Top prospects again top heavy in Cards system

Season-opening rosters for the St. Louis Cardinals indicate most of the best prospects are opening 2013 at the highest levels of the minor league system.

Monday brought the unofficial announcements of the minor league rosters to open the 2013 regular season for the St. Louis Cardinals' four full-season clubs with initial 25-man limits reached on Thursday.

One can see the details as they evolved over the last few days here and early next week, new assignments across the entire system will be available via the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

Alternatively, you can explore each team's roster right here at The Cardinal Nation. They are current as of the start of the regular season. By clicking on player names, you can view bios, photos, videos, articles, news items, links to current season and career stats and much more – everything you need to know about a player in one place.

Full-season clubs
St. Louis Cardinals
Memphis Redbirds
Springfield Cardinals
Palm Beach Cardinals
Peoria Chiefs

With the initial 2013 rosters set, here are the assignments of the Cardinals top 40 prospects as ranked here at The Cardinal Nation during the off-season.

The second-to-right column indicates a re-sort of the same data, by level of play. In the far right column, the 2012 season-ending assignment for each member of the top 40 is included.

Rk 2013 TCN Top 40 open Rk 2013 TCN Top 40 open end 2012
1 Oscar Taveras Mem 2 Shelby Miller StL StL
2 Shelby Miller StL 3 Trevor Rosenthal StL StL
3 Trevor Rosenthal StL 7 Matt Adams StL Mem (DL)
4 Michael Wacha Mem 15 Ryan Jackson StL StL
5 Carlos Martinez EST 29 Pete Kozma StL StL
6 Kolten Wong Mem
7 Matt Adams StL 1 Oscar Taveras Mem Spr
8 Tyrell Jenkins Peo 4 Michael Wacha Mem Spr
9 Anthony Garcia PB 6 Kolten Wong Mem Spr
10 Carson Kelly EST 14 Seth Maness Mem Spr
11 Jordan Swagerty Spr (DL) 16 Greg Garcia Mem Spr
12 Stephen Piscotty PB 20 John Gast Mem Mem
13 James Ramsey PB 23 Adron Chambers Mem StL
14 Seth Maness Mem 24 Sam Freeman  Mem StL
15 Ryan Jackson StL 26 Eduardo Sanchez Mem Mem
16 Greg Garcia Mem 27 Eric Fornataro Mem Spr
17 Starlin Rodriguez Spr    28 Maikel Cleto Mem Mem
18 Patrick Wisdom Peo 35 Tyler Lyons Mem Mem
19 Breyvic Valera Peo
20 John Gast Mem 11 Jordan Swagerty Spr (DL) Spr (DL)
21 Charlie Tilson Peo 17 Starlin Rodriguez Spr    PB
22 Kevin Siegrist Spr 22 Kevin Siegrist Spr Spr 
23 Adron Chambers Mem 25 Boone Whiting Spr Spr 
24 Sam Freeman  Mem 30 Seth Blair Spr PB
25 Boone Whiting Spr 32 Mike O'Neill Spr Spr
26 Eduardo Sanchez Mem 38 Audry Perez Spr Spr
27 Eric Fornataro Mem 40 Keith Butler Spr Spr
28 Maikel Cleto Mem
29 Pete Kozma StL 9 Anthony Garcia PB QC
30 Seth Blair Spr 12 Stephen Piscotty PB QC
31 C.J. McElroy EST 13 James Ramsey PB PB
32 Mike O'Neill Spr 36 Colin Walsh PB QC
33 Dixon Llorens Peo 39 Tim Cooney PB Bat
34 Adam Ehrlich EST
35 Tyler Lyons Mem 8 Tyrell Jenkins Peo QC
36 Colin Walsh PB 18 Patrick Wisdom Peo Bat
37 Victor DeLeon EST 19 Breyvic Valera Peo Bat
38 Audry Perez Spr 21 Charlie Tilson Peo JC (DL)
39 Tim Cooney PB 33 Dixon Llorens Peo QC
40 Keith Butler Spr
5 Carlos Martinez EST Spr
10 Carson Kelly EST JC
31 C.J. McElroy EST JC
34 Adam Ehrlich EST JC
37 Victor DeLeon EST JC

What may first catch your eye are the six top 40 members from Springfield that moved up to Memphis. However, all is not lost at Double-A. Six others from the end of last season's Texas League champions remain for 2013, joined by a pair of top 40 prospects up from Palm Beach.

On the other hand, the A-Advanced Cardinals have just one top 40 holdover from the final 2012 roster, outfielder James Ramsey. One new Palm Beach player, left-handed starter Tim Cooney, made the leap from Batavia over Peoria.

Following is the data summarized, split out by level for both the top 20 and top 40. The same table from this time last year is provided alongside for comparison.

2013 level Top 20 Top 40 2012 level Top 20 Top 40
St. Louis 4 5 St. Louis 3 4
Memphis 6 12 Memphis 10 15
Springfield 2 8 Springfield 4 10
Palm Beach 3 5 Palm Beach 1 3
Peoria 3 5 Quad Cities 1 4
Extended  2 5 Extended  1 4
Total 20 40 DFA 0 1
Total 20 41

Not surprisingly, the best prospects in the system are closest to the majors. In fact, half of the top 20 are either in St. Louis (four) or just one step away at Memphis (six).

One clear change is a greater representation at the lower levels. Last year, just three of our top 20 were at Class-A or below. In 2013, that total increased to eight. Obviously, the rich 2012 draft class had a major impact.

Springfield, the 2012 season-opening destination for such luminaries as Trevor Rosenthal, Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong, is not nearly as blessed with top prospects this year. Just two top 20 players are at Double-A, with one, Jordan Swagerty, on the disabled list.

Carlos Martinez finished last season with Springfield. His visa delay pushed him down to extended spring training to start 2013, but had he been able to put in a full spring, he may have joined Michael Wacha in Memphis.

Of course, this is just a point in time analysis. The organization has shown its willingness to promote selected prospects during the season. Those who are initially repeating the same level, such as many of the Springfield returnees, Ramsey and Tyrell Jenkins could become candidates to move up with fast starts. Same with the extended spring training participants.

To keep up with the action, check out our daily Cardinals minor league notebooks with all the action from the night before. Our weekly team reports will commence with Springfield on Tuesday, April 9.

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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