40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Cards Prospects: 2008

Our new series started Wednesday, November 28! Over a forty-day period, four stlcardinals.scout.com writers disclose their top minor league prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals system.

Welcome to the third annual stlcardinals.scout.com Top 40 Prospect List. During the period we've labeled "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Cardinals Prospects", we'll be unveiling a new player each day, carrying us beyond the New Year. We continue until our #1 pick is disclosed – our consensus top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system.

We have had a lot of fun and sometimes intense debate compiling this list of forty names and are proud to bring to you.

Subscribers can either read each new story when posted on our home page or click on the individual players' names listed below. All readers are welcome to come back here each day to check the current status of our Top 40 countdown.

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.

To refer to the lists from each of the past two seasons, either click on the highlighted years here: 2006 and 2007, or use the permanent links on the lower left side of our home page.

Before we get into the new list itself, here is a bit about the process. Four members of our staff collaborated on this effort: Leonda Markee, Dustin Mattison, Ray Mileur and Brian Walton. Independently in early November, each of the four ranked their 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.

Dustin Mattison:
When looking at a prospect, I definitely hold in higher regard players with upside compared with those will solid stats but few tools. What I mean is I prefer the high ceiling player to the player with good production but a limited ceiling. But as with anything else, there are always exceptions. Also, I understand that to build an organization a team can't rely to heavy on either but there has to be a good mix of both.

In compiling my list, I based my decisions on seeing players in person and various scouting reports as well as scouting video. In looking at a prospect I tend to weigh tools to production at a ratio of about 60-40. So, I try not to rule out a player with good production just because he doesn't throw 95 or doesn't hit a ball 500 feet. On the other end of the spectrum, if the player can throw 95 but can't hit the broad side of a barn, I understand the he probably won't help the organization much either.

Leonda Markee:
I have six main criteria for determining my ranking: A) 2007 Production, B) 2007 Level(s) Played, C) Age, D) Prior Experience/Production, E)Potential Impact on the St. Louis Team and F) Tools/Upside. While all of the factors were considered in conjunction with each other, I gave the most weight to the first four criteria.

A player's production combined with both the level and age at which he produced were the most important factors and then how that production compares with their prior performance, if any. What did the player do on the field as compared to his age and performance level contemporaries? More weight was given to good performances at higher levels than lower levels. Next, I did consider a player's tools and projected upside and strong tools could mitigate some of the other factors considered. However, it took a strong upside for any player to overcome a weaker 2007 performance.

Finally, advice from a Cardinals' scout led me to a change in my thinking. He said that prospects really need a full season of professional ball before their upside can be accurately measured. The short-season time after they are drafted and signed simply is not sufficient, in most cases. That made sense to me and led me to rank very few of the 2007 draft class in my Top 40. I think we have some exciting possibilities in Draft Class 2007. I simply want to see most of them for a little longer before placing them in the Top 40.

Ray Mileur:
Performance generally takes precedence over potential in my rankings. I strive to balance the performance of a player and weigh that against the expectations and his potential. While potential cannot be ignored, I also believe it can be worst thing you can say about some players.

Top draft picks and highly touted prospects may rank ahead of others with their potential being given preference over the performance of others. But, I do expect those with great potential to live up to it, sooner than later.

I'm a card-carrying member of the TINSTAPP (There is No Such Thing as a Pitching Prospect) club, as such, pitching prospects may not be rank as high on my list as on other Top Prospect lists like at Baseball America or Baseball HQ.

Brian Walton:
The never-ending challenge remains with regard to how to rank a younger player with less experience but a longer runway in comparison to an older player with a lower ceiling who has been around longer. This has been even more complicated by an ever-growing influx of higher-quality players into the Cardinals system in recent years, yet it is a pleasant problem to deal with.

In the not-too-distant past, I had trouble coming up with 40 players about whom I felt strongly enough to consider ranking. This year, I left eight to ten very good players off my list and conversely, there were several other players I really like that did not make our consolidated Top 40.

My picks are my own, based on personal observation as much as possible but also influenced by scouts and people in and out of the organization with whom I have communicated in the past year. Now and then during my daily write-ups, I will include relevant comments from several of the scouts with whom I have consulted.

stlcardinals.scout.com Top 40 Prospects – 2008

40. Steven Hill (free!)
39. D'Marcus Ingram
38. Nick Stavinoha
37. Brandon Buckman
36. David Kopp
35. Mike Parisi
34. Blake King
33. Mark Worrell
32. Deryk Hooker
31. Kyle McClellan
30. Brad Furnish (free!)
29. Stuart Pomeranz
28. Luis de la Cruz
27. Cody Haerther
26. Tyler Norrick
25. Jon Edwards
24. Luke Gregerson
23. Blake Hawksworth
22. Jason Motte
21. Josh Kinney (free!)
20. Mark McCormick
19. Jon Jay
18. Jess Todd
17. Tyler Greene
16. Pete Kozma
15. Kenny Maiques
14. Jarrett Hoffpauir
13a. David Freese (free!)
13. Mitchell Boggs
12. Mark Hamilton
11. Allen Craig
10. P.J. Walters
9. Clayton Mortensen
8. Joe Mather
7a. Brian Barton (free!)
7. Jose Martinez
6. Tyler Herron
5. Adam Ottavino
4. Chris Perez
3. Jaime Garcia
2. Bryan Anderson
1. Colby Rasmus (free!)

At the conclusion of the countdown, we will follow with a free five-part series where we divulge each voter's individual top 40 lists and analyze year-to-year changes. Then, each of the four highlight the players who were on their personal lists, but missed the combined top 40.

2008 Top Cards Prospects – The Final Tally
Cards Prospects: Best of the Rest – Markee
Cards Prospects: Best of the Rest – Mattison
Cards Prospects: Best of the Rest – Mileur
Cards Prospects: Best of the Rest – Walton

Finally, our free review of the 2008 Scout.com Cardinals All-Prospect Team!

Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at stlcardinals.scout.com?

Subscribe now to our annual Total Access Pass(tm) and receive the 2008 Scout Prospect Guide, the perfect hardcopy, glossy companion to "Forty Days", expanded to include the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations.

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