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Cardinals on national mid-season prospect lists

On Thursday, two major national player raters released their updated mid-season prospect lists – Keith Law of ESPN (subscription) and John Sickels of They join two other such lists posted last week, from Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus (subscription).

Two St. Louis Cardinals players made all four lists, Oscar Taveras and Michael Wacha.

The Cards have just two players on Law’s new list, but before lighting the torches and sharpening the pitchforks, consider that there is a good reason. Carlos Martinez, his number 39 pre-season prospect, was deemed ineligible since the talented right-hander is currently in the majors.

Kolten Wong was Law’s 96th-ranked prospect this spring. Given the combination of newly-drafted players and Wong’s good-but-not-great first half, I can understand why the Memphis second baseman did not move up 50 or more places nationally.

Sickels has a slightly different viewpoint from the others. He places Martinez ahead of Wacha – with both in the top 20 nationally and Martinez in the top 10. In a fairly minor point, Sickels has Taveras at number four versus the second-place spot the currently-injured outfielder holds elsewhere.

Following is a summary of the four Cardinals placements on the four mid-season lists.

Site BA BP ESPN Minor Lg Ball
Rater Cooper Parks Law Sickels
# ranked Top 50 Top 50 Top 50 Top 75
Taveras 2 2 2 4
Wacha 12 21 32 17
Martinez 24 22 ineligible 9
Wong 47 34 NR 39

Please consider reading and subscribing where appropriate to the above sites to understand the details behind these placements and the remainder of their top prospect lists. There is always much more to rankings than just raw numbers.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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36 Responses to “Cardinals on national mid-season prospect lists”

  1. blingboy says:

    I cannot see how Taveras would not have dropped a bit. Not only has he been stalled due to injury, but his AAA production, while good, shows a substantial drop off from AA.

    Hopefully, his rehab goes well and he comes on strong, but that remains to be seen.

    • Brian Walton says:

      It all depends on how much weight you put on his first half. Usually, these rankings are looking at the long term.

      Remember that one year ago at about this time, Shelby Miller had a 6.00 ERA and was getting shelled at Memphis. I don’t recall if/how much his stock dropped on national lists, but I know some Cardinals fans were pushing for him to be traded.

  2. Bw52 says:

    Nice to see Cards prospects getting some props still.I see Salas got the recall.A resounding boo from me.

  3. crdswmn says:

    Would love to see a sociological study of the cause and effect of the increase in negativity proportional to the increased success of the team.

    • Brian Walton says:

      My guess is there is not more – it just stands out more for its inappropriateness.

      • blingboy says:

        Mediocrity stand out more on a successful team.

      • Bw52 says:

        What`s appropriate? Waiting for you or Cardswmn to speak your opinion? others havbe the right to speak a opinion.Perhaps some see Salas as another Boggs type situation and question his ability to get the job done right now.Not a witch hunt just a opinion.
        Could be that some see a weakness on the team and point that out.It sure happened that way with Wiggington.Why not Salas or Martinez?

        • Brian Walton says:

          In my opinion, it is about balance and the longer term view. Every single player will have a bad game now and then.

          Martinez had a 3.60 ERA before last night’s clunker and was pitching extremely well in Memphis before being called up and used sporadically. Calling for him to be sent down because of one bad game is knee-jerk overreaction, in my view. Some patience is required with young players.

          (P.S. Who would you add instead?)

          • Bw52 says:

            Martinez has been groomed to be a starter not the bullpen.Wouldn`t it be better for him to pitch in the role he is used to.Pitching regularly at AAA instead of the pen occaisionally in STLouis.
            As for another pitcher why not Sam Freeman? No law says can`t have 3 lH in the pen and Choate is pretty much a LOOGY anyway.

            • Brian Walton says:

              That is a different story. If one believes Martinez should be starting in Triple-A, that is different from him being perceived as unworthy of being in the major league pen because he had one bad game.

              Like Salas, Freeman has been very good at Memphis (after a terrible April). I have to leave it up to the coaches to assess whether St. Louis is better with Freeman or Martinez in their pen, though.

              On the starting side, the Cardinals also have Lyons and Wacha able to come up if a starter is needed. Then there is Carpenter in the wings. So keeping Martinez on starting readiness in Memphis may be considered less important right now than having him in the St. Louis pen.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    Salas was our closer, before Motte. We would never have won the World Series in 2011 without a great season from Salas.
    Early in 2013, Salas had a sore arm. He got to recuperate on the DL and we used him for a month at Memphis, to make sure he was sound. He pitched great for Memphis, so it was time to bring him back. He is not a head case like Mitch Boggs became. Salas was able to save a pile of games at the ML level, a corner Mitch never could turn. It makes sense to get the proven closer Salas back up to the majors and send down Butler and Blazek to gain experience at AAA. Salas can help out Mujica and Rosenthal, late in the game. He gives us another veteran for the stretch run.

    Wigginton was an overoptimistic decision by Mo last December. Wiggy’s best days are behind him. Matt Adams stepped up and hit well, adsorbing at bats that could have gone to Wigginton. Wiggy rotted on the bench and was rotten in the lineup. We finally did the right thing and gave him an all expenses paid trip to retirement.

    Its better to have Johnson. With the sweltering heat of summer here, Johnson can help Cruz give Molina games off. We have a ton of money invested in Molina and we need to protect our investment by having Yadier rest his knees, watching Cruz and Johnson.

