The St. Louis Cardinals farm system is getting a lot of attention right now. The prospect rankings of the world are slowly rolling out, each one offering more breathless praise for the unbelievable assortment of talent compiled by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Keith Law unveiled his ESPN In$ider organizational rankings today and the Cardinals top the list. The combination of high ceiling talent, most of which is close to the big leagues, makes the Cardinals current prospect collection the mother lode.
It isn’t just Keith Law with fawning praise for the Cardinals system. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus lays it bare when discussing the intoxicating mix of talent currently in the Cards stable:
There are organizations that get the nod for having “depth,” typically abundant with low-minors high-ceiling youngsters, but light years from the Show and in the infancy stages of the development process. And then there is St. Louis. The Cardinals not only boast a system deep with talent, but one filled with potential big-league regulars and impact players pushing into and through the upper levels.
Baseball America ranked the Cardinals as their best system in baseball as well, falling in love with the top shelf talent as well as the lower level depth. The name on most prospect watchers list is the Oscar Taveras, the Dominican by way of Montreal outfielder, regarded as the best offensive prospect in the game.
BP’s Parks cites Taveras’ “cathedral ceiling” as a prospect and he is not alone. Viva El Birdos ran down some of the praise for Taveras offensive tools, noting his power to all fields and jaw-dropping BP sessions borne of bottle cap pitches thrown by his father. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com claims Taveras’ talent is the type that “doesn’t come around too often”, noting his improved plate discipline makes a skilled hitter even more dangerous.
While Trevor Rosenthal and Shelby Miller made big splashes on the national stage during the playoffs, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez are great prospects in their own right, ready to storm the upper levels of the Cardinals system. Kolton Wong has the sort of game which makes it very easy to see him as a regular contributor in the big leagues, though without the ceiling and promise of some of the other prospects.
There are just so many talented players in the Cardinals system. While some shine came off Shelby Miller after a rough start to 2012, he sorted out some mechanical troubles and looked exactly like one of the top prospects in baseball just 12 months ago. All this talent fights with the previous wave of minor league players currently inhabiting the top of the Cards depth chart. There is talent waiting to take over for the existing talent, should it falter in anyway. Eye on Baseball looked at the Core Values of the Cardinals and came away impressed, as one would:
It hardly seems fair that a franchise that’s made the post season in nine out of the last 13 seasons and won two of the last seven World Series would have such an impressive array of young talent, but that’s the case in St. Louis…Those concerns aside, rare is the team as well poised as the Cards to contend both now and in the seasons to come.
Hardly seems fair, indeed. No minor leaguer is a sure thing but the Cardinals have enough talent on hand they have afford to miss on some of these players. Even if Rosenthal and Martinez “only” become elite relievers, the Cardinals remain the model franchise in all of baseball. It doesn’t guarantee St. Louis but just about every team would love to be in the Cards’ position right now.