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Which Cardinals prospects will make the Opening Day roster?

Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2013, at 10:17 PM

With spring training just around the corner, St. Louis Cardinals players old and new are putting the finishing touches on the off-season as they prepare for 2013.

Some players are sure things to make the opening day roster, but the same can't be said for everyone. With a handful of minor question marks regarding the starting rotation, bullpen, second base and a backup shortstop, some of the Cardinals young talent will have a shot to make the team.

With one of the strongest farm systems in MLB, the Cardinals have plenty of options, but are they ready yet.

Last year several showed that they are, but just like everyone else, they will have to show it again in spring training.

Following are the chances of several top Cardinals prospects making the opening day roster. To be eligible for the list, a player must still have rookie eligibility. That means a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club during the 25-player limit period.

Shelby Miller

The prospect that everyone used to be excited about (prior to the Oscar Taveras explosion) ended the 2012 season by reminding Cardinals fans what they had to look forward to.

Despite command problems early in 2012, Shelby Miller turned his season around full circle and ended the season with his first big league win in dramatic fashion.

Short of a horrible performance in spring training, I can't envision a scenario where he doesn't make the opening day roster in one form or another.

Chance: 95 percent

Trevor Rosenthal

While everyone was talking about Miller and Taveras, Trevor Rosenthal snuck up and put on a show in 2012.

A young pitcher with tremendous heat and a good handle on pressure situations, Rosenthal has an extremely high ceiling. Considering that he was one of the best arms in the bullpen down the stretch, there is little reason to not expect him to begin 2013 in St. Louis.

The question is whether it will be in the rotation or the bullpen. My hunch is that the Cardinals will be reluctant to throw off Miller's mojo by a move to the bullpen so I expect to see Rosenthal in the bullpen awaiting an injury.

Chance: 95 percent

Kolten Wong

Kolten Wong is viewed by the Cardinals as the future at second base.

At this point, however, he is just that: future. It's entirely possible he could see a call up at some point in 2013, but given that he finished the season at Double A Springfield I expect to see some time in Memphis to begin the year.

His day will come soon enough and there is no reason to rush his continued development. Don't look for him on the opening day roster.

Chance: 40 percent

Carlos Martinez

Many view Martinez as one of the best pitchers to come up through the Cardinals farm system in years, but he still has a bit of refining to do.

After spending some time at Double A Springfield in 2012, he made some progress and has shown that he has the stuff to make it in the big leagues.

In all likelihood he will begin 2013 back in Springfield with a Memphis promotion in his near future. Martinez is another example of one not to rush since it would create a serious rotation logjam in St. Louis. With presumably Miller, Rosenthal and Lance Lynn all in the running for the fifth starter slot, there is really no reason to promote him at this point.

Chance: 15 percent

Matt Adams

Matt Adams is an interesting situation. With Allen Craig at first base there is likely no way to get him regular playing time in St. Louis at the beginning of the season.

It's entirely possible this is a situation that will work itself out once the season begins, but short of a spring training injury he probably won't see St. Louis to start the season.

He could be a formidable bench bat given his ability to hit for average and power. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak showed reluctance in 2012 to use him in that role feeling that he needed to be playing every day regardless of whether it was in St. Louis or Memphis.

Chance: 50 percent

Oscar Taveras

The man everyone is dying to see in St. Louis, Oscar Taveras, has a legitimate shot at starting the season in St. Louis if the pieces fall into place for him.

If he comes in and dazzles the Cardinals brass and for some reason Jon Jay doesn't, it's possible he could make the roster. Until everyone is in Florida it will be hard to tell because many factors play into the Taveras equation.

Carlos Beltran ended the season with knee issues. How is he moving around and feeling? Is Jay ready to prove himself as an everyday centerfielder once again?

If everyone else looks good, my assumption is that Taveras will start the season in Memphis and at the first sign of trouble make the short trip to St. Louis.

As mentioned previously, he needs to be ready to go when Beltran's contract ends at the end of the coming season. There is no better way to do that then by giving him a short stay at Memphis and then having him spend some time with Beltran who make a fantastic mentor for the young slugging outfielder.

Regardless of how it comes, one thing is certain. His debut will be made soon.

Chance: 45 percent

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

An absolute joke that they re-signed Westbrook with the young arms that we have. Carp, Waino, Garcia, Lynn, and Kelly should be the rotation with Rosenthal and Miller in the pen, and Westbrook should not be on the team anymore.

-- Posted by DaleDoback on Mon, Jan 14, 2013, at 9:33 PM

i agree DaleDoback. waste of money on him.

-- Posted by uptobat on Mon, Jan 14, 2013, at 9:40 PM

Had a sub 4 era and 13 wins. Not bad as a number 5 starter...also isn't a bad idea to have a little insurance, especially considering Carp and Garcia coming off injuries. Lynn didnt finish strong and Kelly is was inonsistent. Makes perfect sense to me.

-- Posted by 7plus1 on Mon, Jan 14, 2013, at 11:35 PM

Westbrook's run support was about twice as high as anyone else's in the rotation.

-- Posted by DaleDoback on Tue, Jan 15, 2013, at 1:08 PM

He had a sub 4 era too

-- Posted by 7plus1 on Thu, Jan 17, 2013, at 8:45 AM

I'm not saying he's one of the top pitchers in the league but when you get those numbers out of your number 5 in the rotation you can't complain about it. And I could care less if they scored 100 runs a game for him. They still win so who cares? Maybe that's a good thing. When Westbrook pitches we hit, so have him pitching every fifth day is a great thing!

-- Posted by 7plus1 on Thu, Jan 17, 2013, at 8:51 AM

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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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