#1. Colby Rasmus, CF – AAA Memphis; just a phone call away from the Majors. Had three straight hits in his first game for the Redbirds. He'll break the "Organizational Player of the Year" curse, he's a five-tool-player, and the Cardinals center fielder before the season is over. Hitting .364 after his first two games, with a stolen base.
#2. Bryan Anderson, C – AA Springfield; the best catcher in the Cardinals minors, on opening night in Springfield he was throwing out runners and almost picked someone off of first. Hit .298 last season for Springfield, he's still looking for his first hit of the season, after the first two games.
#3. Jaime Garcia, LHP – AA Springfield; gave up a couple of runs in his first outing on Thursday, he's widely considered one of the two or three best pitchers in the system. He's a left-hander with a great future that should stay at the top of the power rankings throughout the season.
#4. Adam Ottavino, RHP – AA Springfield; Adam will be making his first start for Springfield Sunday. The Cardinals were swept by the Roughriders in their first series at home.
#5. Chris Perez, RHP – AAA Memphis; gave up a run in his first relief appearance for Memphis, if you talk to Major League scouts, they consider Perez the Cardinals best pitching prospect period. His delivery takes some time to get use to, he's the Cardinals closer of the future.
#6. P.J. Walters, RHP – AA Springfield; didn't have his best stuff when he pitched the home opener for the Springfield Cardinals and it doesn't help that the team has never won a home opener. He gave up three runs in five innings and was tagged with the loss. It could have been worse, but P.J. managed to strike out five batters to keep his team in the game.
#7. Tyler Herron, RHP – A Palm Beach; he'll have to start getting ready to go deeper into games, coming off the tandem starting rotation experiment in Quad Cities (that I'm not sold on) He gave up three earned runs, on six hits in four innings in his first start. His development was stalled as far as I'm concern at Quad Cities, so we should get a better read on his progress and potential this season.
#8. Joe Mather, OF – AAA Memphis; get ready to go to St. Louis if you want to see Mather play baseball. He had five hits in his first nine at-bats for the Redbirds to include a home run and three RBI. Don't be surprise to see Mather arrive in St. Louis before Rasmus this season, not because he's a better prospect, but because he's a very good prospect now, but because he's a right-handed bat the Cardinals might need.
#9. Allen Craig, 3B – AA Springfield; we know Craig can hit, the question is can he field the position at third. It's not a lock he'll play there, but he has surprised me with his play on defense early on.
#10. Clayton Mortensen, RHP – AA Springfield; made his season debut on Saturday, pitching five scoreless frames, giving up only three hits, walking one and striking out four. The best start this young season for the Springfield club.
#11. Jarrett Hoffpauir, 2B – AAA Memphis; he's not near the top of the lineup, which you could question considering his OBP of .394 for the Redbirds in 55 games last year. I have him ranked higher than most pundits, that is, if I'm a pundit.
#12. Jose Martinez, 2B – AA Springfield; this should be a big year for Martinez. I prefer to see him play at short, but there are some that don't think he has the range to play short at the Major League level. From what I've seen if he can start hitting and getting on base, he should be in Memphis within a year.
#13. David Freese, 3B – AAA Memphis; came to St. Louis from the Padres via the Jim Edmonds trade. Last season David hit .302/.400/.489 with 17 home runs at the San Diego Padres' High-A affiliate. I'm a little surprised he got the nod to play at Triple-A to start the season. He's off to a slow start through the first two games, going 1-for-9 with an alarming five strike outs. His spot in the power rankings could be jeopardy by the end of the month.
#14. Mitchell Boggs, RHP – AAA Memphis; after leading the Springfield Cardinals in innings pitched in 2007, Boggs starts the 2008 campaign in Memphis. Boggs can relieve or start and doesn't have a problem adjusting if he has to. Considered by many a Top Ten prospect, Boggs will get every opportunity to advance to the next level.
#15. Jess Todd, RHP – A+ Palm Beach; still looking for his first appearance, Todd is a power pitcher that could break into the top ten rankings by the end of this season. The Birdhouse named him Batavia's Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2007. Projected to be a late innings reliever in Majors.
#16. Pete Kozma, SS – A Quad Cities; the Cardinals sold me on this first round pick, though I was really expecting more of him in his first season of pro ball. He'll start the season at Quad Cities. He had two hits in his first game, since then he's gone 0-for-7. It's way too early to make any judgments on just two or three games, but keep an eye on Kozma, after all he was a first round pick.
#17. Blake Hawksworth, RHP - AAA Memphis; gave up six runs, five on them earned on Saturday suffering his first lost of the season. Hawksworth is another one who may be on the bubble soon. I really expected him to have a big season in 2007, he looked great in spring training, but he finished with a 4-13 won-loss record and was probably glad Anthony Reyes is still in the organization. Stock is falling.
#18. Mark McCormick, RHP - A+ Palm Beach; injuries have slowed McCormick's career, he has so much stuff he can miss the most of two seasons and still break into the rankings. He pitched three innings in his first start this season, giving up three runs, two of them earned. A blue chip stock that is expected to pay dividends in 2008.
#19. Mark Hamilton, 1B - AA Springfield; he made some nice plays this week at first base, it seemed like nobody could get the ball to him without him having to dig it out of the dirt. He'll need to hit more for average to stay up with all the competition between the corner infielders in the organization.
#20. Luis de la Cruz, C - A Quad Cities; another very good catcher in the organization, a very strong arm, he threw out more than 50% of base stealers in 2007. Ranked by the Birdhouse at #28, I had him a little higher. He played in his first game Saturday, going 1-for-3 at the plate, with a double. If he can hit in the .260 - .280 range, he'll have a very bright future with somebody.
#21. Luke Gregerson, RHP - AA Springfield; through two games and three innings, he's not given up a hit and has struck out five. After finishing last season with 29 saves and holding opposing batters to a .188 batting average, Gregerson's stock is rising.
#22 Jason Motte, RHP - AAA Memphis; a fan favorite, Motte made the jump to Triple-A after splitting playing time with Palm Beach & Springfield. I don't think there is anything that is going to keep this kid out of the Major Leagues. He's not a household name, even among the most avid fans of the Cardinals, which should soon change. Stock is rising.
#23 David Kopp, RHP - A+ Palm Beach; suffered an ankle injury in 2007 that cut his season short, it will take a few outings for us to get a better read on Kopp. He did finish at #39 in our Top 40 rankings, though I've ranked him significantly higher than my colleagues. Kopp is going to have to prove that I was right on the field.
#24 Mark Worrell, RHP - AAA Memphis; seems like there is a stockpile of potential closers at the Triple and Double-A level. Worrell led the minors with 35 saves in 2005 and was a big part of the Springfield Cardinals first championship team, contributing 27 saves. He was used as a setup man last season, appearing in 50 games, a role he'll probably serve this season as well.
#25 Jon Jay, CF - AA Springfield; after talking to Jay and watching him play this week, he's healthy and covering a lot of ground in center field as he leap frogs over some others from my pre-season Top 40 rankings. He's off to a slow start at the plate, through three games, hitting just .154 (2-for-13) . His stock is rising if for no other reason, he's starting, batting leadoff and is healthy.
Let's meet back here next week...
Ray Mileur can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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