We have had a lot of fun and sometimes intense debate compiling this list of forty names and are proud to bring it to you.
Subscribers can either read each new story when posted on the home page or click on the individual players' names listed below. All readers are welcome to come back here each day to check the current status of our Top 40 Countdown.
In addition, readers can join in the debate at our Message Board, where there will be a new daily discussion thread devoted to that day's entry onto the prospect list.
Before we get into the list itself, here is a bit about the process. Four members of our staff collaborated on this effort: Minor League Editors Jason Scott and Leonda Markee as well as Ray Mileur and Brian Walton.
In early November, each of the four independently ranked their top prospects in the Cardinals minor league system. A consensus score was then tabulated, which is what you will see here. The four individual scores will also be listed on each player page as they are unveiled each day, along with a wealth of additional information on all forty players.
Because each ranker may have used slightly different criteria, the four briefly explain how they made their selections.
The method I used for developing my 2007 top 40 prospect list was different than last year's. This time around I tended to go with the guy that was a little bit older and had been in the organization for a while but delivered the goods, over the guy in short-season ball that is said to have five tools but is unproven. So basically, my list is ranked by who I believe will make the greatest contribution to the major league club, whether it be a 27-year-old in Triple-A or a 17-year-old in rookie ball. I guess you could say that I don't want to leave the future Josh Kinneys off the list.
Obviously we don't get the privilege of watching these guys every day, so most of what we are going off is what we see in the stats, what we have heard from the Cardinals organization, Baseball America, etc.
I utilized Baseball America's minor league player directory to compile a list of those players that were in St. Louis' minor league system in 2006, along with their statistics. That list was separated between pitchers versus position players. Those players deemed ‘non-prospects' were eliminated and the remainder were sorted according to the level(s) at which they played. Each player's date of birth, draft rank and draft year were then input. A color-coding system was employed to designate level(s) played and draft year. The latter was an important assist in determining prior professional experience.
A separate list was then compiled that sorted each group by age and name within the age designation. When combined with my color-coding system (anyone fallen asleep yet?), it gave me a quick at-a-glance idea of age versus experience versus promotion during the season versus original draft slot.
Each group (pitchers vs. position players) was then ranked within their level played. That ranking was used to determine a Top 20 or so for each group. Each Top 20 list was used to compile my overall Top 40.
I have six main criteria for determining my ranking: A) 2006 Production, B) 2006 Level(s) Played, C) Age, D) Prior Experience/Production, E)Potential Impact on the St. Louis Team and F) Tools/Upside. While all of the factors were considered in conjunction with each other, I gave the most weight to the first four criteria.
A player's production combined with both the level and age at which he produced were the most important factors and then how that production compares with their prior performance, if any. What did the player do on the field as compared to his age and performance level contemporaries? More weight was given to good performances at higher levels than lower levels. Finally, I did consider a player's tools and projected upside and strong tools could mitigate some of the other factors considered. However, it took a strong upside for any player to overcome a weaker 2006 performance.
Performance generally takes precedence over potential in my rankings. I strive to balance the performance of a player and weigh that against the expectations and his potential. While potential cannot be ignored, I also believe it can be worst thing you can say about some players.
Top draft picks and highly touted prospects may rank ahead of others with their potential being given preference over the performance of others. But, I do expect those with great potential to live up to it, sooner than later.
I'm a card-carrying member of the TINSTAPP (There is No Such Thing as a Pitching Prospect) club, as such, pitching prospects may not be rank as high on my list as on other Top Prospect lists like at Baseball America or Baseball HQ.
I continue to deal with the never-ending challenge of how to rank a younger player who has less experience but a longer runway in comparison to an older player with a lower ceiling who has been around longer. (All things equal, the former gets my nod.) This has been even more complicated by an influx of higher-quality players into the Cardinals system in recent years, yet is a pleasant problem to have.
In 2005, I had trouble coming up with 40 players about whom I felt strongly. This year, I left some very good players off my list and conversely, there were several other players I really like that did not make our consolidated Top 40.
My picks were influenced by many, including scouts and people in and out of the organization with whom I have communicated in the past year. In addition, our Message Board members have been carrying out a spirited ranking of top prospects themselves. I did not focus on their individual rankings, but I did read with interest comments from those who saw these prospects in action more often than I could.
stlcardinals.scout.com Top 40 Prospects – 2007
40. Cory Meacham (free!)
39. Thomas Pham
38. Skip Schumaker
37. Isa Garcia
36. Donovan Solano
35. Gary Daley
34. Randy Roth
33. Dennis Dove (free!)
32. Eddie Degerman
31. Tyler Norrick
30. Jose Martinez
29. Eric Haberer
28. Mike Sillman
27. Andy Cavazos
26. Nick Webber
25. Mike Parisi
24. Mark Worrell (free!)
23. Amaury Marti
22. Blake King
21. Mitchell Boggs
20. Tyler Herron
19. Brendan Ryan
18. Mark Hamilton
17. Daryl Jones
16. Tyler Greene (free!)
15. Jon Edwards
14. Chris Lambert
13. Josh Kinney
12. Cody Haerther
11. Mark McCormick
10. Nick Stavinoha
9. Jon Jay
8. Chris Perez
7. Stuart Pomeranz
6. Chris Narveson
5. Adam Ottavino
4. Bryan Anderson
3. Jaime Garcia
2. Blake Hawksworth
1. Colby Rasmus (free!)
We also ran a four-part series where each of the four of us who participated in the Top Prospects list highlight the players who were on our personal lists, but missed the combined top 40.
Note these articles are free.
Best of the Rest… of the Prospects – Walton
Best of the Rest… of the Prospects – Scott
Best of the Rest… of the Prospects – Markee
Best of the Rest… of the Prospects – Mileur
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