BaseballHQ pegs Cardinals system #2 in MLB
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BaseballHQ pegs Cardinals system #2 in MLB

In the second installment of a four-part series, we review the in-depth rankings of the National League Central Division organizations according to the Minor League Baseball Analyst. We also look at the details behind the Cardinals changes from past years in four key areas.

The eighth edition of BaseballHQ's "Minor League Baseball Analyst" is now shipping. As always, the guide integrates sabermetrics and scouting for over 1000 minor leaguers. In-depth scouting reports and stats include batter skills ratings, runner speed, pitch repertoires, Major League equivalents, ultimate potential and much more.

In Part one of this four-part series, we reviewed the top 15 Cardinals prospects with the details as to why they are ranked where they are.

Here in Part two, we'll look into the Minor League Baseball Analysts' Cardinals organizational rankings in comparison to their National League Central Division competitors. Past club rankings from 2006-2012 are used to compare progress. In Part three, we will evaluate individual Cardinals player movement on and off the top 15.

St. Louis vs. NL Central

Just seven years ago, the Cardinals were at the bottom of National League Central Division rankings with the Reds with a "C minus" score, before plateuing with a "B" showing in 2009. They then headed down for the next two years before once again scoring a "B" grade last year. The current "A" score is a new peak for the Cards.

NL Central Orgs. 2013 overall and  YTY trend 2012 2011 2010  2009 2008 2007 2006
Pirates A B+ B- B- C+ C+ C C
Cardinals A B C+ C- B B- C C-
Cubs B+ C C+ B- C- C+ C+ B-
Reds B- B- A- B- B B+ B C-
Brewers C C D+ B B- C B B+

(Colors denote year-to-year change with green=up, yellow=flat and red=down.)

The Pirates, Cardinals and Cubs all improved their overall score year to year, with the Reds and Brewers holding with their same overall grade as in 2012.

After ranking 28th of 30 MLB organizations three years ago, St. Louis improved dramatically, all the way to second this time. Yet the Cardinals are also second in the division, with the Pirates tops in the game.

NL Central Orgs. 2013 MLB rank and trend 2012 MLB rank  2011 MLB rank 2010 MLB rank
Pirates 1 9 16 18
Cardinals 2 15 17 28
Cubs 12 24 18 14
Reds 17 16 5 16
Brewers 25 29 28 13

The Cubs made a big step forward in the last year and join the Reds in the middle of the pack in MLB. The Brewers continue to rest among the lowest-ranked systems for the third consecutive year.

Now let's dive down into the detailed analysis of the 2013 NL Central by category. Here we see the Cardinals scoring consistently strongly in the four criteria that are combined to make up the overall score. All St. Louis' scores are "B" or better.

NLC Org. Hitting Pitching Top end talent  Depth Overall
Pirates A- A A A- A
Cardinals B A A A  A
Cubs A C+ A C B+
Reds C B B- B- B-
Brewers C+ B- C+ C C

Across the division, the Cards tie with Pittsburgh at the top in both pitching and top end talent. The hitting score of a solid "B" seems about right, but is just third in the NLC. The Cards stand alone in depth with an "A" ranking, a bit surprising to me.

Cardinals now versus in the past

Now we'll look into Cardinals year-to-year trends. Note that only five years of the "depth" category is included here as it was first incorporated into the 2009 Analyst. Therefore, only four yearly comparisons are possible.

Cardinals Hitting Pitching Top-end talent  Depth Overall
2013 B A A A  A
12-13 trend flat up up up up
2012 B A- B+ B B
11-12 trend up up up up up
2011 C B B- B- C+
10-11 trend up up up up up
2010 D C+ C C C-
09-10 trend down flat down down down
2009 A- C+ B- B B
08-09 trend up down flat   up
2008 C+ B- B-   B-
07-08 trend up up up   up
2007 C C- C+   C

The Cardinals organization demonstrated marked improvement in three of four categories from 2012 to 2013. In fact, after a rough 2010, it was the third year in a row in which the organization had a better score in at least two of the three individual areas and overall compared to the year prior. There is almost nowhere to go in the future but down.

The "A" score for pitching is its highest in these seven years and seems most deserved. Same with top end talent. Depth also has its new best score while hitting, at "B," holds flat compared to last year, tying for the peak since 2009.

Let's go back to the Cardinals top 15 prospects to dig into this a bit. Interestingly, in terms of raw numbers, quantity not quality, the number of hitters in the top 15 tied the 2008 peak of nine. Having only six pitchers seems counter intuitive given the strength of the system is in its arms.

Cards top 15 Hitters Pitchers
2013 9 6
2012 7 8
2011 6 9
2010 8 7
2009 8 7
2008 9 6

Only looking at the top half, prospects one through eight, we get a much different view. In the best of the best, we can clearly see that pitching is still king, in an identical showing as last year - five of the top eight.

Cards top 8 Hitters Pitchers
2013 3 5
2012 3 5
2011 2 6
2010 4 4
2009 6 2
2008 4 4

In Part three of this series, we will look into individual player movement and changes in their projections from year to year.

Thank you to Rob Gordon, Jeremy Deloney and BaseballHQ for giving us this special peek at their data. Please respect them and copyright laws by not duplicating this material.



Link to Part one of this report: "BaseballHQ's top 15 Cardinals Prospects: 2013".



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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