August brings us the last in-season top 20 prospect list. In September, we will have a final list due to the minor league season ending around Labor Day.
This was the first month that I decided to include 2013 draftees in this list. I felt more comfortable with seeing them in action to place them. You will see two ’13 draftees on the list, Marco Gonzales and Rob Kaminsky. I struggled with who to put first. I believe Kaminsky has a higher ceiling, but Gonzales has a lower floor and is a safer bet. I chose Gonzales higher, for now.
I also wanted to put Zach Petrick in the top 20 since he has made a few starts at Double-A Springfield. If you remember, I made a big deal out of the fact that 80% of the batters he faced were younger. He is up to 73% with the move up a level. Double-A is the toughest level to master and while he has had a couple of “un-Petrick” like starts, he still has excelled.
To me, James Ramsey is positioning himself to be in center field for the big club Cardinals in a couple of years. His defense has stepped up a notch and he can cover some amazing ground and has a very solid arm. At the plate, Ramsey is on pace for about 20 home runs and has an on base percent of nearly 38%. I am not sure why people are down on Ramsey, but he has made a huge step up this year.
1. Oscar Taveras – .310, 5 HR, 32 RBI
Taveras only had two at bats in July, in a rehab game with the GCL Cards before being shut down with a continuing ankle issue. While his debut in St. Louis may be delayed, his prospect status continues to be near the top. Hopefully he gets back to his rehab very soon and eventually with Memphis. I still think there is a slight chance we could see him up in September, but it is becoming more unlikely.
2. Carlos Martinez – 5-2, 1.87 ERA, 54 K, 62.2 IP
Martinez has bounced between St. Louis and Memphis a couple of times. He was stretched out to start once, and then was hardly used in the Cardinals bullpen before going back to Memphis again. I am not so sure the Cards handling of “Young Pedro” has been the best and I don’t see a clear role for him the rest of this season.
3. Michael Wacha – 5-3, 2.65 ERA, 73 K, 85 IP
Some have Wacha ahead of Martinez on prospect lists. I don’t see it. To me, Martinez has a higher ceiling. Wacha will be recalled on Saturday to start against the Pirates. The Cards have said this will probably a one start appearance for Wacha. Wacha who has been doing Wacha-esque things in the Minors since returning will get to show what he can do at the highest level one more time.
4. Kolten Wong – .302, 9 HR, 40 RBI
Wong had a pretty rough July, only hitting .229, but had a solid OBP of .330. If I were in John Mozeliak’s bow-tie I would bring Wong up and shift Matt Carpenter to third. I believe Wong could provide a spark at the top of the Cardinals line up.
5. Tyrell Jenkins – 4-4, 4.70 ERA, 40 K, 29.1 IP
Jenkins’ season ended on July 6th as he made one last start and only faced two batters. Shoulder surgery has knocked him out for the year. It was nice to see Jenkins pitch in Palm Beach late in his season. While he has been up and down this year, he has shown flashes of a dominating pitcher.
6. Carson Kelly – .250, 4 HR, 37 RBI
Since being demoted to State College, Kelly has started to hit much better. Kelly carries a .276 batting average and an OPS that is about 135 points higher than it was for the Peoria Chiefs. I think the promotion to Peoria in mid April was somewhat of a stretch. He is where he needs to be right now, no rush.
7. Stephen Piscotty – .285, 12 HR, 47 RBI
A little over a year after being drafted, Piscotty has found himself at a new position and two steps away from the major leagues. Piscotty has hit a combined 12 home runs for Palm Beach and Springfield which would translate to about 20 over a 162 game season. The power numbers make him more of a legit prospect.
8. Marco Gonzales – 0-0, 3.95 ERA, 16 K, 13.2 IP
Gonzales is the highest 2013 draftee on our list for August. While his numbers so far may not show it, he belongs here. Gonzales has made the jump from the GCL Cards to the Palm Beach Cards without having to unpack. So far, his path has been eerily similar to the one of the guy who is starting for the big club on Saturday, Michael Wacha. I am not comparing the two as I believe Gonzales is a little behind where Wacha was at this point last year.
9. James Ramsey – .268, 15 HR, 43 RBI
Ramsey is one of my favorite prospects to watch. There were some questions about whether the former first rounder was legit. I think Ramsey has answered those questions this season. Ramsey has a combined 15 home runs, and that is a surprise to me. I would love to see him get a late call up to Memphis and he could be ready for St. Louis at some point next season.
