With spring training beginning to wind down, the Cardinals have had a chance to get a good look at the future. The Cardinals have been labeled as having the best farm system in baseball, according to Keith Law of ESPN. (Insider Required)
Here is a look at five of the Cardinals' top prospects and what they have done thus far in spring training.
1. Michael Wacha
Since being the Cardinals' first-round draft pick in 2012, Wacha has done nothing but impress. He cruised through three levels of the minor leagues in 2012, ending his season in Double-A Springfield. He posted a combined 0.86 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 21 innings in 2012.
Wacha has continued to impress as he faces major league competition in spring training. In his appearances this spring, Wacha hasn't allowed an earned run in 9.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 13 and batters are only hitting .167 against him this spring.
With such a small minor league pedigree to his name, Wacha will almost certainly start his season in the minor leagues. But if nothing else, Wacha has given Cardinal fans something to yearn for in the very near future.
2. Oscar Taveras
When someone compares you to Albert Pujols, as Taveras has been, the pressure to perform has got to be a difficult burden to bear.
But Taveras hasn't seemed bothered by the expectation to perform. He has blistered the ball the minor leagues and is doing his best to make the Opening Day roster of the Cardinals.
Taveras has two home runs, a grand slam included, and nine RBI in his 11 spring training games. He is also batting .286 in his 35 at-bats.
With Shane Robinson giving Taveras all he can handle in the chase for the fourth outfielder spot, it'll be fun to watch the last few weeks of spring training to see where Taveras starts the season. That said, it should not surprise anyone to see Taveras on the team when the Cardinals break camp in late March.
3. Kolten Wong
With Matt Carpenter getting close to assuming the everyday role at second base for 2013, Kolten Wong will most likely find himself at Triple-A Memphis to start this season.
Wong has hit well in spring training, posting a .333 average with a home run and three RBI in his 18 at-bats. But with his highest level of experience completed being Double-A Springfield, Wong could stand to benefit with a full season at the Triple-A level.
He has shown consistency at the plate at the minor league level and at spring training this year. So, it shouldn't be too long until Wong is manning second base for the Cardinals on a regular basis.
4. Shelby Miller
As Shelby Miller continues to audition for the fifth spot in the Cardinals rotation, he hasn't answered the bell fully.
Granted, there hasn't been a huge sample size to analyze, but Miller has a 5.40 ERA in his five innings pitched thus far. To his credit, he does have four strikeouts in those five innings. In his start against the Nationals last Friday, Miller showed flashes of his potential.
I watched as he blew Bryce Harper away with a runner on third and one out with a high-90s fastball. He showed no fear and has the confidence needed to be a big league pitcher. That is what Cardinal fans are hoping will be a regular occurrence when Miller hits the mound for the Cardinals.
No doubt Miller will get another start or two before the spring is out. Hopefully he will tune up his stuff and make the decision for Cardinals' Mike Matheny a lot easier when it comes to naming a fifth starter.
5. Trevor Rosenthal
Now that his fate has been determined, Trevor Rosenthal can concentrate on his new role as a member of the bullpen.
Until his performance on Sunday, Rosenthal hadn't pitched well. He has allowed five earned runs and nine hits while posting a 5.63 ERA in his eight innings pitched this spring.
But with Sunday's encouraging performance and his role settled, I expect big things this season from Rosenthal. With Rosenthal in the seventh, Boggs in the eighth and Motte to close the door in the ninth, the bullpen should be a strength this season for the Cardinals.