Every year, I’m a slave to Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook. For minor league fans, it’s a perfectly researched pageturner that gives you a snapshot into each organization’s highest valued minor league players. With the season under way, I thought it would be a good time to check in and see where the St. Louis Cardinals prospects are beginning the season. That way, we can track their progress, good or bad.
We will debut the the Top 30 destinations for the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
St. Louis Cardinals Top 30 prospects
Player, position, team, birthdate, obtained
1. Shelby Miller, RHP, Low-A Quad Cities, 10/10/1990, 1st round in 2009 draft
Cards’ top prospect is in Quad Cities rotation and will test aggressive promotion tendencies of organization
2. Jaime Garcia, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals, 7/8/1986, 22nd round in 2005 draft
Made MLB starting rotation debut Saturday at Milwaukee. Is youngest to break spring training in Cardinals starting rotation since Rick Ankiel in 2000.
3. Lance Lynn, RHP, Triple-A Memphis, 5/12/1987, 1st round supplemental in 2008 draft
Could vie for starting sport in 2011 rotation in place of Brad Penny
4. Darryl Jones, LF, Double-A Springfield, 6/25/1987, 3rd round in 2005 draft
Though caught up in OF depth chart jam, he’s on the 40-man roster and is healthy for first time in a few years
5. David Freese, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals, 4/28/1983, Acquired from San Diego for Jim Edmonds in 2007 (originally a 9th round pick in 2006 draft)
Has everyday 3B job for big-league club, batting low in the order
6. Eduardo Sanchez, RHP, Double-A Springfield, 2/16/1989, Signed as FA out of Venezuela in 2005
Youngster with electric arm is S-Cards closer. Should end up in Memphis, if not higher
7. Allen Craig, IF/OF, St. Louis Cardinals, 7/18/1984, 8th round in 2006 draft
Bat has him on the MLB bench. Is he better off there, or should he be getting everyday time at Memphis?
8. Blake Hawksworth, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals, 3/1/1983, 28th round in 2001 draft
Once thought to be on way out of organization, he made most of MLB debut last season and is viable member of big-league bullpen
9. Daniel Descalso, 2B, Triple-A Memphis, 10/19/1986, 3rd round in 2007 draft
Batting in the middle of Memphis’ order, Descalso could be on big-league club next year, but is limited to 2B
10. Robert Stock, C, Low-A Quad Cities, 11/21/1989, 2nd round in 2009 draft
Drafted last year, the plan is to keep him and No. 1 Shelby Miller together through the minors. If Stock can hit, he’ll stay at C. If not, he might be coverted to pitcher.
11. Adam Ottavino, RHP, Triple-A Memphis, 11/22/1985, 1st round in 2006 draft
Were we really supposed to believe the former first-rounder was in the middle of a competition for the big-league bullpen? He’s in Memphis’ rotation and might see some time in St. Louis this summer, however.
12. Francisco Samuel, RHP, Double-A Springfield (DL), 12/20/1986, Signed as FA out of the Dominican Republic in 2006
Starting on the DL because of right shoulder pain, but needs to show he can throw strikes.
13. Jon Jay, OF, Triple-A Memphis, 3/15/1985, 2nd round pick in 2006
A left fielder, Jay will get another full season in Memphis, but is one of the few quality lefthanded bats in the system.
14. Tyler Greene, SS, Triple-A Memphis, 8/17/1983, 1st round pick in 2005 draft
A slick fielder, Greene could be an injury callup this season and could be a big leaguer if he can figure out how to hit the breaking ball.
15. Pete Kozma, SS, Double-A Springfield, 4/11/1988, 1st round pick in 2007 draft
Despite accumulating more than 30 errors between two levels last season, Kozma will be in Double-A to start, where he should stay for the entire season.
16. Adam Reifer, RHP, Double-A Springfield, 6/3/1986, 11th round pick in 2007 draft
Reifer looks to have overcome injuries to become a Major League relief prospect. Right now, he’ll be pitching the 8th inning for the SGF Cards after being Palm Beach’s closer a season ago.