10. Rob Kaminsky – 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 15 K, 11 IP
Kaminsky has had a pretty solid start to his pro career. In 11 innings, he has yet to allow an earned run and has struck out 15 batters. We knew he was advanced for his age, and it is starting to show. Kaminsky could probably succeed at Johnson City, but I don’t think the Cards are in a rush to promote him.
11. Charlie Tilson – .298, 2 HR, 26 RBI
Tilson had a rough first month with Peoria, but since May 1st, he is hitting .313 with only 32 strikeouts in 69 games. Tilson is an above average defender in the outfield and has very bright future. At just 20-years-old and after missing all of 2012, Tilson hasn’t missed a beat and should be in the top 10 next year.
12. Zach Petrick – 6-1, 1.57 ERA, 105 K, 92 IP
The jump to Double-A is what puts Petrick on the list for me. He is starting to face batters who are older than him and is still showing good success. The jump to Double-A is a tough one and no one should have assumed he would continue his success from Peoria and Palm Beach.
13. Breyvic Valera – .310, 0 HR, 42 RBI
After a down June, Valera picked it up in July and hit .330 with an OBP nearing .400. Valera is a top of the order guy, as he has yet to homer this season. The Cards are working on position flexibility with Valera as he has played 5 positions for the Peoria Chiefs this season. A major league utility player may be his floor at this point.
14. Ryan Jackson – .286, 3 HR, 30 RBI
Ryan Jackson has plateaued at Memphis. He has nowhere to go and the Cardinals organization’s thoughts on him have been quite obvious. You have to wonder if this is starting to affect him. After hitting .302 in April and .345 in May, Jackson hit .278 in June and .229 in July. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a major league call up this season, but has the damage been done?
15. Alexander Reyes – 3-3. 3.08 ERA, 44 K, 38 IP
The 18-year-old Reyes has been a little more steady lately and that is a great sign. On his good days he may be one of the best pitchers in the organization, but he also had really bad days. Although a long way away from the big leagues, it is nice to see him competing at a high level for being 18.
16. Tim Cooney – 9-10, 3.69 ERA, 121 K, 127 IP
After a couple of very rough starts, Cooney was very impressive on August 8th. He went 8 innings and allowed 1 run and he struck out 10. The 22-year-old made a big step forward this season, his first full season in the Cards organization. Cooney has to be considered one of the top left-handed starting pitching prospects in the organization.
17. Jacob Wilson – .261, 17 HR, 77 RBI
Wilson has had a very impressive season so far between Peoria and Palm Beach. .261 average with 17 home runs and 77 runs batted in. Wilson earned a promotion to High-A Palm Beach on the last day in July. To be a legit prospect, Wilson will have to excel at Springfield next season due to his advanced age.
18. Lee Stoppelman – 5-2, 1.46 ERA, 66 K, 55.2 IP
Stoppelman and Cooney have made very similar paths to Springfield. Both started at Short-Season Batavia last year and started this season at High-A Palm Beach. While Cooney is one of the top left-handed starters in the organization, Stoppelman has to be one of the top left-handed relievers.
19. Colin Walsh – .263, 4 HR, 36 RBI
Walsh has had a huge transformation this season at the plate. Walsh started the season at Palm Beach as a middle of the order hitter and struggled big time in May. After James Ramsey was promoted to Springfield, the Cardinals moved Walsh to the lead-off spot and he excelled in June. The second base position is one of the deepest in the system and Walsh is right in the middle of it.
20. Starlin Rodriguez – .277, 6 HR, 29 RBI
Like Walsh, Rodriguez has had a big transformation. He was part of that deep 2B depth, and was struggling in the field. The Cards sent Rodriguez to Palm Beach to learn the outfield. He played center in Palm Beach, but with James Ramsey in center at Springfield, Rodriguez has moved to left. If/when Ramsey goes to Memphis, Rodriguez would probably move to center.
St. Louis Cardinals Deadline DEALS: Joe Kelly, Daniel Descalso, Jon Jay (stlcupofjoe.com)
Oscar Taveras aggravates ankle, is placed on the DL (cardinalsfarm.com)
Oscar Taveras tops CardinalsFarm’s Top 20 Prospects for July (cardinalsfarm.com)