Evaluating the Development of the St. Louis Cardinals' Top 5 Prospects

Kelsey Shea WeinrichContributor IAugust 15, 2013

Evaluating the Development of the St. Louis Cardinals' Top 5 Prospects

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    The St. Louis Cardinals have seen a lot of rookie names contribute to the team in 2013, and almost all have impressed. If, in October, fans have nothing else to take away from this year, they can be extremely excited about the future.

    So let's check in on the development of some of our best and brightest!

    I've taken a look at the team's top five prospects (according to MLB.com), including their career minor league statistics, scouting reports and traction through the system. Here's an evaluation of how they're doing.

    *All statistics are current on MiLB.com as of August 14, 2013*

5. John Gast, LHP

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    Current Team: Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A) (DL)

    Current MiLB Stats: 7 G, 7 GS, 1.16 ERA, 38.2 IP, 28 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 13 BB, 35 K

     

    Past MiLB Stats

    • 2010: 8 G, 6 GS, 1.54 ERA, 35.0 IP, 27 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 8 BB, 36 K
    • 2011: 26 G, 25 GS, 4.02 ERA, 161.1 IP, 165 H, 82 R, 72 ER, 61 BB, 113 K
    • 2012: 28 G, 28 GS, 4.09 ERA, 160.2 IP, 162 H, 82 R, 73 ER, 55 BB, 127 K

     A reliever in college, John Gast rose through the ranks as a starter in the Cardinals organization. But after a couple of breakout starts in the majors, he was pulled from his third and has since had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder.

    Gast will have to focus on his command when he returns in 2014. He has a deceptive changeup, a hard curve and a nice fastball. If he can get back into his former shape, he's looking at contributing to the major league club in a big way.

     

4. Kolten Wong, 2B

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    Current Team: Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A)

    Current MiLB Stats: 107 G, .303 BA, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB, .835 OPS

     

    Past MiLB Stats

    • 2011: 47 G, .335 BA, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 9 SB, .911 OPS
    • 2012: 126 G, .287 BA, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 21 SB, .754 OPS

    A product of the University of Hawaii, Wong got a ticket straight to Double-A upon being drafted, and he's been learning and progressing ever since. He's an aggressive hitter who doesn't often strike out, and he packs a decent amount of power into a small frame.

    Wong's future in St. Louis is unclear due to Matt Carpenter learning second base in order to get his bat in the lineup. Will Wong become trade bait? Will David Freese fall victim to a plot to get him to the majors? Or will he simply have to wait a little longer for his big shot?

    One thing's for sure: He'll excel when he gets that shot.

3. Carlos Martinez, RHP

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    Current Team: Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A)

    Current MiLB Stats: 14 G, 14 GS, 2.10 ERA, 68.2 IP, 56 H, 19 R, 16 ER, 24 BB, 57 K

     

    Past MiLB Stats

    • 2010: 12 G, 12 GS, 0.76 ERA, 59.0 IP, 28 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 14 BB, 78 K
    • 2011: 18 G, 18 GS, 3.93 ERA, 84.2 IP, 76 H, 41 R, 37 ER, 44 BB, 98 K
    • 2012: 22 G, 21 GS, 2.93 ERA, 104.1 IP, 91 H, 39 R, 34 ER, 32 BB, 92 K

    This undersized, electric righty has found himself compared to Pedro Martinez, so you know he's going places. Yes, Carlos Martinez has been turning heads, but his future role in the club is up for debate. Some question his durability and think he's better suited for the bullpen. But in the meantime, he's being groomed as a starter.

    Martinez has a fastball in the upper-90s and a stellar curve as well. He's made some appearances in the majors in 2013, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him contributing even more in this last stretch.

     

2. Michael Wacha, RHP

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    Current Team: St. Louis Cardinals

    Current MiLB Stats: 15 G, 15 GS, 2.65 ERA, 85 IP, 65 H, 26 R, 25 ER, 19 BB, 73 K

    Past MiLB Stats: 2012—11 G, 2 GS, 0.86 ERA, 21 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 40 K

    The fastest riser on this list, Wacha caught the eye of scouts early in his career. Less than a year after he signed, he had his first major league start.

    A tall right-hander, Wacha has a 94 mph fastball and good command, showing aggression on the mound. He's currently acting in a long relief role, having made his first appearance out of the bullpen on Wednesday. It's clear he's a future ace, but he looks to be a key piece in the last stretch of 2013 if the experiment succeeds.

1. Oscar Taveras, CF

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    Current Team: Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A)

    Current MiLB Stats: 47 G, .310 BA, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 5 SB, .819 OPS

     

    Past MiLB Stats

    • 2009: 65 G, .257 BA, 1 HR, 42 RBI, 9 SB, .731 OPS
    • 2010: 60 G, .303 BA, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 9 SB, .828 OPS
    • 2011: 78 G, .386 BA, 8 HR, 62 RBI, 1 SB, 1.028 OPS
    • 2012: 124 G, .321 BA, 23 HR, 94 RBI, 10 SB, .572 OPS

    Oscar Taveras is constantly named among the top prospects in all of baseball, so it's no surprise people are expecting him to be the next star of the Cardinals.

    As he rose through the minors, he hit at every level and displayed the utmost talent. He has impressive bat speed and, like Wong, doesn't strike out often. His dangerous status at the plate should get him into the major league lineup fairly soon.

    However, the outfielder has been having ankle issues and will undergo season-ending surgery next week, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. We should expect him in the majors at some point in 2014, but it's difficult to tell at what point in the year he might get the call.