2012 St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Prospects

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.

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1. Shelby Miller, rhp
2. Carlos Martinez, rhp
3. Oscar Taveras, of
4. Zack Cox, 3b
5. Kolten Wong, 2b
6. Tyrell Jenkins, rhp
7. Lance Lynn, rhp
8. Eduardo Sanchez, rhp
9. Matt Adams, 1b
10. Jordan Swagerty, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Oscar Taveras
Best Power Hitter Matt Adams
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Matt Carpenter
Fastest Baserunner C.J. McElroy
Best Athlete Tyrell Jenkins
Best Fastball Shelby Miller
Best Curveball Carlos Martinez
Best Slider Jordan Swagerty
Best Changeup John Gast
Best Control Boone Whiting
Best Defensive Catcher Tony Cruz
Best Defensive Infielder Ryan Jackson
Best Infield Arm Pete Kozma
Best Defensive Outfielder Shane Robinson
Best Outfield Arm Tommy Pham
Catcher Yadier Molina
First Base Allen Craig
Second Base Kolten Wong
Third Base David Freese
Shortstop Ryan Jackson
Left Field Matt Holliday
Center Field Jon Jay
Right Field Oscar Taveras
No. 1 Starter Adam Wainwright
No. 2 Starter Shelby Miller
No. 3 Starter Jaime Garcia
No. 4 Starter Carlos Martinez
No. 5 Starter Tyrell Jenkins
Closer Jason Motte
Year Player, Position 2011 Org.
2002 Jimmy Journell, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Dan Haren, rhp Angels
2004 Blake Hawksworth, rhp Dodgers
2005 Anthony Reyes, rhp Indians
2006 Anthony Reyes, rhp Indians
2007 Colby Rasmus, of Blue Jays
2008 Colby Rasmus, of Blue Jays
2009 Colby Rasmus, of Blue Jays
2010 Shelby Miller, rhp Cardinals
2011 Shleby Miller, rhp Cardinals
Year Player, Position 2011 Org.
2002 Calvin Hayes, ss (3rd round) Out of baseball
2003 Daric Barton, 1b Athletics
2004 Chris Lambert, rhp Out of baseball
2005 Colby Rasmus, of Blue Jays
2006 Adam Ottavino, rhp Cardinals
2007 Pete Kozma, ss Cardinals
2008 Brett Wallace, 1b Astros
2009 Shelby Miller, rhp Cardinals
2010 Zack Cox, 3b Cardinals
2011 Kolten Wong, 2b 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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St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals had less than 72 hours to enjoy the improbability of their World Series championship before the inevitability of their future interrupted the celebrations.

Good thing they had been planning ahead.

Two days after St. Louis dispatched the Rangers in Game Seven of a riveting World Series, three-time MVP and St. Louis icon Albert Pujols became a free agent for the first time as a pro. The next morning, manager Tony LaRussa retired after 33 years in the dugout, the final 16 of which were spent with the Cardinals.

St. Louis will attempt to re-sign Pujols, but LaRussa's departure hastens what's been a steady identity shift for the franchise, from a veteran-studded roster to a streamlined one with higher-paid core players at the top and a growing stream of less expensive youngsters ready to provide increased impact.

"One of the things we've tried to really focus on over the last four or five years is really make sure that our minor league system is going to be able to produce some everyday players or middle- to top-of-the-rotation type starters," Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said. "Happy to say, we believe our pipeline is very strong, and so if this is an Albert-less club in the future, we still think we have a lot of positives coming."

The first hints of that came late in 2011 as the St. Louis overcame a 10½-game deficit on Aug. 25 to win the National League wild card on the final day of the regular season. Several contributors in that unexpected run were either developed by the Cardinals or acquired in exchange for their prospects.

St. Louis put the finishing touches on NL Championship Series and World Series MVP David Freese, a St. Louis native acquired as a Class A third baseman from the Padres in exchange for Jim Edmonds. Allen Craig, a 2006 eighth-round pick, homered three times in the World Series, including the go-ahead shot in Game Seven. He also stole a homer with an over-the-wall catch in the Series finale and he caught the final out as one of seven homegrown players on the field at the time.

Jason Motte finished that game and closed out five postseason victories. Lefty Jaime Garcia went 3-0 in September and pitched seven shutout innings of Game Two of the World Series. Colby Rasmus, three times the system's top-ranked prospect, stalled but was dealt to the Blue Jays for key pieces Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson and Marc Rzepczynski.

As they searched for a new manager, the Cardinals put an emphasis on a leader comfortable with integrating and nurturing youth. He will inherit not only most of a roster that won the 11th title in franchise history, but also what looks like St. Louis' best crop of minor league talent in more than two decades. That group is headlined by righthanders Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, outfielder Oscar Taveras and second baseman Kolten Wong.

Mozeliak encouraged his amateur scouts to seek out speed, athleticism and middle infielders in the 2011 draft. The result was Wong (first round), center fielder Charlie Tilson (second round) and outfielder C.J. McElroy Jr. (third). Wong played for a Midwest League championship team at low Class A Quad Cities, and Rookie-level Johnson City affiliate won its second consecutive Appalachian League title.

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