In this article, we will focus in on how members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 prospect list fared in their season-opening roster placements.
These new assignments across the entire system are available via the new, updated 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's history in one place.
With the initial 2014 rosters set, here are the assignments of the Cardinals top 40 prospects as ranked here at The Cardinal Nation during the off-season.
The right column block indicates a re-sort of the same data, by level of play. In the far right column, the 2013 season-ending assignment for each member of the top 40 is included.
|Rk||2014 TCN Top 40||open||Rk||2014 TCN Top 40||open||end 2013|
|1||Oscar Taveras||Mem||2||Carlos Martinez||StL||StL|
|2||Carlos Martinez||StL||3||Kolten Wong||StL||StL|
|3||Kolten Wong||StL||35||Keith Butler||StL||Mem|
|5||Rob Kaminsky||EST||1||Oscar Taveras||Mem||Mem DL|
|6||Marco Gonzales||PB||4||Stephen Piscotty||Mem||Spr|
|7||Alex Reyes||Peo||10||Randal Grichuk||Mem||AA LAA|
|8||James Ramsey||Spr||12||Tim Cooney||Mem||Spr|
|9||Carson Kelly||Peo||17||Sam Freeman||Mem||Mem|
|10||Randal Grichuk||Mem||18||Lee Stoppelman||Mem||Mem|
|11||Tyrell Jenkins||PB DL||19||John Gast||Mem DL||Mem DL|
|12||Tim Cooney||Mem||20||Greg Garcia||Mem||Mem|
|13||Charlie Tilson||PB||23||Tommy Pham||Mem||Mem DL|
|14||Cory Jones||PB||30||Boone Whiting||Mem||Mem|
|15||Patrick Wisdom||Spr||39||Eric Fornataro||Mem||Mem|
|16||Zach Petrick||Spr||40||Audry Perez||Mem||Mem|
|18||Lee Stoppelman||Mem||8||James Ramsey||Spr||Mem|
|19||John Gast||Mem DL||15||Patrick Wisdom||Spr||PB|
|20||Greg Garcia||Mem||16||Zach Petrick||Spr||Spr|
|21||Mike Mayers||PB||24||Mike O'Neill||Spr||Mem|
|22||Oscar Mercado||EST||26||Sam Gaviglio||Spr||PB|
|23||Tommy Pham||Mem||29||Jordan Swagerty||Spr DL||PB DL|
|24||Mike O'Neill||Spr||37||Seth Blair||Spr||Spr|
|26||Sam Gaviglio||Spr||6||Marco Gonzales||PB||PB|
|27||Juan Herrera||Peo||11||Tyrell Jenkins||PB DL||PB DL|
|28||Jacob Wilson||PB||13||Charlie Tilson||PB||PB|
|29||Jordan Swagerty||Spr DL||14||Cory Jones||PB||Peo|
|30||Boone Whiting||Mem||21||Mike Mayers||PB||Peo|
|31||Breyvic Valera||PB||28||Jacob Wilson||PB||PB|
|32||Edmundo Sosa||EST||31||Breyvic Valera||PB||Peo|
|33||K. Peoples-Walls||Peo||36||Sam Tuivailala||PB||Peo|
|35||Keith Butler||StL||7||Alex Reyes||Peo||JC|
|36||Sam Tuivailala||PB||9||Carson Kelly||Peo||SC|
|37||Seth Blair||Spr||27||Juan Herrera||Peo||Peo|
|38||Fernando Baez||EST||33||K. Peoples-Walls||Peo||JC|
|39||Eric Fornataro||Mem||34||Nick Petree||Peo||SC|
What leapt out to me initially in the left columns was the diversity of placements for the top eight, with all six possible levels of play represented (St. Louis, the four full-season minors clubs plus extended spring training). Memphis was the predominant destination for the second 10.
Moving to the right, the relative consistency of year-to-year assignments at Memphis hits at a veteran Triple-A roster of good players. In terms of top prospects, the Double-A roster is thinner than in past years and would be even worse had not both Mike O'Neill and James Ramsey been forced to return.
Palm Beach, often a spot passed over in recent seasons by top prospects, is the stop with the second-most top players on its initial roster behind Memphis. That is unusual.
A shift toward the middle
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.
|2014 level||Top 20||Top 40||2013 level||Top 20||Top 40|
|St. Louis||2||3||St. Louis||4||5|
|Palm Beach||4||8||Palm Beach||3||5|
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 or just one step away at Memphis.
What may first catch your eye is the large contingent of top 20 members at Memphis compared to the small number with St. Louis. In reality, while the mix across levels varies slightly year to year, the total quantity of top 20 prospects at St. Louis plus Memphis plus Springfield is barely changed – from 12 last year to 13 this year.
However, when looking at the entire top 40, the growth at Palm Beach is obvious, picking up two prospects from St. Louis and another from Springfield's mix from one year ago. In other words, this year's top 40 is less experienced than last.
Despite the 2013 draft class having fewer top picks than the record haul in 2012, the representation at the lower levels remains constant.
I've added one new view this year, looking at a summary the movement of the top 20 and top 40 from last year to this.
|2013-2014||Top 20||Top 40||2012-2013||Top 20||Top 40|
|Promo 1 lvl||6||12||Promo 1 lvl||11||14|
|Promo 2 lvl||1||2||Promo 2 lvl||0||2|
|Down 1 lvl||1||2||Down 1 lvl||0||2|
As the 2014 data indicates, there is complete symmetry in the top 20 versus top 40 mix across one- and two-level promotions, those staying at the same level and those moving down one level.
What is interesting, however, is to compare 2014 with 2013. Significantly more top prospects remained at the same level from the end of last year to this relative to 12 months ago. I interpret that to be a quantitative indicator that the organization's prospect pipeline is not flowing as fast as before. Frankly, if you are like me, you felt that was the case even before reading this, but this adds credence to the point.
Of course, all of this is just 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, as well as several players sent down, such as Ramsey and O'Neill, 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 Peoria on Tuesday, April 8.
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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