On Tuesday, MLB.com ranked their Top 100 Prospects entering the 2013 season. The St. Louis Cardinals tied for the league lead with six Top 100 Prospects, along with Boston, Miami, Minnesota, and Texas. The Cardinals also finished second in the MLB behind Seattle in “Prospect Points,” which assigns a value to each prospect and totals the values for each squad (100 points for #1, 99 for #2, etc.)
This is all good news for Redbirds fans, because five of these players have a good chance of playing in Memphis for all or parts of the 2013 season. The Cardinals have already been rated the top minor league system in the game by Baseball America, so the combination of success at both the overall and individual levels points to an optimistic future for the organization.
#3 Oscar Taveras, OF: Having played at Double-A Springfield as a teenager, Taveras has always been described as “ahead of the curve” wherever he has been. The athletic right fielder finished the 2012 season in the top three among Texas League hitters in just about every offesnive category, batting .321 with 23 home runs, 94 RBIs, and 37 doubles. Taveras is seen as the right fielder and number three hitter of the future for the Cardinals, but will most likely begin 2013 with Memphis to gain more playing time with Carlos Beltran still manning right field in St. Louis.
#25 Shelby Miller, RHP: Miller struggled for the first time in his professional career in the first half of 2012, but a few small adjustments led to a record fo 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 57 second-half innings with Memphis and a September call-up to the big leagues. His power fastball has topped out at 97 mph, and his improving curveball and changeup give even more upside to the right-hander. He will enter Spring Training vying for the 5th spot in the Cardinals rotation. If he doesn’t win that battle, Miller could find himself in a bullpen role forthe Cardinals or as a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Redbirds.
#33 Carlos Martinez, RHP: Although he has a smaller frame, Martinez brings the heat with a mid- to upper-90s fastball and has garnered comparisons to Pedro Martinez. He reached Double-A Springfield at age 20 and went 4-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) prior to being tabbed as the Game One starter in the Texas League championship series. Some analysts believe Martinez will end up as a dominant reliever in the MLB, but he will continue to pitch as a starter in the minor leagues this season. He could begin the campaign at Double-A, but Redbirds fans should have the opportunity to see him pitch in Memphis at some point this season.
#43 Trevor Rosenthal, RHP: Rosenthal has already made his mark at the Major League level, pitching lights out in the 2013 postseason with half of his fastballs clocked at 99 mph or faster. He rose quickly in 2012, starting 17 games for Double-A Springfield and making three starts for Memphis before being called up to pitch out of the bullpen for St. Louis. Rosenthal will have the opportunity in Spring Training to compete for a spot in the Cardinals rotation, but could easily end up in a relief role in St. Louis again, or as a starter with the Redbirds.
#79 Kolten Wong, 2B: Wong will begin the season as the Redbirds every day second baseman, although circumstances could see him called to St. Louis anytime throughout the year. He hit .287 with nine home runs, 52 RBIs, 23 doubles, and 21 stolen bases for Double-A Springfield last season. His well-rounded game projects him to be the steady, long-term second baseman that the Cardinals have lacked over the past few years.
#83 Michael Wacha, RHP: Wacha was drafted out of Texas A&M in the June, 2012 First-Year Player draft and quickly rose up the ranks of the Cardinals system. He started three games in the Gulf Coast League before appearing in relief four times for both Advanced-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield. Wacha will take his sinking fastball and devastating chanegup to the Springfield rotation in 2013 and is expected to be the only one of the Cardinals six Top 100 prospects to not make a stop in Memphis in 2013. This could obviously change if Wacha lives up to his potential and gives The Cards no choice but to promote him.