For our September United Cardinals Bloggers project, we were asked to rank our Top 7 Cardinals prospects.
For this, I eliminated any player who had exhausted their rookie eligibility (130 at bats or 50 IP) and based my rankings on this year's performance as well as the views of scouts from various websites.
My picks are below. Be sure to check out the United Cardinals Bloggers page for links to the other lists and a composite ranking.
1. Oscar Taveras
Despite a season marred by injuries, Taveras remains the Cardinals top prospect. He hit .310/.348/.471 with 5 homers and 5 stolen bases in just 47 games on the season. He will likely head back to AAA to start next year, but should be called up by mid-season.
2. Carlos Martinez
The Cardinals top pitching prospect, who has yet to use up his rookie eligibility, Martinez got a late start to the season due to visa issues, but put up an impressive 6-3 record with a 2.49 ERA in 16 starts between AA Springfield and AAA Memphis. He also has a 2-1 record with a 5.47 ERA at the major league level. He should battle for a rotation spot next year. If he doesn't earn a spot in the rotation, he could become a late-inning guy in the bullpen.
3. Kolten Wong
Although he hasn't had much success at the major league level (.151/.196/.170 in 53 at bats), Wong looked pretty impressive at Memphis, hitting .303/.369/.466 with 10 homers and 20 stolen bases. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals sort out the David Freese/Kolten Wong/Matt Carpenter logjam at second and third in the offseason.
4. Stephen Piscotty
The Cardinals' "other" compensation pick in 2012 for losing Albert Pujols (Michael Wacha being the first), Piscotty put up some nice numbers in his first full season in the minors. He hit .295/.355/.464 with 15 homers and 11 stolen bases and finished the year at AA Springfield. He could earn a September callup in 2014 and be in the outfield mix come 2015.
5. John Gast
One of the Cardinals less-heralded prospects, Gast was dominant at AAA Memphis to start the year. He posted an obscene 1.16 ERA in 7 starts before earning a promotion to St. Louis. He made just 3 starts with the Cards, going 2-0 with a 5.11 ERA, before a shoulder injury ended his season. Its unclear if he'll be ready for the start of the 2014 season, but he should be a factor at the major league level before the year is through.
6. Rob Kaminsky
I had a hard time choosing between Kaminsky and fellow 2013 first-rounder Marco Gonzalez for this spot, but eventually went with Kaminsky. While Gonzalez has a higher floor than Kaminsky, Kaminsky has more upside and he showed off those skills in the rookie league striking out 28 batters in just 22 innings. As a high schooler, he will likely move slowly through the Cardinals system and may not make the big leagues until 2016 (at the earliest).
7. Mike O'Neill
He may not be a "sexy" prospect, but O'Neill is one of my personal favorites. While he does not have much power (just 3 homers in 341 games) and his speed is just average, O'Neill has arguably the best "eye" in the Cardinals farm system. This year he put up an incredible 91/37 BB/K ratio while hitting .314/.424/.369 between Springfield and Memphis. His .431 OBP at Springfield was second only to Oakland A's "moneyball" prospect Anthony Aliotti (.452). He should earn at least a bench role with the Cardinals at some point in 2014.