St. Louis Cardinals
RHP Tyrell Jenkins–Jenkins ended up at #102 on my list. He’s got a very good arm and filled up the zone in his first year of pro ball, but he’s untested beyond the Appalachian League, he didn’t completely dominate even there (55 K in 56 IP, 3.86 ERA), and I have some concerns about his mechanics. Certainly a prospect to watch who could jump onto the list with a strong 2012 in Quad Cities.
2B Kolten Wong–The 22nd pick in the draft, Wong immediately went out and hit .335/.401/.510 with a 24/21 K/BB in 47 games in Low-A, so he’s about as “proven” as one could expect a 2011 draftee to be. He’s an undersized, non-projectable guy, though, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable ranking him all that far ahead of similar players like Sean Coyle and Taylor Lindsey until we see more of him.
2B/SS Greg Garcia–Here’s a guy you never hear about. Much like Darwin Perez of the Angels, Garcia is an underrated OBP-oriented middle infielder. He hit .290/.400/.419 in High-A at age 21 (in the FSL, no less), and is a sure-handed defender at second base who can also handle shortstop. However, neither his power nor his speed will excite anyone, so without any upper-minors experience, he can’t be taken that seriously for a top 100 list.
3B Zack Cox–Without an elite glove at third, it’s tough to be much of an impact player with little speed and a .126 ISO. Cox may become a decent starter, but he just doesn’t excite me at all.
1B Anthony Rizzo–The guy I’ve always compared Rizzo to is Adam LaRoche. He just screams “average first baseman” to me. He’s never slugged .500 anywhere but the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, which is a red flag, and I just don’t see what his elite offensive skill is. His approach is solid but not great, he has 20-25 homer power but not 40-homer power, and he’s a good first baseman, but he’s limited to that position. I didn’t have him on the list before 2011, and all the 2011 season told me was that he can hit well in an easy environment and can’t hit well in a difficult environment, at least not yet. We shouldn’t overreact to his MLB struggles, as he’s just 22 and now won’t have to deal with Petco Park, but we also shouldn’t put too much stock in his Triple-A production.
SS/3B Javier Baez–The top pick in the 2011 draft that was omitted from my list, Baez seemed like a fairly big step down from the top eight picks to me. In a lot of ways, I wonder if he’s destined to be similar to Cox–a third baseman with good contact skills but not huge power, speed, or defense. Like all the unproven draft picks, he could go any number of directions in 2012, and it’s certainly not hard to imagine him being a very strong prospect this time next year. We’ll see.
OF Matt Szczur–Szczur’s got an interesting background as a football guy, but he’s still quite raw as a baseball player. He makes some contact, plays defense, and runs well, and he’s not entirely punchless at the plate, but he rarely walks and doesn’t seem to have much of a feel for hard contact. I think the hype train is a bit too accelerated on this guy.
LHP Jeffry Antigua–Another one of these “numbers guys.” It’s not every day that a lefty who turns 21 midseason puts up an 81/18 K/BB in 83 High-A innings. Antigua has a history of strong strikeout-to-walk ratios, and he’s not without some stuff, but he’s never thrown 100+ innings in a season and has spent a lot of time in relief. A really interesting sleeper, but if somebody like Jenkins is off the list, Antigua has no business there.
OF Pin-Chieh Chen–Sort of a hitting version of Antigua–good stats, very young, but nothing dominant enough to merit much of a look for a top 100 list.
RHP Taylor Jungmann–The 12th overall pick in 2011, Jungmann’s a classic big power righty. He’ll be nearly 22 1/2 when he throws his first professional pitch this year, and he’ll need to move quickly. As you might expect, I’m reserving judgment.
LHP Jed Bradley–Picked three selections after Jungmann, I’m waiting for pro data on Bradley as well. Chances are, at least one of them throws well enough to land on the list next year.
