BaseballHQ on Cardinals Prospects: 2011

In the first of a two-part series, we highlight the top 15 St. Louis Cardinals prospects from the Minor League Baseball Analyst with the details as to why they're ranked where they are.

As of Friday, January 28, the sixth edition of BaseballHQ's "Minor League Baseball Analyst" became available. 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.

Once again authors Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney have included their Organizational Ratings for all 30 major league systems, ranking each organization's top 15 prospects, with details why, as well as a scoring of the organization in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent and overall. We'll cover a subset of that in the second article of this series.

The comprehensive information in the Analyst is more in-depth than comparable guides from well-known sources of minor league information and is used by front office personnel, scouts, fantasy players and fans from coast to coast.

It has become almost as eagerly-awaited each hot stove season as Shandler's famous "Baseball Forecaster" has been for over 20 years running. If readers order the Minor League Baseball Analyst from HQ directly, online updates will be included in March at no additional charge.

Following is a subset of their findings, covering their top 15 Cardinals prospects.

Please respect the rights of the author and the associated copyrights by not copying this information elsewhere. You are receiving this exclusive view through the courtesy and generosity of Gordon and BaseballHQ.

Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects - 2011

1. Shelby Miller RHP....20....2009 (1) Brownwood HS, TX (#9 top MLB starting pitching prospect, #21 prospect overall)

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP Cmd Dom oppBA
QC (MWL) 7-5 3.62 104.1 4.2 12.1 0.243

Strengths: 92-97 mph fastball. 75-77 mph 12-6 curveball. Athleticism. Aggressiveness.
Weaknesses: Consistency of change-up.
Comments: Athletic/projectable/talented hurler had a stellar full-season debut and quickly emerged as one of the better power arms in the minors. Features a fastball that tops out at 97 mph with good life and nice sink. Curve and change-up improved in 2010, but still lag well behind his fastball. Showed better than anticipated command (33 BB/140 K) and really found a groove in the 2nd half (6-2, 2.86 ERA, 18 BB/84 K in 63 IP). Will probably need some time at High-A in the FSL to consolidate these gains and improve his off-speed offerings. Once those develop, Miller has the stuff and the make-up to emerge as a truly elite prospect.
MLB Debut: 2013
Potential Rating: 9D

2. Zack Cox 3B....L/R.....21....2010 (1) Arkansas (#8 top MLB third base prospect, #58 prospect overall)

Cards (GCL) 15 0.400 0.471 0.467 1 0 0.33

Strengths: Athleticism. Soft hands. Power potential. BA ability. Plate discipline.
Weaknesses: Current power only moderate. Range and mechanics at 3B.
Comments: Athletic 3B prospect from Arkansas was one of the best bats available in the 2010 draft. Is a polished hitter with a short LH stroke and picturesque swing mechanics. Swing plane causes some to question whether he'll develop average power in the majors. Does possess strength and uses his hands well and should add more power as he adds more loft to his swing. Should also hit for a high average because of his approach and willingness to use the whole field. Cox is an instinctual player who runs the bases well. Solid - but not plus - defender at 3B. Played SS in college but was drafted as a 3B. Needs to work on his footwork but bat should be enough to allow him to move up quickly.
MLB Debut: 2012
Potential Rating: 9D

3. Seth Blair RHP.....22....2010 (1-S) Arizona State
*Did not pitch in the minor leagues in 2010*
Strengths: 90-94 mph sinking fastball. Aggressiveness. Poise. Four-pitch mix.
Weaknesses: Consistency of 12-6 curveball and slurvy slider. Deception of change up. Command. Recoil and effort to delivery.
Comments: Steady, reliable, and athletic prospect saw his velocity tick up prior to the 2010 draft and has good command. Nice four pitch mix featuring a FB that now sits in the 90-94 mph range and tops out as high as 98 mph - though was not that high in the past. The FB also has some nice sink to it and is easily his best offering. Also has a good 12-6 curve, and a slurvy slider, but neither is consistent enough yet. Will flash a change-up but doesn't yet have a good feel for it. Can be wild at times and has a bit of recoil on his full-effort delivery, making him a bit of an injury risk. He keeps the ball down consistently and induces his fair share of groundball outs.
MLB Debut: 2013
Potential Rating: 9D

