Another View of the Cards Minor League System

One way to gauge a system is to try to forecast its players' future. Another is to look at the major leaguers it has produced.

Editor's note:
Now and then, there is a post on our message board that I consider notable enough to share with a broader audience. Such is the case today.

Recently, a writer from Baseball America offered his assessment of the relative strengths of the various minor league systems across baseball. He pegged the St. Louis Cardinals' farm at number 29 of 30, behind only the Houston Astros.

That represents a drop from eighth the previous year. A fall was expected by most, though not that drastic. After all, five of the top 11 from The Cardinal Nation prospect list from last winter either made the majors full-time (Colby Rasmus and Jason Motte) or were traded away (Brett Wallace, Jess Todd and Clayton Mortensen).

While the BA view is a look forward to the players who will be in the system in 2010, a poster from our message board, Vic Dyer, better known as "SoonerinNC", took a look backward. Vic tracked the players signed by each of the 30 MLB organizations from the most recent five draft classes. His analysis follows.

A quick look at the Baseball Encyclopedia online showed some interesting information. The number of draftees from the 2005-2009 classes that have reached the majors are as follows:

13 – Tigers
11 - Giants, Cardinals
10 - Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Padres
9 - Rangers, Mets
8 - Marlins, Athletics
7 - Nationals, Mariners, Reds
6 - White Sox, Orioles, Braves, Yankees, Blue Jays
4 - Twins, Brewers, Phillies, Angels
3 - Rays, Dodgers, Indians, Cubs, Pirates, Astros
2 - Royals, Rockies

Of course, numbers reaching the majors don't really tell the whole story and this is where the subjective judgment comes in. How many are stars? How many are regulars? I took a look at that as well.

I consider a regular position player one with 350 official at bats (300 for catchers) in a season. For starting pitchers; 10 wins, 15 decisions or 150 innings. For relief pitchers; 66 appearances or 20 saves. Arbitrary, but you have to cut off somewhere.

The number of regular players among those who reached the majors are as follows:

4 - Diamondbacks (Upton, Owings, Scherzer, Anderson)

3 - Rangers (Davis, Holland, Hunter), White Sox (Getz, Richard, Beckham), Orioles (Hernandez, Wieters, Reimold)

2 - Giants (Lincecum, Burriss), CARDINALS (Rasmus, Gregerson and Perez just missed), Red Sox (Ellsbury, Masterson) Athletics (Cahill, Bailey), Mets (Pelfrey, Murphy), Marlins (Coghlan, Volstad), Nationals (Zimmerman, Lannan),Twins (Garza, Slowey), Rays (Longoria, Price), Royals (Gordon, Hochevar), Tigers (Miller, Porcello)

1 - Padres (Headley, Braves (Escobar), Yankees (Chamberlain), Brewers (Braun), Dodgers (Kershaw), Rockies (Tulowitzki), Indians (Huff), Blue Jays (Romero), Reds (Bruce)

0 - Mariners, Phillies, Angels, Cubs, Pirates, Astros

Certainly there are questions. For example, will Rasmus develop to the Upton, Zimmerman, Longoria, Braun, Tulowitzki level?

One of the issues BA and other critics have is that the Cardinals lack starting pitching candidates and it shows in the above information. A high percentage of the regulars are starters. Again the question is can Garcia or Lynn develop to the level of Garza, Volstad, Cahill, Price, Chamberlain or Holland? Forget Lincecum and probably Kershaw.

To the Cardinals credit, they have developed 11 major leaguers from an average draft position of 21.6 and never better than 13th. In addition to the major leaguers, 15 other players from the Cardinals 2005-2009 drafts have played at Triple-A, 29 at Double-A, and 10 at High A.

You have to ask the Padres, Royals, Pirates, Mariners and Reds who have had all of those early draft picks, "where's the beef", a slogan from an old fast food chain commercial that many of you are too young to have seen.

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