Cardinals prospects in 2014 national top 100s

Our annual analysis of the placement of St. Louis Cardinals prospects on seven national top 100 prospect lists, including our own Scout.com list, of course.

Each February brings us prospect lists, lists and more lists. If you are like me, you are swimming in them. What I will be doing is offer some clarity and context by putting the elements of selected lists relevant to the St. Louis Cardinals side-by-side.

In future installments, we will look at the top ten prospects in the Cardinals system according to a handful of national raters. Then we will look into their respective views of the Cardinals' system-wide ranking. I am still waiting for several same-brands to publish.

Here, I am starting with a system-wide comparison from an individual player perspective. Specifically, we will look at the Cardinals players appearing on a group of seven national top 100 lists.

The included seven

The sources I chose to list are nationally-known, with past histories and track records that one can look back upon.

They are from:
Baseball America
ESPN, written by Keith Law
BaseballProspectus.com, compiled by Jason Parks
BaseballHQ, from Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney
MLB.com, compiled by Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis
Fangraphs by Marc Hulet
and finally, our rankings from Kiley McDaniel.

The columns in the table below are ordered from left to right by the site names as listed in the previous paragraph. The players' individual rankings are at the left of each name.

  BA   ESPN   BP   HQ
3 Taveras 5 Taveras 3 Taveras 2 Taveras
31 Martinez 57 Piscotty 33 Wong 19 Martinez
58 Wong 91 Wong 66 Piscotty 45 Wong
70 Piscotty 100 Kaminsky 98 Reyes    
               
  MLB.com   Fangraphs   Scout    
3 Taveras 3 Taveras 2 Taveras    
58 Wong 80 Wong 66 Piscotty    
98 Piscotty 87 Piscotty 99 Kaminsky    

Though it may seem elementary, I will still point out that any organization's "fair share" on a top 100 list would be 3 1/3 names (100 divided by 30 MLB organizations). Needless to say, the Cardinals met that amount on every 2014 list and exceeded it in three of the seven.

Taveras' support is unanimous
The consensus group is just one *

There is a high level of agreement as to the identity of the Cardinals top prospects. Only six different players appear on any of the seven top 100s, with Oscar Taveras being the only unanimous selection.

Actually, Kolten Wong would also have been on every list, except McDaniel decided to exclude the second baseman from the Scout list because he is viewed to have a Major League starting job. McDaniel said Wong if eligible would have been somewhere between 50 and 75.

Carlos Martinez would almost certainly be on every list as well, but he requires an asterisk. The hard throwing right-hander was considered ineligible on most lists due to time spent in the majors. He only appears on BA's and HQ's top 100s. McDaniel said he would have placed Martinez between 40 and 60.

In terms of ordering after Taveras, five of the six of those that ranked Stephen Piscotty placed the outfielder after Wong. The lone exception is Law, who put Wong considerably lower than most of the other raters at number 91.

2013 left-handed pitching draftee Rob Kaminsky just slipped into the bottom on the ESPN and Scout lists. The Cards' earlier-selected first-rounder, Marco Gonzales, was absent. Promising right-hander Alex Reyes made just one top 100 – at number 98 at BP – but even that is impressive.

Sorting the rankings

Following is a re-sorting of the same lists using a horizontal orientation by player name. That way, you can see how the top 100 placement for each player varied by the source. (Sites remain in their same respective columns as shown in the first table.)

  BA ESPN BP HQ MLB Fang. Scout  
Taveras 3 5 3 2 3 3 2 Taveras
Martinez 31     19       Martinez
Wong 58 91 33 45 58 80   Wong
Piscotty 70 57 66   98 87 66 Piscotty
Kaminsky   100         99 Kaminsky
Reyes     98         Reyes

Taveras made every top three with the exception of ESPN's number five assignment, down from number two last year. Wong's rankings were in a very wide bandwidth of agreement, from a best of 33 to a worst of 91. Support for Piscotty was more consistent, as he was always placed between numbers 57 and 98, except for the one omission.

Year to year

Considering all the major league graduates during 2013, it is not surprising that the Cardinals top 100 showing is weaker in comparison to last year. In 2013, the Cards had anywhere from five top 100 players (ESPN) to seven (BP). The others were at six. Five prospects were unanimous selections – Taveras, Shelby Miller, Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal and Wong. Michael Wacha would have joined them, but was a noticeable absence from ESPN's top 100 from 12 months ago. Whoops!

Different sites may use different criteria, but they all end up with an ordered list. Always remember that your mileage may vary, however.



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

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