4. Tyrell Jenkins RHP....18....2010 (1-S) Henderson, TX

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP CMD K/9 oppBA
JC (APP) 0-0 0.00 3 1 6 0.200

Strengths: Athleticism. Good 90-93 mph sinking FB. Loose arm action and easy velocity. Slider.
Weaknesses: Raw. Feel for change-up. Consistency.
Comments: Jenkins was an athletic 3-sport star in HS in Texas. At 6'4", 180 he is tall, lean, and projectable - though still very raw. His fastball sits in the 90-93 range and tops out at 96 mph. Jenkins also has a nice slider and a developing changeup. He is still fairly unpolished and needs to improve his control and develop more consistent mechanics. Low 3/4 delivery gives some deception and good movement on his FB. If everything breaks right he could be an impact starter, but still has a ways to go.
MLB Debut: 2014
Potential Rating: 9E

5. Jordan Swagerty RHP.....21....2010 (2) Arizona State
*Did not pitch in the minor leagues in 2010*
Strengths: 88-95 mph sinking FB. Change-up. Athleticism. Deception. Command.
Weaknesses: Smallish. Consistency of curveball. Some effort to delivery.
Comments: Small but athletic RH reliever has a quick and deceptive delivery. Features an 88-95 mph sinking fastball that is a solid-average pitch, though it can be straight. His best pitch is his change-up but he also has a solid curve that exhibits big, late-breaking action. Swagerty pitches aggressively and is likely to stay in the pen due to his size but works well in that role and could move up quickly.
MLB Debut: 2012
Potential Rating: 8B

6. Eduardo Sanchez RHP....21....2005 (NDFA) Venezuela (#14 top MLB relief prospect)

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP CMD K/9 oppBA
SPR (TEX) 1-1 3.12 26.1 3.4 9.4 0.232
MEM (PCL) 0-0 1.67 27 2.6 10.3 0.200
MLE 1-1 2.26 53.1 3.1 9 0.209

Strengths: 92-95 mph fastball that tops out at 98 mph. Power slider. Keeps ball down.
Weaknesses: Command. Size.
Comments: Despite small size, Sanchez' velocity has ticked up over the past two seasons and now sits in the 92-95 range and tops out around 98 mph. Combines the heat with a power slider to give him two plus swing-and-miss offerings. Slider has nice late break and sink to it. Has solid command of both pitches though he can be wild at times and an ability to keep the ball on the ground (4 HR allowed and a 1.65 GB/FB ratio) give him to the potential to be a dominant reliever in the majors. With 14 saves in 2010 and 13 the previous season, he has closer potential.
2011 MLB Role: Setup reliever/Possible closer candidate
Potential Rating: 8C

7. Lance Lynn RHP.....23....2008 (1-S) Mississippi

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP CMD K/9 oppBA
MEM (PCL) 13-10 4.77 164 2.3 7.7 0.259
MLE 13-10 4.72 164 2.2 6.6 0.261

Strengths: 88-92 mph two-seam sinking fastball and 72-77 mph curveball. Command. Tall/strong frame.
Weaknesses: Rotation of 80-84 mph slider. Deception of 80-81 mph change-up. Repeating three-quarters slot and release point.
Comments: Tall/strong-framed pitcher who features a nice power sinker and CB that he pinpoints with precision. Does not always repeat three-quarters slot/release point, which tips off CU and flattens SL. Pitch-ability allows his stuff to play up and has the durable arm to chew up innings. Was much better in the 2nd half of 2010 (7-3, 3.58 ERA, 20 BB/67 K) and looks ready to contribute in the majors. Not a ton of upside here, but could develop into a solid back-of-the-rotation guy.
2011 MLB Role: September rotation candidate
Potential Rating: 7B

