St. Louis Cardinals 2011 Minor League Review
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:
2011 (24) | 2010 (29) | 2009 (8) | 2008 (16) | 2007 (23) | 2006 (21) | 2005 (30) | 2004 (28)
2011 Affiliate Records
MLB: [90-72] NL Central
AAA: [77-66] Pacific Coast League – Memphis
AA: [62-78] Texas League – Springfield
A+: [68-70] Florida State League – Palm Beach
A: [81-56] Midwest League – Quad Cities
A(ss): [37-38] New York Penn League – Batavia
R: [45-23] Appalachian League – Johnson City
The Run Down
After decimating their farm system in 2009 with trades and promotions, the Cardinals have reloaded quickly and impressively. Due in large part to the strategic amateur scouting systems implemented by Scouting Director Jeff Luhnow and Assistant GM Mike Girsch, the Cardinals have a slew of promising arms – both starting & relief – and quite a few exciting position players in their Minor Leagues. By now, many of us are familiar with what Lance Lynn and Eduardo Sanchez can do at the big league level, but injury kept both beneath the rookie minimum in IP, so they’re included below. MLB-ready pitching talent is a little thin, as a few of their brightest arms (Carlos Martinez, Tyrell Jenkins) are simply too youthful. Look for St. Louis to climb significantly in Baseball America’s 2012 Organizational Talent Rankings. Also, look for Shelby Miller on draft day.
Arizona Fall League Players – Peoria Javelinas
Players of Interest
Stephen ranks him at number 29 in his Top 50 Fantasy Prospects for 2012, and I can’t argue with much of his analysis: “…a gifted hitter with strength and strike-zone awareness…reminds me of Ryan Zimmerman.” After MVP performances in both the NLCS and World Series, however, it seems David Freese has third base locked down for 2012. Freese is an enormous injury risk, though, and he plays on two bum ankles, so durability is an issue. If he lands on the DL at any point in 2012, Cox is a must-add in all formats.
A 2011 first-round selection out of Hawaii, Wong is gifted with both the bat and glove. In 222 plate appearances at Quad Cities he slashed .335/.401/.510 with 22 XBH (5 HR). The Cardinals will likely start Wong at AA in 2012, but considering St. Louis’ lack of depth in the middle infield, Wong could get a shot at 2B with the big club if he impresses in spring training.
By all accounts, Miller has the repertoire and mental makeup of a big league ace. With an effortless mid-90s fastball, a plus curveball, and a plus changeup, to go along with solid command, the 21-year-old should work his way into the St. Louis rotation at some point during 2012. Stephen ranks Miller as the fourth best fantasy prospect for 2012. Upon his arrival, expect immediate fantasy value in all formats.
Lynn played an integral role for the Cardinals in both the NLCS and World Series. As a starter, his stuff is average and he profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation guy – an innings eater. The Cardinals, however, used him primarily in relief in 2011. And as a reliever, Lynn was dominant. He counters a mid-90s four-seam fastball with a sharp curveball in the upper 70s. Ultimately, I see St. Louis trying to work Lynn back into a starting role. Tough to say whether he’ll make the rotation in 2012, but his potential to gobble up innings is too valuable to be squandered in middle-relief.
Sanchez has filthy stuff, no doubt. With an upper-90s fastball and a tricky slider, Sanchez baffled many big league hitters in 2011 and earned five saves while serving as the Cardinals’ closer for a stretch. Concerns about Sanchez are typically regarding his slight physique (5-11, 170). It’s too soon to tell if he’s durable enough to hold up throughout a season in the Major Leagues. But those worries are certainly valid, as Sanchez finished 2011 on the 60-day DL (shoulder).
Although he already has some big league plate appearances, Carpenter, realistically, is behind Cox on the organizational depth chart at third base. If Freese should go down to injury, Cox would likely get the call up, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cardinals opted for Carpenter, who might be a safer option. Slashing .302/.419/.465 at AAA in 2011, Cox reaffirmed his status as the organization’s best on-base prospect. He has outstanding pitch recognition and an advanced grasp of the strike zone. His power, though, is substandard for a big league third baseman.
Adams had a great year in the Texas League, posting a .300/.357/.566 line with 57 XBH in 513 plate appearances, including 32 homers. If Pujols signs elsewhere, the Cardinals will likely plant Lance Berkman at first and go with Allen Craig in right field (or vice versa), but Adams could force his way into the 1B discussion if his home run stroke continues at AAA.
Tommy Pham | OF:
Jon Jay brings great outfield range and a decent bat to the St. Louis lineup. He’s also brought extended stretches of crappiness. Tommy Pham is an exciting outfield prospect that could challenge Jay for playing time in centerfield. Much of Pham’s 2011 season was lost to injury, but when healthy, he’s performed well. It’s a hunch, but I’m predicting a breakout year for Tommy Pham in 2012.
Jordan Swagerty | RHP – RP:
Swagerty features excellent off-speed stuff and impressed at three levels in 2011. He’s a future closer and he’ll fit nicely into the St. Louis bullpen, but there are probably too many guys ahead of him for Swagerty to challenge for saves in 2012.