17. Richard Castillo, RHP, High-A Palm Beach, 10/11/1989, Signed as FA out of Venezuela in 2007
After making 26 starts at Palm Beach last season and still just 20 years old, Castillo is back in the PB rotation.
18. Tyler Henley, OF, Triple-A Memphis, 6/10/1985, 8th round pick in 207 draft
Henley turned in an outstanding 2009 Double-A season into a Triple-A bid, where he should get everyday status.
19. Bryan Anderson, C, Triple-A Memphis, 12/16/1986, 4th round in 2005 draft
Still just 23 years old, Anderson still isn’t ready for a shot with the big league club and will try to get more seasoning at Triple-A.
20. Sam Freeman, LHP, Double-A Springfield (DL), 6/24/1987, 32nd round in 2008 draft
After rapidly rising through the Cardinals system, Freeman will need Tommy John surgery to repair his prized right elbow. He will miss all of 2010.
21. Joe Kelly, RHP, Low-A Quad Cities, 6/9/1988, 3rd round in 2009 draft
After being a reliever in college, Kelly is in with the River Bandits’ revised tandem system, which means the organization are trying to stretch the power pitcher into a starter.
22. Scott Bittle, RHP, Disabled List — yet to pitch professionally – 8/27/1986, 4th round in 2009 draft
Considered a potential big league reliever with a problematic shoulder, Bittle has yet to pitch a professional inning. Baseball America’s prospect blog said that if Bittle gets healthy, he could start at Double-A
23. P.J. Walters, RHP, Triple-A Memphis, 3/3/1985, 11th round in 2006 draft
Not blessed with great velocity, but good offspeed pitches, Walters was up with St. Louis briefly last year, but didn’t stick. It’s likely he’ll never get another big league start, but he could make club as a long reliever.
24. Steven Hill, C/1B/OF, Double-A Springfield, 3/14/1985, 13th round in 2007 draft
Hill has been named the everyday catcher at Springfield, trying to maximize his offensive potential with positional scarcity.
25. Ryan Jackson, SS, Low-A Quad Cities, 5/10/1988, 5th round in 2009 draft
Rated as a plus defender, Jackson will get every opportunity to prove he can hit at Low-A Quad Cities, but if he figures that out, he could advance quickly.
26. Mark Hamilton, 1B, Triple-A Memphis, 7/29/1984, 2nd round in 2006 draft
Top power bat in system, Hamilton can’t do much else. Still, he had a breakout 2009 and returns to Memphis to improve (trade) value.
27. Yunier Castillo, SS, Extended Spring Training, 5/15/1989, Signed as FA out of Dominican Republic in 2008
After playing at short-season Johnson City last season, Castillo will either repeat there or short-season Batavia later in the summer.
28. Ben Jukich, LHP, Returned to Reds after being chosen during Rule V Draft
Seeking lefthanded pitching depth, the Cardinals selected Ben Jukich in the Rule V draft. He was returned to the Reds after one spring training appearance.
29. Trey Hearne, RHP, Triple-A Memphis (DL), 8/19/1983, 28th round in 2005 draft
After a breakout Double-A season, Hearne is slotted at Memphis before landing on the DL. He’ll get every opportunity to earn status as a major league injury replacement.
30. Cesar Valera, SS, Extended Spring Training, 3/8/1992, Signed as FA out of Venezuela in 2008
Recently turned 18, Valera had a nice Gulf Coast League as a 17-year-old and could advance to short-season Johnson City when it opens later in the summer.
Allen Vaughan is a national award-winning reporter and writer who lives in Springfield. After leaving the Springfield News-Leader in September of 2009, he has taken his affinity for sports in the Ozarks and tried to raise the bar in terms of innovative journalism. Want to get in touch with Allen? E-mail him at Allen@TAGsgf.com. You can follow him on Twitter here or on Facebook here.