I can't help it guys.
With all the new, young talent on the rise for the St. Louis Cardinals franchise, I decided to write an article about the young guns on this team for what feels like the billionth time.
But this time I'm gonna do it in one quick swoop.
I've projected the Cardinals lineup five seasons from now, using only homegrown talent that, given their current statuses, should be playing in the bigs at the time. After the name of the player, I gave their current age, and their age in 2013. So here we go.
Catcher- Yadier Molina (26, 31)/Bryan Anderson (22, 27): I'm not sure how this one is going to play out, and quite frankly, it doesn't appear that Cardinals management has a clue either. They claim Anderson will "platoon" and the two will share time, insisting that a position switch is not in order.
Regardless, the Cardinals will end up with a hoss of a backstopper. Molina is incredible defensively and is constantly improving at both. While Anderson isn't the remarkable defender that Yadi is, he's still above average, and a very good hitter as well.
First base- Albert Pujols (28, 33): Maybe the rest of the National League forgot, but El Hombre is just 28. He'll be around in five years. Probably ten years too. To opposing pitchers—have fun with that.
Second base- Brendan Ryan (26, 31): Why do I like Ryan so much? I don't know. Shut up. I just do.
He's got the measureables, he's fun to watch, and I like his stirrups.
The Cards also don't have a prospect at 2B in the whole system that projects better than Ryan is now. Jarrett Hoffpauir looks like he'll never be a starter in the MLB.
Third base- Brett Wallace (22, 27): The Redbirds' 2008 first-round pick is basically Troy Glaus a long time ago. He's got a huge bat. He's a huge guy. He plays third base decently, and has the mobility of a turtle.
Although fielding will most likely be a liability, if he follows scouts projections and receives some decent coaching (along with a good workout plan), he'll grow into a big-league body and become a good player.
Shortstop- Pete Kozma (20, 25): He's definitly green, but Kozma has justified his number one pick status thus far. He's hitting around .280 at Single A this year, but coaches love his intangibles, and he's still growing and maturing. He should give the Cardinals their first most talented SS since Edgar Renteria.
Left field- Darryl Jones (20, 25): Hitting almost .300 at High-A right now five homers and nine steals. He's probably the best athlete in the Cards' farm system, and you might see him manning the Busch Stadium outfield in the next few years.
Center field- Colby Rasmus (21, 26): He's the club's most hyped prospect since J.D. Drew. Although he struggled early at Triple-A this year, Rasmus has leveled his average up to a semi-respectable .220ish. He'll definitely come around, but God forbid, he might be able to legally drink when he does it. Relax fans, he'll be a star.
Right field- Shane Robinson (24, 29): Who? I know most people don't know of him, but former FSU outfielder Shane Robinson is blasting Double-A pitching at a .377 clip as of June 10th. He doesn't have great power, but has decent speed and good plate discipline. Possibly a younger Skip Schumaker clone.
1. Adam Wainwright (27, 32): He reminds a lot of people as a young Chris Carpenter. He's poised, confident, and most importantly, Wainwright pitches intelligently. He'll be a staple in the rotation for a decade.
2. Jaime Garcia (22, 27): He's got a good, heavy, sinking fastball, and a very good curveball already. Currently pitching well in Memphis, he'd be in the rotation for a weaker team desperate for a young spark (the Dodgers, the Reds). He's a canidate to start the season in the rotation for the Cardinals in 2009.
3. Jess Todd (22, 27): I understand that some Cards fans haven't heard of Todd, and if so, you should be ashamed of yourself. He has only made six or seven starts at the Double-A level, but had an ERA of 1.00 as of a couple days ago. He's got three to four good pitches, and has made enormous leaps in growth this year.
4. Kyle McClellan (24, 29): He hasn't started full-time in quite awhile, but I'm almost sure he'll still be on the club in one form or another in 2013. Regardless, he'll be valuable in the rotation or in the 'pen. He's got four good pitches, led by his mid-90s fastball and impressive curveball.
5. Clayton Mortensen (23, 28): The Cards second-round pick from 2007 is pitching well in Double-A, and impressed in spring training this year, where he had a chance to make the big league club. He's got three decent pitches (fastball, slider, change), but nothing extraordinary. A definite canidate to start in the future.
Closer- Chris Perez (22, 27): In his brief stint with the club this year, he's shown his wicked stuff. And his command is definitely improving. Plus, he's got that killer mentality. He wants the ball during a crucial at-bat. He'll be in the Busch Stadium bullpen for a long time.
There are plenty of prospects that I didn't even mention in this article. How about Mitchell Boggs, who is only 24, and just made his first impressive major-league start? Or Mark Worrell, who's started his career with three scoreless frames? Names like P.J. Walter, Fernando Salas, David Freese, etc. also bring intrigue.
Regardless of who ends up on the club in five years, or even in the more immediate future, the bottom line is that the club finally has some prizes to work with in the trading market, and also won't have to rely on ridiculously priced free agents