BaseballHQ Pegs Cardinals System at #28

In the conclusion of a two-part series, we review the rankings of the National League Central Division organizations according to the Minor League Baseball Analyst. We also look at the details behind the Cardinals changes from past years.

The fifth edition of BaseballHQ's "Minor League Baseball Analyst" is now available. As always, the guide integrates sabermetrics and scouting for over 1000 minor leaguers. In-depth scouting reports and stats include batter skills ratings, runner speed, pitch repertoires, Major League equivalents, ultimate potential and much more.

In part one of this two-part series, we reviewed the top 15 Cardinals prospects with the details as to why they're ranked where they are.

Here in part two, we'll look into the Minor League Baseball Analysts' Cardinals organizational rankings in comparison to their National League Central Division competitors. Past club rankings from 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 are used to compare progress and we will close with individual Cardinals player movement on and off the top 15.

St. Louis vs. NL Central

The cyclical nature of the prospect game is clear when observing that the Cardinals and Reds were tied for last in the NL Central Division rankings five years ago, closely bunched at the top last year and now heading back down again.

With a huge drop to fifth of six NL Central organizations and a C- score, St. Louis ended four-year improvement run. They also just avoided the bottom of the MLB pack at number 28, with Detroit and NL Central competitor Houston bringing up the rear.

Org. '09-'10 rank trend 2010 MLB rank 2009 MLB rank '09-'10 overall trend '10  '09 '08  '07 '06
Brewers flat 13 13 up B B- C B B+
Cubs up 14 27 up B- C- C+ C+ B-
Reds down 16 11 down B- B B+ B C-
Pirates up 18 20 up B- C+ C+ C C
Cardinals down 28 10 down C- B B- C C-
Astros down 30 29 flat D+ D+ C- B- C

Now let's dive down into the detailed analysis of the 2010 NL Central by category. Here we see the Cardinals either at or near the bottom in three of the four criteria that when combined make up the overall score.

On the positive, St. Louis is in the middle of the division in pitching. Though their grade is only a C+, it is their best individual score. They are tied for last in hitting (D) and top talent (C). Only Houston scored worse than the Cardinals in depth (C).

Org. Overall   Hitting Pitching Top talent  Depth
Brewers B B+ C B C+
Cubs B- B B- B C+
Reds B- B- B B C+
Pirates B- B C+ B C+
Cardinals C- D C+ C C
Astros D+ C C- C+ D

Cardinals now vs. in the past

Now we'll look into Cardinals year-to-year trends. Note that only two years of the "depth" category is included here as it was first incorporated into the 2009 Analyst. Therefore, only one yearly comparison is possible.

Cardinals Hitting Pitching Top-end talent  Depth Overall
2010 D C+ C C C-
'09-'10 trend down flat down down down
2009 A- C+ B- B B
'08-'09 trend up down flat   up
2008 C+ B- B-   B-
'07-'08 trend up up up   up
2007 C C- C+   C

Starting at the bottom, the Cardinals organization earned marked improvement in all three categories from 2007 to 2008. Is it purely coincidental that the top six clubs in the system finished an aggregate 60 games over .500 two seasons ago?

Last year, it is easy to why the Cardinals moved up in their overall score. It was entirely driven by a huge jump in hitting, from C+ to A-. Top talent remained flat, while not surprisingly, pitching took a dip.

This time around, the hitting took a huge nosedive from A- to D, while pitching is the only category remaining constant from year to year.

Let's go back to the Cardinals top 15 prospects to dig into this a bit. Interestingly, in terms of raw numbers, quantity not quality, the number of hitters and pitchers in the top 15 remained constant from one year ago.

Cards top 15 Hitters Pitchers
2010 8 7
2009 8 7
2008 9 6

Yet when you look at the top half, prospects one through eight, you can see the magnitude of the shift much more clearly. Last year, the hitters led the pitchers, 6-2, where now the top eight are evenly split, returning to the same level as two years back.

Cards top 8 Hitters Pitchers
2010 4 4
2009 6 2
2008 4 4

Getting specific, five of the top seven players on last year's rankings are gone. Colby Rasmus, Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs graduated. Brett Wallace was traded and the raters' confidence in Pete Kozma eroded substantially.

Cards top 15 Hitters on (rank) Hitters off (2009 #s)
2010 Stock (6) 8D Rasmus (1) 9B
  Craig (11) 8D Wallace (2) 9C
  Hill (12) 8D Kozma (6) 8C
  Descalso (14) 8D Vasquez (15) 7C
Cards top 15 Pitchers on (rank) Pitchers off (2009 #s)
2010 Miller (1) 9D Motte (5) 8C
  Bittle (5) 8D Boggs (7) 7B
  Hawksworth (10) 8D Todd (9) 8C
  Ottavino (15) 8D Mortensen (11) 8D

In what could either be viewed as positive or scary, three members of the 2009 draft class debuted, all in the top six. This despite the two pitchers having a whopping total of three innings of professional mound work, Shelby Miller and Scott Bittle. The latter has continued shoulder problems, reinforced since the Analyst went to press.

The final table is a quick-and-dirty quality measure. Remember the Potential Rating for each member of the top 15, where the higher the number, the more elite the player is expected to be. In terms of Probability Rating, the lower the letter, the more likely the player should reach that potential. Therefore, the upper left is the best place to be. Lower left is arguably next best.

In the cells of the table, the first number is the quantity of players in the top 15 at that level. The number that follows in parens is the change in the number of that level of players since last year. For example, there are no 9B players in 2010 after having one in 2009.

Cards top 15 2010 (vs '09) 9 Elite player  8 Solid regular  7 Average regular 
A 90% chance na na na
B 70% chance 0 (down 1) 1 (flat) 1 (down 1)
C 50% chance 0 (down 1) 1(down 2) 0 (down 3)
D 30% chance 2 (up 1) 10 (up 7) na

As you can see, in the top 15, there was a major movement down and to the right from 2009, neither of which is good. This is reflected in the Cardinals' substantial decline in the overall rankings. Further, 10 of the Cardinals top 15, or two-thirds of them, are ranked 8D. That means they have just a 30 percent chance of becoming a solid regular.

In closing, thank you again to Rob Gordon and BaseballHQ for giving us this special peek at their data. Please respect them and copyright laws by not duplicating this material.

Link to part one of this report: "BaseballHQ on Cardinals Prospects: 2010".

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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