First, we will start with the breakdown of our top 40 prospects by the year in which they became professionals. Six prior years of data is provided.
The top 40 population is broken out in two ways. The rows indicate how the players were acquired – via the draft, as free agents from the Latin American program or in the US, their contracts having been purchased from other leagues, acquired in the Rule 5 Draft or in trade.
The other dimension, in the columns, is the year the players became professionals, where N equals the most recent year/draft, N-1 being the prior year, etc.
Top 40 Cardinals prospects – sourcing - 2008-2014
|2014 Top 40||2013||2012||2011||2010||2009||2008||2007||2006||Tot|
|Latin Am FA||2||2||1||2||7|
|US free agent||1||1|
|Rule 5 acquire||0|
|2013 Top 40||2012||2011||2010||2009||2008||2007||2006||2005||Tot|
|Latin Am FA||2||2||2||1||7|
|US free agent|
|Rule 5 acquire|
|2012 Top 41||2011||2010||2009||2008||2007||2006||2005||Tot|
|Latin Am FA||2||1||1||1||1||6|
|US free agent||1||1|
|Rule 5 acquire||1||1|
|2011 Top 40||2010||2009||2008||2007||2006||2005||Tot|
|2010 Top 40||2009||2008||2007||2006||2005||2001||Tot|
|2009 Top 40||2008||2007||2006||2005||2004||2003||2001||Tot|
|2008 Top 42||2007||2006||2005||2004||2003||2002||2001||Tot|
We will start with the rows. Continuing a trend over the last five years, the number of top 40 players acquired from the draft has again declined. While the total is still 30, or 75 percent, that is the lowest level since I have been compiling these lists.
In terms of draft years, it is not surprising that there are fewer top 40 players from the 2013 draft compared to 2012. After all, the Cardinals will almost surely never have five first round picks again. Still, six top 40 additions from the most recent draft is not a terrible showing.
|#13 Charlie Tilson from 2011 draft|
It is a flat year in terms of the number of top prospects from the Latin American program at seven. It remains a bit concerning that the top prospect pipeline from overseas is not flowing more heavily, especially knowing that both Oscar Taveras and Carlos Martinez are almost sure to disappear from the prospect ranks this season.
Players acquired in non-traditional manners include a US free agent, Zach Petrick, the first since Brandon Dickson, as well as two as the result of trades, Randal Grichuk and Juan Herrera. Perhaps they will fare better than the last top 40 trade addition, Maikel Cleto.
The next view is the top 40 by their primary defensive position.
Top 40 Cardinals prospects – By position – 2007-2014
|Top 40 by position||2014||2013||2012||2011||2010||2009||2008||2007|
|LH Starting Pitcher||5||4||1||1||3||2||3||4|
|RH Starting Pitcher||11||10||11||11||10||13||13||13|
Looking at the top 40 overall, the traditional positional split had been in favor of pitching, but not recently. It has been four years since our top 40 featured more pitchers than position players as does the 2014 installment. Among the 18 non-pitchers, seven are infielders, just two are catchers and another nine are outfielders.
The catching depth is concerning. While the number of catchers is flat at two, one is brand new at the position and the other is ranked at number 40. First base is not represented at all. That is not particularly worrisome, other than it is often the home of power hitters, a relatively scarce commodity.
|3B Patrick Wisdom at #15|
It seems as if the organization has been trying to add more athletic outfielders and if so, it is working. Six outfielders in the top 40 are of the speedy, centerfield type.
Top 40 starting pitchers are at their highest total in five years. The growth is solely fueled by an increase in left-handers from two just two years ago to seven this season. That is very encouraging.
Possible focus areas in the 2014 draft include catchers, third basemen and power-hitting anything. Keeping the left-handed pitching momentum going seems wise, as well.
Top 40 Cardinals prospects – By age – 2014
|Top 40 by age||26||25||24||23||22||21||20||19||17||Total|
|LH Starting Pitcher||1||1||1||2||5|
|RH Starting Pitcher||4||2||3||1||1||11|
26-year-old left-handed reliever Sam Freeman is the gray-beard of this year's top 40 once again. While just under half of the top 40 (19 players) are age 23 or older, the largest concentration is right-handed pitchers.
Youth is being served as well. 15 members (37.5 percent) of the 2014 prospect list are 21 years of age or younger, including six teenagers. 17-year-old shortstop Leobaldo Pina is the other bookend, nine years Freeman's junior.
Next up: This article series nears its conclusion as we take a look at the best and worst picks from the 2013 top 40, the top prospects by level and finally those players that left the top 40 from last year to this.
Our 2014 top 40 series continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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