Cardinals Top-15 Prospects of 2011
1. Shelby Miller | RHP | Age – 20 | Grade – A-
2. Zack Cox | 3b | Age – 21 | Grade – B
3. Carlos Martinez | RHP | Age – 19 | Grade – B
4. Tyrell Jenkins | RHP | Age – 18 | Grade – B-
5. Lance Lynn | RHP | Age – 23 | Grade – B-
6. Seth Blair | RHP | Age – 22 | Grade – B-
7. Oscar Taveras | OF | Age – 18 | Grade – B-
8. Jordan Swagerty | RHP | Age – 21 | Grade – B-
9. Eduardo Sanchez | RHP | Age – 22 | Grade – B-
10. Joe Kelly | RHP | Age – 22 | Grade – B-
11. Matt Carpenter | 3b | Age – 25 | Grade – B-
12. Adron Chambers | OF | Age – 24 | Grade – C+
13. Daniel Descalso | UTI | Age – 24 | Grade – C+
14. Cody Stanley | C | Age – 22 | Grade – C+
15. Daryl Jones | OF | Age – 23 | Grade – C+
› Prospect Primer (Grading Criteria Explained)
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› Index of 2011 Top Prospect Lists
› Index of Last Year’s Top Prospect Lists
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ALSO SEE – Cardinals Top Prospects, No’s 1 – 5
Grades are based on a prospect’s projected value over the course of his career and how likely it is that prospect will fulfill his projected value. Various factors are accounted for including upside, red flags, actual performance, and closeness to the majors. See the 2011 Top Prospect List Primer for more information as it relates to prospect grading and philosophy.
Hitters must have 100 or fewer Major League ABs to qualify for this list. Starting pitchers must have 50 or fewer Major League innings to qualify. Relief pitchers must have 25 or fewer Major League innings to qualify. Ages are listed as of May 1st, 2011. Levels are based on the highest level in which a prospect played in 2010. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the season starts.
Prospects 1 and 6 are available for everyone to read. All other scouting reports can be accessed by Premium Members only.
Quick Rundown on Prospects 6 – 21
- 6. Seth Blair | RHP | Age – 22 | Grade – B- … See his in-depth report below
- 7. Oscar Taveras | OF | Age – 18 | Grade – B- … Intriguing talent who can definitely hit, but plate discipline is a concern.
- 8. Jordan Swagerty | RHP | Age – 21 | Grade – B- … One of my favorite pitchers from the 2010 draft class. Could move quickly.
- 9. Eduardo Sanchez | RHP | Age – 22 | Grade – B- … One of the Cardinals’ best arms. Potential closer, but slider consistency and fastball command need improvement.
- 10. Joe Kelly | RHP | Age – 22 | Grade – B- … Click here for a pitch-by-pitch breakdown of Kelly, who started last year, but projects to be a reliever at the big league level.
- 11. Matt Carpenter | 3b | Age – 25 | Grade – B- … Good enough to beat out David Freese for an everyday job down the line, but will still have Zack Cox to compete with. Could be trade bait, but he’s athletic enough to play the outfield, making him a candidate for a four-corners utility role.
- 12. Adron Chambers | OF | Age – 24 | Grade – C+ … Pesky and athletic, profiles as a fourth outfielder.
- 13. Daniel Descalso | UTI | Age – 24 | Grade – C+ … Versatility makes him an ideal utility guy off the bench.
- 14. Cody Stanley | C | Age – 22 | Grade – C+ … Good ways away from being Major League ready, but has a solid around game, especially for a catcher that makes him interesting.
- 15. Daryl Jones | OF | Age – 23 | Grade – C+ … More and more, that breakout 2008 season is looking more like a fluke. Upside is still there, but he’s looking more and more like a fourth outfielder.
- 16. Casey Mulligan | RHP | Age – 23 | Grade – C+ … Outstanding in the Florida State League, but ran into some bumps in Double-A. I like him as a potential 7th inning reliever.
- 17. Nick Longmire | OF | Age – 22 | Grade – C+ … Haven’t gotten to see much of Longmire, so I’m ranking on the cautious side. Has a solid all around game that makes him appealing.
- 18. John Gast | LHP | Age – 22 | Grade – C+ … College numbers are kinda mediocre, but he has good stuff overall.
- 19. Adam Reifer | RHP | Age – 24 | Grade – C+ … Has a big fastball, but needs another pitch to go with it.
- 20. Matt Adams | 1b | Age – 22 | Grade – C+ … He can rake, but as a first baseman only, his value suffers. Needs to walk more as well.
- 21. Mark Hamilton | 1b | Age – 26 | Grade – C+ … Simply no room for him in St. Louis with Albert Pujols in his path and I’m not sure playing the outfield is going to work out. He’s put up big numbers, so he deserves a chance, but it’s likely going to be with another organization.
- HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order) – Deryk Hooker (RHP) | Scott Gorgen (RHP) | Steven Hill (C/1b) | Tony Cruz (C) | Niko Vazquez (INF) | Bryan Martinez (RHP) | Aaron Luna (LF) | Keith Butler (RHP) | Tyler Lyons (LHP) | Donovan Solano (2b) | Scott Schneider (RHP) | Boone Whiting (RHP) | Dean Kiekhefer (LHP) | Tyler Henley (OF) | Peter Kozma (SS) | Francisco Samuel (RHP) | Bryan Anderson (C) | Cesar Aguilar (RHP) | Colin Walsh (2b) | Roberto De La Cruz (3b) | David Kopp (RHP) | Arquimedes Nieto (RHP) | Blake King (RHP) | Nick Additon (LHP) | Tommy Pham (OF) | Hector Hernandez (LHP) | Maikel Cleto (RHP) | Justin Wright (LHP) | Daniel Bibona (LHP) | Richard Mendoza (RHP ) | Victor Sanchez (1b)
- *Jaime Garcia, David Freese, Jon Jay, Fernando Salas, and Allen Craig are no longer considered prospects based on the criteria set forth for these lists.
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Fastball – 55 Now | 55 Future
Slurve – 50 | 55
Curveball – 45 | 50
Change-Up – 55 | 60
Control – 50 | 60
Command – 50 | 55
Pitchability – 50 | 60
ETA – 2013
Final Grade – B-
Body Type – Undersized, but very athletic.
Fastball – Velocity covers a wide spectrum, getting as high 98, or touching as low as 89. He’s typically in the lower end of that spectrum, in the 90 – 93 mph range. The pitch has great tailing action to go along with some sink as well. The tailing action is not surprising considering Blair’s arm action. It’s a long, somewhat loopy arm action that produces natural tail — think Dan Hudson, but not as extreme.
Change-Up – A sometimes plus pitch, it’s a perfect complement to Blair’s fastball. The same arm speed, the arm slot, the same action, the same movement — the change-up looks just like the fastball out of his hand, only it’s 8 – 12 mph slower and it will drop off the table as it approaches home plate. Below you can see his fastball on the left and his change-up on the right:
*Credit to the MLB Scouting Bureau
Slurve – Not a traditional curve, but a cross between a curveball and slider. The pitch will flash plus, but he needs to get more consistent depth on the pitch. Clocked in the high 70′s and low 80′s, the pitch is effective against right handers because it comes out headed directly toward the right hand batter’s box before breaking back over the plate. He’s shown an ability to backdoor the pitch and throw it for strikes when he needs to.
Curveball – More traditional breaking ball with a big up and down break. It’s slower than his slurve and offers a nice change-of-pace pitch for Blair.
Seth Blair was the first of two Arizona State pitchers drafted by the Cardinals in the 2010 draft. Blair is sometimes compared to Mike Leake, who the Cincinnati Reds drafted with the 9th pick of the 2009 draft.
The Leake comparison is made mainly because both attended ASU and are undersized as pitchers. But there are some distinct differences between the two. For starters, Blair has a more explosive fastball, but lags behind Leake on the secondary pitches. Leake was also a model of consistency on the mound, while Blair’s stuff can be hit-or-miss at times. While both are very good strike throwers, Leake had precise command, something Blair doesn’t exhibit at this point in time. And while both have a deep repertoire of pitches, Leake goes a pitch or two deeper.
Mechanically, while both pitchers use different means to get there, they share a lot of the tenants I look for mechanically. They both have fast tempos, and move quickly through their delivery. They both use mechanics that are compact and centered around their core — deliveries I feel are more repeatable in general. They both have advanced front side mechanics, though I think Leake grades out a bit better in that area.
What I like specifically about Blair’s delivery is how rhythmic the delivery is. You see how he steps into his leg kick, which gets momentum building toward home plate early. He takes his hands over his head and brings them together with his front leg, again around his core. He bends over a little at the waist as he strides forward and in an effort to add some torque to his delivery, pops into a more upright position before the front foot lands. There are no noticeable hitches in Blair’s delivery.
*Credit to rkyosh007
As I said earlier, Blair’s arm action is on the long side. It’s got a loopy-like quality to hit, not too different from what Dan Hudson does. The arm action is I believe a driving force behind the amount of tail he gets on his fastball.
Blair uses a low 3/4 arm slot, which concerns some scouts because lefties have an easier time picking up the ball out of his hand. This concern played out in his splits last year at ASU:
vs. RH – 9.9 K/9, 1.1 W/9, .6 HR/9, .259/.308/.373/.681
vs. LH – 8.5 K/9, 4 W/9, 1.9 HR/9, .267/.345/.473/.818
His performance against lefties will likely involve a combination of improving his command, improving the consistency of his secondary pitches, and adding a little more deception in his delivery.
I suspect Blair will start next season in Single-A Quad Cities, but he could earn a promotion to Palm Beach if he gets off to a quick start.
Best Case Outcome – No. 3 starter
More Likely Outcome – Back of the rotation starter…worst case scenario is he’s a right handed specialist out of the bullpen.
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