2012 Top 7 Cardinals Prospects
The minor leagues are the lifeblood of every MLB team. This is really where a major league career gets started. Trades are fine and necessary, but are also relatively expensive. Money is an issue for every single team. No payroll is unlimited. The Cardinals have a good reputation for their minor league system (they also have a good reputation for their minor league parks, themselves).
This month, the United Cardinal Bloggers feature their annual list of Cardinal prospects compiled from the top 7 lists of member blogs. I’m thrilled to contribute my 2 cents. This is my first year doing this write-up, and it was interesting to me to notice how many names manage to stay on the list from year to year. In 2013, we can see whether my list resembles this year’s.
For the sake of avoiding confusion, I have omitted any player who has seen time with the big league. I reserve the right to tweak this policy in the future, but for the first year, I’m trying it this way. This policy will cause the noticeable omission of Shelby Miller.
Without further ado, and presented in no particular order, here are my top 7 Cardinal prospects:
Oscar Taveras (.321, 23 HR, 94 RBI) - Outfielder
Oscar was a non-drafted free agent from 2008. He worked his way up the system, and after an impressive 2011 at Quad Cities, he was promoted to Springfield in 2012. His average at QC was .386 in 308 AB. Springfield cooled his hitting, but obviously not by much.
Seth Maness (3.27 ERA, 11-3 W-L, 83 SO) – RHP
Seth has pitched well across all minor league levels since being selected in the 2011 draft in the 11th round. He threw a ridiculous .91 ERA in 39 innings while at Batavia. His “worst” performance was at Palm Beach where he got 1 win and 2 no-decisions, collecting 8 innings, and boosting his ERA to over 4. He’s pitched 123 innings at Springfield in 2012.
Mike O’Neill (.563, 5 RBI) – Outfielder
Mike started at Batavia in 2010 (another club whose Cardinals future is in flux). Mike is that rare animal whose BA actually goes up as he moves up the minor league ranks. He hit .283 in Batavia, but was up to .342 in Palm Beach. In a small sample size with Springfield in 2012, he hit .563 in 32 AB.
Michael Wacha (1.13 ERA, 0-0 W-L, 17 SO) – RHP
Since the MLB draft is now “a thing” people care about. I’d expect most fans know this name. The Cardinals picked up Michael in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft. Michael spent about 5 minutes (OK 5 innings) at Gulf Coast before heading to Palm Beach and then Springfield. At Springfield, Michael has 17 strikeouts in 8 innings and gave up 1 run.
Colin Walsh (.314, 16 HR, 68 RBI) – DH (switch-hitter)
Colin has been all over the minor league system for the Cardinals. In small samples with the JC Cards and the Gulf Coast League Cards he has slumped into the low .200′s. However, when he settles in, he gets hot. His .314 average this year at Quad Cities includes 353 AB, in which he collected 60 walks.
Kolten Wong (.287, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 21 SB) – 2B
Kolten was a 2011 first round amateur entry draft pick. He spent 2011 at Quad Cities where he was impressive with a .335 BA in 194 AB. That performance earned him the call up to Springfield for 2012. He then posted a .287 in 523 AB. I would be surprised if the Cardinals don’t give him a shot at AAA Memphis in 2013.
Carlos Martinez (2.90 ERA, 4-3 W-L, 58 SO) – RHP
Carlos was a minor league free agent signed by the Cards in 2010. His ERA has ranged from acceptable to amazing in his three years in the system. The back half of 2011 was the meanest to Carlos where he posted 5.28 ERA in 46 innings. Still, his ERA balanced to 3.93 for the year. His 104 innings of service in 2012 has been much more kind.
There is quite a lot of talent in the system. It goes without saying that much of that talent is found at the AA Springfield club, as they made it to the Texas League Championship Series. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of talent at AAA Memphis, but the Cards had to use so much of that talent at the big league level, that Memphis was left rather depleted. The year-end results for Memphis bore that out. The Cardinals didn’t renew their player development contract with the Quad Cities River Bandits and they have since affiliated with the Houston Astros, but Colin Walsh still made the list.
Another observation that may interest you: Our best hitters are outfielders. That is clearly where the depth is right now. It won’t surprise me at all to see renewed emphasis on the infield in upcoming drafts and in major league trades involving prospects to try and shore up the infield.
If your favorite minor leaguer isn’t here, I’m sorry. I hope that you will prove me wrong in the near future and we’ll see that Cardinal prospect work their way up the ranks, so that I can’t ignore them in 2013.