40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Cards Prospects: 2014

Our ninth annual countdown started Monday, December 2. Over a 40-day period, we unveil our top prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system for 2014.

Once again, it is time for the unveiling of our annual The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Top 40 Prospect List, back for its ninth year. During the period we call "40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Cardinals Prospects", a new top St. Louis Cardinals prospect is disclosed each day, starting with number 40 and carrying us well into the New Year.

Will #1 from last year repeat?
We will continue until the number one pick is identified – our consensus top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system coming into the 2014 season. Will 2013 top prospect Oscar Taveras make it two in a row or will there a new king be crowned?

As always, following the top 40 countdown will be our annual eight-pack of "best-of", "just-missed" and in-depth analysis articles to conclude this series.

As has been the process in recent years, the final ranking representing the site is actually a melding of several lists. This year's voters are site publisher and editor Brian Walton, and you, our readers.

Since mid-September, the members of our free message board community have been conducting voting for their own Cardinals prospect list. This detailed annual ranking involves considerable debate and discussion. The fan voting process has been imitated but never duplicated, as our readers are the some of the most knowledgeable folks around when it comes to the players in the Cardinals minor league system.

The Cardinal Nation community ranking is given its customary one-third weighting to yield the countdown order unveiled here. The community leader who led the voting process, "DTFlush234," will also speak for the group in the individual player capsules posted daily.

To follow the countdown, TCN/Scout.com subscribers can either read each new story when posted on our home page every morning or click on the individual players' names which will be listed below as they are unveiled. All readers, subscribers or not, are encouraged to return to this page daily to check the current status of our Top 40 countdown and read the subset of articles which will be made free to all.

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As always, all readers can join in the debate at our free message board, where there will be a new discussion thread devoted to that day's entry onto the top prospect list.

To check out the corresponding rankings from each of the past eight winters, either click on the highlighted years here: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, or you can always use the permanent links located on the lower left side of our home page.

The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Top 40 Prospects – 2014

40. Audry Perez (free article)
39. Eric Fornataro Premium Article
38. Fernando Baez Premium Article
37. Seth Blair (free article)
36. Sam Tuivailala Premium Article
35. Keith Butler Premium Article
34. Nick Petree (free article)
33. Kenny Peoples-Walls Premium Article
32. Edmundo Sosa Premium Article
31. Breyvic Valera (free article)
30. Boone Whiting Premium Article
29. Jordan Swagerty Premium Article
28. Jacob Wilson (free article)
27. Juan Herrera Premium Article
26. Sam Gaviglio Premium Article
25. Ian McKinney (free article)
24. Mike O'Neill Premium Article
23. Tommy Pham Premium Article
22. Oscar Mercado (free article)
21. Mike Mayers Premium Article
20. Greg Garcia Premium Article
19. John Gast (free article)
18. Lee Stoppelman Premium Article
17. Sam Freeman Premium Article
16. Zach Petrick (free article)
15. Patrick Wisdom Premium Article
14. Cory Jones Premium Article
13. Charlie Tilson (free article)
12. Tim Cooney Premium Article
11. Tyrell Jenkins Premium Article
10. Randal Grichuk (free article)
9. Carson Kelly Premium Article
8. James Ramsey Premium Article
7. Alex Reyes (free article)
6. Marco Gonzales Premium Article
5. Rob Kaminsky Premium Article
4. Stephen Piscotty (free article)
3. Kolten Wong Premium Article
2. Carlos Martinez Premium Article
1. Oscar Taveras (free article)

At the conclusion of the countdown, we will follow with a nine-part series in which we analyze each voter's individual top 40 lists, year-to-year changes and the top additions. The voters highlight their ranked players that did not make the combined top 40 and we unveil our All-Prospect Team - the highest-ranked players at each position. We will take a view behind the numbers, a look back at our best and worst picks from the previous year, the top prospect list cut by level of play and wrap it up with those on the 2013 list that dropped off for 2014.

2014 top Cardinals prospects – The final tally Premium Article
2014 top Cardinals prospects – The newbies Premium Article
Cardinals prospects: Best of the rest – Community (free)
Cardinals prospects: Best of the rest – Brian Walton Premium Article
2014 TCN/Scout.com All-Cardinals Prospect Team (free)
2014 top Cardinals prospects – Behind the numbers Premium Article
2013 top Cardinals prospects – Picks and pans Premium Article
2014 top Cardinals prospects by level Premium Article
2014 top Cardinals prospects - The departed Premium Article

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Where will TCNs top 40 Cardinals prospects report? Premium Article

The voting process
Here is a bit of insight into the process. During November, Brian Walton documented his top prospects in the Cardinals minor league system. The Community vote was then folded in.

A weighted score was tabulated, which drove the ranking you will see here. The individual scores will also be shown on the player pages as they are unveiled each day, along with a wealth of additional information on each of the 40 prospects.

To come up with the 40 names, each of us submitted lists of 46 players. This year, 55 prospects were identified on at least one list, meaning some good players just missed the cut. Ties were broken by the best single voter score.

In terms of qualification, all players in the Cardinals minor league system are eligible, including those on the 40-man roster, as long as they have not exhausted their MLB rookie designation.

In the following, the voters briefly explain how they made their selections.

Brian Walton
The top 20 Cardinals prospects should be fairly consistent across most prospect raters. The real work is in identifying the next tier - solid contributors and quality players today on the cusp of breaking out. Tools can really come into play here.

Targeting emerging players is my most anticipated and ongoing challenge. At the same time, it is easy to give up too soon on talented prospects whose careers may have hit a bit of unexpected turbulence.

In the process of ranking, we sometimes put too much weight on current results while missing out on signals of greater potential ahead. Before a strong statistical base as a professional is established, some credence is given to draft position, but clinging to that hope too long can lead to disappointment.

My initial contenders for the 2014 top 40 included a record 91 names, or over one-third of the minor leaguers in the system. They were ordered based on personal observation as much as possible. I was out to see almost all the affiliates in person this spring, summer and/or fall, and in many cases, multiple times. I also received valuable input from coaches, scouts and others in and out of the organization.

While there may be fewer "can't miss" players than in some recent years, I feel that every one of the top 30 players on my list have a good chance of reaching the major leagues.

Message board community
This is a very straight-forward process. On our free message board, all comers were welcome to cast their vote for any eligible player, with all votes equal. The process began with the number one prospect and is continuing through 60.

Voting closed on a particular spot in the rankings when enough time had elapsed to exhaust responses or a candidate established a large lead. The winner was recorded and the voting began anew on the next number in the list.

Discussion and debate is welcomed and anyone could participate. As the result of convincing arguments presented, personal votes were influenced and in some cases changed, indicating a healthy give-and-take among the readers.

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