    • Bw52 says:

      That`s all well and good if Salas regains the form he had a few years ago.Salas hasn`t been the same pitcher .I bet everybody would love for Salas to become a lights out bullpen contributor but I remain skeptical.

      • Brian Walton says:

        Salas was sent down and responded with a very good and consistent stretch in Memphis. Maybe that will carry over and maybe it won’t, but his results in Triple-A indicated he deserved another chance.

        Personally, I have no issue with him in the pen instead of Butler and pitching in mop up duty as he did last night until he shows he can handle a more meaningful role.

        As Jumbo notes, the Boggs situation – both in his meltdown and use by the manager – was very different from Salas.

  5. Bw52 says:

    side note from MLB trade rumors-Adam Wainwright leads the majors with 4 complete games.

  6. crdswmn says:

    Dave Cameron of Fangraphs had the following to say about Yadi on his list of players with highest trade value. Yadi was ranked #11, just ahead of Miguel Cabrera.

    Depending on how much you buy into The Molina Effect on STL’s pitching staff, there’s a case to be made that the Cardinals catcher might just be the best player in baseball. Even with our rudimentary defensive evaluations for backstops, ZIPS and Steamer project him as something like a +6 WAR player over a full season, and that gives him no credit for the non-throwing/blocking parts of his defense. If there’s a player in baseball that is underrated by WAR, it’s Yadier Molina, and WAR thinks Yadier Molina is awesome.

    What looked like a shockingly high salary for a defensive specialist now looks like a hilarious underpay for the leading NL MVP candidate. If he’s not the best defensive player, he’s close, and he happens to be putting up a 145 wRC+ this year, which is higher than Mike Piazza’s career wRC+ of 140. I don’t know how long he can keep this up, but Molina is currently in the midst of one of the great stretches of catcher performance in baseball history.

    That said, he is 30, and he’s carried an extremely heavy workload throughout his career, and his knees are already starting to hurt. The final four years of his contract take him through his age-34 season, and at some point, his body is going to say enough already. Molina probably won’t be an MVP candidate when this deal ends.

    But the present value is just so high that it doesn’t matter much. Every team in baseball — except San Francisco — would tie themselves in knots in order to get him behind the plate, and the Giants might just do it for the fun of having the two best catchers in the game at the same time. Molina is a legitimate difference maker at a position that has few of them.

    • crdswmn says:

      As a postscript, Wainwright is ranked #23, in between Felix Hernandez (#22) and Yasiel Puig (#24).

    • Brian Walton says:

      I don’t know about the absolute ranking, but the Molina writeup seems spot-on to me. Thanks for sharing it.

      • crdswmn says:

        Sure. I thought it was quite compelling reading.

        I wonder if they will ever figure out how to better evaluate catcher defense. Some things, like working with pitchers, seem like they can only be evaluated anecdotally. But there are a lot of smart people doing this stuff so maybe they will come up with something.

        Something I think they could measure but don’t is the preventative aspect of a catcher’s effect on an opposing team’s running game. You can easily tell how many runners who attempt to steal, fail, but what you can’t readily see is how many runners don’t even make the attempt. Yadi has only had 29 attempts made against him so far this season after more than half the season has passed. That is amazing. And in the NL, where much more running occurs.

        I saw something the other day where it was written that the DBacks have an actual unwritten policy not to run against Yadi. I wonder how the author got someone in the Dbacks org to admit that.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Since we’d never know how many steals were considered but not attempted, the best you could do is compare player actual to league average actual. It would be an indicator, but not definitive.

          The Arizona rumor is interesting. However, the first box score I looked at seems to refute the story. On opening day, Gerardo Parra attempted a steal against Wainwright and Molina and was thrown out. In game three, Parra was successful stealing against Salas/Molina. I stopped looking there.

          • crdswmn says:

            Yeah, I just read it and thought it was interesting. Can’t vouch for it. Maybe it was a recent thing.

            As for the attempt thing, it wouldn’t be easy, and probably not 100% accurate. You would probably have to factor in the number of players per game in a position to steal and the likelihood they would depending on speed and pitcher on the mound, etc. Probably too many factors involved to make it useful but I wouldn’t put it past someone to try it.

            OTOH, why not try just a rudimentary stat like # of attempts compared to league average or something like that.

  7. crdswmn says:

    Post got eaten by the filter monster.

  8. blingboy says:

    2 of the last 7 games Mujica had to come in because middle relief was blowing a huge lead. I’m sure we all agree that sort of thing cannot continue. The difference of opinion would be as to what the Cards should do.

    I take it the ‘above the fray’ crowd favors hoping Salas pitches like he last did 2 years ago and Martinez does something he never has, morph into a successful MLB reliever.

    Thinking that is absurd makes me a panic stricken amateur. Correct?

    Hopefully, I’ll get back from vacation to find that sanity has prevailed. Meanwhile, keep fighting the good fight Bw.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Across baseball, the whole closer-saves thing being so locked and loaded is unhealthy overall. I don’t think Mujica was needed last night, but as soon as it became a “save situation,” he HAD to appear to get the save ticky mark.

      The Cards could easily add another reliever at the deadline like the last couple of years. If they don’t, it may not spell the end of the season.

      Enjoy your vacation. Here is hoping you return calm and rested. 😉

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