By far the project that gets nearly as much attention as our yearly awards, the United Cardinal Bloggers enjoy October baseball (most seasons) and use September to take a look at the future. This year the assignment is even more interesting given the number of rookies who helped propel St. Louis to the National League Central crown. Except for the number one pick, most of the prospects below could really be shuffled around in just about any order.
On a side note, I only list players who are not on the 40-man roster as of this post. I realize the rules may allow for players to appear even after their first cup of coffee in the big leagues, but my style is to reward the next phase of great Cards to come.
#1 Oscar Taveras, Memphis OF
Was there ever any doubt who was going to occupy this spot? The only negative to his 2013 campaign had nothing to do with the injury or ill-timed comeback in my opinion. Memphis missed out on a playoff run, and Taveras would be gunning for a spot on the NLDS roster had things turned out differently this summer. Everything happens for a reason, though, and the future is certainly bright for the best hitting prospect in baseball.
#2 Tim Cooney, Springfield LHP
There is a possibility that the trio at the top of my list all may be teammates in Memphis next April, or each of the three could be anchoring different affiliates. Tim Cooney represents the best starting prospect in the system now, and he makes a lot of bats miss. Cooney can be the Cards’ next left-handed ace with the only real question being whether or not he returns to Springfield.
#3 Stephen Piscotty, Springfield OF
I have to admit this ranking shocked me a little until I looked at the whole body of work. Stephen Piscotty took the biggest strides of any position player in the St. Louis system, but he still has work to be done in the Texas League. With less than 50 AA games under his belt, Piscotty will more than likely need a Taveras promotion before advancing to Memphis.
#4 Tyrell Jenkins, Palm Beach RHP
Limited to only 13 starts, 21-year old Tyrell Jenkins proved he belongs in the discussion for years to come. After earning a promotion to Palm Beach, Jenkins did not miss a beat before his season-ending injury slowed his rise up the ranks. He was drafted in 2010 and will have every opportunity to find his place as a key part of the rotation moving forward.
#5 Carson Kelly, State College 3B
It is a good thing that the corner infield spots are accounted for in the near future, because 19-year old Carson Kelly will surely not be blocked on his trip through the minors. Kelly responded well after making his full-season debut for Peoria, and that is where he should be returning as long as he keeps improving in March.
#6 Marco Gonzales, Palm Beach LHP
Being able to put a pair of lefties on this list certainly seems odd, but Marco Gonzales will not need much more time in the minors if he can pick up where he left off this summer. Gonzales started off his Cardinal career rather slow following a long season for Gonzaga, but he dominated in four appearances for Palm Beach. Look for Gonzales to get a shot at making the Springfield rotation in much the same way Cooney did.
#7 Charlie Tilson, Palm Beach OF
Another feel good story for 2013 rounds out this list by showing the talented depth that still remains in the system. Charlie Tilson rebounded from missing the 2012 campaign and advanced to the Florida State League before his 21st birthday. The outfield future certainly looks very bright, and Tilson will be right in the mix.
I have always liked keeping the list to seven, and these are just a few of the names to watch going forward. The Prospect Preacher will be back in full swing as the Arizona Fall League provides one last opportunity to get your fix in 2013. The rookies turned a lot of heads around baseball this year, and the aggressive promotions should continue with a couple of needs on the horizon. While I don’t think any of these seven players will be included in a deal for a shortstop, the chance to step in is only one Victor Marte away!