In addition to the Sowing Seeds features, my favorite part about covering the Minors is watching them grow. It doesn’t matter to me if they were bonus babies, highly touted international players, or non-drafted pick ups. I do things quite a bit different, however, so if you are planning on seeing Carlos Martinez or Michael Wacha on this list, that will only happen if they are no longer on the 40-man roster.
And given how the Cardinals are approaching the upcoming trade deadline, there is virtually no chance the top two arms in the system will be moved. That makes this month’s rankings all about the assets that could be used within the next 30+ days to add to the big league club. It is not the splashy model that some fans would prefer but is the preferred method in maintaining the best overall system in baseball.
I will be updating the Top 15 Seedlings every month with only two rules: any player added to the big league roster gets removed and only players eligible to be traded are up for consideration. That allows everyone ample time to check out the 2013 draft class, which gained another player in Nicholas Frey. Instead of utilizing the draft-and-follow technique that no longer exists, the Cards can afford to let some picks like Frey get healthy. He recently had Tommy John surgery and chose to sign rather than risk not being able to come back while in school.
It also gives St. Louis some flexibility while at the same time adding future arms to the organization. It is a rather new plan of attack that could get more attention in the future as the Collective Bargaining Agreement makes it harder to find diamonds in the rough. It is refreshing to see the Birds on the Bat willing to pay a fine in order to improve depth, and the fruits of that labor may be seen very soon.
Oscar Taveras, Memphis Redbirds OF
Very little left for one of the best hitters in the minors to prove. He just needs to be healthy to see a promotion to St. Louis.
Kolten Wong, Memphis Redbirds 2B
If not for the play of Matt Carpenter, Wong may have already received the call. He will play in the Futures Game in NYC.
Carson Kelly, State College 3B
After holding his own for Peoria, Kelly certainly looks the part of a fixture at the hot corner for years to come.
Tyrell Jenkins, Palm Beach RHP
Drafted back in 2010, Jenkins appears on the right track and will not turn 21 until right before the trade deadline.
Jordan Swagerty, Palm Beach RHP
Fellow 2010 selection has taken a different path but could be in line to turn some heads this summer with his healthy arm.
Charlie Tilson, Peoria Chiefs OF
Recovered nicely after missing last season, and he has not look over-matched. Tilson is next in line as a coveted center fielder.
Robert Stock, Peoria Chiefs RHP
In the system since 2009, Stock has transitioned nicely from behind the plate. He can move fast as a bullpen piece.
Alexander Reyes, Johnson City RHP
Electric stuff combined with room to grow make this 18-year old fun to watch. He is coming off of an 11 strikeout performance.
Cody Stanley, Springfield Cardinals C
Lefty receivers who can hit stand out, and Stanley picked the right time to shine. He has very little current competition.
Anthony Garcia, Palm Beach OF
Broke out last season and overcame tough first couple of months to earn back his rightful place as one to watch.
Tim Cooney, Springfield Cardinals LHP
Lone lefty on this list for various reasons, can really help his cause with a strong showing in the Texas League.
Thomas Pham, Memphis Redbirds OF
First time playing in over 50 games since the 2010 season, Pham has all the tools if he can stay on the field.
Patrick Wisdom, Peoria Chiefs 3B
He can crush the ball but may not be able to stick at third. Wisdom’s power will keep him in the discussion moving forward.
Deryk Hooker, Springfield Cardinals RHP
Converted starter with lock-down ability, Hooker may find himself looking at a big-league invite and roster spot next Spring.
Mike O’Neill, Springfield Cardinals OF
Certainly the unsung member of the AA outfield, all O’Neill does is get on base and should be playing in Memphis soon.