8. Daryl Jones OF.....L/L.....23....2005 (3) Spring, TX

SPR (TEX) 451 0.244 0.335 0.361 8 15 0.55
MLE 451 0.206 0.270 0.296 6 12 0.53

Strengths: Plus athleticism/speed (3.9). Plate discipline. Range.
Weaknesses: Arm strength. Limited power.
Comments: Plus athlete with game-changing speed, but easily had one of the most disappointing seasons of anyone in the system. Power has simply not developed and he remains very raw in too many phases of the game. Improved approach at the plate and overall refinement have made him a legit prospect. Improved approach and solid bat speed lifted BA/OBP and showed moderate power. Ranges well in CF and makes up for below average arm strength by being highly accurate.
MLB Debut: 2012
Potential Rating: 8D

9. Steven Hill C.....R/R.....25.....2007 (13) Stephen F. Austin

SPR (TEX) 361 0.280 0.352 0.543 22 1 0.42
MEM (PCL) 34 0.176 0.263 0.382 2 0 0.30
MLE 395 0.217 0.270 0.393 15 1 0.37

Strengths: Strength. Bat speed/moderate power/BA ability. Arm strength.
Weaknesses: Plate discipline. Speed/agility. Range.
Comments: Strong hitter with good bat speed and plate coverage, giving him power to all fields. Plate discipline is inconsistent, but doesn't seem to affect BA. Plays the game hard with good instincts. Moved behind the plate in ‘09 and the results were impressive - both offensively and behind the dish. Will not be a plus defender, but the bat might play nicely. 2011 MLB Role: Backup catcher
Potential Rating: 7B

10. Adam Ottavino RHP.....25.....2006 (1) Northeastern

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP CMD K/9 oppBA
MEM (PCL) 5-3 3.97 47.2 3.6 8.1 0.239
StL (NL) 0-2 8.46 22.1 1.3 4.8 0.370
MLE 5-3 4.00 47.2 3.4 7 0.242

Strengths: 88-93 mph two- and four-seam fastballs and 77-79 mph slider. Command. Arm strength/action. Drop-and-drive three-quarters delivery. Aggressiveness.
Weaknesses: Rotation of 72-75 mph curveball. Deception of 78-81 mph change-up. Getting out LH batters.
Comments: Projectable pitcher with solid arm strength/action and downhill plane. Continued problems with control and command limit once promising potential. May need to move to a relief role to reach the majors and can still be overpowering with FB/SL combination. Potential is still there if mechanical adjustments can be made.
2011 MLB Role: Possible #5 starter or reliever
Potential Rating: 8D

11. Adam Reifer RHP....24....2007 (11) Cal-Riverside

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP CMD K/9 oppBA
SPR (TEX) 3-1 3.00 54 3.5 8.7 0.252
MEM (PCL) 1-0 0.00 1 NA NA 0.000
MLE 3-1 3.04 55 3.1 7 0.264

Strengths: Heavy 95-97 mph fastball, topping out at 99 mph. Power slider. Improved control. Keeping the ball down.
Weaknesses: Recoil on delivery. Lack of movement on FB.
Comments: Tall, strong-armed reliever with heavy 95-97 mph fastball that tops out at 99 mph. Teams the heavy FB with a very good slider, giving him a nice one-two punch. FB tends to flatten out but has enough velocity to get away with it. Improved control and command led to nice breakout in 2010 (16 BB/52 K) and had 17 saves for Double-A Springfield. Bad recoil on delivery is definitely troublesome but could be corrected. Yet another Cardinals reliever who could potentially close.
2011 MLB Role: Setup reliever/Possible closer
Potential Rating: 8C

12. Francisco Samuel RHP....24....2006 (NDFA) Dominican Republic

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP CMD K/9 oppBA
PB (FSL) 0-0 0.00 3 6 18 0.111
SPR (TEX) 2-0 3.63 22.1 1.7 10.9 0.217
MEM (PCL) 1-0 4.63 11.2 0.6 7.7 0.190
MLE 3-0 3.97 34 1 8.5 0.209

