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St. Louis Cardinals Prospects: B/R's Top 15 Breakdown, Post 2013 Draft

Kelsey Shea WeinrichContributor IJune 10, 2013

St. Louis Cardinals Prospects: B/R's Top 15 Breakdown, Post 2013 Draft

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    Across the globe, fathers love to play catch with their sons secretly hoping that one day they'll get to see their family name in the big leagues. For a handful of fathers, that dream came true this past weekend.

    The 2013 MLB draft has given new meaning to the game of baseball for a fresh crop of talent who will now get paid to play it.

    Some franchises are walking away happy, and it is my understanding that the St. Louis Cardinals belong to that category—having been proclaimed one of the "winners" of the draft. So now that there are some new "baby birds," how does this shake up the top-prospect list?

    Of course, we have limited knowledge of the newbies—simply what they've done in their high school and college careers. And, unfortunately, I don't get to watch too many minor league games. But I've attempted to reorganize the Cardinals top 15 prospects based upon the statistics and scouting reports I've found, as well as the rate at which I think they might rise through the minors.

    Without further ado, here is the new breakdown of the top 15 prospects.

    *All stats are current on MLB.com as of June 10, 2013*

15. Oscar Mercado

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    Signed: 2013

    Position: SS

    Current Team: Yet to Receive Assignment

    The Cardinals were pleasantly surprised to find Mercado, an 18-year-old out of high school, still available when it came time to make the 57th pick overall of this year's draft.

    According to MLB.com, the franchise's scouting director, Dan Kantrovitz, describes him as "fluid" with an "above average" arm and "slick" hands. His numbers dropped a bit in his senior year, but he had an outstanding junior year with a .370 batting average and 12 stolen bases.

    He's not expected to speed through the system. He's going to develop over time and the Cardinals are ready to begin grooming him. But he has the ability to be an elite shortstop for the club in the future.

14. Charlie Tilson

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    Signed: 2011

    Position: OF

    Current Team: Peoria Chiefs (A)

    Tilson was drafted out of high school for his strong bat, and he has yet to hit his stride. He played in just eight games in 2011 before being sidelined in 2012 due to shoulder surgery.

    A lefty, he has a line-drive approach without much power, but with some pop. He has decent speed in the outfield and a developing arm. So far in 2013, he's hitting .294. He's sure to rise through the ranks fairly soon.

    We're just getting our first real look at what Tilson can do over the course of a season and so far, it's exciting.

13. Carson Kelly

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    Signed: 2012

    Position: 3B

    Current Team: Peoria Chiefs (A)

    Kelly was one of the elite draft picks of 2012 with teams looking at him as both a hitter and pitcher. The Cardinals were able to keep him from going to the University of Oregon with an eye on his bat.

    His strength is his power. He might not always be consistent—he's currently hitting just .219—but when he connects, the ball can go far. He'll be an adequate defender at third.

    His MLB.com profile claims his ETA in the majors is 2016. He's still got some work to do, but he should be a nice addition to the lineup in the next few years.

12. James Ramsey

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    Signed: 2012

    Position: OF

    Current Team: Springfield Cardinals (AA)

    Ramsey was a top draft prospect in 2012 coming out of a great program in Florida State. And he's moving through the minors quickly.

    He has a great left-handed bat with above average speed. His .316 average in Palm Beach this year led to his move to Springfield. There he's hitting a less impressive .229, but he's sure to continue to excel. He's a base-stealing threat, and a solid outfielder with a good arm.

    It won't be much longer before he continues to speed through the minors and finds himself in St. Louis.

11. Jordan Swagerty

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    Signed: 2010

    Position: RHP

    Current Team: Springfield Cardinals (AA)

    Swagerty was moving through the system quickly, potentially looking at a 2012 major league debut when Tommy John surgery shut him down. According to his personal blog, his recent return to the mound "wasn't as sharp as (he) would have to liked to have been," but it is a step in the right direction nonetheless.

    He should be picking up where he left off, which means the team deciding whether he's a starter or reliever. A successful closer in college, he might soon find himself in the rotation due to his four good pitches. In 2011, he had a 1.83 ERA spanning three teams: Single-A Quad City, High-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield.

    It remains to be seen whether he will make a successful comeback. But, if his past is any indicator, we might be seeing him debut sooner rather than later.

10. Rob Kaminsky

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    Signed: 2013

    Position: LHP

    Current Team: Yet to Receive Assignment

    Kaminsky was one of the top high school lefties available in this year's draft. He went to the Cardinals with the 28th overall selection in the first round.

    His fastball sits between 90 and 94 miles per hour. But perhaps most impressive is that he threw seven no-hitters in his high school career. A recent article from New York Daily News compared him to the Dodger great Sandy Koufax.

    He has committed to University of North Carolina but is expected to forgo the opportunity and join the Cardinals organization. He is sure to be a significant prospect to watch.

9. Michael Blazek

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    Signed: 2007

    Position: RHP

    Current Team: Memphis Redbirds (AAA)

    When prospect John Gast had to leave a start due to shoulder tightness, he was put on the 15-day disabled list and it was Blazek who got the call. However, he has yet to make his debut, getting sent back down without an appearance to make room for starter Michael Wacha.

    Originally a starter, he was moved to the bullpen in 2012, and his fastball excelled at 95 miles per hour. In the minors this year, he has an impressive 0.73 ERA that spans both Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis.

