BaseballHQ pegs Cardinals system at #15

In the second installment of a four-part series, we review the rankings of the National League Central Division organizations according to the Minor League Baseball Analyst. We also look at the details behind the Cardinals changes from past years.

The seventh edition of BaseballHQ's "Minor League Baseball Analyst" is now shipping. 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.

In Part one of this four-part series, we reviewed the top 15 Cardinals prospects with the details as to why they are ranked where they are.

Here in Part two, we'll look into the Minor League Baseball Analysts' Cardinals organizational rankings in comparison to their National League Central Division competitors. Past club rankings from 2006-2011 are used to compare progress. In Part three, we will evaluate individual Cardinals player movement on and off the top 15.

St. Louis vs. NL Central

The cyclical nature of the prospect game is clear when observing that the Cardinals were at the bottom of National League Central Division rankings (with the Reds) six years ago, before making their best showing in 2009. They then headed down for the next two years before once again scoring a "B" grade this year.

After ranking 28th of 30 MLB organizations two years ago, St. Louis improved slightly in 2012, from 17th last year to 15th. In other words, they are just about in the middle of the pack. Half of NL Central Division is in the bottom 20 percent of MLB, with the Cubs, Milwaukee and Houston at 24th or worse. Still, both the Astros and Brewers improved their alpha grades over 2011 and Houston moved up three spots in the numeric rankings.

NL Central Org. 2012 MLB rank and trend 2011 MLB rank 2010 MLB rank 2012 overall and  YTY trend 11 10  09 08  07 06
Pirates 9 16 18 B+ B- B- C+ C+ C C
Cardinals 15 17 28 B C+ C- B B- C C-
Reds 16 5 16 B- A- B- B B+ B C-
Cubs 24 18 14 C C+ B- C- C+ C+ B-
Brewers 29 28 13 C D+ B B- C B B+
Astros 26 29 30 C D+ D+ D+ C- B- C

(Colors denote year-to-year change with green=up, yellow=flat and red=down.)

Now let's dive down into the detailed analysis of the 2012 NL Central by category. Here we see the Cardinals in the upper part of the pack in the four criteria that are combined to make up the overall score.

In a bit of a surprise to me, in the division St. Louis is tops in hitting and tied for best depth. Perhaps because we are so close to the organization, many of us tend to see a few hitting prospects, but that is it. The Cards rank second in pitching (to Pittsburgh) for the second consecutive year and also are second to the Bucs in top end talent. Further, it is the most balanced performance in the division, as all St. Louis' scores are "B" or better.

NLC Org. Hitting Pitching Top end talent  Depth Overall
Pirates C+ A A- B B+
Cardinals B A- B+ B B
Reds C+ B- C+ B- B-
Cubs B- C C+ B- C
Brewers D B+ B- D C
Astros B- C B- C- C

Cardinals now versus in the past

Now we'll look into Cardinals year-to-year trends. Note that only four years of the "depth" category is included here as it was first incorporated into the 2009 Analyst. Therefore, only three yearly comparisons are possible.

Cardinals Hitting Pitching Top-end talent  Depth Overall
2012 B A- B+ B B
11-12 trend up up up up up
2011 C B B- B- C+
10-11 trend up up up up up
2010 D C+ C C C-
09-10 trend down flat down down down
2009 A- C+ B- B B
08-09 trend up down flat   up
2008 C+ B- B-   B-
07-08 trend up up up   up
2007 C C- C+   C

The Cardinals organization demonstrated marked improvement in all four categories from 2011 to 2012. In fact, after a rough 2010, it was the second year in a row in which the organization had a better score in all four individual areas and overall compared to the year prior

The A- score for pitching is its highest in these six years. Same with top end talent at B+. Depth tied its best score while hitting, at B, is its best rating since 2009.

Let's go back to the Cardinals top 15 prospects to dig into this a bit. Interestingly, in terms of raw numbers, quantity not quality, the number of hitters in the top 15 reversed a bit of last years' decline. Seven hitters and eight pitchers are as balanced as this raw measure can be.

Cards top 15 Hitters Pitchers
2012 7 8
2011 6 9
2010 8 7
2009 8 7
2008 9 6

Only looking at the top half, prospects one through eight, we can clearly see that pitching is still king. Again, there is slight improvement in hitting over 2011, however.

Cards top 8 Hitters Pitchers
2012 3 5
2011 2 6
2010 4 4
2009 6 2
2008 4 4

In Part three of this series, we will look into individual player movement and changes in their projections from year to year.

Thank you to Rob Gordon, Jeremy Deloney and BaseballHQ for giving us this special peek at their data. Please respect them and copyright laws by not duplicating this material.



Link to Part one of this report: "BaseballHQ on Cardinals Prospects: 2012".



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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