RHP J.C. Sulbaran–Like Jenkins, Sulbaran was originally in the back end of the list. After all, a 155/50 K/BB in 137 High-A innings is impressive, and he’s got good stuff to back it up. But then you see he uncorked 21 wild pitches and hit 14 batters, and the drop in his BB/9 from 5.6 to 3.3 doesn’t look so impressive. He’s still too wild to be a high-impact player, and needs to work on his consistency.
SS Billy Hamilton–Yes, he stole 103 bases. He also has some semblance of the concept of a walk. Beyond that, there’s not much to Hamilton’s game right now. He’s an iffy shortstop who may end up at second, he strikes out too much, and he boasts little power. He has a lot more to prove, and I see him projecting as the infield version of Austin Jackson.
RHP Kyle Lotzkar–Lotzkar’s gone two years without major injuries and with solid results, but he’s being brought along very slowly and still has yet to throw even 70 innings in a season. He still has considerable upside if he can stay healthy, but there’s a long road to climb here, especially if he’s going to be a starter.
RHP Luis Heredia–August 10, 1994. That’s Luis Heredia’s birthday, and it makes him utterly impossible to evaluate. Reports on him are good, but he’s still very raw, and he didn’t do all that well in the GCL in his pro debut, but he was just 16. Obviously, he has top-20 upside, but if Michael Ynoa is a remotely instructive example, we shouldn’t assume Heredia turns into much of anything yet.
C Ramon Cabrera–Not just anyone hits .343/.410/.471 in the FSL at age 21; certainly, it’s rare to see that from a catcher. Unfortunately, Cabrera’s not much of a catcher, as he threw out an awful 13% of runners this year. A squat 5’7″ guy, he has little projectability, but he has an exceptional approach and feel for contact, so if his defense can approach average, he should be a solid starter. Still, he has a lot of work to do behind the plate.
OF Starling Marte–I just can’t ignore the 100/22 K/BB, and Marte’s already 23. He’s a solid center fielder with good speed and some pop, but I’d be surprised if he turns out considerably better than Jeff Francoeur.
Top 100 Prospects: 1B Jonathan Singleton (#65)
RHP Jarred Cosart–Given how difficult the jump to the big leagues is, I just find it hard to believe that a guy who struck out just 6.6 batters per nine innings in High-A and 5.4 in Double-A is going to manage above-average K rates in the big leagues. Yes, he’s young, throws hard, and snaps off a good curveball, but Cosart seems like the sort of guy who pitches well below his stuff. Between that and his mechanical concerns, he seems like a better fit as a closer.
OF George Springer–Another 2011 draftee I’m being conservative on, although he’s got great upside. He’s already 22, so his status will take a significant step backward if he doesn’t adjust to pro ball quickly.
OF Domingo Santana–Hit .287/.362/.471 in Low-A as an 18-year-old despite a poor K/BB ratio. Given his age relative to level and power potential, I actually like Santana over Marte in the battle of NL Central outfield prospects with poor approaches. Super small sample, but he did crush the ball and tighten up his K/BB in 17 games after the trade; always some suspicion that the new coaching staff immediately fixed something, a la Zack Wheeler‘s control problems suddenly vanishing with the Mets org. Obviously, though, Santana’s still got holes in his game, so he didn’t make the list.
RHP Michael Feliz–Only 11 months older than Heredia, Feliz performed significantly better in the GCL, with a 44/21 K/BB in 50 innings. He’s not as exciting from a scouting perspective, but is well ahead of the age curve and could be an interesting sleeper.
Topics: Adalberto Santos, Anthony Rizzo, Billy Hamilton, Domingo Santana, George Springer, Greg Garcia, J.C. Sulbaran, Jarred Cosart, Javier Baez, Jed Bradley, Jeffry Antigua, Kolten Wong, Kyle Lotzkar, Luis Heredia, Matt Szczur, Michael Feliz, Pin-Chieh Chen, Ramon Cabrera, Starling Marte, Taylor Jungmann, Tyrell Jenkins, Zack Cox