Each month I present you with my top 20 prospects (updated through the end of the month), my next 20 prospects (not ranked but listed in alphabetical order), as well as whatever observations I feel are relevant at the moment.
This report reflects my opinions and not that of the entire The Cardinal Nation staff, so feel to address any comments or criticisms directly to me either through a message board post or via PM if you prefer.
On to the report!
These rankings are heavily influenced by how players performed in Spring Training and I would expect a lot of changes the first few months as more minor leaguers get a chance to strut their stuff in regular season games. The number in parentheses is how I ranked the player the previous month.
The top 20
#2. Carlos Martinez (2). Only reports out of EST are some minor injury bugs. Hopefully we'll see him soon in Quad Cities.
#3. Eduardo Sanchez (8). Looking more and more every day like he could turn into a dominant closer.
#4. Zack Cox (3). I am starting to get on the "worried about his power" train. It is early. It's the Florida State League (FSL). But how long can it be ignored?
#5. Lance Lynn (7). Not quite as dominating as the end of last year but going deep into every start. Seems to be more consistent.
#6. Matt Carpenter (5). Showed everything his supporters touted and little that his detractors criticize him for during Spring Training.
#7. Oscar Taveras (10). Started the season on an absolute tear before being injured. Some rank him higher but I want to see a little bit more first.
#8. Tyrell Jenkins (6). The silence surrounding his spring and EST is worrying me.
#9. Daniel Descalso (9). Has played well with St. Louis but looks like he could use a little more work on his bat.
#10. Fernando Salas (14). Doesn't profile to be as dominating as Sanchez but has been impressive so far in the St. Louis bullpen.
#11. Trevor Rosenthal (15). Followed up his strong spring with some impressive starts. Ground balls + strikeouts are off the charts.
#12. Matt Adams (17). Started slowly but has come on strong the last two weeks. Impressive start for a player that skipped a level and is young for the league.
#13. Ryan Jackson (19). Followed up an impressive spring with a torrid start in Double-A. Can Triple-A be far off?
#14. Mark Hamilton (12). Was just starting to crank it up in Memphis when called up to St. Louis. Probably goes back down when the bench is healthy.
#15. Adron Chambers (16). Seems to be steady and consistent at Triple-A. May never be a star but seems to be continually improving, so you never know.
#16. John Gast (20). Adapting well at Palm Beach after a long look in major league camp.
#17. Jordan Swagerty (20-40). TheCardinalNation.com Pitcher of the Month for April. 25:1 K:BB ratio. Rumored to be moving up soon.
#18. Maikel Cleto (20-40). Improving his K's and reducing his walks this year. Improved ground ball rates just an added plus. I have been vocal about the need for him to move up due to his status on the 40-man roster.
#20. Seth Blair (11). Falling hard and fast after a couple of bouts of wildness. His last outing was better and probably salvaged his place in the top 20 (for now).
Prospects 20-40 (not numerically ranked - in alphabetical order)
Bryan Anderson - Falls out of my top 20. I stuck with Anderson a long time as a believer but it will take a major resurgence at this point to get me back on board.
Bryan Augenstein - Pitched well for the big club before being injured but as long as the hard-throwing young guys do well he seems destined to go back to Memphis when he comes off the DL.
Alex Castellanos - (new) - Leads Double-A Springfield in home runs, triples and slugging. If he can cut down on his K's, he could earn a promotion this year.
Brandon Dickson (new) - Continues to get better. Has increased his strikeout ratio this year.
Chuckie Fick (new) - Keeps getting better has he goes up the ladder. Improving K rate now makes him a legitimate prospect.
Anthony Garcia – The Cards are bringing him along slowly. If he goes back to catching this year (as rumored) and hits like last year his stock could soar.
Deryk Hooker - Is struggling in Double-A but still showing enough promise to stay on the list.
Joe Kelly - Putting up much better numbers than he did in spring training. Started strongly last year but faded. Let's see if he can keep it up all year this time.
David Kopp - Hasn't pitched yet this year due to minor injury but should be back in early May. Needs to get back to inducing ground balls.
Pete Kozma - Has fallen in line behind Ryan Jackson in many people's estimation as a future Cardinals shortstop. Has started slowly before so hopefully he will pick up his numbers as the season goes along.
Nick Longmire - Terrible start at Class A Quad Cities but the talent is still there.
Aaron Luna - Already has earned a promotion to Memphis where he is hitting over .300 in limited action.
Luis Mateo - Struggling early at Palm Beach. Isn't hitting for the power he showed last year. Still only 20 years old.
Adam Ottavino - A strong ERA at Memphis. He might have made the top 20 if he hadn't walked five in his last appearance this month.
Tommy Pham - Started extremely slowly but has turned it on in the last week. If he continues his hot streak, he will be in the top 20 and more importantly most likely vying for a spot in Memphis,.
Rainel Rosario - Probably a reach pick last month but he showed he deserved it with a burst of home run power. Has cooled off a little average-wise but is still showing power.
Jonathan Rodriguez - Not hitting as well as expected but then almost nobody on the Quad Cities team is. Still showing power in his bat, though.
Michael Swinson - Was starting to show his skills before going down at the end of the month with an ankle injury. Power seems to be down a little.
P.J. Walters - Not pitching well but his long history keeps him on this list (for now).
Allen Craig (no longer eligible)
Hector Corpas - Surprisingly ineffective to start the season. Has the talent to come back though.
Tyler Henley - Rough start in his comeback attempt.
Adam Reifer - Season ended by knee surgery.
Andrew Brown (new) - The only thing I see standing between this guy and playing in the major leagues is staying healthy.
Scott Schneider - Was shelled in his first start but since then has been solid at Double-A Springfield. Another pitcher who will live or die by his continued success to get ground balls.
Kevin Siegrist - Lefty starter is dominating at Quad Cities. Is he the real deal?
Guys I'm watching
1) All system players with 134 or fewer at-bats or 50 or less innings pitched in the majors are eligible. Once a player reaches one of these thresholds, he will be removed from the next report.
2) The rankings are based almost entirely from statistics, media reports and first hand reports of others. I have seen very few of these players in person.
#Who'sgotthepower? Brian Walton wrote a great article comparing the hitting of the Cardinals minor league affiliates to other teams in their leagues. I decided to look at how these teams compare to previous teams. The result was not good. At the current pace, Springfield and Palm Beach will have the worst hitting teams since at least 2004 (most likely for a longer period but I did not check back any further). For Quad Cities and Memphis, it will be the second-worst since 2004. (Note: I used OPS rather batting average in my comparison). So the lack of offense is real. The lack of power is real. The reason is unknown and hard to explain. (Research was as of 28 April).
#safetyinnumbers. The Cardinals system is well known not to have many left-handed pitching prospects. That may be changing. The Cardinals have substantially increased the number of lefties in their lower levels this year. They currently have three at Springfield, four at Palm Beach (had five for a couple of days), three at Quad Cities and seven in Extended Spring Training. Most of these guys are not yet top prospects but if just one or two break out... #quantityoverquality.
© 2011 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.