BaseballHQ's Deric McKamey on Cards Prospects

One of baseball's pre-eminent minor league experts shares his views of a still-improving Cardinals prospect pipeline.

Deric McKamey has been BaseballHQ's Director of Minor League Analysis for almost ten years now and has been a baseball analyst for twenty. Formally trained by MLB's Scout School, McKamey's prospect evaluation skills and many contacts have served him well in all aspects of his job, including his multi-year role as an advisor for the St. Louis Cardinals.

When Jeff Luhnow joined the Cardinals organization three years ago, he hired several outsiders who had solid statistical foundations and stellar reputations in the game to consult with the team. The most prominent organization to initially come on board was BaseballHQ, founded by Ron Shandler.

Once again this year, McKamey and BaseballHQ have published their Organizational Ratings for all 30 major league teams, 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.

This comprehensive information is available to HQ subscribers and is more in-depth and more valuable than that put out by several more well-known sources of minor league information.

In addition, McKamey takes his work much further in print form. Now orderable for the second year is the "Minor League Baseball Analyst", in which McKamey profiles 1000 prospects from across the game, including about 40 Cardinals' system players. Soon, it will become as eagerly-awaited each hot stove season as Shandler's famous "Baseball Forecaster" has been for over 20 years running.

Through the generosity of Shandler, McKamey and BaseballHQ, following is a subset of their findings on just their top 15 Cardinals prospects, along with the Cardinals' organizational rankings in comparison to their National League Central Division competitors. 2006 club rankings are also listed for comparison purposes.

BaseballHQ's Organizational Rankings –St. Louis Cardinals
By Deric McKamey

Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects

1. Colby Rasmus OF…..L/L…..20…..2005 (1-C) high school (AL)

Strengths: Athleticism/speed (4.05). Plus bat speed/power/BA ability. Plate discipline. Arm strength. Range
Weaknesses: None
Comments: Solid, all-around hitter, capable of hitting for power and BA, while judging strike zone. Handled himself well with aggressive promotion, boding well for future. Fast and intelligent baserunner and possesses the arm strength/range to be above average in RF.
MLB Debut: 2008
Potential Rating: 9C

2. Jaime Garcia LHP…..20…..2005 (22) high school (TX)

Strengths: Plus 74-78 MPH curveball and 87-92 MPH two-seam fastball. Plus command. Keeping ball down
Weaknesses: Deception of 79-81 MPH change-up. Stamina
Comments: Toyed with MWL hitters with plus curveball and pinpoint command, and was able to win upon promotion to high Class-A despite declining base skills. Very efficient pitcher with solid G/F, which he'll need as his strikeout rate likely won't hold at upper levels.
MLB Debut: 2009
Potential Rating: 8C

3. Blake Hawksworth RHP…..24…..2001 (28) high school (WA)

Strengths: Plus change-up and 88-93 MPH four-seam fastball. Command. Arm strength/action. Athletic/projectable frame
Weaknesses: Rotation of curveball
Comments: Encouraging season following labrum surgery in 2004, featuring plus change-up and a return of velocity. Command improved as season progressed with his repeatable ¾ delivery. Without a quality curveball, he'll have to be more of a contact pitcher.
MLB Debut: 2008
Potential Rating: 8D

4. Adam Ottavino RHP…..22…..2006 (1) Northeastern

Strengths: 88-93 MPH two and four-seam fastballs and 77-79 MPH slider. Command. Arm strength/action. Drop-and-drive ¾ delivery. Aggressiveness
Weaknesses: Rotation of curveball. Deception of change-up. Getting out LH batters
Comments: Strong-armed pitcher with good velocity and full slate of pitches. Deceptive with drop-and-drive delivery and pitches on downward plane, helping him miss bats and induce groundballs. Needs to stop showing baseball, reduce walk rate, and improve change-up.
MLB Debut: 2008
Potential Rating: 8D

5. Bryan Anderson C…..L/R…..20…..2005 (4) high school (CA)

Strengths: Moderate bat speed/BA ability. Plate discipline. Average arm strength
Weaknesses: Hitting for power. Receiving skills. Speed/agility
Comments: Excellent contact hitter and on-base ability, but became too passive in second half. Power should progress to double-digits with physical maturity. Defense is outstanding, shutting down running game (36% CS%) with average arm strength and handling pitchers, but receiving skills need work.
MLB Debut: 2009
Potential Rating: 7C

6. Chris Perez RHP…..22…..2006 (1-S) Miami-FL

Strengths: 90-95 MPH fastball, 83-86 MPH slider, and curveball. Arm strength. Tall/strong frame
Weaknesses: Command
Comments: Successful college reliever made smooth transition to professional baseball. Fastball has velocity, but is relatively straight, but gets outs through a vicious slider and a renewed curveball from his ¾ slot. Reducing walk rate is the only hurdle between him being a quality closer.
2007 MLB Role: Short reliever
Potential Rating: 8D

7. Mark McCormick RHP…..23…..2005 (1-S) Baylor

Strengths: 90-97 MPH four-seam fastball and 77-81 MPH curveball. High ¾ slot. Athletic/projectable frame
Weaknesses: Rotation of 81-84 MPH slider. Deception of 80-81 MPH circle-change. Command. Efficiency. Stamina
Comments: Plus movement to fastball and high ¾ slot gives him downward plane for curveball, enabling him to strike-out hitters. Command is very inconsistent, doesn't trust his change-up, and mechanics are tough to control. Stamina and efficiency limited him to five innings per start.
MLB Debut: 2008
Potential Rating: 8E

