The United Cardinal Bloggers are back, and this time, we’re looking at the system’s top prospects. Each of the participating blogs are weighing in on what they believe to be the seven highest ranking youngsters. Here’s my take:
1. Colby Rasmus
I’d be surprised to see Rasmus anywhere but the top spot on these lists. Despite having a rough season for AAA Memphis, he was still ranked among the top prospects in baseball at midseason by Baseball America. He’s considered a five-tool player at a premium position, and we Cardinal fans haven’t anticipated a rookie’s arrival like this in a while.
Rasmus has been known to struggle for a short period following each promotion, and that certainly was the case this season. Unfortunately, his injury kept us from seeing him bust the slump. Depending on what the Cardinals do with their glut of outfielders this winter, Rasmus’ arrival may have to wait even longer. Either way, he’ll be a great major leaguer.
2. Chris Perez
We’ve all seen enough of Perez to be excited about the back end of the bullpen once again. His high nineties fastball and plus slider can make a deadly combination, and it’s nice to see Tony La Russa finally trusting the kid to get the job done.
I’ve got to be honest here. I haven’t seen this kid at all, and aside from a couple of swings I found on Youtube, I don’t know anything about his play. So, I have to stick to the stats on this one. Wallace is a big time hitter, we know that from his peripherals from college. He burst onto the Cardinal map with his very first professional game for Quad Cities. His jump to AA Springfield clearly shows that he’s on the fast track, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a September call-up next season. If we compiled another one of these lists next year, Wallace’s name would be at the top.
Good hitting catchers don’t grow on trees, so the Cardinals are lucky to have one. Anderson was raking for Springfield before cooling off late in the year for Memphis, but he can still hit. I think his defense is improved, and will only get better with time (and some more tutoring from Mike Matheny). I’d think Anderson would be ranked higher for other teams, but the Cardinals already have one of the best catchers in the league, and it’s not like he’s nearing retirement. I look for Anderson to be playing another full season in AAA before he can break camp with the Cards. On the other hand, he’s probably one of the club’s best trading chips.
5. Jason Motte
After seeing his major league debut, I was sold. Motte throws very hard, and is quite capable of handling big league hitters. He still has a lot of work to do with his secondary pitches, but remember, he’s only been pitching for a couple of years. With time, Motte will be deadly. I’m already envisioning a late inning trio of Kyle McClellan, Motte, and Perez. Exciting!
6. Jaime Garcia
I was considering leaving Garcia off this list because of his injury. We won’t see him pitch again for a year, and chances are, he could get passed by other arms by then. But, because he’s so young, it’s easy to still envision him competing for a spot in the rotation down the line. Aside from a couple of bad outings, I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from Garcia, and he gets bonus points for being a southpaw.
7. Daryl Jones
Jones has figured it out, and put together a great ’08 campaign. He was hitting .326 in 87 games for Palm Beach before his promotion to Springfield, where he hit .290. He’s still only twenty-one years old, and now has the confidence with something to build on. I’m sure we’ll be talking a lot about Jones next year, when he’ll probably be ranked in the top three.
Since we’re stopping at seven, my honorable mentions would include Jess Todd, Jon Jay, and David Freese. With some hesitation, I’ll include Mitchell Boggs too, solely on his minor league resume.
Find the links to all the UCB prospect lists over at C70 at the Bat. You’re sure to see most of the same names, but likely in a completely different order. Check back for updates on this project in the near future.