Bryan Anderson (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Who made our top annual St. Louis Cardinals prospect lists most often since 2006?

A look into those who most often made our annual ranking of the best prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system by position over the last 12 years. Today’s report is FREE!

Recently, we unveiled The Cardinal Nation’s annual St. Louis Cardinals All-Prospect Team for 2017. Simply put, we listed the organization’s very best minor league prospects by position. Separate categories for left- and right-handed starters and relievers expand the team roster from nine to 12 members.

As an important aside, I should note that by definition, top high school players are likely to reach the top prospect list earliest and remain on it longest – assuming their development remains on track. On the other hand, those more-advanced college players who shoot through the system, such as Michael Wacha, were not in the minors long enough to register highly in this measure of marathoners, rather than sprinters.

The leaders

One of the least surprising members of the new 2017 All-Prospect Team is Carson Kelly. Though the catcher is a bit unique, having first qualified for the team as a third baseman in 2013. While still a teen, he smoothly shifted positions and became the system’s top catcher the next winter - and remained our number one-ranked backstop for the three years following, as well.

Even with 12 years of prospect list history behind us now, I sensed that Kelly’s fifth selection to the team may have set a record. That led me to the research behind this article. (For reference, you can see each member of all 12 TCN All-Prospect Teams here.)

It turns out that I was only partially right.

Kelly has tied another former Cardinals catching prospect, Bryan Anderson, who also made our All-Prospect Team the most - five times. Interestingly, though, it took Anderson six years to place at the top that often.

Yrs All-Prospect Team Pos Years MLB PA MLB IP
5 Bryan Anderson C 2006-09, 11 77  
  Carson Kelly C/3B 2013-17 14+  

(These tables throughout are roughly organized by position groupings with MLB plate appearances and innings-pitched to-date listed at the right.)

In what would have been Anderson’s fifth year, 2010, Cardinals second-round pick, catcher Robert Stock, slipped past him – for that season only. Was Anderson really that good or was he just the best at a thin position? Well, his best annual placement in the rankings was #2 behind only Colby Rasmus in 2008, so we must have been fooled.

Anderson made one more All-Prospect team appearance, in 2011, shortly after debuting with St. Louis and then becoming basically a quad-A journeyman. Stock moved to pitching before fizzling out completely, with both players reminding us of the often-times thin line between top prospect status and oblivion.

The repeaters

All in all, in our 12 years, 38 different players earned at least two All-Prospect Team selections as the best at their respective positions in the Cardinals farm system. Here are the four-time honorees.

Yrs All-Prospect Team Pos Years MLB PA MLB IP
4 Mark Hamilton 1B 2007-08, 10-11 66  
  Jose Martinez 2B 2006-09 0  
  Pete Kozma SS 2008-11 689  
  Colby Rasmus CF 2006-09 3941+  
  Oscar Taveras CF 2011-14 248  
  Shelby Miller RHS 2010-13   676.1+
  Eduardo Sanchez RHR 2010-13   51.1
  Jaime Garcia LHS 2007-10   896+

Eight prospects made the team four times, led by Rasmus, Jaime Garcia, Shelby Miller and the late Oscar Taveras. Of course, the latter left us far too soon. And of all the position players in this group, Rasmus has made the most plate appearances in the majors. The new member of the Tampa Bay Rays outfield will cross the 4,000 line early this coming season.

Interestingly, the lone four-time All-Prospect teamer to not reach the majors is Jose Martinez, who led all second basemen in the system for the years 2006-2009.

Yrs All-Prospect Team Pos Years MLB PA MLB IP
3 Kolten Wong 2B 2012-14 1469+  
  Allen Craig 3B/OF 2008, 10-11 2013  
  Nick Stavinoha OF 2006-07, 09 278  
  Charlie Tilson CF 2012, 15-16 2+  
  Jon Jay CF 2008-10 3043+  
  Alex Reyes  RHS 2015-17   46+
  Sam Tuivailala  RHR 2015-17   24.2+
  John Gast LHS 2011-13   12.1
  Sam Freeman LHR 2012-14   116.1+

All nine of our three-timers reached the bigs, though lefty John Gast made just three promising starts for St. Louis before an arm injury wrecked his career. Outfielder Charlie Tilson should quickly pass Gast this season, but had a heartbreaking MLB debut, suffering a season-ending injury in his very first game up with the White Sox.

Current Cardinals who made the All-Prospect Team three times are 2017 members Alex Reyes and Sam Tuivailala plus Kolten Wong, who last was eligible in 2014.

As you might imagine, the two-time list is the longest - and the biggest mixed bag.

Yrs All-Prospect Team Pos Years MLB PA MLB IP
2 Matt Adams 1B 2012-13 1486+  
  Daniel Descalso 2B 2010-11 1658+  
  Jacob Wilson 2B 2015-16 0  
  Aledmys Diaz SS 2015-16 460+  
  Tyler Greene SS 2006-07 746  
  Ryan Jackson SS 2012-13 33  
  Patrick Wisdom 3B 2014-15 0  
  Paul DeJong  3B 2016-17 0  
  Zack Cox 3B 2011-12 0  
  Anthony Garcia OF 2012-13 0  
  Cody Haerther OF 2006-07 0  
  James Ramsey OF 2013-14 0  
  Stephen Piscotty OF 2014-15 905+  
  Magneuris Sierra  CF 2016-17 0  
  Chris Perez RHR 2007-08   379.1
  Dean Kiekhefer LHR 2015-16   22
  Marco Gonzales LHS 2015-16   37.1+

This group includes four current major leaguers in Matt Adams, Daniel Descalso, Aledmys Diaz and Stephen Piscotty. On the other hand, almost half – eight of 17 – have never appeared in the majors and several never will - having since retired.

A few are still on the way up, such as Magneuris Sierra and Paul DeJong. Others like Jacob Wilson and Anthony Garcia are quickly approaching a career crossroads. Several others may not ever make it - though they are still trying - such as former first-rounders Zack Cox and James Ramsey.

In between are disappointments such as Tyler Greene and Chris Perez, who were never able to sustain the long-term success expected of them.

I expect this to be a one-off article rather than an annual part of The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect series, but still I hope you enjoyed this trip down the Cardinals prospect memory lane. Perhaps we will revisit this all-time list a few years down the road, when fresh names like Delvin Perez and Johan Oviedo could join.

Our 2017 Top 50 prospect series of over 60 articles

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects for 2017, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and ten in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation, so join today and don’t miss out!


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

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