2011 TCN/Scout.com Cards All-Prospect Team

Our annual ranking of the top prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system by position.

The subject here in the 45th and third-to last article in our Top 40 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects for 2011 series is the top organizational minor league prospects by position.

The selection process is most straightforward. We have already unveiled our top 40 prospects in the system via the "40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Prospects" series. Putting together this year's All-Prospect Team is as simple as culling the top-ranked player at each position from that top 40.

As always, the 2011 The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Team consists of eleven players – eight position players, including two corner outfielders considered as one group, plus three pitchers – left and right-handed starters and a reliever. Included are each player's overall ranking in the top 40, age and predominant level played in 2010.

The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals 2011 All-Prospect Team

Position Player Rank Age 10 Lvl
Catcher Bryan Anderson 12 24 AAA
First Base Mark Hamilton 20 26 AAA
Second Base Daniel Descalso 8 23 AAA
Shortstop Pete Kozma 17 22 AA
Third Base Zack Cox 2 21 R
Corner Outfield Oscar Taveras 11 18 R
Corner Outfield Allen Craig 7 26 AAA
Centerfield Adron Chambers 15 24 AA
LH Starter John Gast 28 21 SS-A
RH Starter Shelby Miller 1 20 A
Reliever Eduardo Sanchez 4 21 AAA

In an indication of significantly less churn at the top of the prospect rankings, six of the eleven featured players are holdovers from last year (bolded above), doubling the number of repeaters the year before. A seventh, catcher Bryan Anderson, rejoins the list after a one-year vacation at the hands of Robert Stock. Just four are new to the All-Prospect Team.

TCN/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Teams – 2006 through 2011

All-Prospects 2011 2010 2009
Catcher Bryan Anderson Robert Stock Bryan Anderson
First Base Mark Hamilton Mark Hamilton Curt Smith
Second Base Daniel Descalso Daniel Descalso Jose Martinez
Shortstop Pete Kozma Pete Kozma Pete Kozma
Third Base Zack Cox David Freese Brett Wallace*
Corner Outfield Oscar Taveras Daryl Jones Nick Stavinoha
Corner Outfield Allen Craig Allen Craig Jon Jay
Centerfield Adron Chambers Jon Jay Colby Rasmus
LH Starter John Gast Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia
RH Starter Shelby Miller* Shelby Miller* Jess Todd
Reliever Eduardo Sanchez Eduardo Sanchez Jason Motte
Player of Year * Matt Carpenter * David Freese
Pitcher of Year * Brandon Dickson * Lance Lynn
All-Prospects 2008 2007 2006
Catcher Bryan Anderson Bryan Anderson Bryan Anderson
First Base Mark Hamilton Mark Hamilton Mike Ferris
Second Base Jose Martinez Jose Martinez Jose Martinez
Shortstop Pete Kozma Tyler Greene Tyler Greene
Third Base Allen Craig Randy Roth Travis Hanson 
Corner Outfield Joe Mather Nick Stavinoha Nick Stavinoha
Corner Outfield Jon Jay Cody Haerther Cody Haerther
Centerfield Colby Rasmus Colby Rasmus Colby Rasmus
LH Starter Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia Eric Haberer
RH Starter Adam Ottavino* B. Hawksworth Anthony Reyes
Reliever Chris Perez Chris Perez Tyler Johnson
Player of Year
Pitcher of Year * P.J. Walters

Past winners from the last five seasons are listed for comparison purposes with our TCN/Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year in those years listed in bold. Our current winners are Brandon Dickson and Matt Carpenter, respectively. (Shelby Miller took the Cardinals organization's top pitcher nod for 2010 with Carpenter also their top player.)

It seems each year that one of our top award winners is not the highest ranked player at his position. This year, for the first time, neither award winner is the top prospect at their respective positions, again reminding us there is a difference between having a good season and being a top prospect.

Our 2010 Pitcher of the Year Dickson yielded to Miller. The year before, Lance Lynn was in the same boat, also at the hands of Miller. 2010 Player of the Year Carpenter is ranked behind third baseman Zack Cox. Brett Wallace out-ranked our 2008 Player of the Year David Freese and the year prior, our 2007 Pitcher of the Year was P.J. Walters, but Adam Ottavino placed higher in the prospect rankings.

Three players, Freese, centerfielder Jon Jay and left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia, left the All-Prospect Team after promotion to St. Louis. Garcia had been our top left-handed pitching prospect four years running and is replaced by John Gast. That was an easy decision since Gast is the only lefty on the entire 2011 top 40. Along with Stock, outfielder Daryl Jones hit the prospect team pines for performance reasons.

Unlike last year when two members of the previous year's squad had been dealt away, Wallace and Jess Todd, none of the 2010 All-Prospect Team left the organization via trade.

In an oddity, Cox becomes the sixth different third baseman named to the All-Prospect team in six years. That is the position with the highest level of turnover over time. With his five selections in six years, Anderson becomes the unofficial captain of the 2011 All-Prospect squad despite still being just 24 years old.

Age and experience

All-Prospect Team 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
Average age 22.4 22.3 22.5 21.8 21.9
Average experience AA AA AAA AA A+

The All-Prospect Team has a considerable spread in ages, from Oscar Taveras at 18 years old to Mark Hamilton and Allen Craig at 26 years of age. Two years after the average age and level reached by the players on the top 11 increased, showing an aging of the top level of prospects, the average age remained roughly flat for the second consecutive year.

Interestingly, the average level of the All-Prospect Team remained at Double-A, but what would have been an increase was masked by the Cardinals assigning Cox artificially low for his short debut, the Gulf Coast League. Five of the 11 prospects played the majority of the 2010 campaign in Triple-A with another, Adron Chambers, moving there late in the season.

Note that for the second consecutive year, not a single Palm Beach (A-Advanced) player made the Top Prospect Team and just one from Class A Quad Cities, Miller. This is an indicator that the middle levels of the system appear to be a bit short of top talent.

In a reminder how the Cardinals top prospects have grown in experience, four years ago, eight of the 11 members of the Top Prospect Team had yet to play a single game at the Double-A level. This year, only four of the selections can make that claim.

Next up: In tomorrow's installment, we will dive into the numbers behind the 2011 The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Top 40 Prospect List in terms of sourcing of players, distribution by position with comparisons to recent years. We'll follow with some of our best and worst selections from last year's top 40.

To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2011 and read about each individual player, click here. You can also learn more about each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections and much more.

There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?

Time is running out! Subscribe by January 21 to our annual pass and receive in the spring the 2011 FOX Fantasy Guide / Scout Prospect Guide, the perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days", including the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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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