and Jess Todd (second round), two of the team's first four picks in the 2007 draft, also made compelling bids for September callups, personifying the team's plan to push its prospects. What had been an internal suggestion to accelerate the development of prospects became a policy.

"We had to promote players more quickly than planned in 2007 because of injuries and, to be honest, I was surprised at how well our players played when they moved up," Luhnow said. "It gave me and us collectively more confidence that, hey, maybe we can push these guys faster. This year, we've seen guys respond."

Mortensen finished his first full pro season in Triple-A, as did Todd, who began 2008 in high Class A. Lefthander Jaime Garcia started the year in Double-A and ended it in the major league bullpen (though he had Tommy John surgery after the season). Third baseman David Freese (Triple-A) and outfielder Daryl Jones (high Class A) both started at a level considered a reach by some, and both blossomed.

Throughout the system, the Cardinals' prospect push resulted in their affiliates having among the youngest rosters in their league. And youth still served. Their top six affiliates all contended for playoff spots deep into August, and all six finished with winning records.

St. Louis' first-round pick in June, Brett Wallace, will be on the fast track, as he's expected to replace Troy Glaus at third base when Glaus becomes a free agent after the 2009 season. The Cardinals also showed a newfound aggression on the international market, handing out the three highest bonuses in franchise history for Latin American talents. Those investments were highlighted by a $1.1 million bonus for Dominican third baseman Roberto de la Cruz.

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