BaseballHQ's top 15 Cardinals prospects: 2014

In the first of a four-part series, we highlight the top 15 St. Louis Cardinals prospects from the Minor League Baseball Analyst with the details as to why they're ranked where they are.

The ninth edition of BaseballHQ's "Minor League Baseball Analyst" just became available. 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.

Once again, authors Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney have included their Organizational Ratings for all 30 major league systems, ranking each organization's top 15 prospects, with details why, as well as a scoring of the organization in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent and overall. We'll cover a subset of that in the second article of this series.

The comprehensive information in the Analyst is more in-depth than comparable guides from well-known sources of minor league information and is used by front office personnel, scouts, fantasy players and fans from coast to coast.

It has become almost as eagerly-awaited each hot stove season as Shandler's famous "Baseball Forecaster" has been for over a quarter of a century. If readers order the Minor League Baseball Analyst from HQ directly, online updates will be included in March along with a PDF copy at no additional charge.

Following is a subset of their findings, covering their top 15 Cardinals prospects.

Please respect the rights of the authors and the associated copyrights by not reproducing this information elsewhere. You are receiving this exclusive view through the courtesy and generosity of Gordon, Deloney and BaseballHQ.

Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects - 2014

Rank, player, (position), height/weight, bat/throw, age, year drafted (round), school level (state) or country

1. Oscar Taveras (OF) … 6-2, 200 … L/L … 21 … 2008 FA (D.R.)

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Memphis (PCL) 173 .306/.341/.462 5 88 0.41 5/5

Comments: Taveras continues to be one of the most dynamic prospects in baseball, but a high ankle sprain cost him most of the 2013 season and resulted in surgery in August. He should be 100% by spring and could contend for a starting OF role. Taveras takes a viscous hack at the plate, but makes consistent contact and has good balance. Plus bat speed, excellent hand-eye coordination, and good strike zone judgment enable him to hit for power and average. Solid speed and a strong arm allow him to play all three OF positions. He doesn't have true CF speed or actions, but he can handle the position.

Development Path: The loss of Carlos Beltran seemed created a temporary opening for Taveras, but the acquisition of Peter Bourjoswill likely mean that Taveras will start 2014 at Triple-A Memphis. The Cardinals have shown a willingness to promote their prospects aggressively so a quick start at Triple-A could land Taveras in the majors by mid-season or sooner.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: If Taveras can become more selective at the plate, the sky is the limit. He has shown a strong ability to make consistent contact and hit for average and power. He has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order fantasy stud.

Upside Rating: 9B

2. Carlos Martinez (RHP) … 6-0, 165 … 22 … 2010 FA (D.R.)

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Memphis (PCL) 68 2.51 1.19 3.6 8.3 2.3 0.213
Springfield (TL) 11.2 2.31 1.03 0.8 7.0 9.0 0.239
St. Louis (NL) 28.1 5.08 1.41 2.9 7.6 2.7 0.282

Comments: Martinez had an excellent breakout season, dominating both Double- and Triple-A and then carving out an important set-up role down the stretch. Martinez has one of the best fastballs in baseball, sitting at 96-100 mph and topping out a 102 mph while working in relief. He complements the heater with a good hard slider that at times is devastating. His change-up and curveball remain below average.

Development Path: For now, the Cardinals continue to see Martinez as a starter and word is that he will be given a chance to win a spot in their starting rotation. But without a quality change-up, Martinez could struggle in that role and his fastball/slider combination already work very effectively in relief.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: As a starter, Martinez is a bit of a risky play. His mechanics are not smooth, leading to struggles with control and in the past he has struggled maintaining velocity deep into games. If he works in relief, he could quickly become a dominant 8th inning guy with the potential to close games down the road.

Upside Rating: 9C

3. Kolten Wong (2B) … 5-9, 190 … L/R … 23 … 2011 (1) Hawaii

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Memphis (PCL) 412 .303/.369/.466 9 87 0.68 10/20
St. Louis (NL) 59 .153/.194/.169 5 81 0.25 0/3

Comments: Wong has quickly developed into one of the best 2B prospects in baseball, but he looked overmatched in his MLB debut. Wong uses a short, compact left-handed stroke and gets surprising power from his 5'9" frame. He has a disciplined eye and is a good situational hitter. Wong has improved as a defender with a good arm and average speed. Has decent speed, good range, and soft hands.

Development Path: With the trade of David Freese, Matt Carpenter will move over to 3B and Wong will have the inside track for the starting 2B job.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Wong has the tools to hit for average and improved both defensively and on the bases. He projects as an above-average offensive 2B. If his power continues to grow, he has the potential to be an all-star at the peak of his career.

