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Top Prospects for the Cardinals in 2012 Part 2

Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012, at 7:42 AM


This is the second in a three part series analyzing, in my opinion, the top15 prospects within the Cardinals organization.

Thirty-eight days. In just that small number of days, pitchers and catchers will be gearing up at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. preparing for yet another year of surprises and changes.

Last week I began running my personal list of the top 15 prospects within the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Before We move on to numbers 6-10, we'll re-cap numbers 1-5.

1. Shelby Miller

2. Carlos Martinez

3. Tyrell Jenkins

4. Kolten Wong

5. Matt Adams

Most of the names in the top five speaks for themselves. Once we get out of the top five that isn't always the case. Today you will see some names you recognize, some of whom have already played in St. Louis. I'm sure you will think some of these should have been ranked higher or lower, but I plan to lay out my case for why I have them where I do.

So, here they are...

6. Zack Cox - Here's one you should have heard of by now. This third/potential second baseman has a lot of potential, but still needs to grow defensively before he will be ready for the big show. He has a great, compact swing and can slap the ball anywhere in the field. In terms of power, Cox is about average having finished 2011 with 13 homeruns in Palm Beach and Springfield combined. He batted .306, however, so he is definitely capable of getting on base. It will be interesting to see how he makes the transition to AAA Memphis this year assuming he makes the jump.

7. Oscar Taveras - This young man is certainly worth keeping an eye on. The main reason he isn't farther up the list is because of his age. Now only 19, Taveras hit .386 in the Quad Cities this year and his .485 slugging percentage isn't too shabby either. The Cardinals are impressed and watching, but they don't want to rush him. At 19, there is plenty of time. He was limited to only 78 games this year after a pair of hamstring issues, but is expected to be ready to go on day one.

8. Lance Lynn - There's not a lot to say here. The Cardinals first round draft pick in 2008 has so far lived up to the hype that surrounded him. While originally projected as a starter, his move to St. Louis put him in the bullpen where he put up impressive numbers at all of the right times in 2011. In 18 appearances he put up 40 strikeouts with a 3.42 ERA while giving up only 11 walks and 12 earned runs. He looked good in the playoffs this year, especially for a kid many believed not ready for the big leagues yet. He should be fun to watch in the future likely as a late inning bullpen pitcher. In a pinch, he could even see a stint in the rotation.

9. Eduardo Sanchez - The almost 22-year-old right-handed relief pitcher has been working his way up the ranks in the Cardinals minor league system since 2007. He impressed many Cardinals fans during his 26 appearances in St. Louis in 2011 before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. In 30 innings, he went 3-1 posting a 35 strikeouts with a 1.80 ERA. He gave up 16 walks, but limited opponents to only six earned runs. Those would be exciting numbers for a veteran, but coming from a home-grown rookie, they should have you excited. Fans should be anxious to see what he can do in a full season in 2012.

10. Charlie Tilson - The Cardinals second round draft pick in 2011, Tilson turned down the opportunity to play for the University of Illinois to wear the birds on the bat last year. The 18-year-old played in only eight games in 2011 putting up a .333 average with nine hits in 27 at bats. As a center fielder, Tilson is an impact defensive tool with good bat speed and will likely find himself in the one or two slot in the lineup. Having had only 30 at bats, little is known of how he will transition from high school to professional baseball, but his high school numbers made a serious statement (.406/42 runs/30 walks/30 stolen bases).

Next week I will wrap up my list with numbers 11-15. I originally considered doing this all in one column, but then decided I could do it more justice in three parts where I could share a little bit of information about each person and why they are on my list.

Many of these guys were very difficult to rank. The fact is, any of the players in the top 10 will likely make an impact at the major league level and have potential to be serious game changers. Whether they will is another story. Some will be lost due to injury while others could be traded to bring in "now" talent. That's how the game goes.

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on the list. I always enjoy chatting with readers and talking about baseball (if not I wouldn't be writing this column). Thanks for reading.

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Thanks Corey for this very dedicated series!

I still think you overrated Tyrell Jenkins. I really don't see him as a Top 5 guy in the organization and if he does make it to the Big Show I don't see him being anything more than a bench guy. With that said, many bench guys have been able to stya in the Bigs and been good impact players off the bench. I just have trouble seeing this in Jenkins from what I have read, watched, and heard about him. I am surprised to see Sanchez and Lynn on this list but I'm guessing they don't have enough service time to disqualify them from being on the prospect list. Correct me if I am wrong on that. I am really excited about the potential of the Flying Hawaiian Kolten Wong!

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Thu, Jan 12, 2012, at 12:11 PM
Corey Noles
I really struggled with the Jenkins decision, but I do think he has the potential. I'll try to throw up some video links here soon! I should have mentioned my criteria for what makes a prospect. I used the same guidelines MLB uses to determine if a player is technically a rookie: To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues.

Glad you're enjoying the series. I've really enjoyed the research end of things and have learned a lot from it! Thanks for commenting! CN

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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