July 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; World outfielder Oscar Taveras drives in a run with a sacrifice fly during the third inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Cardinals Prospects: Three to watch

Let’s assume that Shelby Miller will start 2013 in the Cardinals rotation, thus essentially removing the prospect status and becoming a true blue big leaguer. Miller has been the one of the Cardinals top prospects since being drafted in 2009. With at least one opening in the 2013 rotation, now seems as good a time as any to cash in on that potential.

That leaves Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras as the Cardinals top prospects.

There has been much speculation that Wong and Taveras may break camp and come north with the Cardinals next year. Wong had a strong campaign in the Arizona Fall League this year. Add to that the uncertainty of Rafael Furcal‘s durability after the elbow injury last year. It was announced last week that he has been given the go ahead for a regular winter by team doctors. The roles of Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma are also up in the air. Both middle infielders leave much to be desired offensively.

That leaves much of the middle infield situation up to Wong and his spring production. I think if us bloggers had access to GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny that they would both give non-committal answers to Wong’s chances to make the club out of spring training. Both would likely say that they prefer to see how he handles AAA pitching and get him some further seasoning before bringing him up. It’s hard not to wonder though.

If I had to wager a guess, I would say that Wong starts the year with the AAA Memphis Redbirds, but he will get an extended spring look by Matheny and Co.

Taveras, who many are calling the best hitting prospect in the organization since Albert Pujols, has power that is hard to ignore. But his defense is just as highly regarded as his bat. The Cardinals are known to be looking for a fourth outfielder and Taveras may just fit the bill, while getting two or three starts a week to rest Carlos Beltran.

Of the two, I think that Wong is the more rounded hitter at this point, but Taveras fills more of a need on the Cardinals roster. Neither would get the playing time they need with the Cardinals, so I would have to concur with how Mozeliak and Matheny would have  hypothetically answered me if I were to ask if either would make the club this spring. Neither want to rule it out. They want to encourage competition, though they prefer to see how they can handle AAA before getting a call to “The Show”. Those are all the answers that I would expect them to have about the Cards top two prospects.

The third prospect, Kevin Siegrist, had a very solid fall in the AFL and has re-solidified his prospect status. So much that he was added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

Siegrist would fit the bill for a lefty out of the bullpen to complement Marc Rzepczynski. Siegrist is another Cardinal prospect, like Wong and Taveras, who has yet to play above the AA level. I think the jump from AA to the Cardinals is not as much of a stretch for a pitcher as much as it is for a hitter. The drawback to that, is that Siegrist only pitched eight games at the AA level after getting the promotion from High-A Palm Beach. He was solid after his promotion, going 1-2 with a 3.62 ERA.

The Cardinals organization is in very good shape for the future. These are just three of the names to watch when Spring Training gets underway in Jupiter, Florida in February.

Who do you think deserves an extended look this spring? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tags: St Louis Cardinals

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