In participation with a United Cardinal bloggers project to rate the top seven St. Louis prospects, we considered every player who will maintain big-league rookie status in 2013, even if a player appeared with the Cardinals in 2012.
According to MLB.com, a player is considered a big-league rookie if he has:
_ 130 or fewer big-league at-bats.
_ 50 or fewer innings pitched in the majors.
_ 45 days or less spent on the active roster of a big-league club.
Our top seven Cardinals prospects:
1. SHELBY MILLER, pitcher
This is the third consecutive year Miller has been ranked by RetroSimba as the top Cardinals prospect. It should be the last year he receives the honor. Miller appears likely to earn a spot in the 2013 St. Louis rotation, if not at the start of the season, then certainly sometime during it.
After a poor first half of the 2012 season at Class AAA Memphis, Miller recovered. The right-hander was 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA in his last 10 starts for Memphis. Overall, Miller was 11-10 in 27 Class AAA starts, striking out 160 in 136.2 innings, before being promoted to St. Louis in September.
2. OSCAR TAVERAS, outfielder
The left-handed batter is one of the most exciting talents developed by the Cardinals. With Class AA Springfield in 2012, Taveras, 20, hit for average (153 hits in 124 games), power (37 doubles, 23 home runs) and production (94 RBI). He had a .327 batting average against right-handed pitching. Taveras appears to be the eventual replacement for Carlos Beltran in right field.
3. KOLTEN WONG, second baseman
The Cardinals’ 2011 first-round draft choice produced 150 hits in 126 games for Springfield. The left-handed batter had 23 doubles and 21 steals. He would do well to cut down on his strikeouts (74).
4. CARLOS MARTINEZ, pitcher
In 22 games combined for Springfield and Class A Palm Beach, Martinez was 6-5 with a 2.93 ERA, striking out 92 compared with 32 walks. Opponents batted .236 against him. Scouts remain impressed by his arm and his potential
5. MATT ADAMS, first baseman
The power-hitting left-handed batter tore up Class AAA pitching at Memphis, posting a .329 batting average, .362 on-base percentage, 18 home runs and 22 doubles in 67 games. He filled in capably when the Cardinals needed him in late May and June. He could have value for a prominent trade if there isn’t a spot for him on St. Louis’ 2013 Opening Day roster.
6. MICHAEL WACHA, pitcher
The Cardinals’ 2012 first-round draft pick dazzled in his first summer as a professional. In 11 combined games for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, Palm Beach and Springfield, Wacha struck out 40 in 21 innings and recorded an 0.86 ERA.
7. MIKE O’NEILL, outfielder
The left-handed contact hitter batted .359 with 150 hits in 121 games combined for Palm Beach and Springfield. O’Neill had a .458 on-base percentage, with 78 walks compared with 26 strikeouts.
(Pitcher Trevor Rosenthal would have received a spot in the top seven, but it appears he will spend enough time on the St. Louis active roster this season to have the rookie label removed in 2013.)
Honorable mention: Shortstop Ryan Jackson (121 hits in 117 games for Memphis) and outfielder C.J. McElroy (24 steals, 67 hits in 61 games for Class A Johnson City).
_ The 2011 top seven Cardinals prospects as ranked by RetroSimba were, in order: pitcher Shelby Miller, pitcher Jordan Swagerty, pitcher Carlos Martinez, third baseman Matt Carpenter, first baseman Matt Adams, third baseman Zack Cox and pitcher Maikel Cleto.
_ The 2010 top seven Cardinals prospects as ranked by RetroSimba were, in order: pitcher Shelby Miller, pitcher Carlos Matias (Martinez), pitcher Lance Lynn, outfielder Allen Craig, pitcher Fernando Salas, third baseman Zack Cox and pitcher Michael Blazek.