St. Louis Cardinals Top 5

October 2, 2007

While St. Louis has its fair share of potential big leaguers, the organization doesn't have many potential stars outside of Colby Rasmus. After falling to the Cardinals 28th overall in 2005, Rasmus is already looking like a steal. But given that it hasn't had a top 15 overall pick for seven years, it's hard to fault St. Louis for not having more top-tier minor league talent. The Cardinals own the 13th overall pick in the 2008 Draft, so expect another big chip to be added to this system next June.

Our Top 5 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects at the end of the 2007 Season
No.   Player   Pos   Notes   Age   Level
1   Colby Rasmus   CF   Elite power hitter with good strike-zone judgement, speed, and solid defense 21   AA
2   Jaime Garcia   LHP   Ground-ball pitcher w/ the stuff to pitch in the bigs; sidelined by elbow injury   21   AA
3   Bryan Anderson   C   Average defender with the potential to be an above-average big league bat   20   AA
4   Adam Ottavino   RHP   06 1st rounder who only K'd 2.03 as many batters as he walked in High-A   21   A+
5   Tyler Herron   RHP   Doesn't have the ceiling of Ottavino; averaged 5.00 K for every BB in Low-A   21   A
* Ages are as of 10/2/07
** Level is the highest level the player has reached
*** Our rankings combine a player's ceiling with the odds that he'll reach it and favor recent production
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1. Colby Rasmus, CF (8/11/86)

One of the top prospects in the minors, Rasmus can simply do it all on the field. In the outfield Rasmus was rated the best defensive outfielder, best outfield arm, and most exciting player in Double-A by Baseball America. At the plate his power continues to come as he posted a .276 ISOP this season, which was good for the best in the Texas League and second in all of Double-A. He has the speed on the base paths to average over 20 stolen bases a season in the big leagues. Rasmus also posted a very encouraging .299 BABIP and 23% line drive rate, which essentially means this season was very real, as he was not lucky when hitting the ball in play and hit the ball hard. Look for the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder to be in St. Louis by the end of next June. Triple-A shouldn't be able to hold him for too long.

2. Jaime Garcia, LHP (7/8/86)

The lefty who busted onto the scene as a 22nd rounder in the 2005 draft has been shutdown since July 18th with soreness in his pitching elbow. The Cardinals are hoping the injury heals on its own, but if not Garcia may need surgery and may miss the entire 2008 season. Garcia features a fastball that can get up to 94 MPH, while he sits in the low-90's with sinking action. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder also throws a curveball and a changeup - the curveball has been said to be a plus plus pitch. The sinking action on his fastball is what helps him induce all the groundballs he gets, and he is one of the better groundball pitching prospects in the minors. While getting groundballs, he also strikes out a good amount: He was third in the Texas League in a K% of 22.0 (minimum of 80 IP).

3. Bryan Anderson, C (12/18/86)

tarting the season as the second youngest player in all of Double-A, Anderson outright skipped High-A. He started the season very hot but cooled down as the season ended. Anderson hits the ball hard - evidenced by his 21% LD rate - but doesn't have much power to speak of. Although he doubled his home run total this season, he had 13 fewer extra base hits this season than last (in 8 more at-bats). Anderson allows more passed balls then he should and doesn't really throw out a great percentage of base runners, 27% (Double-A average was 32.5%), despite having a strong and accurate arm. But his defense is at least average. All in all the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder is a very nice prospect, and a strong bet to crack our Top 5 catching prospect list later this offseason.

4. Adam Ottavino, RHP (11/22/85)

The Cardinals 1st round pick in 2006, Ottavino has at times had trouble with his control. But he can light up the gun to about 98 MPH and sits at 92-95 with his fastball. He has somewhat inconsistent secondary pitches but his slider can be a plus plus pitch at times. Some people think if he cleaned up his mechanics it would help out his control, and he could realize his potential as a No. 2 starter. The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder struck out 20.6% of the batters he faced this season in the Florida State League.

5. Tyler Herron, RHP (8/5/86)
The Cardinals 2005 supplemental 1st round pick, Herron had a breakout season. And he didn't start pitching until his senior season in high school so he is still learning how to pitch. Herron throws a fastball that sits in the low 90's. His curveball and changeup should become at least average pitches and could develop into above-average offerings. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder has excellent control and command of his pitches. The only reason Ottavino is higher on this list is because he has a higher ceiling. Herron may never become a top-of-the-rotation guy, but he could very well become a nice middle-of-the-rotation starter, which is quite valuable too.

Honorable Mentions

Coming into the season few had heard of Jose Martinez, but after initially struggling in High-A he got the call up to Double-A to replace the injured Tyler Greene and he hasn't looked back since. Martinez has a lot of pop in his bat for a shortstop; he just doesn't walk a lot, but he rarely strikes out either. Martinez is also a very nice defensive shortstop. Chris Perez, the Cardinals hopeful future closer has a deadly fastball-slider combo but has had control problems. Perez would be ranked higher but it comes down to him being a reliever and not being as valuable as a starter. Pete Kozma, the Cardinals 1st round pick in 2007, has had mixed opinions so far but he has solid and fundamental tools across the board. Clayton Mortensen, the Cardinals 2007 supplemental 1st rounder, started off his professional debut the right way. Despite not having great college numbers, the Cardinals saw projection in him and he is the Cardinals type of pitcher - pitches to contact and down in the zone.

Sean Halloran can be reached at