Cards Prospects: Best of the Rest: Community

DTFlush234 reviews nine message board community's top Cardinals prospects that missed our overall Top 40 list. Today's article is FREE!

Editor's note: Our Top 40 St. Louis Cardinals prospect countdown would not have been as successful had a leader from our message board community not stepped forward. Not only did "DTFlush234" moderate the voting, he wrote almost 50 player capsules, speaking for the scores of individual voters. He did a tremendous job and I greatly appreciate his contributions.

Following is the overall top 40, with the community's list through #46 next to it. (Remember that we each ranked 46 names to develop a consolidated list of 40.) Highlighted are the unique names from the community's list to be discussed here.

  Overall Top 40   Community
1 Oscar Taveras 1 Oscar Taveras
2 Carlos Martinez 2 Carlos Martinez
3 Kolten Wong 3 Kolten Wong
4 Stephen Piscotty 4 Stephen Piscotty
5 Rob Kaminsky 5 Alex Reyes
6 Marco Gonzales 6 Marco Gonzales
7 Alex Reyes 7 Rob Kaminsky
8 James Ramsey 8 Carson Kelly
9 Carson Kelly 9 Tyrell Jenkins
10 Randal Grichuk 10 Randal Grichuk
11 Tyrell Jenkins 11 James Ramsey
12 Tim Cooney 12 Charlie Tilson
13 Charlie Tilson 13 Greg Garcia
14 Cory Jones 14 Lee Stoppelman
15 Patrick Wisdom 15 John Gast
16 Zach Petrick 16 Patrick Wisdom
17 Sam Freeman 17 Tim Cooney
18 Lee Stoppelman 18 Cory Jones
19 John Gast 19 Mike O'Neill
20 Greg Garcia 20 Sam Freeman
21 Mike Mayers 21 Zach Petrick
22 Oscar Mercado 22 Tommy Pham
23 Tommy Pham 23 Dixon Llorens
24 Mike O'Neill 24 Kenny Peoples-Walls
25 Ian McKinney 25 Edmundo Sosa
26 Sam Gaviglio 26 Breyvic Valera
27 Juan Herrera 27 Sam Tuivailala
28 Jacob Wilson 28 Jordan Swagerty
29 Jordan Swagerty 29 Oscar Mercado
30 Boone Whiting 30 Ian McKinney
31 Breyvic Valera 31 Boone Whiting
32 Edmundo Sosa 32 Steven Farinaro
33 Kenny Peoples-Walls 33 Mike Mayers
34 Nick Petree 34 Anthony Garcia
35 Keith Butler 35 David Popkins
36 Sam Tuivailala 36 Jacob Wilson
37 Seth Blair 37 Malik Collymore
38 Fernando Baez 38 Jonathan Rodriguez
39 Eric Fornataro 39 Steve Bean
40 Audry Perez 40 Juan Herrera
    41 Jose Almarante
    42 Ronald Castillo
    43 Victor De Leon
    44 Keith Butler
    45 C.J. McElroy
    46 Starlin Rodriguez

At least 11 players that made the community top 46 fell short of recognition on the overall site top 40. Two of them, David Popkins and Ronald Castillo, will be covered in Brian Walton's "Best of the Rest" article coming tomorrow. The other nine are pitchers Steven Farinaro, Jose Almarante and Victor De Leon, catcher Steve Bean, infielders Jonathan Rodriguez and Malik Collymore and outfielders Anthony Garcia, C.J. McElroy and Starlin Rodriguez.

Two of the nine are 2013 draftees in Farinaro and Collymore. Five others had placed on the 2013 overall top 40, but slid off the 2014 list: De Leon, Bean, Garcia, McElroy and Starlin Rodriguez. On the upswing are Almarante and Jonathan Rodriguez.

Individual player commentary from DTFlush234 follows.

Steven Farinaro (Community #32)

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA RHS 8/18/1995 6-0 175 R R 2013 11th

School: Head Royce High School, Oakland, California

Selected 2013 stats

GCL 1 3 6.29 3.53 10 6 0 24.1 36 18 2 6 21 0.67 0.340 0.405

One-time UCLA commit Steven Farinaro received a great deal of love from the community with a 33rd ranking in their top 40. Farinaro was ranked that high based on his potential - the Cardinals viewed him as a "second round talent" as indicated by the $750,000 signing bonus he received. It was the largest bonus past the 10th round of any Cardinals draft pick and fourth-highest for the organization overall in 2013.

