BaseballHQ on Cardinals Prospects: 2012

In the first of a four-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.

The seventh edition of BaseballHQ's "Minor League Baseball Analyst" just 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 a quarter of a century. 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, Deloney and BaseballHQ.

Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects - 2012

Rank, player, (position), age, year drafted (round), school level (state) or country

1. Shelby Miller (RHP) ... 21 ... 2009 (1) HS (TX)

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Palm Beach (FSL) 2-3 2.89 53 3.4 13.8 4.1 0.204
Springfield (TL) 9-3 2.70 86 3.4 9.2 2.7 0.229
MLE 9-3 2.30 86 2.9 8.0 2.8 0.214

Strengths: Plus sinking fastball; curveball; ability to dominate
Weaknesses: Consistency of change-up; control
Comments: Dynamic 21-year-old continues to develop as one of the best pitching prospects in the minors. Miller features a 92-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 and has good late life and sink. He also has a plus curveball and change-up which flashes plus at times, but needs to be more consistent. When all three offerings are working, he can dominate. Miller overpowered hitters at two different levels. He has smooth, repeatable mechanics which gives him the tools to succeed as he moves up. Improved command and consistency of curve and change is the last obstacle to stardom. He could make his debut mid-to-late 2012.
MLB ETA: 2013
Potential Rating: 9B

2. Carlos Martinez (RHP) ... 20 ... 2010 NDFA, Dominican Republic

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Quad Cities (MWL) 3-2 2.33 38 3.3 11.6 3.6 0.196
Palm Beach (FSL) 3-3 5.28 46 5.9 9.4 1.6 0.269

Strengths: Athleticism; plus sinking fastball; deception; curveball
Weaknesses: Effort to delivery; recoil; durability; control
Comments: Short, powerful, exciting hurler generated plenty of buzz in his U.S. debut. Martinez used a 94-96 mph four seam fastball, a 90-93 mph sinker, a plus curveball, and a decent change-up to dominant hitters in the MWL. Martinez earned a spot in the Futures Game where he looked impressive, showing a 99 mph heater. Uses a high leg kick to generate plenty of torque and some nice deception. His backside mechanics are not conventional and he does have some bad recoil once he releases. Right now there are a lot of moving parts, but it seems to work. He is athletic and aggressive and should be fun to watch develop.
MLB ETA: 2014
Potential Rating: 9D

3. Oscar Taveras (OF) ... L/L ... 19 ... 2008 NDFA, Dominican Republic

Team (LG) AB AVG OBP SLG HR SB Eye
Quad Cities (MWL) 308 0.386 0.444 0.584 8 1 0.62

Strengths: Bat speed; hand-eye coordination; contact ability; plate discipline; range; arm
Weaknesses: Moderate present power; raw baserunner
Comments: Lean, quick, toolsy OF had a breakout campaign and won the MWL batting title. He has good balance and makes consistent hard contact. He is working on getting more backspin and loft from his swing and the results are encouraging. Solid speed and solid arm allow him to play all three OF positions. He doesn't have true CF speed or actions, but he can handle the position. Needs to improve as a baserunner, but good plate discipline and plus speed give him the potential to hit for average with moderate to plus power.
MLB ETA: 2014
Potential Rating: 9D

4. Tyrell Jenkins (RHP) ... 19 ... 2010 (1-S) HS (TX)

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Johnson City (APP) 4-2 3.86 56 2.1 8.8 4.2 0.296

Strengths: Projectable; plus fastball and curveball; control; command; deception
Weaknesses: Durability; raw/inexperienced
Comments: Lively, athletic, four-sport star in high school is quickly making the transition to one of the best pitching prospects in the minors. Features a plus 90-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96. Has a loose arm action and plus arm speed. He also throws a good 1-7 curveball and a nice change-up. Low 3/4 delivery gives some deception and good movement on his fastball. Was limited to just 56 innings and was one of the youngest players in the league. He should make his full-season debut in '12 and is a player to watch.
MLB ETA: 2015
Potential Rating: 9D

5. Kolten Wong (2B) ... L/R ... 21 ... 2011 (1) Hawaii

Team (LG) AB AVG OBP SLG HR SB Eye
Quad Cities (MLW) 194 0.335 0.401 0.510 5 9 0.88

Strengths: Contact ability; plate discipline; BA ability
Weaknesses: Range; moderate power
Comments: Wong is a short, athletic 2B is a natural hitter with a compact stroke and the ability to make consistent contact. He uses the entire field and has enough pop to project to at least an average big league offensive contributor. He has a disciplined eye and is a good situational hitter. Wong is a passable defender with a good arm and average speed. His nice professional debut accelerates his time-table.
MLB ETA: 2014
Potential Rating: 8C

