While the parent club sprints towards a division title and potential deep playoff run, it’s fitting to take a look at what their future may look like. As the 20 different rookies on this year’s team help propel the team towards their amazing season, what players make up the next fleet of talent to hit the St. Louis Cardinals? Some of my selections are with the club already but haven’t fully blossomed yet and others are still waiting for their launch ticket from the minors. Here are my seven promising future Cardinals.
1. Oscar Taveras-Outfield-He will top nearly every United Cardinal Bloggers list because he is the biggest world renowned talent to hit the system in 10 years. At least, that is the word being spread around the league. Oscar has Pujols like ability and can play the outfield. He is part of the reason the club may not have to concede in contract talks with Carlos Beltran. Slowed by an ankle injury in 2013, Taveras was never able to truly show off the immense talent that consumes his profile. All field power, speed, good arm and a very young age. He will certainly play a huge role in the 2014 makeup of the parent club and is someone to watch.
2. Kolten Wong-Second baseman-The young second basemen is on the club as we speak, but fighting for starts and at bats with David Freese, who has been proclaimed by everyone as the September-October king of swing even though his bat isn’t backing up the reputation. Wong is a technician at second base, turns double plays like there isn’t even a runner in sight and hit .300 in the minors. He sprays the ball around and uses his speed. I like this kid and think with more at bats, he can be a great starting second baseman. He is a base stealing threat and smells third base every time he reaches base. Wong just needs time and at bats.
3. Carlos Martinez-RHP-The righthander received three visits with the parent club this season and is finally getting a full fledged role in the bullpen. A young arm with Pedro Martinez like explosiveness and starter ability, Martinez is benefiting from the failure of other current Cardinal pitchers and not wasting his chance. That is the way young pitchers get a chance in baseball. An older veteran goes down or another rookie fails and a slot opens. When Edward Mujica faltered this week, Martinez saw a chance for more innings. Seen all year as the raw hard throwing kid with can’t miss stuff but needing time to grow, Carlos is starting to thrive and gain confidence. He closed down an important game in Cincinnati in early September and has played a key role in other late inning matchups. Seen as a reliever this year more than a starter based on need, Martinez has impressed and will throw his name into the ring for postseason innings and a 2014 starter spot.
4. Stephen Piscotty-Outfield/Third Base-Drafted 36th overall from Stanford University in 2012, Piscotty is a righthanded hitting and batting outfield threat that is still a year or two away but intrigues nonetheless. Splitting time at Palm Beach and Springfield this season, Piscotty hit 15 home runs and drove in 59 runs while hitting .295 with only 46 strikeouts in 471 plate appearances. Piscotty can play third base as well as the corner outfield spots and offers outfield depth to the Cardinals in 2014 and 2015 and beyond.
5. Lee Stoppelman-LH relief pitcher-This 6 foot 2 inch lefthander made the jump from Class A to Class AAA inside one season. The 23 year old is a strikeout artist working out of the bullpen into a possible closer future. He strikes out 9 batters per 9 innings and doesn’t issue free passes. All together in 2013, Stoppelman struck out 46 and only walked 7. He is yet another bright light in a stock pile of pitching depth for the Cardinals.
6. Greg Garcia-Shortstop-A position of increased need for the parent club, Garcia looms as the wildcard option behind Ryan Jackson and Pete Kozma for an internal fix at the position. Garcia is your scrappy defensive minded player who can shine at the plate and on the bases in different ways. He hit .271 at Memphis in 2013 and stole 14 bases in 16 attempts while smacking 4 triples in 424 at bats. Similar to Kozma and Jackson but adding the ability to steal bases, Garcia is a fresh option that just needs a chance. Drafted in the 7th round of the 2010 draft from the University of Hawaii, Garcia isnt’ exactly a spring chicken but sits at this spot on the list due to the need at the position.
7. Tyler Lyons-LHP-We have seen the lefthander start games and come out of the pen, and the thing that intrigues me most about Lyons is his ability to adapt and improve. Take a huge start at home against Cincinnati where he allowed 4 first inning runs but recovered to pitch 5 effective innings and keep his team in the game, which led to the Allen Craig three run game winning home run. Lyons has pitched effectively as a long arm out of the pen in September, leaving him as a strong candidate for the postseason roster. Think of him as the lefthanded Joe Kelly. A pitcher without strikeout stuff but an effective changeup who can adapt to adversity and stay strong inside a big game. After he was rocked in three straight starts, Lyons seemed to fall off the charts. He worked on his pitches and made adjustments, and came back in the past month and earned his innings. His role in 2014 is intriguing going forward.
The lists will look similar but it’s all in the reasons here. Why does this particular player intrigue me and will he see time on the club in the near future? These seven Cardinal prospects are all capable of being on this team by late 2014 or starting the 2015 season with the parent club. You never know with prospects in any sport, but in baseball you have to earn you spot and play well to keep it.
Thanks for staying,
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For more looks at the Cardinals blooming prospects, check out http://www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com.