Farinaro's fastball regularly sits at 90-92 mph and touches 94 when it is at its best. He spots well down in the zone, throwing straight over the top, with a very good sharp curveball, and promising change-up that he has not yet learned how to trust. Farinaro debuted in the Gulf Coast League this past summer and posted a 6.29 ERA in 10 games (six starts) over 24.1 IP, with six walks and 21 strikeouts.

Farinaro should stay in extended spring training once full-season clubs get going. Once EST ends in June, he should head north to Johnson City and pitch the rest of the season in the Appalachian League.

Anthony Garcia (Community #34)

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
9 OF 1/4/1992 6-0 180 R R 2009 18th

Hometown: Carolina, Puerto Rico

Selected 2013 stats

GCL 0.000 0.000 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
PB 0.217 0.257 345 37 75 16 13 45 26 95 6 0.310 0.286 0.383 0.669
Total 0.215   349 37 75 16 13 45 26 96 6   0.284 0.378 0.662

Ranked by The Cardinal Nation as a top 10 prospect in what was recognized as the best farm system in all of baseball just last year, Anthony Garcia let down all of the people who jumped on his bandwagon last winter. As a result of his disappointing 2013 season, he moved all the way down to 34th in the vote by the community.

Garcia did continue to show his good power potential as he launched 13 home runs in the pitcher-friendly ballparks of the Florida State League. Other than that, however, he really didn't do much else. Contact/plate discipline problems only worsened as Garcia reached base less and walks were lower from previous years. He did show signs of improvement at one point in the season but then he went on the shelf and that ended his momentum.

Garcia is young so there is still a shot at improvement - but a lot has yet to be accomplished if he wants to become a big leaguer. Garcia should see improved power numbers moving up to Springfield in 2014 with a better opportunity for a bounce back season than he would have at Palm Beach.

Malik Collymore (Community #37)

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA 2B 4/29/1995 5-11 190 R R 2013 10th

School: Port Credit Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Selected 2013 stats

GCL 0.228 0.364 57 2 13 3 1 3 3 23 0 0.288 0.267 0.333 0.600

Drafted as a 10th-round selection out of a high school in Canada, Malik Collymore received $275,000 to skip the University of Missouri and become a Cardinal. He was the fourth middle infielder to be taken by the organization in the top ten rounds.

On the Gulf Coast League club, Collymore moved from his prep position at shortstop to second base along with fellow draftee Chris Rivera. The right-handed hitter batted .228 in 57 at-bats over his first professional action of 19 games. Collymore fanned 23 times and drew just three walks.

A scout had this to say about Collymore's tool set pre-draft:

"It's impossible to overstate how impressive his bat is. Pro-level hitting tools. If this guy was playing in California, he'd be a no-doubt first rounder. Excellent plate discipline. Advanced knowledge of the strike zone. Excellent makeup. He's going to go earlier than anyone thinks he's going to go. He's going to make a name for some area scout."

Collymore has that rare power and speed combination that captured the eyes of scouts and what most likely got him drafted by the Cardinals. He won the Canadian power showcase last winter. Although he was drafted as a shortstop – and especially with Oscar Mercado, Leobaldo Piña, and Juan Herrera in the way at the position - I could see Collymore continue as a second baseman or even as a center fielder, given his speed. Like Farinaro, he should stay at extendeds for the whole spring and then advance to Johnson City.

Jonathan Rodriguez (Community #38)

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NR 1B 8/21/1989 6-2 215 R R 2009 17th

Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Selected 2013 stats

PB 0.284 0.328 455 71 129 34 18 72 60 101 21 0.391 0.373 0.481 0.854

Jonathan Rodriguez has never been able to crack the official top 40 list at The Cardinal Nation. But this year, he did stay healthy enough to place 38th in the community voting.

