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Next Cardinals’ crop could be quite the harvest

Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch included a story on St. Louis Cardinals outfield prospect Oscar Taveras. Taveras opened eyes last season when he posted the highest batting average in the Midwest League since 1956. Taveras hit .386 with an on-base percentage of .444. Manager Mike Matheny admitted the batting mark caught his eye and has given Taveras a handful of at-bats with the big club this spring.

For many years the Cardinals built their major league club through trades or free agency rather than with players the team drafted and developed in its own system. From the pennant-winning teams of the mid-2000s, Jim Edmonds, Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen, Adam Wainwright, Jeff Suppan and Mike Matheny all came to the team via a trade or as a free agent. There were two mainstays, of course, who did come through the Cardinals system in Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina.

Now, though, it appears the Cardinals have lots of help in their farm system. In ranking the Cardinals’ system 3rd in the major leagues, Baseball Prospectus used this line, “They’ve suddenly become a drafting and development beast, with plenty of help coming beginning in 2013.” On the current big-league team Jaime Garcia, Tyler Greene, Jon Jay, Allen Craig and Jason Motte are among the players who came through the Cards’ system.

Virtually every top-10 prospect list includes Shelby Miller, a right-handed starting pitcher out of the Lone Star State who fits the stereotypical mold of the Texas flame thrower. MLB.com puts Miller at #5 of the top-100 prospects. Predictions have Miller competing for a place in the big league rotation in spring training 2013. Carlos Martinez is another highly ranked right-handed starter. MLB.com has Martinez ranked #30 in its top-100 list. Martinez is just 20 years old and Miller is only 21.

As for position players, Zack Cox and Matt Adams are promising players for the Cardinals. Cox is a 3rd baseman and Adams plays 1st base. Kolten Wong is a 2nd baseman and a product of the University of Hawaii. The team made Wong its 1st-round draft choice in 2011. He played alongside Taveras at Quad Cities after being drafted last year and hit .335 in an abbreviated season.

It’s always exciting for fans to see players their team drafted, developed and brought through its system. Hopefully Cardinals fans will see plenty of these players in Busch Stadium in the future.

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