First, we will start with a new view added this year, the breakdown of our Top 40 prospects by the year in which they became professionals. Three years of data is provided.
The Top 40 population is broken out in two ways. The rows indicate how the players were acquired – via the draft, as free agents from the Latin American program, their contracts having been purchased from other leagues or in trade.
The other dimension, in the columns, is the year the players became professionals, where N equals the most recent year/draft, N-1 being the prior year, etc.
Top 40 Cardinals Prospects – Sourcing - 2008-2010
Let's start with the rows. After a big jump in the number of top prospects from the Latin American program in 2009, up to six from two the year before, the total actually dropped by one to five in 2010. This is a bit concerning, given the pipeline from the academies should be starting to flow more heavily.
In terms of changes by draft years, an obvious is the increase in players from the very most recent draft that made the top 40. The eight from the 2010 draft is the highest to rank over these three years. Is that a positive about the draft or a general weakening of their more experienced competition already in the system?
Another big change that caught my eye is the decline in top prospects in the N-1 and N-2 years from 24 two years ago to 21 last year to just 16 this year. Much of the decline from 2009 can be directly attributed to the Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa trades. Those two deals took away two top prospects from both the 2008 and 2007 drafts.
The next view will be a look at the top 40 by their defensive position.
Top 40 Cardinals Prospects – By position – 2007-2010
|Top 40 by position||2010||2009||2008||2007|
|LH Starting Pitcher||3||2||3||4|
|RH Starting Pitcher||10||13||13||13|
A positive is in the increase in top catchers from two last year to three this year, directly attributed to the high selection of Robert Stock in the draft. There appears reasonable depth at shortstop and third base.
I see more concerns, however. The biggest is the continued decline in top 40 starting pitchers, dropping below one-third of the total for the first time. There were 17 in 2007 but only 13 now. This is despite four new starters joining the list from the 2009 draft, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Scott Bittle and Scott Schneider.
The number of corner outfielders continues to grow while two of the three centerfielders are at the very bottom of the rankings at number 39 and 40, respectively. Only Jon Jay is placed higher. I'd much rather see the trends reversed. Second base is also of concern, with a single player making the top 40 for the second consecutive year.
These would seem to indicate possible focus areas in the 2011 draft – starting pitching (as always), centerfielders and second basemen.
Runners-Up (name/overall ranking)
I will close with this year's "Runners-Up" - those players that made the Top 40, but not the All-Prospect Team. This also provides a quick visual snapshot of system-wide depth by position.
First base (1): Matt Adams (38)
Second base (0): none
Third base (2): Roberto de la Cruz (25), Niko Vasquez (34)
Left-handed starting pitcher (2): Nick Additon (23), Anthony Ferrara (33)
Right-handed starting pitcher (9): Lance Lynn (3), Adam Ottavino (11), P.J. Walters (16), Richard Castillo (18), Scott Bittle (21), Arquimedes Nieto (27), Joe Kelly (32), Scott Gorgen (36), Scott Schneider (37)
Again, for more information about these players, click on their highlighted names above to be taken to their free Scout.com player profile pages with bios, photos, news and more!
To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2010 and read about each individual player, click here. You can also learn more about each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections and much more.
There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?
Subscribe now to our annual Total Access Pass(tm) and receive in the spring the FOX Fantasy Guide / Scout Prospect Guide, the perfect hardcopy companion to "Forty Days", including the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always. (New TAP subscribers after 1/08/10 will receive the 2011 Guide next year but you can also purchase a copy of the 2010 Guide locally once they reach newsstands this spring.)
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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