6. Zack Cox (3B) ... L/R ... 22 ... 2010 (1) Arkansas

Team (LG) AB AVG OBP SLG HR SB Eye
Palm Beach (FSL) 164 0.335 0.380 0.439 3 2 0.38
Springfield (TL) 352 0.293 0.355 0.432 10 0 0.42
MLE 352 0.236 0.275 0.331 6 0 0.24

Strengths: Athleticism; soft hands; BA ability; plate discipline; arm strength
Weaknesses: Moderate power; range; speed; footwork
Comments: Compact, professional hitter has a short LH stroke and willing to use the whole field. He has a flat swing limits present power, but bat speed and plate discipline hint at future growth. He hit .306 in full-season debut and should compete for playing time at some point in 2012. He is an instinctual player who runs the bases well. Solid defender at 3B with soft hands, but is not going to win a Gold Glove anytime soon.
MLB ETA: 2012
Potential Rating: 8C

7. Eduardo Sanchez (RHP) ... 23 ... 2005 NDFA, Venezuela

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Memphis (PCL) 1-0 0.00 3 0.0 9.0 NA 0.000
Springfield (TL) 0-1 4.15 4.1 4.2 6.2 1.5 0.200
St. Louis (MLB) 3-1 1.80 30 4.8 10.5 2.2 0.144

Strengths: Plus-plus upper 90s fastball; movement; ability to dominate; plus 79-82 mph slider
Weaknesses: Durability; control
Comments: Short, wiry (5'11", 170 lb.) right-handed reliever generates surprising velocity. His fastball sits in the 95-97 mph range and tops out at 99. He also throws a nice slider that plays up because of the fastball velocity. Despite his size he is able to keep the ball down in the zone and simply overpowers hitters. He dominated at every level in '11 and was lights-out while in the majors, limiting opposing hitters to a .144 BAA. Sanchez likely has a secure spot in the Cardinals pen next year and could take over closer duties down the road.
MLB ETA: 2011
Potential Rating: 8A

8. Lance Lynn (RHP) ... 24 ... 2008 (1-S) Mississippi

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Memphis (PCL) 7-3 3.84 75 3.0 7.7 2.6 0.279
St. Louis (MLB) 1-1 3.12 34 2.9 10.4 3.6 0.203
MLE 1-1 3.99 75 2.9 6.4 2.2 0.280

Strengths: Aggressiveness; plus mid-90 fastball; power curve; control
Weaknesses: Health; durability; deception on change-up
Comments: Lynn is a tall, strong-framed pitcher with a plus power sinker and a power curveball that he locates well. The 24-year-old worked as both a starer and a reliever in the minors, but pitched primarily in relief once he reached the Cardinals. The move to relief allowed his fastball velocity to jump into the 94-96 range with good, late life. A strained oblique on August 9th caused him to miss the rest of the regular season. His future role is likely in relief given his dominance in that role in '11.
MLB ETA: 2011
Potential Rating: 8C

9. Matt Adams (1B) ... L/R ... 23 ... 2009 (23) Slippery Rock State

Team (LG) AB AVG OBP SLG HR SB Eye
Springfield (TL) 463 0.300 0.357 0.566 32 0 0.44
MLE 463 0.237 0.277 0.404 19 0 0.25

Strengths: Plus power; bat speed; contact ability; pitch recognition; compact swing
Weaknesses: Slow; limited range; defense.
Comments: The 23-year-old Adams is a strong, muscular hitter with plus power. He has solid bat speed and good plate discipline that gives him the tools to hit for average and power. Career minor league line of .316/.365/.552 shows the offensive potential. His body is thick and slow and he is a below average defender. 1B is the only option in the NL, and may get a chance with Pujols leaving town.
MLB ETA: 2012
Potential Rating: 8D

10. Jordan Swagerty (RHP) ... 22 ... 2010 (2) Arizona State

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Quad Cities (MWL) 3-1 1.5 30 0.6 9.0 15 0.178
Palm Beach (FSL) 2-2 1.82 54 2.7 8.6 3.3 0.214
Springfield (TL) 0-0 2.89 9.1 4.8 6.8 1.4 0.222