In his second tour of the FSL after missing half of the 2012 season with injury, Rodriguez was an important run producer in the middle of the Palm Beach Cardinals lineup. He had a .284/.373/.481 line as he finished fourth in the FSL in home runs with 18 total hit out of some of the biggest ballparks in minor league baseball. Rodriguez placed sixth in runs batted in with 76 on the season, and had the best OPS of any FSL player at .854.

In addition to those massive offensive numbers, Rodriguez showed some speed on the base paths with a career-high 21 stolen bases. He is also a good defender. The former third baseman won Baseball America's 2013 Best Tools selection for the top defensive first baseman in the FSL, which obviously makes him more interesting as a prospect.

Rodriguez can hit and especially hit for power - but to do that, he has to stay healthy. That is the biggest key in his future development and will determine whether he will have a big league future. Otherwise, he could become another Xavier Scruggs. One thing that is rare in his skill set in the game today is his power from the right side. If he carries over his Palm Beach hitting to Springfield, a major league club would be foolish to ignore his production.

Steve Bean (Community #39)

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA C 9/15/1993 6-2 190 L R 2012 1s

School: Rockwall High School, Rockwall, Texas

Selected 2013 stats

JC 0.229 0.342 118 15 27 4 2 14 11 44 0 0.293 0.303 0.314 0.617

Last year, Steve Bean was the community's 38th-ranked prospect. This year he moves one spot down to 39. In 2012's second round, Bean was taken as a raw but high-upside high school catcher who would need a number of years before he would be major league ready.

A finger injury caused Bean to play only 32 games in 2013 with Johnson City. When he was available, Bean hit .229/.303/.314 with two home runs and 14 RBI. Still, we have very little history to go with. Bean is very raw offensively as a 20-year-old but his defense remains a plus.

Given that he plays at a premium position, Bean should be given a long time to develop as a prospect. But if the Carson Kelly catching experiment pans out like the organization hopes, Bean may end up being blocked. He could eventually turn into a trade chip if he can develop enough offense to better balance with his defense.

Hopefully, Bean can get healthy for 2014 and make strides to eventually end with a full-season club. That is a high expectation for guy who hasn't made it out of rookie-ball yet.

Jose Almarante (Community #41)

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NR RHR 12/19/1988 6-1 172 R R 2007 FA

Hometown: Quanamenthe, Haiti

Selected 2013 stats

PB 0 2 5.54 3.35 16 1 0 26 31 18 2 10 26 0.48 0.295 0.372
Spr 2 2 2.75 2.95 27 0 3 39.1 29 19 1 11 31 1.58 0.206 0.248
Mem 0 0 0.00 1.70 1 0 0 1.1 3 0 0 0 1 0 0.429 0.500
Total 2 4 3.78   44 1 3 66.2 63 37 3 21 58 0.99 0.249  

Never before ranked by the community, the underrated power-armed reliever Jose Almarante was voted 41st by the community this fall.

The right-hander throws three pitches for strikes - a low-to-mid 90s fastball with late life/movement, a good splitter that he uses as an off-speed pitch, and a sharp breaking ball that he gets swings and misses from. On top of that, he has a real herky-jerky motion and funky but lightning fast arm motion in the back that gives him some deception. That makes it tough for opposing hitters to get a good read.

His fastball plays like it is in the upper 90s when the two secondary pitches are working and he is commanding them. He will have to continue to improve his control once he faces better hitters, but his stuff can be electric when he is on.

At one point in the season, Springfield was out of options for a closer, so Almarante stepped in and did a very good job for a stretch. From that, he received a late season promotion to Memphis for their playoff push.

I think Almarante will begin 2014 back with Memphis and could spend time with the parent club if the relief corps struggle and a new freshly-developed power arm is desired from the pipeline. That would require Almarante to continue his effectiveness from last year. It should be noted if he does make his debut, he would become the first Haitian pitcher ever to throw in the big leagues.

Victor De Leon (Community #43)

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
37 RHS 4/19/1982 6-2 180 R R 2009 FA

Hometown: Santiago, Dominican Republic

Selected 2013 stats

SC 5 2 2.87 3.52 17 1 0 37.2 31 14 2 17 37 0.92 0.230 0.296

De Leon
Ranked 29th by the community last year, Victor De Leon drops to 43rd a year later. After his role shifted from starter to reliever, scouts predicted his rise toward a full-season affiliate would accelerate. It hasn't immediately happened, but should as De Leon gets more accustomed to throwing every day rather than every five days.

