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Top 15 Prospects for the 2012 Cardinals - Part 3

Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012, at 7:35 AM


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

In just 31 short days, baseball fans around the nation will dusting off their remote controls and digging out their jerseys in prep for yet another year of baseball. With pitchers and catchers set to report on Feb. 19 to training camps in the warmer parts of the United States, I thought it only fitting that we wrap up the 2012 prospects series since a lot of these guys will be at camp.

First things first, here is a recap of numbers 1-10.

1. Shelby Miller

2. Carlos Martinez

3. Tyrell Jenkins

4. Kolten Wong

5. Matt Adams

6. Zack Cox

7. Oscar Taveras

8. Lance Lynn

9. Eduardo Sanchez

10. Charlie Tilson

For a more in depth look at the first ten, in case you missed the preceding columns, visit dailystatesman.com

Here are the final five:

11. Jordan Swagerty - Yet another RH starting pitcher making his way through the Cardinals farm system, in 93.2 innings in 2011 he tossed 89 strikeouts and 23 walks. He held batters to 19 earned runs earning a 1.83 ERA in 36 games (12 starts). Drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft, he is projected as having a "major league curveball and change-up" as we'' as a consistent, controlled fastball. Projected to be ready for big league service in 2013-14, there is debate whether he will remain a starter at the major league level. Often, temas will make a pitcher a starter in the minor leagues simply to get them more pitches in as they groom them for the big leagues.

12. Ryan Jackson - The 23-year-old shortstop, interviewed in Tuesday's column, had a big power increase in 2011. With a .415 slugging average, 11 homeruns and 34 doubles, Jackson made big strides at AA Springfiled last year. As a reward, this month he received his first non-roster invitation to big league spring training. The front office seems to see a lot of potential in Jackson as the team moves to the future and will use the opportunity to get a first hand look at his progress and see how he fares against major league pitching. As he admitted himself, he still needs more discipline at the plate, but if he handles it well at the beginning of the season he could see a call up at some point if necessary. Otherwise, I expect him to be a contender for a roster spot in 2013.

13. Trevor Rosenthal - Drafted in the 21st round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Cardinals, Rosenthal is believed to be a gem that was overlooked by many clubs. With a limited number of appearances in 2009-10, in 2011 he made 22 starts going 120 innings. His ERA was a little high (4.11) but he managed to hold opposing batters to a .247 batting average with 133 strikeouts. After a full season at the team's Quad Cities affiliate, he will likely see a move to AA Springfield during the 2012 season. If I had to guess, I would project him for late-2013 arrival in St. Louis.

14. Maikel Cleto - Cleto came to the Cardinals through the Brendan Ryan trade in 2010. A right-handed reliever with control issues but a fastball that touches 100 mph. The biggest need for Cleto in his continued development is to work on his control. His concentration on his massive velocity has cost him at times with wild pitches and poor placement. After a short and rough stint in the majors during 2011, he took a step down where coaches could help him harness his pitches and he has reportedly made some progress. At 22 years old, he has time left to hone his pitches and still make an impact in St. Louis in the foreseeable future.

15. Matt Carpenter - I struggled for where to place Matt Carpenter. After a stellar showing in Spring Training 2011 and learning more about the work ethic of the 26-year-old third baseman, my heart tells me that he has the potential to make a major impact on the club. An injury to Freese could lend him that opportunity, but his major league experience in 2011 was less than impressive, but the sample size (15 at bats) is almost not worthy of judging. He spent a majority of last year at AAA Memphis better preparing himself for another shot. In an effort to increase his value and chance of returning to the club, he has been working at other positions as well so that he could be of more use. I have mixed emotions about Carpenter's future. As of now, it's up in the air for me. The potential is there if he gets the chance and is able to bring it to fruition.

There are so many people I struggled with toward the end of this list. A few people didn't make the cut (John Gast to name one) who almost did, but at the last minute were cut. These are tough decisions and its important to remember that this is basically just me making an educated guess.

It's possible none of these guys could be successful or they could all be. Some will always be lost to injury or personal problems and sometimes one will come out of nowhere and blow us all out of the water. As much as I'd like for my list to be right, I'd prefer the big surprise. The "Jaime Garcia" who comes and shocks the world with his spot on pitching and veteran level cool-headedness.

While nothing is certain, one thing I can safely say is that these guys will be fun to watch and follow as they make their way through their system.

If there is any one thing on this list to be excited about, it's that we will likely see the major league debut of Shelby Miller this season and that is big news. So, sit down, buckle up and get ready for the ride!

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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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