Entering the season, the St. Louis Cardinals wealth of top notch prospects was the spotlight of all organizations in baseball. But the season has proven that depth, not names, is truly the strength of the system. Over the course of the season, the youth has been heavily leaned on at a record clip to help the team have the strong start it has enjoyed. Over the course of only half of the season, 13 rookies have made an appearance with the club, including six current pitchers on the St. Louis staff.
All of this is considered, there is still plenty of talent yet to peak into the Major League level. Four of the top 100 prospects in all of baseball, as well as two of the premier rookies in the National League are among the ranks of the team. But there is also a replenishment of talent at the lower levels as well, to renew the process of creating new high tier prospects in the place of those getting to the ranks the Cardinals, and sticking.
With that said, here is an updated look at the youth of the Cardinal system, with both rookies and prospects combined to give a complete look at the emergence of the organization’s touted prospects, and the realities of them as players.
- Oscar Taveras (OF, Memphis): It says a lot about what Taveras’ ceiling is that he lands in front of the potential National League Rookie of the Year here still. It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons for everybody’s top prospect. He’s missed 38 games with a bad ankle that hasn’t quite been able to heal itself. Yet, when he’s played, he’s taken to Triple-A with the same ease of attack that he did the rest of the minor leagues. He will make his second appearance in the MLB Futures Game during All-Star weekend, where he’ll headline the International team. He’s put up a .306/.341/.462 split performance thus far, with five home runs and 31 RBI. (ETA 2013)
- Shelby Miller (RHP, St. Louis): The aforementioned potential Rookie of the Year has delivered on promise, plus some. In his debut half as a starting pitcher, Miller has been the second best pitcher on the NL’s best staff. He’s won eight games, with an impressive 2.98 ERA. His power approach has carried over, has his 101 strikeouts have him in the top 10 in the league. He’s stayed consistently impactful, but he will likely be managed a bit more carefully in the second half, but a rookie wall doesn’t seem exactly eminent, but has hit an adjustment period as of late.
- Trevor Rosenthal (RHP, St. Louis): His loss in the race for the rotation out of the spring has been the bullpen’s gain all season. Rosenthal has been one of the best relievers in baseball early on, (stats). While his pedigree seems to be pushing him quicker towards the end of games than back towards the beginning, the organization’s preeminent power arm has as high of a roof as any rookie hurler in the NL.
- Kolten Wong (Second Base, Memphis): Wong will return to the Futures Game along with Tavares, and has continued to be the steady leadoff hitter that he’s projected to be for the big league club for years to come. He’s hit .316, and stolen 11 bases as well, along with six triples as well. The emergence of Matt Carpenter has complicated his assent some, but talent finds a way, and he remains the most natural middle infielder on at any level of the organization. (ETA 2014)
- Michael Wacha (RHP, Memphis): Wacha is the best prospect to have a cup of tea, followed by a return this season. He struggled some with location at the big league level, and needs to continue honing his breaking ball. But he is not far away at all, as his Triple A performance indicates. In 10 starts at Memphis, he is 4-1, with a 2.34 ERA. (ETA, a 2013 return)
- Carlos Martinez (RHP, Memphis): Martinez got a late start, but has shown flashes of dominance in his quick season that has seen him go from Springfield rotation, to the St. Louis bullpen and back to the Memphis rotation. Overall, the 21-year-old has notched 52 strikeouts in 55 innings across the three levels. (ETA 2013 return)
- Tyrell Jenkins (RHP, Palm Beach): The rawest of the high ceiling prospect arms, the 20-year-old righty is continuing to round out his arsenal at the high-A level, and through two starts has retained his electric fastball while rebounding from season-ending shoulder surgery in 2012. (ETA, 2015)
- Matt Adams (1B, St. Louis): “Big City” has shown he’s got the stroke to make a big impact at the Major League level, hitting .320 with six home runs and seven doubles on the young season. Finding at-bats could continue to be an issue, but for now, he’s a crucial part of the St. Louis depth and attack.
- Seth Maness (RHP, St. Louis): The organization’s Pitcher of the Year from 2012 has become perhaps its most essential relief find of the season. His timely impact as a fireman to pitch the club out of tough spots has notched him four wins in a bit over a month. The double play machine (9 in 25 innings) has quickly become a key part of the bullpen mix.
- Marco Gonzales (LHP, First Round pick): The first of the two left handers the club took in the first round profiles similar to Wacha a year ago: polished college arm, which has a plus changeup and should be a fast riser. (ETA 2015)
- John Gast (LHP, St. Louis): Gast is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, but was the first arm called up to replace the injured Jaime Garcia. Before his promotion, he posted a 1.17 ERA in seven starts at Memphis.
- James Ramsey (OF, Palm Beach): One of the more MLB-ready bats in the system, Ramsey is the most developed of a very good center field group the club is holding. After hitting .361 Palm Beach, he moved up to take over the Springfield centerfield, where he has increased his power output as well. (ETA 2014)
- Kevin Siegrist (LHP, St. Louis): One of the biggest revelations of the depth of the Cardinal system has been Siegrist, and his jump from Double A to the Cardinal pen. Since coming up, the hard throwing lefty has struck out nine, while surrendering only three hits in five games.
- Michael Blazek (RHP, St. Louis): Another quick riser, Blazek has been to St. Louis twice this summer; due to the 1.44 ERA he posted between Springfield and Memphis in 31 innings. He struck out 44 and surrendered only five runs as well.
- Jordan Swagerty (RHP, GCL Cardinals): The club’s second-round pick in 2011 missed all of last year with an elbow injury, but the returns have looked encouraging in his rehab returns at the rookie level in the Gulf Coast League. He’ll likely move up the ladder as high as Springfield before the end of the season. (ETA 2014)
- Carson Kelly (Third Baseman, Batavia): After hitting nine home runs as a 17-year-old first second round pick, Kelly has emerged as the club’s long-term project at third base. He has split his season between Peoria and low-A Batavia, but shows plenty of promise in his skill set still. (ETA 2016)
- Rob Kaminsky (LHP, First Round Pick): Small in stature (5’11), but big in results. The club’s second first round pick, and reward for Kyle Lohse’s departure posted an 8-0 record as a senior, with a 0.14 ERA. (ETA 2017)
- Tyler Lyons (LHP, Memphis): Lyons was surprisingly efficient in his chance in the rotation in St. Louis, during injuries to Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia opened up an opportunity. He struggled in his last few starts, and was returned to Memphis, where he promptly started a joint shutout in his return start. (ETA 2014)
- Seth Blair (RHP, Springfield): Blair hasn’t had great numbers this season (3-6, 5.01 ERA), but it’s more of a case of working through adjustments than not having what it takes. The 2010 first-round pick has what it takes to be mentioned among the other proven and more hyped names, he just has to miss more bats (.304 opponent batting average). (ETA 2015)
- Ryan Jackson (Shortstop, Memphis): Jackson continues to be a strong Triple A hitter, hitting a career-best .311 this season while contributing all around the infield. Yet, the consistent play of Pete Kozma has kept him sequestered in Memphis, yet he will likely get a chance to prove if his bat can carry over to Major again this summer. (ETA 2013)