Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects

Spanning a forty-day period, four writers disclose their top minor league prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals system.

Welcome to the first annual Top 40 Prospect List. In a period we've labeled "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects", we'll be unveiling a new player every 24 hours, before our #1 pick is disclosed.

While perhaps not as exciting to some as a Biblical event or a Rolling Stones greatest hits collection to others, we've had a lot of fun and some interesting debate compiling the list of forty names and look forward to bringing it to you.

Subscribers can either read each new story when posted on the home page or click on the players' names listed below. All readers are welcome to come back here each day to check the current status of our Top 40 Countdown. Even better; they'll be no syrupy Casey Kasem dedications here. We promise!

In addition, all readers can join in the debate at our message board, where there will be a new discussion thread each day devoted to that day's entry onto the prospect list.

Before we get into the list itself, here is a bit about the process. Four members of our staff collaborated on this effort: Minor League Editors Jason Scott and Leonda Markee as well as Ray Mileur and Brian Walton. Independently in early November (prior to other perhaps more well-known, but less comprehensive ratings being announced), each of our four ranked who they believe are the top prospects in the Cardinals minor league system.

A consensus score was then tabulated, which is what you'll see here. The four individual scores will also be shown on each player page as they are unveiled each day, along with a wealth of additional information on all forty players.

Because each may have used slightly different criteria, all four briefly explain how they made their selections.

Jason Scott: My process for developing my top 40 prospect list really wasn't that difficult. First, I went through every player in the organization and determined which ones I felt were even worthy of consideration for the list. I don't remember the exact number, but I had a list of about 65-75 players once I did that. I then narrowed the list down to 40 prospects and after that I went through one player at a time and started at number one and worked my way down, ranking the players.

I don't get the chance to see these players often, so performance is a big factor in my rankings. I also take into consideration the age of the player and any scouting reports that I have seen or heard. Injury history is another thing that is important.

Leonda Markee: Methodology - I began by compiling a team-by-team list of possibilities, divided between pitchers and position players. I then did a blended ranking with the top four from each team separated out from the balance of the list. That gave me twenty-four of forty slots and I used this grouping as a base for my top 40. Logic dictated to me that the number four ranked player on any team would place somewhere in the top 40.

Criteria - I utilized five main criteria for determining my ranking: A) Performance, B) 2005 Level(s) Played, C) Age, D) Tools/Potential and E) Prior Experience. More weight was given to good performances at higher levels than lower levels. A player's age at a given level was considered with younger players rating higher than older ones. Prior experience was taken into consideration with lesser experienced players weighted more heavily than more veteran players, although the entire weight given to this category was the least of the five main criteria. Finally, I did consider a player's tools or potential and strong tools could mitigate some of the other factors considered. However, it took a strong upside for any player to overcome a weaker 2005 performance.

Ray Mileur: It's not a science, certainly it's not an art form (Jason Ryan was once one of my top prospects) and my list is subject to change at any given moment. I strive to balance the performance of a player with his potential and the expectations placed on him. Once a player steps onto the field, I'm more interested in his actual performance and results over what someone has determined to be a player's potential.

More likely than other members of the staff, I will rate minor league veterans performing well, over a "can't miss" prospect who isn't getting the job done, nor is showing any signs of improvement. I'm a member of the TINSTAPP (There is No Such Thing as a Pitching Prospect) club, as such, a pitching prospect may not be rank as high on my list as on other Top Prospect lists like Baseball America or Baseball HQ.

Brian Walton: As usual, we're disagreeing from the very start. This is all about potential. That is what everyone is trying to project. Which of these players have the best chance to make the greatest impact in the major leagues?

Certainly results in the minor leagues are one indicator as are age and injury history. For position players, I considered the traditional categories of hitting, baserunning and defense. For pitchers, defense and hitting obviously take a back seat to their arm and offerings. Although I am naturally inclined to assign numerical values to just about anything, in this case, I relied most on my notes over rankings and numbers. Top 40 Prospects – 2006

40. Shaun Boyd
39. Mike Ferris
38. Donnie Smith
37. Jaime Garcia
36. Phillip Andersen
35. Dennis Dove
34. Mitchell Boggs
33. Jarrett Hoffpauir
32. Brandon Yarbrough
31. Reid Gorecki
30. Jose Martinez (free!)
29. Rick Ankiel
28. Blake Hawksworth (free!)
27. Juan Lucena
26. Mark Michael
25. Chris Narveson
24. Mike Parisi
23. Josh Wilson
22. Skip Schumaker
21. Chris Duncan
20. Donovan Solano
19. Cory Doyne
18. Tyler Herron
17. Mark Worrell
16. Nick Stavinoha
15. Daryl Jones
14. Eric Haberer
13. Brendan Ryan
12. Nick Webber
11. Tyler Johnson
10. Bryan Anderson
9. Travis Hanson (free!)
8. Tyler Greene
7. Colby Rasmus
6. Mark McCormick
5. Cody Haerther
4. Stuart Pomeranz
3. Chris Lambert
2. Adam Wainwright (free!)
1. Anthony Reyes

Two of our message board regulars, ArRedbird and Frank22, developed a couple of different views of the Top 40. ArRedbird's list is sorted rank by position. The other adds a view based on projected level of play in the organization in 2006 with Frank22's added comments on potential and injury risk. They were interesting views, so we decided to share them with you.

Ranked by Position     Ranked by Level  
(ArRedbird)     (Frank22)  
  Top 40 Rank     Possible 2006 Level
Pitchers     Center Field  
1. Reyes               1   Rasmus Low A
2. Wainwright  2   Jones Low A/Rookie
3. Lambert           3   Schumaker* AAA
4. Pomeranz         4   Gorecki* AA
5. McCormick         6   Boyd* AA/AAA
6. Johnson            11      
7. Webber             12   Right Field  
8. Haberer             14   Stavinoha Hi A/AA
9. Worrell              17   Ankiel AAA
10. Herron             18      
11. Doyne             19   Left Field  
12. Wilson             23   Haerther AA/AAA
13. Parisi               24   Duncan* AAA
14. Narveson         25   Gall* AAA
15. Michael            26   Mather* AA
16. Hawksworth     28      
17. Boggs           34   *ML reserve potential  
18. Dove               35      
19. Andersen         36   Pitchers  
20. Garcia, Jaime   37      
21. Smith, Donnie  38   Righthanders Starters
      Reyes STL/AAA
      Wainwright AAA
Outfielders     Lambert AA
1. Haerther            5   Pomeranz AA
2. Rasmus             7   McCormick A
3. Jones                13   Webber A
4. Stavinoha         16   Herron Rookie/A
5. Duncan             21   Wilson Rookie/A
6. Schumaker         22   Parisi AA
7. Ankiel               23   Michael#? Hi A/AA
8. Gorecki             31   Hawksworth? A
9. Boyd                 40   Boggs A
      Dove# A/AA
Middle Infielders     Anderson Hi A/AA
1. Greene ss         8   Smith? A
2. Ryan ss            13      
3. Solano ss          20   Lefthanders Starter
4. Lucena ss          27   Haberer AA
5. Martinez 2b       30   Narveson#? AAA
6. Hoffpauir 2b       33      
      Righthanders Relievers
Corner Infielders     Worrell AA
1. Hansen 3b        9   Doyne AAA
2. Duncan 1b        21      
3. Ferris 1b            39   Lefthanders Relievers
      Johnson AAA
Catchers     Garcia, Jaime Rookie/A
1. Anderson          10      
2. Yarbrough         32   #reliever possibility  
      ?arm questions  

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