De Leon will probably always show up on prospect lists because of his big lively fastball, which grades as a plus pitch. It has the potential to be more as he learns how to spot the pitch and finish batters off by deploying it when ahead in the count. His main off-speed pitch is said to be a curve which can be plus but is inconsistent as well.

De Leon's second off-speed pitch is a change-up that is a weapon against left-handed hitters but is still in need of improvement. This was the pitch that would have been crucial in his development as a starter. Now that he is a reliever, De Leon only needs the fastball and curve. His inconsistency and role change dropped him on this list.

It will be interesting to see how De Leon handles pitching for a full-season club for the first time in his career.

C.J. McElroy (Community #45)

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
31 OF 5/29/1993 5-10 180 R R 2011 3rd

School: Clear Creek High School, League City, Texas

Selected 2013 stats

GCL 0.300 0.375 10 0 3 1 0 0 0 2 1 0.371 0.364 0.400 0.764
Peo 0.240 0.286 242 24 58 9 0 23 17 40 8 0.277 0.288 0.302 0.590
Total 0.242   252 24 61 10 0 23 17 42 9   0.292 0.306 0.597

C.J. McElroy still has his fans in The Cardinal Nation community due his gifted athleticism, his plus defense wherever he plays in the outfield with that speed, and developing offense. The community ranked him as their 45th prospect.

In an attempt to fully utilize his speed out of the box, the Cardinals tutored McElroy in the art of switch-hitting. That only lasted a few weeks into the 2013 season before he went back to only hitting from his natural side of the plate. Eyewitnesses who saw McElroy last spring training said he looked great and really impressed before he was derailed by a season of injuries.

Now 20 years of age, McElroy finished 2013 back in instructional league camp. There, the primary goal was to just get more reps, making up for lost time after he missed two months with a foot injury during the regular season.

It is hard to say where McElroy is at this point in his development - other than he is a long way out. I could see him break minor league camp with Peoria again if he can prove his health. With results at that level, he might end his season with Palm Beach, which would really test his true ability.

Starlin Rodriguez (Community #46)

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
17 2B 12/31/1989 5-10 168 R R 2009 FA

Home: San Cristobal, Dominican Republic

Selected 2013 stats

PB 0.293 0.336 133 19 39 9 1 14 13 21 3 0.345 0.360 0.383 0.743
Spr 0.254 0.311 248 25 63 12 6 36 14 62 8 0.313 0.309 0.391 0.700
Total 0.268   381 44 102 21 7 50 27 83 11   0.327 0.388 0.715

Starlin Rodrgiuez really emerged as a prospect in 2012 when he posted a fine line of .300/.373/.442 in his return to Palm Beach in 2012 and came in at number 13 among community voters last winter. Coming into the 2013 season, Starlin had some very lofty expectations from Cardinals prospect followers - to have a breakout season and become a top 10 prospect. He did not come close to meeting those marks as he was ranked 46th among community voters after a very discouraging season.

Not only was his 2013 difficult with the bat at times, but Starlin also had troubles defensively. The Cardinals moved him from his natural position at second base to the outfield because he truly never looked like a fundamentally sound infielder. He never looked comfortable in the field in my time watching him.

Rodriguez struggled at the plate as Texas League pitchers easily found a hole in his swing to exploit - off-speed and breaking pitches down or in the dirt. Starlin is one of the best athletes in the organization, but right now he really does not have a position defensively. Further, I question whether his hit tool will hold up as he faces more advanced pitching.

Due to his positional change and struggles offensively, Starlin should repeat at Springfield. 2014 could be the defining season in his career.

Next up: This article series continues with Brian Walton's Best of the Rest. We move next to our All-Prospect Team, the highest-ranked players at each position, dive into the numbers behind the top 40, take a look at our best and worst selections from 2013, the top prospects by level of play and those who left the top 40 from last year to this.

Our 2014 top 40 series continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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