    He's put in the hard work, and I'm sure that the next time he gets called up, he'll stay.

8. Seth Maness

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    Signed: 2012

    Position: RHP

    Current Team: St. Louis Cardinals

    The early 2013 bullpen struggles of the Cardinals spawned the need to shake things up. Lefty Marc Rzepczynski was sent down and Seth Maness was called up.

    He has quickly earned the nickname "vulture" due to his ability to swoop in and get ground-ball outs, picking up four wins in 17 appearances so far. His 90 mile per hour fastball has some sink, and he also has an adequate changeup. Most of all, he throws strikes and has good command.

    It's difficult to think of him moving from the spot in the bullpen at which he's excelled lately. But he could potentially be a number four or five starter in the future.

7. Marco Gonzales

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    Signed: 2013

    Position: LHP

    Current Team: Yet to Receive Assignment

    Prior to this year's draft, Gonzales was ranked by MLB.com as the 14th best player available. The Cardinals were more than happy to nab him in the first round.

    As a junior this year at Gonzaga University, he led the team with 106 innings pitched, and he finished with a 2.80 ERA and 7-3 record. He even pitched two shutouts and had a .311 batting average. According to MLB.com, his pitcher's arsenal includes a fastball in the low 90s, a slider and an advanced changeup.

    He's expected to have a Michael Wacha-like rise through the system, meaning we could be seeing him in the majors in 2014 or 2015. We have yet to see him pitch in a Cardinals-affiliate uniform, but there's a lot to be excited about.

6. Tyrell Jenkins

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    Signed: 2010

    Position: RHP

    Current Team: Peoria Chiefs (A)

    A highly-ranked prospect on most lists, Jenkins has the makings of a great starter. But he's taking his time to develop and hasn't had the best season so far.

    In Peoria, he currently holds a 4.74 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. His issue may be control, but his pitches are promising—a 96 mile per hour fastball with some life, a hard downer curve and a changeup.

    The organization has monitored him closely, so it's clear there are big plans for him in the future. With a bit more development, he'll be a part of the Cardinals' "pitching factory" that has recently taken baseball by storm.

5. John Gast

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    Signed: 2010

    Position: LHP

    Current Team: St. Louis Cardinals (DL)

    When Jake Westbrook went on the DL this year due to elbow inflammation, it was John Gast who was called up, leading the parade of Cardinals pitching prospects stunning the baseball world.

    In his first two starts, he went 2-0 with a 5.11 ERA and eight strikeouts. His major league numbers may leave something to be desired so far, but that is to be expected of a newcomer. Not to mention the fact that his deceptive changeup and status as a lefty make him valuable.

    He was, unfortunately, pulled from his third start and put on the 15-day DL with shoulder tightness. We'll see what will become of him once he heals.

4. Carlos Martinez

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    Signed: 2010

    Position: RHP

    Current Team: Memphis Redbirds (AAA)

    The electric pitcher had been waiting for a chance to show his stuff in the majors when reliever Mitchell Boggs provided him just the opportunity. The struggling Boggs was sent down to the minors, allowing Martinez to pitch his first eight innings in the majors.

    He came out of the experience with a 4.50 ERA and nine strikeouts. He has a fastball averaging 96 miles per hour, and his small frame causes most to think he's suitable for the bullpen. However, if he shows more durability, he might have the right stuff to pitch in a rotation.

    He currently finds himself back in the minors, helping out Memphis. But I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in St. Louis before the end of the season.

3. Kolten Wong

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    Signed: 2011

    Position: 2B

    Current Team: Memphis Redbirds (AAA)

    Throughout spring training in 2013, the Cardinals had one infield position battle, and that was for second base. Wong was in the mix, but Matt Carpenter's proven success in the majors won out, and he currently has a breakout year to show for it.

    That being said, Wong won't be kept out of Busch Stadium for long. He's an aggressive hitter who makes hard contact and can also field well. He has a surprising amount of power for his size.

    If there's one problem that's good to have, it's too much talent. The Cardinals might have to do some reorganizing in order to get Wong the big league debut and playing time he deserves, but it'll happen.

2. Michael Wacha

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    Signed: 2012

    Position: RHP

    Current Team: St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

    It remains to be seen as to how long Wacha will remain on the Cardinals big league roster once Jake Westbrook returns in the coming days. He could be a valuable asset to a sometimes shaky bullpen. But for now, let's look at his two starts:

    After a quick rise through the minors, Wacha took the mound to face the Kansas City Royals and pitched a stellar seven innings—only giving up two hits and one run. However, the lead was spoiled by the bullpen, and he still hasn't seen his first major league win. His second start wasn't quite as spotless, as he gave up six runs on 10 hits.

    Nonetheless, he has garnered attention with his 94 mph fastball and his 6'6" size. His first spring training showed traces of greatness, and we're likely to be cheering his name at Busch Stadium for years to come.

1. Oscar Taveras

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    Signed: 2008

    Position: OF

    Current Team: Memphis Redbirds (AAA)

    Yes, Taveras is the number three prospect in all of baseball. So how could I not put him at number one for the Redbirds?

    His MLB.com scouting report states that he is "next in line" to the Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina throne in St. Louis. And, with a .315 average and 20 RBI so far in 2013, I have reason to believe he's on his way. He rarely strikes out and is a consistent thorn in a pitcher's side.

    He's sure to find himself in the show sooner rather than later if for no other reason than the fact that his bat is undeniably valuable.

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