First, we will start with the breakdown of our top 40 prospects by the year in which they became professionals. Four years of data is provided.
The top 40 population is broken out in two ways. The rows indicate how the players were acquired – via the draft, as free agents from the Latin American program, their contracts having been purchased from other leagues or in trade.
The other dimension, in the columns, is the year the players became professionals, where N equals the most recent year/draft, N-1 being the prior year, etc.
Top 40 Cardinals Prospects – Sourcing - 2008-2011
|2011 Top 40||2010||2009||2008||2007||2006||2005||Tot|
|2010 Top 40||2009||2008||2007||2006||2005||2001||Tot|
|2009 Top 40||2008||2007||2006||2005||2004||2003||2001||Tot|
|2008 Top 40||2007||2006||2005||2004||2003||2002||2001||Tot|
Let's start with the rows. In terms of draft years, an obvious is the consistent number in players from the four most recent drafts that made the top 40, with the blatant exception of 2008. The difference is only slightly explained by the trade of Brett Wallace and Shane Peterson from that class. Related to that is the decline in top prospects in the N-1 and N-2 years from 24 three years ago to 21 two years to 16 last year and just 12 this year.
After a big jump in the number of top prospects from the Latin American program in 2009, up to six from two the year before, the total is six again here in 2011. This is a bit concerning, since the top prospect pipeline from the academies should be starting to flow more heavily. As of yet, that isn't happening.
The next view is a look at the top 40 by their defensive position.
Top 40 Cardinals Prospects – By position – 2007-2011
|Top 40 by position||2011||2010||2009||2008||2007|
|LH Starting Pitcher||1||3||2||3||4|
|RH Starting Pitcher||11||10||13||13||13|
A positive is in the doubling of top catchers from three last year to six this year, directly aided by the selection of Cody Stanley in the draft and the emergence of Tony Cruz. There appears reasonable depth at third base and outfield.
I see more concerns, however. The biggest is the continued decline in top 40 starting pitchers, dropping as low as 12 for the first time. There were 17 in 2007, including four left-handers. The real problem spot is that the 2011 top 40 contains just one lefty.
Second base also continues to be a problem, with a single player making the top 40 for the third consecutive year. Coupled with a year-to-year decline in shortstops, it signals the middle infield needs to be addressed.
Possible focus areas in the 2011 draft – same as seemingly every year – include left-handed pitching and middle infielders.
Runners-Up (name/overall ranking)
I will close with this year's "Runners-Up" - those players that made the Top 40, but not the All-Prospect Team. This also provides a quick visual snapshot of system-wide depth by position.
First base (1): Matt Adams (33)
Second base (0): none
Shortstop (1): Ryan Jackson (34)
Left-handed starting pitcher (0): none
Right-handed starting pitcher (10): Lance Lynn (3), Carlos Martinez (5), Tyrell Jenkins (9), Seth Blair (10), Deryk Hooker (18), David Kopp (23), P.J. Walters (25), Joe Kelly (27), Adam Ottavino (32), Bryan Martinez (38)
Again, for more information about these players, click on their highlighted names above to be taken to their free The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com player profile pages with bios, photos, news and more!
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.
Next up: This article series concludes as we take a look at the best and worst picks from the 2010 top 40.
There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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