1. Oscar Taveras, OF (AAA)
2013: .306 BA, .341 OBP, 12 2B, HR, 32 RBI, 5/6 SB’s
His nagging ankle injury that ultimately led to season-ending surgery slowed down Taveras’ development in 2013. When healthy, he proved that his bat was AAA-ready. Had he not gotten injured, he would likely be up with the big league squad by now. His future position for the Cardinals still remains unclear–though he is capable of playing centerfield, he will likely end up as a rightfielder long-term.
Also, according to Keith Law of ESPN, Taveras is the second best prospect in all of baseball, so this tells me that he deserves the top spot for the Cardinals. Because of the extent of his injury, I expect him to start 2014 in AAA, but he will likely be in St. Louis soon thereafter.
2. Carlos Martinez, RHP (AA/AAA/MLB)
2013 Minors: 6-3, 2.49 ERA, 79.2 IP, 72 K’s, 28 BB’s
2013 Majors: 2-1, 5.27 ERA, 27.1 IP, 24 K’s, 9 BB’s
Is Martinez’s future in the starting rotation or at the back-end of the bullpen? This is yet to be seen, but the 22-year-old fireballer has a bright future. The future is now, though, because he will likely play an integral role in the playoffs this season.
Of all the Cardinals’ pitching prospects, he has the most electric stuff. If he is able to develop a secondary pitch that he can consistently throw for strikes, he will become nearly unhittable for years to come. Considering the amount of arms competing for the rotation next season, he will likely start 2014 out of the ‘pen.
3. Kolten Wong, 2B (AAA/MLB)
2013: .286 BA, .341 OBP, 22 2B, 8 3B, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 23/24 SB’s
Wong was an All-Star second baseman in AAA this season. He is the complete package–hitting for average and some pop, fielding his position, and a threat to run on the basepaths.
He was called up to be a spark-plug for the St. Louis offense during a rut but has yet to see consistent playing time. He has struggled at the plate in the big leagues, hitting just .148 in 54 at-bats. The off-season will do him well because to me, his swing looks a little out-of-whack right now. Wong is the future at second base and will likely be the team’s lead-off hitter for years to come.
4. Carson Kelly, 3B (A/SS-A)
2013: .257 BA, .322 OBP, 22 2B, 6 HR, 45 RBI
Kelly, just 18 years old at the time, started out the season on the Peoria Chiefs. He struggled mightily, hitting just .219 and was demoted to the Short-Season State College Spikes. His bat heated up for State College and helped lead the team to the championship series.
Now 19 years old, look for Kelly to get a second shot with Peoria in 2014. He may be a lot further away from the big leagues than the other members on this list, but in my opinion, only Taveras has a higher ceiling than his. He was one of the most highly touted draft picks in 2012 and has the skills to be an impact third baseman for the Cardinals someday. I look forward to seeing his sweet swing in St. Louis in the future.
5. James Ramsey, OF (A+/AA/AAA)
2013: .265 BA, .373 OBP, 16 2B, 4 3B, 16 HR, 51 RBI
I have been a fan of Ramsey’s since he was drafted in 2012. Yet, he only had one home run after being drafted, so I was worried that his power was not going to translate to professional baseball. He put my doubt to rest this season by clubbing 16 home runs (15 of them for Springfield).
He is an above average defender in centerfield with one of the better outfield arms in the entire organization. To top it all off, he is a great guy and will surely be a fan favorite in St. Louis someday. I think he will start 2014 in Memphis but will likely make the trip to St. Louis by the end of the season.
6. Stephen Piscotty, OF (A+/AA)
2013: .295 BA, .346 OBP, 23 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 11/19 SB’s
Piscotty started out with High-A Palm Beach and earned the promotion to AA Springfield half-way through the season. The 2012 first-round draft pick out of Stanford did not disappoint at either level in 2013.
He was drafted as a third baseman, but he has been able to make the transition to outfield pretty well so far in his young career. Based on his success in Springfield, I see him starting out next season with Memphis. If he continues to develop, he could possibly be a member of the 2014 September call-ups to provide bench depth for the stretch run.
7. Marco Gonzales, LHP (Rk/A+)
2013: 8 games (6 starts), 0-0 record, 2.70 ERA, 23.1 IP, 23 K’s, 8 BB’s
Gonzales is the only member of this year’s draft class to make my list. He is a polished college arm that will likely jump a few levels in 2014. I do not think it is too far-fetched to see him make it all the way to Memphis next year.
The young lefty has a bright future, and his rise throughout the minors might resemble that of Michael Wacha‘s next year. He is a name to keep an eye on because he will likely make it to St. Louis a lot sooner than many would think.
Just Short of Making the List:
Tyrell Jenkins, RHP: He injured his shoulder multiple times in 2013, and ultimately, he needed season-ending surgery. If the rehabilitation process goes well, he should be ready for 2014. His stuff is amazing but very unpolished. Because of his inability to remain healthy and the fact that shoulder injuries can be scary, I just could not put him in my top 7.
Zach Petrick, RHP: Petrick had an amazing 2013–one that even got Keith Law’s attention. Law said that he could see him being a back-end of the rotation guy in the future. However, Petrick struggled a little bit in Springfield and at the age of 24, he fell just short of making my list.
John Gast, LHP: Gast saw time in the big leagues this season and was pretty successful. Yet, he, like Jenkins, required season-ending shoulder surgery. Unlike Jenkins, however, his surgery was on his lat muscle which is not part of the shoulder joint so he should be able to recover completely from the injury. Yet, until he can prove that he has fully recovered, I could not put him on the list either.
Rob Kaminsky, LHP: This 19-year-old lefty has a very bright future for the Cardinals. However, since he is still 19 and has a long way to go, I could not put him on my list. After a full season in 2014, we will be able to get a grasp at what he truly has to offer. I could see him starting off next season in Peoria or even Palm Beach.
Until next time…
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Special thanks goes out to Matt Sebek and the Rookies App for providing me with a platform to make the virtual baseball cards for each player on my list. Make sure to check out the App in the AppStore!