8. Jon Jay OF…..L/L…..22…..2006 (2) Miami-FL

Strengths: Athleticism/speed (4.15). Moderate bat speed/BA ability. Plate discipline. Range
Weaknesses: Hitting for power. Arm strength
Comments: Plus athlete with bat handling capability, moderate power, and speed. Draws walks and gets hit by pitch often, enhancing OBP. Steals bases via speed and reading pitchers' moves. Possesses good range, but a below average throwing arm limits him to LF.
MLB Debut: 2008
Potential Rating: 7C

9. Josh Kinney RHP…..28…..2001 NDFA Quincy

Strengths: 88-94 MPH two-seam fastball, 81-84 MPH slider, and 77-80 MPH curveball. Command. Keeping ball down. Deceptive ¾ delivery
Weaknesses: None
Comments: Went from organizational pitcher to playoff-quality reliever by improving command, rotation of slider, and effectiveness against RH batters (.140 oppBA). Keeps ball down with power sinker and misses bats with help from his deceptive ¾ delivery. Strong build and arm strength contribute to resiliency.
2007 MLB Role: Middle/short reliever
Potential Rating: 7B

10. Nick Stavinoha OF…..R/R…..24…..2005 (7) Louisiana State

Strengths: Moderate bat speed/moderate power/BA ability. Arm strength
Weaknesses: Strike zone judgment. Speed (4.45). Range
Comments: Advanced hitter with good bat speed and moderate power to all fields was able to maintain BA, but plate discipline regressed, affecting OBP. Excellent in situations, giving him ability to drive-in runs. Possesses good arm strength in RF with average range.
MLB Debut: 2008
Potential Rating: 7C

11. Tyler Greene SS…..R/R…..23…..2005 (1) Georgia Tech

Strengths: Athleticism/speed (4.2). Moderate bat speed/moderate power. Arm strength. Range. Soft hands. Aggressiveness
Weaknesses: Contact/BA ability. Pull-conscious. Plate discipline
Comments: Disappointing first half where he struggled to make contact cost him a demotion. Improved BA with inside/out swing and showed surprising power, but there was no change in batting eye. Efficient in stealing bases and makes plays defensively, featuring good arm strength.
MLB Debut: 2008
Potential Rating: 7D

12. Jon Edwards OF…..R/R.....19.....2006 (14) high school (TX)

Strengths: Athleticism/strength/speed (4.25). Bat speed/power. Plate discipline. Plus arm strength
Weaknesses: Long swing. Pitch recognition. Range
Comments: Large-framed athlete with enormous power potential with bat speed and natural strength. Judges strike zone well, but struggles to hit breaking pitches. Fringe-average speed and plus arm strength in RF, but lacks range and proper route taking. Performance was hampered by wrist/hamstring injuries.
MLB Debut: 2010
Potential Rating: 8E

13. Mark Hamilton 1B…..L/L…..22…..2006 (2-S) Tulane

Strengths: Strength. Bat speed/power. Plate discipline
Weaknesses: BA ability. Speed (4.3). Arm strength. Stiff hands
Comments: Enormous power potential with plus bat speed and strong wrists and BA should improve with better plate discipline. Good breaking pitches can still get him out, but has ability to adjust. Adds little in the way of speed or defense, but power is strong enough to compensate.
MLB Debut: 2008
Potential Rating: 8D

14. Stuart Pomeranz RHP…..22…..2003 (2) high school (TN)

Strengths: 87-92 MPH two and four-seam fastballs and 75-77 MPH knuckle-curve. Command. Deceptive, low ¾ slot. Power-pitcher build
Weaknesses: Deception of 79-81 MPH change-up. Repeating arm speed. Arm action
Comments: Tall/wide-hipped pitcher, but doesn't utilize height with low arm angle and arm action is less than ideal. Keeps ball low with sinker and knuckle-curve, but hasn't missed as many bat as he did at lower levels and needs to change speeds. Missed a month with left oblique strain.
MLB Debut: 2008
Potential Rating: 7E

15. Chris Narveson LHP…..25…..2000 (2) high school (NC)

Strengths: 88-90 MPH two-seam fastball, 74-78 MPH curveball, and 78-79 MPH change-up. Aggressiveness. Poise
Weaknesses: Repeating delivery. Command. Stamina
Comments: Limited upside, but pitched well in a hitter friendly environment and made a spot start for STL. Throws three pitches for strikes and extracts groundball outs, though his command and strikeout rate teeters on the edge. Knows what he's doing on the mound and could work his way into a permanent middle relief role.
2007 MLB Role: Spot starter/middle reliever
Potential Rating: 6B

PLAYER POTENTIAL RATING

Scale of (1-10) representing a player's upside potential

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

Scale of (A-E) representing the player's realistic chances of achieving their potential

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

2007 Contributors - Players outside the top 15 who could contribute in St. Louis in 2007

Amaury Cazana Marti (OF), Skip Schumaker (OF), Brendan Ryan (SS), Troy Cate (LHP), Chris Lambert (RHP), Mark Worrell (RHP)

Organizational Rankings – National League Central Division

While at the bottom of the Divisional rankings for the second straight season, the Cardinals are in the half of the pack that improved year-to-year.

Cards hitting and pitching improved over 2006, while top-end talent declined. I assume that is at least a partial reflection of the promotions of Anthony Reyes and Adam Wainwright with no clear replacements in the pipeline.

Team

Hitting

Pitching

Top-end 

Overall

Overall (2006)

YTY Trend

talent

St. Louis Cardinals

C

C+

C-

C

C-

up

Chicago Cubs

C

B-

C

C+

B-

down

Cincinnati Reds

B-

B-

A-

B

C-

up

Houston Astros

C-

B+

B-

B-

C

up

Milwaukee Brewers

C+

B

B

B

B+

down

Pittsburgh Pirates

C+

C

C+

C

C

flat





Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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