2012 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 46th article in our Top 40 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects for 2012 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.

For 2012, The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Team has been expanded from 11 to 12 players – eight position players, including two corner outfielders considered as one group, plus four pitchers – left and right-handed starters and relievers. The left-handed reliever, a constant challenge for the organization, is included separately for the first time. Listed are each player's overall ranking in the top 40, age and predominant level played in 2011, as measured by at-bats or innings pitched.

The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals 2012 All-Prospect Team

Position Player Rank Age 11 Lvl
Catcher Tony Cruz 16 25 AAA
First Base Matt Adams 9 23 AA
Second Base Kolten Wong 4 21 A
Shortstop Ryan Jackson 13 23 AA
Third Base Zack Cox * 5 22 AA
Corner Outfield Oscar Taveras * 3 19 A
Corner Outfield Anthony Garcia 22 19 R
Centerfield Charlie Tilson 15 19 R
LH Starter John Gast * 21 22 A+
RH Starter Shelby Miller * 1 21 AA
LH Reliever Sam Freeman 34 24 AA
RH Reliever Eduardo Sanchez * 7 22 MLB

In an indication of considerable stability at the top of the prospect rankings, five of the 11 possible are holdovers from last year (noted by * above), with seven new to the All-Prospect Team.

Top prospect Shelby Miller earns his third consecutive berth. In other words, the Texan has been the system's top-ranked right-handed starter since he signed. Reliever Eduardo Sanchez also makes his third straight showing at the top of the right-handed relievers.

The other repeaters are third baseman Zack Cox, corner outfielder Oscar Taveras and left-handed starting pitcher John Gast. Each is making his second consecutive appearance on the All-Prospect Team.

TCN/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Teams – 2006 through 2012

All-Prospects 2012 2011 2010
Catcher Tony Cruz Bryan Anderson Robert Stock
First Base Matt Adams Mark Hamilton Mark Hamilton
Second Base Kolten Wong Daniel Descalso Daniel Descalso
Shortstop Ryan Jackson Pete Kozma Pete Kozma
Third Base Zack Cox Zack Cox* David Freese
Corner Outfield Oscar Taveras Oscar Taveras Daryl Jones
Corner Outfield Anthony Garcia Allen Craig Allen Craig
Centerfield Charlie Tilson Adron Chambers Jon Jay
LH Starter John Gast John Gast Jaime Garcia
RH Starter Shelby Miller Shelby Miller* Shelby Miller*
LH Reliever Sam Freeman    
RH Reliever Eduardo Sanchez Eduardo Sanchez Eduardo Sanchez
Player of Year * Matt Carpenter
Pitcher of Year * Brandon Dickson * Lance Lynn
All-Prospects 2009 2008 2007
Catcher Bryan Anderson Bryan Anderson Bryan Anderson
First Base Curt Smith Mark Hamilton Mark Hamilton
Second Base Jose Martinez Jose Martinez Jose Martinez
Shortstop Pete Kozma Pete Kozma Tyler Greene
Third Base Brett Wallace* Allen Craig Randy Roth
Corner Outfield Nick Stavinoha Joe Mather Nick Stavinoha
Corner Outfield Jon Jay Jon Jay Cody Haerther
Centerfield Colby Rasmus Colby Rasmus Colby Rasmus
LH Starter Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia
RH Starter Jess Todd Adam Ottavino* B. Hawksworth
Reliever Jason Motte Chris Perez Chris Perez
Player of Year * David Freese
Pitcher of Year * P.J. Walters
All-Prospects 2006
Catcher Bryan Anderson
First Base Mike Ferris
Second Base Jose Martinez
Shortstop Tyler Greene
Third Base Travis Hanson 
Corner Outfield Nick Stavinoha
Corner Outfield Cody Haerther
Centerfield Colby Rasmus
LH Starter Eric Haberer
RH Starter Anthony Reyes
Reliever Tyler Johnson

Winners from the previous six 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. The current winners are Shelby Miller and Matt Adams, respectively. For the first time since 2007, our choices are the same as the Cardinals organization's selections.

While both the 2010 TCN Pitchers and Players of the Year, Brandon Dickson and Matt Carpenter, remained in the system, they did not make the All-Prospect Team either this year or last. It serves as another reminder that there is a difference between having a good season and being a top prospect.

The asterisks (*) denote those cases in past years when either our Pitcher or Player of the Year (or both) were not ranked as the top prospect in the system at their position in the following off-season.

In an oddity, four of our 2011 top prospect team members remain ranked in the top 40 prospect list, but have fallen off the 2012 All-Prospect Team due to others at their position passing them in the rankings. All four that dropped have MLB experience.

Two of the four made their MLB debuts this past season. Shortstop Pete Kozma was since outranked by Ryan Jackson and centerfielder Adron Chambers was bumped by draft pick Charlie Tilson. Two other 2011 All-Prospect Team members, catcher Bryan Anderson and first baseman Mark Hamilton, made their big-league debuts in 2010, but were passed by Tony Cruz and Adams, respectively, in the 2012 prospect rankings.

Two players, second baseman Daniel Descalso and outfielder Allen Craig, left the All-Prospect Team after promotion to St. Louis. Descalso had been our top second baseman for two years running and has now been replaced by first-round draft pick Kolten Wong. Anthony Garcia makes his debut at one corner outfield position, taking Craig's old spot. Sam Freeman captures the new spot this year, left-handed reliever.

In a reminder of the change in organizational strategy in favor of keeping top prospects, for the second consecutive year, none of the members of the previous year's All-Prospect Team were dealt away. Two members of the 2009 team were traded during the ensuing season, Brett Wallace and Jess Todd.

In repeating, Cox broke the string of six different third baseman named to the All-Prospect Team in six years. That had been the position with the highest level of turnover over time. Before being overtaken by Cruz, Anderson had led the way with five selections in six years despite still being just 25 years old. Hamilton had been the top first baseman in four out of the last five years before being displaced by Adams.

Age and experience

All-Prospect Team 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
Average age 21.7 22.4 22.3 22.5 21.8 21.9
Average experience AA AA AA AAA AA A+

This year's All-Prospect Team has a less-pronounced spread in ages, from three players at 19 years old to Cruz at 25 years of age. Last year, the low was one year younger and the high was one year older, plus there were two players at 26 (Hamilton and Craig). The average age of the 2012 players, 21.7 years, is the youngest since I have been announcing these teams.

The level reached by the average player is listed as Double-A, but mathematically, it is exactly on the line between Double-A and A-Advanced. In fact, the swinger was Sanchez actually pitching more innings in the majors than at Memphis. The fact that the All-Prospect Team is slightly less experienced than last year is not surprising since the average player age is over half a year younger in 2012.

Interestingly, only two of the 12 prospects played the majority of the 2011 campaign at Triple-A or above. For a third consecutive year, not a single Palm Beach (A-Advanced) player made the Top Prospect Team, though several saw time there during the season. Four of the 12 were primarily at Class A Quad Cities or below.

Want access to all the details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?

Time is running out! Upgrade or subscribe by January 20 to our Annual Pass and receive the 2012 FOX Fantasy Guide / Scout Prospect Guide, a $4.95 value, for free. The perfect printed companion to "Forty Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations will appear on newsstands all over the country in the spring. Of course, 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. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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