Upside Rating: 8B

4. Stephen Piscotty (OF) … 6-3, 210 … R/R … 23 … 2012 (1) Stanford

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Palm Beach (FSL) 243 .292/.348/.477 7 90 0.67 9/4
Springfield (TL) 184 .299/.364/.446 9 91 1.00 6/7

Comments: Piscotty showed improved power and a consistent ability to hit for average. Does everything above average, but doesn't have a plus tool besides the ability to hit. Makes consistent contact and uses the whole field. Moved from 3B at Stanford to RF as a pro where he runs well and has a plus arm and range. Does have good bat speed and a discerning eye, so power spike looks legit and he plays with confidence.

Development Path: Piscotty has been moved up aggressively and has handled the jumps successfully. He will likely start 2014 at Triple-A Memphis and could be in the majors by the second half. The Cardinals don't currently have place for him to play, but they have successfully worked rookies in over the past several seasons.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Solid OF prospect who should hit for average. Power development will be key to his future fantasy potential, but for now he projects as a .280/.290 hitter with 20 HR power.

Upside Rating: 8C

5. Alex Reyes (RHP) … 6-3, 185 … 19 … 2012 FA (Dominican Republic)

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Johnson City (APPY) 56.1 3.39 1.41 4.3 10.5 2.4 0.249

Comments: Born in the U.S., Reyes moved to the Dominican Republic while in high school and thereby avoided the restrictions of the amateur draft. The Cardinals signed Reyes for $950,000 and he looked impressive in his debut. Reyes has a plus 92-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph. He also has a good hard curveball and a change-up that has plus potential. He is still somewhat raw and inconsistent with his mechanics, but has tremendous long-term potential.

Development Path: Reyes will likely head to full-season ball at Peoria in the MWL and will move up one step at a time as he attempts to harness his potential.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Reyes has the high-octane stuff that the Cardinals love, as his debut Dom proves. If he can become more consistent and develop his off-speed stuff he could be a good #2 starter.

Upside Rating: 9D

6. Marco Gonzales (LHP) … 6-0, 185 … 22 … 2013 (1) Gonzaga

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
GCL Cardinals (GCL) 6.2 5.4 1.65 4.1 13.5 3.3 0.276
Palm Beach (FSL) 16.2 1.62 0.90 2.7 7.0 2.6 0.179

Comments: He had a solid pro debut in limited action, posting a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 IP. Gonzales has a fluid, clean arm action that leads to plus command and control of his four-pitch repertoire. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph, but he already has the best change-up in the system and mixes in an improved curveball and an inconsistent slider. Gonzales is on the small side for starter, but does a good job of locating and changing speeds.

Development Path: With a strong spring, Gonzales could head to Double-A Springfield, but more likely he will start in the warm weather of the Florida State League. Gonzales is another polished and could move up quickly.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Gonzales is finesse lefty who will most likely settle in at the back of the Cardinals rotation. He is not going to be a high dominance hurler, but should help out with ERA and WHIP.

Upside Rating: 7B

7. Rob Kaminsky (LHP) … 5-11, 191 … 19 … 2013 (1) HS (NJ)

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
GCL Cardinals (GCL) 22 3.68 1.45 3.7 11.5 3.1 0.261

Comments: Short high school lefty was the 28th pick of the 2013 draft. Kaminsky has a good, lively fastball that sits at 88-92 and tops out at 94 mph. He had the best curveball in the 2013 draft and an average change-up. Repeats his mechanics easily and throws tons of strikes. Kaminsky lacks the size typical of most starters, but has very good stuff.

Development Path: Kaminsky logged just 22 innings in his pro debut and will likely head to Low-A Peoria along with Alex Reyes, but is more polished and could move up more quickly.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Kaminsky profiles as a good mid-rotation lefty with the potential for decent strikeout totals.

Upside Rating: 8D

8. Tyrell Jenkins (RHP) … 6-4, 205 … 21 … 2010 (1-S) HS (TX)

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Peoria (MWL) 49.1 4.74 1.52 3.9 8.7 2.2 0.267
Palm Beach (FSL) 10 4.50 1.40 0.9 5.4 6.0 0.310

Comments: Jenkins is an athletic hurler whose season was cut short due to a right shoulder injury that resulted in surgery in August. Prior to the injury, Jenkins struggled and never seemed 100%. When healthy he competes well with a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96 mph. He also throws a good 1-7 curveball and a nice change-up. He has loose arm action, which leads to easy velocity. Comes at hitters with a low 3/4 delivery gives some deception and good movement on his fastball.

