Cards prospect hype meter: 2013 spring week 1

Which prospects drew attention in St. Louis Cardinals major league spring training camp last week?

The good news is that one week of actual spring training games for 2013 are now in the books. Left behind (hopefully) are the "best shape of his life" and "veterans mentoring kids" articles that traditionally help fill in the time from when camp opens until there are "real" exhibition games about which to report.


While CariocaCardinal's popular St. Louis Cardinals Monthly Prospect Rankings will be back for 2013, its first edition will not come out until real baseball begins – in April. In the meantime, I am going to step in with a weekly look at how the members of our 2013 top 40 prospect list are doing in major league camp.

I could have chosen a more mundane title for these articles, but to be honest, I am playing off a segment of people who have become over-heated about prospects such as Oscar Taveras and Michael Wacha based on just a few February games. I sense they didn't know about these guys before and are star-struck upon discovering them.

The good news-bad news story this year is that the Cardinals, with the top-ranked farm system in baseball, have a batch of prospects close to the majors. Some who are overly zealous are calling out for these players to be put onto the major league roster before it may make good sense for the prospect or the team.

I have already gone on record taking exception to this approach and further, have not given any of the Cardinals non-roster invitees greater than a 10 percent chance of making the major league roster out of spring training. So I hope it is clear where I am coming from.

Still, that doesn't mean we can't regularly check in on how the youngsters are doing. Of course, the usual small sample size warnings are relevant. Think of this as a hot-warm-cold look from a seven-day period that could change entirely from one week to next.


The team is in pretty good shape, all things considering. Through seven contests, the pitching has a collective ERA of 3.63. The Cardinals opponents are at 7.38. The team batting average is .293, with their opponents at .269. St. Louis' run differential advantage is 59 to 33. After two initial losses, the Cards won four straight until Houston came back to tie on Friday.

The players

Of the 56 players currently in camp, 39 are on the 40-man roster and 17 are non-roster invitees. They are all vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.

23 of the 56 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2013 – 13 pitchers and 10 position players. This is the group about which I will be reporting.

They will be split by pitchers and position players. Within those groups, I rank each player based on his hype factor this past week – high/medium/low. I want to be clear that is NOT how I assess their chances of making the team – see the column I call "Projection" for where I think the player will start in April.

The pitchers

Pitchers Top 40  Roster Camp Projection Hype meter
Michael Wacha #4 NRI Majors Springfield High
Shelby Miller #2 40-man Majors Memphis Medium
Seth Maness #14 NRI Majors Memphis Medium
Eduardo Sanchez #26 40-man Majors Memphis Medium
Tyler Lyons #35 NRI Majors Memphis Medium
Trevor Rosenthal #3 40-man Majors St. Louis Low
Carlos Martinez #5 NRI Visa Memphis Low
John Gast #20 NRI Majors Memphis Low
Kevin Siegrist #22 40-man Majors Memphis Low
Sam Freeman #24 40-man Majors Memphis Low
Eric Fornataro #27 40-man Majors Memphis Low
Maikel Cleto #28 40-man Majors Memphis Low
Keith Butler #40 40-man Majors Memphis Low


Michael Wacha has done a fine job in his first spring camp, having allowed just one unearned run on two hits and no walks in five innings. The big right-hander has fanned eight. Despite it being completely unreasonable for him to begin in St. Louis, Wacha's hype meter is registering off the dial. Unfortunately, we will have to also face unbearable Muppets jokes for years to come.

If I dissected this report into partial weeks, Miller's rating was at the top of the scale at the start of the week and the bottom at the end. An injury scare with his shoulder led to mass hysteria that disappeared when Miller's spring debut was set as Saturday, March 2.

Seth Maness scored points when escaping a jam with two-runners in scoring position that he inherited from Adam Wainwright on Monday. The control expert gave the Cards three strikeouts in four batters retired.

Eduardo Sanchez is getting back on the radar screen by fanning five in three scoreless innings. Most importantly, he allowed no walks. However, on Friday, outfielders had to make two tremendous catches to take away Houston extra-base hits. Of course, the third out was a strikeout.

Lefty Tyler Lyons quickly stepped in when Jake Westbrook was injured on Thursday and came through nicely with two scoreless frames.

Trevor Rosenthal had a rough first outing, but pitched better in his second appearance on Thursday. Last spring's hype hero is almost being treated as old news by fans and some segments of the media. I still have the right-hander as the only one of these 23 prospects to be on the opening day roster in St. Louis.

Lefties John Gast (four runs in four innings) and Sam Freeman (two runs in one inning) have had bumpy beginnings.

The position players

Position Players Top 40  Roster Camp Projection Hype meter
Oscar Taveras #1 NRI Majors Memphis High
Matt Adams #7 40-man Majors Memphis High
Kolten Wong #6 NRI Majors Memphis Medium
Adron Chambers #23 40-man Majors Memphis Medium
Pete Kozma #29 40-man Majors Memphis Medium
Ryan Jackson #15 40-man Majors Memphis Low
Greg Garcia #16 NRI Majors Memphis Low
Starlin Rodriguez #17 NRI Majors Springfield Low
Adam Ehrlich #34 NRI Majors Class-A Low
Audry Perez #38 NRI Majors Memphis Low


In about a 15-minute period on Thursday, Oscar Taveras said it all. He took too much time on a ball hit to him in the outfield. That allowed a runner to take an extra base and he soon scored. In the next frame, Taveras made them all forget the miscue when he launched a grand slam over the outfield fence.

During this past week, Matt Adams went from being apparently destined for the minors (when Mike Matheny disclosed the club would carry a reserve centerfielder) to going 5-for-12 with a home run and a team-tying best six RBI. Now, they say they want to try to find room for the burly first baseman.

Kolten Wong has two doubles and a single in 10 at-bats, for a nice start. Incumbent Daniel Descalso is even hotter and jury is still out on Matt Carpenter's experiment at second base, so nothing in the big picture has changed.

The Shane Robinson-Adron Chambers battle heightened as Chambers uncharacteristically launched a long ball on Friday. Chambers has drawn a couple of walks, stole two bases and has driven in five. Robinson has six RBI himself.

Last September's phenom Pete Kozma continues to swing a nice bat, going 6-for-17, including two doubles and a home run. Kozma also walked twice as the apparent Rafael Furcal insurance policy.

After a couple of unusual appearances defensively at first base for which he had to borrow a glove, Ryan Jackson appeared at shortstop on Friday. He was shaky in both range and throwing. Batting .182 won't help, but like for all of these players, it is very early.

To see the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and 17 non-roster spring training invitees, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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