* This will be the final Farm Report of the season. I will continue to post Minor League/prospect oriented material, just not in the form of a Farm Report *
Weight: 215 lbs
Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1st round (25th) of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft.
|Just like every Saturday here on i70baseball, the Cardinals Farm Report spotlights one of the prized Cardinal minor leaguers. This week, it is Zack Cox, St. Louis’ first-round draft pick just a few months ago.While I was looking through the Cardinals top prospects, looking for who the propect profile will be about this week, I realized that the only player on my top 10 list that did not have a profile was Zack Cox. So I felt like I had to write about the top position player in the Cardinals system.
As most of you know already, Cox was the Cardinals first-round draft pick this past summer with the 25th pick, which was probably way too high. In fact, most scouts predicted Cox to be a top 10 overall pick. I don’t think I came across a mock draft that had him taken past the 15th pick. But thanks to signing concerns, he slid all the way into the Cardinals lap, and they couldn’t pass it up.
In 265 plate appearances with the Arkansas Razorbacks in his 2010 sophomore season, Cox had a hitting line of .420/.509/.598. During his freshman season, many fans criticized the third baseman for his number of strikeouts, but Cox quickly fixed that. In 2010 he had a 12.1% strikeout rate compared to a 14% walk rate. Anybody that can walk more than strike out has something going for them.
Heading into the MLB Draft, many scouts believed Zack had the best bat available. His beautiful left-handed stroke causes so many line drives, and to all fields. His power potential is a question but Baseball America says, “He has the bat speed to do damage once he adds more loft to his swing. He has plenty of strength, as evidenced by a titanic shot he blasted off the top of a 90-foot-tall scoreboard at the 2009 Southeastern Conference tournament.”
Defensively, Cox is usually described as average-above average. Probably a 45 on the 20-80 scale. He plays very aggressively at the hot-corner, and he has a very capable arm. However, like I mentioned in last weeks prospect profile on Matt Carpenter, their could be a problem when Cox makes it up to AAA and hopefully the Major League level.
Carpenter is going to start the 2011 season as Memphis’ starting third baseman, and Cox could make his way to Springfield if all goes well. Cox will eventually catch up to Carp and then what happens? Like I said last Saturday, I think Zack should be moved to second base immediately. The Cardinals are having a real hard time in the middle infield department and Cox could become a very precious piece if he is moved. He does have second base experience, so I’m not just pulling this out of thin air. And if that is what the organization is planning on doing, he needs to start next season at second base. Not third. He needs to play one position and stick with it. He’s one of our top prospects and we cannot afford to mess around with him defensively.
As much as Cardinal Nation may hate Keith Law, let’s admit one thing. He knows how to evaluate young talent. Am I wrong by saying that? I don’t think so. It just so happens that Law loves Zack Cox and even said “he’ll be an All Star.”
See you in St. Louis, Mr. Cox.
|MiLB SEASON ROUNDUP|
|AAA – Memphis Redbirds|
|This was by far the most exciting season any team in the system had, or at least the most exciting August and September. Memphis was in a dog fight all year for a playoff spot and finally, on the last day of the regular season, they got one with a 82-62 record. In the Redbirds’ final 14 games they went 11-3, including a split with Iowa that earned them a spot in the post season. The Redbirds then swept Oklahoma City in the first round before being swept by Tacoma while defending their Championship crown.|
|AA – Springfield Cardinals|
|While the Double-A Cardinals did not make the playoffs, it was certainly not a bad season. The Cards went 76-64, but trailed Northwest Arkansas by 10 games when it was all said and done. It was actually a pretty successful year. Overall Springfield lacked impact bats. They had a few at the beginning of the season (Rapopport, Carpenter, Chambers), but all three where sent to Memphis.|
|A+ – Palm Beach Cardinals|
|Palm Beach went down very similar to the way Springfield did. At 75-65 I wouldn’t say it was a bad season by any means, but was obviously not good enough. The Cardinals finished 5.5 games behind Charlotte in the overall standings. The main problem that I noticed throughout the season was how the team played on the road. At home the Cards where 42-29 (second in the league), but on the road they were 33-36.|
|POSITION PLAYER OF THE YEAR|
|Matthew Adams, 1B|
|.310/.355/.541, 41 doubles, 22 home runs, 88 RBI in 464 at bats
This guy had one of the quietest monster seasons I have ever come across. I’m not sure if it was because he never really had a big-time hot streak (was never named player of the week), or if it was because he spent the year in Quad Cities, but Adams consistently torn the cover off the ball this season. Matthew was atop the organization leaderboard in almost every major offensive category. He was first in batting average, second in hits, second in home runs, second in RBI, and first in slugging percentage.
|Honorable Mentions: Matt Carpenter, Steven Hill
As most of you know already, I’m a huge Carpenter supporter. I feel like he could be the answer at third base for St. Louis. He has the best bat in the organization and will be MLB-ready very, very soon. He finished second in batting average, first in hits, and first in on-base percentage in the organization. Hill on the other hand, is the opposite of Carpenter. Not in MLB-readiness, but just the type of hitter he is. Carp gets on base like nobodies business while Hill is more of a power hitter (led all Cardinal Minor Leaguers in HR and RBI).
|PITCHER OF THE YEAR|
|Brandon Dickson, SP|
|11-8, 3.23 ERA, 137 strikeouts in 167 innings
Dickson is kind of like the Felix Hernandez of Triple-A. He goes out there, night after night, and delivers a very strong outing. Yet for some reason, it seems like the offense just takes a day off every time he’s on the hill. If you look at his numbers, he was the best, most effective, and most consistent pitcher in the Cardinals organization. I’m a firm believer that W/L record should not matter in the Cy Young voting, so I’m going to back that up right here. I can’t wait to see Brandon in St. Louis next season.
|Honorable Mentions: Brian Broderick, Kevin Thomas
Picking this one was tough, no doubt about it. Broderick and Thomas have the better records, but as I said above, that means very little to me. Brian is the 6’6″ right-hander who just dominated in Springfield (11-2, 2.77 ERA, 1.227 WHIP, 1.3 BB/9) but actually struggled at the beginning of the season while in Palm Beach. Thomas spent the entire 2010 campaign in Palm Beach, both as a starter an reliever. He made 29 appearances (only 14 starts) and he was golden in nearly every one. He ended the season 10-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.224 WHIP.
Justin Hulsey covers the Cardinals for i70baseball and his blogs, Cardinals Front Office and Rising Redbirds, that are also dedicated to Cardinals baseball and their minor league system.You may follow him on Twitter @JayHulsey by clicking here.