Development Path: Jenkins has now missed time the past two seasons and has yet to log more than 82.1 IP in any season as a professional. The surgery could keep him on the shelf well into May and he will need to prove he can stay healthy to remain a prospect.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: If Jenkins can return to full health, he has tremendous long-term potential, but could be moved to relief to protect his right shoulder.

Upside Rating: 8D

9. Tim Cooney (LHP) … 6-3, 195 … 23 … 2012 (3) Wake Forest

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Palm Beach (FSL) 36 2.75 1.17 1.0 5.8 5.8 0.273
Springfield (TL) 118 3.80 1.27 1.4 9.5 6.9 0.284

Comments: Finesse left-hander from has a good feel for the art of pitching. Keeps hitters off-balance with four quality offerings. His fastball sits at 89-93 with good, late movement. He mixes in a decent mid-70s curve, cutter, and change-up. He locates all four offerings well and does a good job of changing speed on his fastball. Has good size and has proven durable in the past. Dominance spike at Double-A raises his profile and for the year he walked just 22 while striking out 148.

Development Path: Cooney will likely move up to Triple-A Memphis in 2014. If he can duplicate his 2013 results, he could see action in the majors by the end of the year.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Cooney still profiles as a back-end starter, but his 9.5 Dom rate at Double-A, and the fact that he is left-handed gives him moderate fantasy potential, but he will need to prove that this was not a fluke.

Upside Rating: 7B

10. James Ramsey (OF) … 6-0, 190 … L/R … 24 … 2012 (1) Florida State

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Palm Beach (FSL) 61 .361/.481/.557 16 84 1.00 1/1
Springfield (TL) 347 .251/.356/.424 13 74 0.49 15/8
Memphis (PCL) 3 .000/.000/.000 0 67 0.00 0/0

Comments: Strong, athletic OF had an impressive start in the FSL, but was less dynamic when moved up to Double-A Springfield. Showed improved power, hitting 16 HR, but continues to struggling making contract and struck out 108 times in 347 AB. Has good speed and moderate power, but none of his tools are considered plus. Remains in CF for now, but might have to move to a corner slot down the road.

Development Path: Ramsey will head to Triple-A Memphis in 2014 and could reach the majors by the second half, but is buried behind Taveras, Piscotty, and others.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Ramsey is a bit of a tweener in the OF, with not enough speed for CF and not enough power for a corner. At this point, Ramsey will need to prove he can hit for average and make more consistent contact to have significant fantasy potential.

Upside Rating: 7C

11. Randal Grichuk (OF) … 6-1, 195 … R-R …22 … 2009 (1) HS (TX)

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Arkansas (TL) 500 .256/.306/.474 5 83 0.3 22/9

Comments: Athletic OF came over to the Cardinals in the David Freese trade. Had a solid season at Double-A, hitting a career high 22 HR. Plus bat speed and raw power suggest the power is legit and he has good speed to steal bases. He makes good contact, but pitch selection needs work and could use better plate coverage. Plays solid RF defense with average arm and good range.

Development Path: Grichuk will move to Triple-A Memphis in 2014 and could be ready for the majors by mid-season, but the Cardinals have tremendous OF depth and finding PT could be a challenge.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Grichuk has the tools to be a quality OF with good power, but a low walk rate and poor pitch selection are likely to keep his average in the .260- .280 range and limit his fantasy appeal.

Upside Rating: 7C

12. Charlie Tilson (OF) … 5-11, 175 … L/L … 21 … 2011 (2) HS (IL)

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Peoria (MWL) 376 .303/.349/.388 6 86 0.43 4/15
Palm Beach (FSL) 34 .294/.385/.382 13 85 0.83 0/0

Comments: Tilson was fully recovered from shoulder surgery that caused him to miss all of 2012. He had a solid year in his full-season debut, hitting .303 with 15 SB in the MWL. Tilson is a high-energy CF with a smooth compact left-handed stroke and is willing to drive the ball the opposite way. He is more of a contact hitter and is not likely to hit for much power, but has good speed and is a good defender in CF.

Development Path: Tilson will head to High-A Palm Beach and a strong start there, could land him in Double-A by year's end.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: While Tilson has good speed, he doesn't have the blazing speed that fantasy owners crave and his lack of power makes him a fairly marginal keeper even in deeper formats.

Upside Rating: 7C

13. Carson Kelly (C) … 6-2, 200 … R/R … 19 … 2012 (2) HS (OR)

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Peoria (MWL) 146 .219/.288/.301 7 90 0.65 4/1
St. College (NYPL) 271 .277/.340/.387 8 85 0.52 2/0

Comments: Strong, agile player scuffled some in his full-season debut, hitting just .219 in the MWL before being sent to the NYPL where he looked better. Kelly was a two-way player in high school and is still learning how to hit. Defensively he has good hands a plus arm. Could be more selective in his approach, which would enable him to drive his pitches more effectively. The Cardinals have moved him behind the plate during instructional league where he is a work in progress.

