2012 Top Cardinals Prospects: Picks and Pans

Looking back one year later at some of our best and worst predictions for the St. Louis Cardinals' top minor league prospects from 2012.

With the benefit of a full 12 months of hindsight since the last-year's St. Louis Cardinals top 40 rankings first appeared, it comes the time once again to take some bows and be humbled in equal measure. Following are my views of some of our most notable individual picks and pans from our 2012 rankings, completed last January.

Best 2012 pick – CariocaCardinal – Anthony Garcia - #12

Carioca has been trumpeting the Class-A outfielder for several years now. While the rest of us had Garcia out in the 20's, Carioca placed him at number 12 last winter. The system's next best power-hitting outfielder after Oscar Taveras rewarded Carioca's confidence with a fine season in the Midwest League. In the process, the just-turned-21-year-old jumped to number nine on our overall list for 2013.

Best 2012 pick – Message Board Community – Trevor Rosenthal - #9

Even the community could not foresee the rapid ascension to the majors by the hard-throwing righty, but they should take a bow for placing Rosenthal in their top 10 before anyone else. How matters can change quickly! A year later, a number nine placement would be ridiculously late.

Best 2012 pick – Brian Walton – Breyvic Valera - #35

Part of what I enjoy during this process is trying to identify the next wave of talent before they hit the mainstream radar. One year ago, I added steam to the early bandwagon of a switch-hitting teenaged second baseman who had been ok in the Gulf Coast League, but wowed everyone in his final month with Johnson City. This year, Valera cracked our consensus top 20.

Top 2012 pan – CariocaCardinal – Jermaine Curtis – #40

On the heels of a very strong showing at Double-A Springfield in 2011, the infielder jumped into our 2012 top 40 at number 31. This occurred despite him having missed the list in his previous three tries. Carioca was least optimistic among us and he was apparently right. Curtis fell off the 2013 top 40.

Top 2012 pan – Community – Brandon Dickson - #39

Both Dickson (an undrafted free agent) and the Cardinals should feel good about their time together. Dickson anchored the Memphis rotation for three seasons, giving the Cardinals more than they probably bargained for. With no clear path to stick in the majors, Dickson was granted his release to play in Japan in 2013. One year ago, the community was least optimistic about his continued chances as a Cardinal major leaguer.

Top 2012 pan – Walton – Aaron Luna - #27

Though my ranking was the least aggressive of the three voters, we all missed out on catching the potential signals that the injury-plagued outfielder was nearing a retirement decision.

Past misses

No one's predictions will ever be anywhere near 100 percent accurate. Here are some of our highest-profile misses from last year's rankings.

Most overrated 2012 pick – CariocaCardinal – Jonathan Rodriguez - #31

Carioca liked the potential of the former third baseman to cut his strikeouts and perhaps break out in the power department in 2012. The rest of us didn't see it. Moved to first base and playing in Palm Beach last summer, Rodriguez did not yet turn the corner, with an increased strikeout rate and a lower walk rate.

Most overrated 2012 pick – Community – Adam Reifer - #18

To be fair, I also had placed the then-hard-throwing reliever at number 18. None of us could see the loss in velocity and effectiveness that dogged Reifer like a bad cold in 2012 after he missed most of 2011 due to knee surgery. He was dropped from the 40-man roster following the season and went unclaimed. Unless Reifer turns around, 2013 will likely be his Cardinals organization swan song.

Most overrated 2012 pick – Walton – Eduardo Sanchez - #5

One year ago, we all had Sanchez in our top 10, but only I had him highest – even ahead of Lance Lynn. I thought Sanchez was the future major league closer, perhaps even in 2012. Whoops. Only time will tell if Sanchez can get his problems straightened out, but he deservedly dropped like a rock to number 26 in 2013 after three consecutive top 10 placements.

Worst 2012 miss – CariocaCardinal – Pete Kozma – #44

In fairness to Carioca, he has been pretty consistent about Kozma over the years. In fact, this year he left the shortstop-second baseman off his top 40 entirely. Still, given Kozma's September 2012 major league success, the rater who was least optimistic about his chances one year ago has to eat the crow here. In reality, we all share a bite or two of it.

Worst 2012 miss – Community – Sam Freeman - #43

While everyone remembers Rosenthal's meteoric rise from Double-A in 2012, few remember that Sam Freeman did it too. The lefty has proven he can get MLB hitters out, so he should be back with St. Louis. One year ago, the community was far from confident of Freeman's chances.

Worst 2012 miss – Walton (and Community) – Greg Garcia – not ranked

Only Carioca had the middle infielder named in his top 40 with a number 34 placement one year ago. Now after a nice season with the bat at Springfield, Garcia has shot onto the rankings with an impressive overall ranking at number 16. Last year, I completely whiffed on Garcia, as did the community.

To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2013 and read about each individual player, click here. You can learn about each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections and much more.

Next up: The final installment of this series will look at our 2013 top 40 prospect list by level of play, comparing it to past years.

To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2013 and read about each individual player, click here. You can learn about each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections and much more.

Our 2013 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.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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