Strengths: 94-96 mph fastball. 85-89 power slider. Ability to dominate. Athleticism.
Weaknesses: Command. Inconsistent mechanics. Ability to make adjustments.
Comments: Slender, athletic hurler might have the best fastball in the system outside of Shelby Miller. FB sits in the 94-96 range and tops out at 99 mph. Compliments the heater with a quality 85-89 mph power slider that gets plenty of swings and misses. Averaged 11.7 Dom over 4 minor league seasons, but also had 8.4 Ctl over that same span. Improved control in the FSL didn't last as he advanced up the ladder, but he is tough to hit (.201 BAA in 37 IP in 2010). Even a modicum of control gives him the potential to be an effective major league reliever.
2011 MLB Role: Setup reliever
Potential Rating: 9E

13. Tommy Pham OF.....R/R....22...2006 (16) Las Vegas, NV

PB (FSL) 237 0.262 0.377 0.392 3 13 0.71
SPR (TEX) 121 0.339 0.429 0.537 3 4 0.64
MLE 121 0.298 0.370 0.463 2 3 0.64

Strengths: Athleticism. Raw power. Plate discipline. Speed. Covers ground. Arm strength.
Weaknesses: Raw. Lack of present power. Line drive stroke.
Comments: Lean, powerful, raw and toolsy, Pham was drafted as a SS but moved to the OF two years ago and had nice breakout in 2010. Showed improved plate discipline and hit .339 after promotion to Double-A Springfield mid-season. Currently has a line-drive swing and power is still raw, but at 22 he is still young enough for it to develop and he did hit 17 home runs in 271 AB in the MWL in 2008. Runs well and overs ground in the OF, and has a very strong throwing arm. Pham is still unpolished, but he is starting to tap into his potential.
MLB Debut: 2012
Potential Rating: 8D

14. Matt Carpenter 3B....L/R.....2009 (13) TCU

PB (FSL) 99 0.283 0.441 0.404 1 0 1.86
SPR (TEX) 396 0.316 0.412 0.487 12 11 0.73
MLE 396 0.264 0.344 0.388 8 9 0.81

Strengths: Plate discipline. Contact ability. BA potential. Modest speed.
Weaknesses: Arm strength. Throwing motion. Power a bit short for position.
Comments: Solid, athletic 3B prospect had a nice breakout in 2010, showing some pop, plus plate discipline, and a bit of speed. Power likely to be a bit short for 3B and he is below-average defensively and lacks one plus tool needed for the position. Projects more as solid #2 hitter with good OB ability, some pop, and some speed. Could see some time in STL in 2011, but with Zack Cox looming, his window of opportunity is small.
2011 MLB Role: Backup 3B with the potential to start
Potential Rating: 7C

15. Mark Hamilton OF.....L/L....26....2006 (2) Tulane

Cards (GCL) 27 0.296 0.406 0.556 2 0 0.44
MEM (PCL) 258 0.298 0.389 0.585 18 0 0.50
StL (NL) 14 0.143 0.200 0.143 0 0 0.25
MLE 258 0.232 0.295 0.421 11 0 0.43

Strengths: Raw strength. Power. Bat speed. Plate discipline.
Weaknesses: Lack of speed. Arm strength. Not overly athletic.
Comments: Tall powerful 1B prospect had a nice season of growth in Triple-A. Got a late start to the 2010 due to injury, but made up for lost time, with 18 home runs in just 258 AB. Sacrificed a little plate discipline for some power and the results were positive. Stuck behind Pujols and doesn't have enough speed to play the OF so will likely have to find a path to the majors in a different organization.
2011 MLB Role: Backup 1B
Potential Rating: 8D

Player Potential Rating - a player's upside potential on a scale of 1-10

10 – Hall of Fame-type player
9 – Elite player
8 – Solid regular
7 – Average regular
6 – Platoon player
5 – Major League reserve player
4 - Top minor league player
3 - Average minor league player
2 - Minor league reserve player
1 - Minor league roster filler

Probability Rating - a player's realistic chance of achieving his potential on a scale of A-E

A - 90% probability of reaching potential
B - 70% probability of reaching potential
C - 50% probability of reaching potential
D - 30% probability of reaching potential
E - 10% probability of reaching potential

In Part Two, we will analyze the Minor League Analyst's organizational ratings for the National League Central Division clubs with scoring of each in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent, depth and overall and compare them to recent past seasons.

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