Strengths: Plus low-90s sinking fastball; deception; plus slurve
Weaknesses: Inconsistent mechanics; durability
Comments: Short, athletic right-hander has a quick and deceptive delivery. Swagerty features an 90-94 mph sinking fastball that gets in on hitters quickly and tops out at 96. His best pitch a plus 83-85 mph slurve that exhibits big, late-breaking action. He also has a nice change-up. Swagerty pitches aggressively and pitched both as a starter and in relief in '11. His solid three-pitch mix gives him a chance to start once he reaches the majors, otherwise he can be effective in relief.
MLB ETA: 2012
Potential Rating: 8B

11. Trevor Rosenthal (RHP) ... 21 ... 2009 (21) Cowley County CC

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Quad Cities (MWL) 7-7 4.11 120 2.9 9.9 3.4 0.247

Strengths: Projectability; command; three-pitch mix
Weaknesses: Consistency of curveball; durability; stamina
Comments: Strong, athletic hurler whose stock is on the rise. The 21-year-old right-hander has a good 90-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96. He complements the fastball with an above-average 80-83 mph change-up and a decent 75-78 mph curveball. He gets good torque from his lower half to generate plus arm speed and easy velocity. Combines plus stuff with above-average command. Results in the MWL don't tell the complete picture. Look for a breakout in 2012.
MLB ETA: 2014
Potential Rating: 9D

12. Ryan Jackson (SS) ... R/R ... 23 ... 2009 (5) Miami-FL

Team (LG) AB AVG OBP SLG HR SB Eye
Springfield (TL) 533 0.278 0.334 0.415 11 2 0.48

Strengths: Athleticism; speed; range; OB ability
Weaknesses: Moderate power; limited upside
Comments: Jackson is an athletic SS with good speed and solid defense. A nice spike in power (34 2B and 11 HR) in '11 makes him more viable as a starter. He has plus range, soft hands, a strong arm, and is good enough defensively to play on a regular basis. If the offense proves to be legit, he has nice potential. He doesn't get much press, but fits into the Cardinals organizational mode nicely and looks to a solid late-bloomer.
MLB ETA: 2013
Potential Rating: 7C

13. Tommy Pham (OF) ... R/R ... 24 ... 2006 (16) HS (NV)

Team (LG) AB AVG OBP SLG HR SB Eye
Springfield (TL) 143 0.294 0.372 0.517 5 3 0.45
MLE 143 0.234 0.293 0.384 3 2 0.27

Strengths: Raw power; plate discipline; speed; arm strength; range
Weaknesses: Raw; lack of present power
Comments: Lean, toolsy OF was in the midst of a breakout season when he broke his hand in July. Pham is still raw, but has a nice swing and emerging power. He also has a good arm, solid speed, and covers ground well in CF. Pham still has some work to do, but if everything comes together he could have a nice career.
MLB ETA: 2012
Potential Rating: 8D

14. Matt Carpenter (3B) ... L/R ... 26 ... 2009 (13) TCU

Team (LG) AB AVG OBP SLG HR SB Eye
Memphis (PCL) 434 0.300 0.417 0.463 12 5 1.24
St. Louis (MLB) 15 0.067 0.263 0.133 0 0 1.00
MLE 434 0.235 0.325 0.349 8 3 0.83

Strengths: Plate discipline; BA ability; contact ability
Weaknesses: Moderate power; defense
Comments: Carpenter is a nice, offensive-minded 3B prospect who hit over .300 for 2nd straight season. Carpenter has decent power, plus plate discipline, and makes consistent contact. He should be able to provide solid offensive-production in the majors. He is below-average defensively and lacks the arm needed for the position and with David Freese and Zack Cox in the organization, he doesn't have a clear path to regular AB.
MLB ETA: 2011
Potential Rating: 7C

15. Seth Blair (RHP) ... 23 ... 2010 (1-S) Arizona State

Team (LG) W-L ERA IP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Quad Cities (MWL) 7-3 5.29 81 6.8 7.7 1.3 0.259

Strengths: Sinking fastball; four-pitch mix; projectability
Weaknesses: Control; mechanics; inconsistent
Comments: Blair is a polished 23-year-old right-hander who struggled in his professional debut in the MWL. He has a nice four-pitch mix featuring a 90-93 mph sinking fastball, a good 12-6 curve, a slurvy slider, and a change-up. Both of the breaking balls need work and Blair struggled to throw strikes all season. Does have some recoil on his low 3/4 delivery and an inconsistent arm slot. His mechanics looked completely out of whack in '11. Does generate a lot of ground ball with his plus sinker (1.46 GB/FB ratio), but needs to improve across the board. Look for better results in '12.
MLB ETA: 2013
Potential Rating: 7D

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.



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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