Cardinals prospects in 2013 national top 100s

Michael Wacha missed out on ESPN's list only

Our annual analysis of the placement of St. Louis Cardinals prospects on seven national top 100 prospect lists, including our own Scout.com list, of course.

Each February brings us prospect lists, lists and more lists. If you are like me, you are swimming in them. What I have tried to do is offer some clarity and context by putting the elements of selected lists relevant to the St. Louis Cardinals side-by-side.

In an earlier article, I looked at their top ten prospects in the Cardinals system based on a handful of national raters. In the second article, I dove into their respective views of the Cardinals' system-wide ranking.

The latter point is most important as it provides one yardstick across baseball against which to measure the Cardinals organization, whereas the former point is an internal comparison. In other words, no matter how good or bad a system might be, it will always foster a top 10 prospect list.

Here, I am taking another run at that goal of system-wide comparison from an individual player perspective. Specifically, we will look at the Cardinals players appearing on a group of seven national top 100 lists.

The six included initially

The sources I chose to list are nationally-known, with past histories and track records that one can look back upon.

They are from:
Baseball America
ESPN, written by Keith Law
BaseballProspectus.com, compiled by Jason Parks
BaseballHQ, from Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney
MLB.com, compiled by Jonathan Mayo
and finally, our rankings from Scout.com/FOX Sports NEXT.

Some of these 2013 lists go beyond 100 prospects, but since they all do not, that is where I drew the line here. The columns in the table below are ordered from left to right by the site names as listed in the previous paragraph. The players' individual rankings are at the left of each name.

BA ESPN BP HQ MLB Scout
3 Taveras  2 Taveras 2 Taveras 5 Taveras  3 Taveras  3 Taveras
6 Miller  21 Miller 16 Miller 16 Miller  25 Miller  18 Miller
38 Martinez  39 Martinez 43 Martinez 34 Martinez  33 Martinez  38 Martinez
39 Rosenthal  58 Rosenthal 45 Rosenthal 47 Wong  43 Rosenthal  57 Wong 
76 Wacha  96 Wong  56 Wacha 54 Rosenthal 79 Wong  69 Rosenthal
84 Wong  90 Wong  84 Wacha  83 Wacha  94 Wacha
94 Jenkins

Though it may seem elementary, I will still point out that any organization's "fair share" on a top 100 list would be 3 1/3 names (100 divided by 30 MLB organizations). Needless to say, the Cardinals exceeded that amount on every 2013 list.

The consensus group

There is a high level of agreement as to the identity of the Cardinals top prospects. Only seven players appear on any of the six top 100s, with five prospects being unanimous selections. The Cardinals five consensus top 100 prospects are Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal and Kolten Wong.

All of the sites placed the Cardinals top three as Taveras, Miller and Martinez, in that order. Where the disagreement begins is in the gap between Martinez and Rosenthal. The two are back-to-back in the BA rankings and separated by just one name on the BP list. Several others have the pair of hurlers 20 or 30 spots apart.

In a minority position, two of the rankers, BaseballHQ and Scout, have second baseman Wong ahead of Rosenthal as the Cardinals' fourth-best top 100 player. Wong's best showing is HQ's number 47 placement. Most of the others see him somewhere between 80 and 100.

The non-unanimous choices

Michael Wacha fell just short of joining the above group. The big right-hander made every list except one, that of ESPN's Law. Coming out of the 2012 draft, Law expressed concern about Wacha's curveball. The Cardinals organization said the pitch improved last summer. Perhaps Law needs to see for himself first.

Tyrell Jenkins appears on just one list, but not the same one that left Wacha off. Jenkins was the Cardinals' seventh top 100 player on Baseball Prospectus' list. A year ago, Jenkins had four top 100 placements, ranging from a best of number 74 on ESPN's list to a 94th spot in BA's rankings.

Interestingly, Jenkins was left off BP's 2012 top 100, but that list was compiled by Kevin Goldstein, rather than Parks. Goldstein now works for the Houston Astros.

Sorting the rankings

Following is a re-sorting of the same lists using a horizontal orientation by player name. That way, you can see how the top 100 placement for each player varied by the source. (Sites remain in their same respective columns as shown in the first table.)

BA ESPN BP HQ MLB Scout
Taveras 3 2 2 5 3 3 Taveras
Miller 6 21 16 16 25 18 Miller
Martinez 38 39 43 34 33 38 Martinez
Rosenthal 39 58 45 54 43 69 Rosenthal
Wong 84 96 90 47 79 57 Wong
Wacha 76 56 84 83 94 Wacha
Jenkins 94 Jenkins

Taveras made every top three with the exception of BaseballHQ's number five assignment. Miller's rankings were in a very narrow bandwidth of agreement, from a best of 16 to a worst of 25. The same is true with Martinez, as he was always placed between numbers 33 and 43.

The greatest difference of opinion among the unanimous Cardinals top 100 selections was about Wong. As noted above, the second baseman had a best of 47 from BaseballHQ with a worst of 96 from ESPN. On the five lists in which he appeared, Wacha was placed between 56 and 94 nationally.

The composite view

I created a composite ranking by averaging the rankings from the six sources, but it is valid only for the five unanimous selections.

Average rank
Taveras 3
Miller 17
Martinez 38
Rosenthal 51
Wong 76

Since three of the six lists had the top five players in this precise order, this sequence of names is not surprising. The average scores of the first four seem to align especially close with ESPN's list.

Just as in the overall system ranking, the Cardinals top 100 showing is stronger in comparison to last year. In 2012, the Cards had anywhere from two top 100 players (MLB.com) to six (BA and ESPN). By definition, only two prospects were unanimous selections – Miller and Martinez. Taveras was a noticeable absence from MLB's list from 12 months ago.

Different sites may use different criteria, but they all end up with an ordered list. Always remember that your mileage may vary, however.

John Sickels addendum

The other national source I would normally include in this analysis is John Sickels at minorleagueball.com. However, because Sickels tells me that he is still a few weeks away from releasing his annual top 120, his work was not included in the above.

However, Sickels has completed his traditional rankings of the top 50 pitching prospects and top 50 position player prospects in the game. He believes he can do a better job making comparisons of pitchers-to-pitchers and hitters-to-hitters, which is why he starts there.

Sickels top 50s Rank Pitchers Rank Hitters
3 Miller 2 Taveras
11 Martinez
14 Rosenthal
27 Wacha

As noted, the Cardinals have four pitching prospects among Sickels' top 27 pitching prospects in the game. Pretty impressive. Miller is his third-ranked pitcher. While Taveras is his second on his hitters list, no other Cardinals made that top 50.

These lists were sourced from Sickels' book, The Baseball Prospect Book 2013. Though not as well known as BA's annual Prospect Handbook, Sickels' document has been around a long time. In fact, it is now in its 18th annual edition.

Impressive in depth at 576 pages, the book is written in its entirety by Sickels. Over 1,200 prospects are listed alphabetically, with stats as well as a long paragraph of description for each. Sickels also includes an A through F grade for each prospect.

The Baseball Prospect Book 2013 is available in hard copy for $31.50 or PDF format for $24.95. Sickels also sells electronic copies of past years' editions back to 2003.

Earlier related articles:
"Most rankings agree: Cardinals farm system #1"
"2013 Cardinals prospects: What the others say"



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2013 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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