The purpose of this annual feature is to bring together what national experts think about the St. Louis Cardinals' top prospects and compare them to our ranking here at The Cardinal Nation.
There are at least six well-known concerns that rate and rank prospects from all 30 organizations, not just the Cardinals. They use different methods, but the bottom line is that they all come up with an ordered list of names. While we remain biased here that our list is best since we can focus on just one organization, getting other opinions is always beneficial.
What I have done here is take the Cardinals top ten prospect lists from Baseball America (BA), Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (BP), John Sickels of minorleagueball.com (JS), Keith Law (ESPN), BaseballHQ (HQ) and Diamond Futures (DF) and placed them side-by-side.
|5||David Freese||Jones||Jones||Stock||Scott Bittle||Lynn|
|8||Blake Hawksworth||Stock||Freese||Adron Chambers||B. Anderson||Descalso|
|9||Daniel Descalso||Descalso||Jon Jay||Francisco Samuel||Jay||R. Castillo|
|10||Robert Stock||Chambers||Joe Kelly||Audry Perez||Hawksworth||Jay|
We will start with similarities, the common ground between the various rankers. Of the 18 players that appear on at least one top ten list, five of them are the "no brainers", appearing on all six top ten lists. You can also see which of the lists had the players closest to the bottom (low) and which ranked them the best (high)
|Unanimous picks (5)||low||who||high||who|
|Shelby Miller||2||DF||1||other 5|
As the table indicates, Shelby Miller is at the top with Jaime Garcia close behind. Despite having pitched just three innings outside of high school, Miller logged five of the six number one votes while the veteran Garcia logged the other.
The biggest difference of opinion regarding the consensus players is catcher Robert Stock, who barely made the BA list at #10 but placed as high as fourth in Sickels' ranking. The questions about him are whether or not his bat will mature and his receiving skills will build, keeping him off the mound.
The next step is to look at the key differences in the rankings. The outliers are the six players named on just one of the six top ten lists. If a person was looking for sleepers, these players might provide a nice place to start.
|Lone star picks (6)||rank||who|
The biggest "wild duck" was BaseballHQ, with brittle Scott Bittle at number five and perennial hopeful Bryan Anderson holding on at number eight, but lacking top ten agreement from anyone else. Tying HQ with two "lone star picks" unique to his list was Law of ESPN, taking home a share of the prize for the second consecutive year. He was the only one to call out Francisco Samuel and Audry Perez in his 2010 ranking.
Also note that of these six picks, only two were bringing up the rear at number ten on their respective lists, though all but Bittle are in the bottom three in the view of the individual rankers. As you might expect, without a second vote, none of the six have a chance of making the consolidated top ten.
Neither BA nor BP placed a player on the "lone star list", signaling their rankings have the fewest outliers. Each came close however, with one player that garnered just one vote from the other five rankers. Only Blake Hawksworth and Adron Chambers received two votes of six. That wasn't enough for them to crack the group top ten, either.
The gulf between the consensus ten and the bottom eight is well-defined. There was just one player that made three of the six top ten lists, which is where the line was drawn. That is Jon Jay. In other words, the top nine players on the consolidated top ten list appear on at least four of the six lists.
In a bit of a surprise perhaps, neither David Freese nor Allen Craig impressed Law enough to make his list. One other ranker agreed by leaving each off his top ten, though they were different voters. BaseballHQ seconded keeping Craig off and also passed on Daniel Descalso.
|Four of six (3)||off||high||who|
This leaves the one player that appeared on five of the six lists. Only BaseballHQ didn't see reliever Eduardo Sanchez as a top ten talent, while Diamond Futures placed him all the way up at number four.
|Five of six (1)||off||high||who|
It seems a little surprising that 11 of the 18 players were either unanimous or were on just one ballot, but as noted above, it makes the distance between the consensus top group and the rest clearer.
My final step is to show the blended six rankings. When combining scores, a non-top ten player was assigned a score of "11". The six rankings were added together with the lowest total ranked number one in the consolidated list and so on.
The overall table follows with our The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com top ten provided next to it as comparison.
|Consolidated top ten||rank||TCN/Scout.com|
|Shelby Miller||1||Jaime Garcia|
|Jaime Garcia||2||Shelby Miller|
|Daryl Jones||3||Lance Lynn|
|Lance Lynn||4||David Freese|
|Eduardo Sanchez||5||Daryl Jones|
|Robert Stock||6||Eduardo Sanchez|
|David Freese||7||Allen Craig|
|Allen Craig||8||Blake Hawksworth|
|Daniel Descalso||9||Robert Stock|
|Jon Jay||10||Daniel Descalso|
The major difference is at the very top, while nine of the players are the same on both lists, with minor ordering changes. The only difference in the names is Jon Jay slipping into the consensus top ten over Hawksworth. The latter made our TCN/Scout list at number eight, but as noted above, had only two of six top ten votes among the outside experts. Jay ranked #12 in our top 40.
To see this feature from 12 months ago, click here.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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