Development Path: Kelly will likely head back to Peoria to try his hand at catching. If the experiment sticks, he will move up one step at a time and is still young.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Kelly has good power potential and decent plate discipline. His fantasy value would jump if he sticks behind the plate, but he is a long ways away.

Upside Rating: 8D

14. Patrick Wisdom (3B) … 6-2, 210 … R/R … 22 … 2012 (1-S) St. Mary's

Team (LG) AB BA/OBP/Slg bb% ct% Eye HR/SB
Peoria (MWL) 372 .231/.312/.411 10 73 0.37 13/4
Palm Beach (FSL) 92 .250/.317/.359 9 77 0.39 2/1

Comments: Strong, solidly built 3B prospect struggled in full-season ball in the MWL, but still earned a late-season bump to High-A. Wisdom has plus raw power and hit 15 home runs, but doesn't make enough contact to hit for average. He struck out 137 times in 464 AB and his swing can be stiff and long as he looks for power. Wisdom moves well at 3B, has good hands and a strong throwing arm and should be able to stick at the position.

Development Path: Wisdom will head back to High-A Palm Beach in 2014 where he hone his skills at 3B and work at making better contact.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Wisdom has the potential to hit 20+ home runs in the majors and play solid defense at 3B, but will need to make adjustments to hit for average.

Upside Rating: 8D

15. John Gast (LHP) … 6-1, 195 … 25 … 2010 (6) Florida State

Team (LG) IP ERA WHIP Ctrl Dom Cmd oppBA
Memphis (PCL) 38.2 1.16 1.06 3.0 8.2 2.7 0.214
St. Louis (NL) 12.1 5.11 1.30 3.7 5.8 1.6 0.234

Comments: Gast is a short, power lefty who works off a nice 90-93 mph fastball. Also features a solid curveball and a decent change-up. Delivery is close to max-effort and concerns about durability prompted the move to relief. Can miss bats and held opposing hitters to a .214 oppBA at Triple-A.

Development Path: At Triple-A he was equally effective against both RHB and LHB but showed a reverse split once he reached the majors.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Given the power arms in the organization, it is unlikely that Gast will have much fantasy potential, at least over the short-term, but he does have the stuff to close down the road.

Upside Rating: 7C

2014 contributors: Mike O'Neill (OF), Luis Mateo (SS), Tommy Pham (OF), Boone Whiting (RHP), Sam Freeman (LHP), Anthony Ferrara (LHP), Lee Stoppelman (LHP), Seth Blair (RHP), and Keith Butler (RHP).

Ctrl – control rate – walks per nine innings. The best pitchers will have three of less.

Dom – dominance rate – strikeouts allowed per nine innings. The best pitchers will have six or higher.

Cmd – command ratio – strikeouts/walks. Upper echelon of command pitchers will be at 3.0. Lower than 1.0 (more walks than strikeouts) indicates little chance of success.

ct% - contact rate – (AB-K)/AB – Ability to get the ball into play. The best have 90 percent or better while hackers are at 75 percent or less.

Eye – batting eye – BB/K- measures a hitter's strike zone judgment. Over 1.00 correlates to .300 hitters. Less than .50 signals a low batting average.

Player Potential Rating - a player's upside potential on a scale of 1-10

10 – Hall of Fame-type player
9 – Elite player
8 – Solid regular
7 – Average regular
6 – Platoon player
5 – Major League reserve player
4 - Top minor league player
3 - Average minor league player
2 - Minor league reserve player
1 - Minor league roster filler

Probability Rating - a player's realistic chance of achieving his potential on a scale of A-E

A - 90% probability of reaching potential
B - 70% probability of reaching potential
C - 50% probability of reaching potential
D - 30% probability of reaching potential
E - 10% probability of reaching potential

In Part two, we will analyze the Minor League Analyst's organizational ratings for the National League Central Division clubs with scoring of each in the areas of hitting, pitching, top-end talent, depth and overall and compare them to recent past seasons.

Special bonus for The Cardinal Nation subscribers: The first reader who posts their interest on the special thread discussing this article series located on our "Cardinals Insiders" message forum will receive a special prize.

BaseballHQ has provided a copy of the brand-new 2014 Minor League Baseball Analyst, which will be mailed to the winner. One copy will be awarded following each segment of this four-part series, so if you don't win this time, keep trying.

Thank you for subscribing and for reading. Good luck!

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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