* (Cm) represents the collaborative effort among a group of very knowledgeable Cardinals fans from our Message Board. While that group ranked 50 players, not 40, I limited their list in this article to 40 for consistency. Click here to see the entire community list and their reasoning behind it.
The far left column of the table below is the aggregate ranking. To the right of the players' names are our individual votes. (Note that we each ranked 45 players to ensure we had at least two votes for each of the group's top 40.) Next are the 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006 rankings of the players in the new 2011 Top 40.
Summarizing the numbers
There was considerable turnover on the 2011 top 40, with 40 percent change from 2010. Of the 16 players that left the list, five graduated to St. Louis, while 11 dropped off. The departing individuals are listed below with their rankings over the previous five years.
|Roberto De La Cruz||25||35||NA||NA||NA|
Incredible to me is that half of the new top ten is made up of players not ranked one year ago. Three were from the 2010 draft class, one was an international signee and the other was the system's Player of the Year, Matt Carpenter.
Overall, for the second consecutive year, a full one-fifth of the list, eight players, make their initial appearance in their first year of eligibility. Seven are new draftees into the organization with that Latin American addition, Carlos Martinez.
Continuing the high level of turnover on the top 40, another six players previously in the organization made the list for the first time. Two others, Deryk Hooker and David Kopp, returned to the top 40 after missing out in 2010.
|New members||Top ten||11-40||Total|
The traditional positional split had been in favor of pitching, but this year continued its annual erosion to the point position players now are in their greatest majority since we started these lists, 23 to 17. Of the 23 non-pitchers, up from 21 the year prior, eight are infielders, a whopping six are catchers, doubling last year and another nine are outfielders, same as in 2010.
Yet pitching remains dominant at the very top of the list as three of our top five-ranked prospects are pitchers, down from four of the top six one year ago.
Of the 17 hurlers on the list, five are relievers while only 12 are starters, the smallest number since we began ranking. In a further erosion of a major problem area, just one is left-handed, the worst showing by portsiders ever. A deeper dive into the numbers will be provided in the final article in this series.
Movers and shakers
Top debut – Zack Cox - #2
(next – Carlos Martinez - #5)
Not surprisingly, the Cardinals' first-rounder debuted at #2, but was surprising is that the same thing happened for the third consecutive year, with Shelby Miller and Brett Wallace before him also coming in at second their first years in the system.
Cox is a player to watch very closely this year with a major league contract and an advanced bat along with a shaky situation at third base in St. Louis. The 19-year-old Dominican sensation Carlos Martinez opened at #5.
As mentioned above, all Carpenter did in 2010 was put together the top season by a position player in the system despite not even reaching the top 40 coming into the season. That is a good reminder of how difficult the projection process can be. Neither Taveras nor Cruz was previously ranked. The catcher made the top 40 (in fact the top 16) for the first time in his fourth year in the organization, an unusual feat.
The long and hard fall of the organization's 2008 Player of the Year in Jones continued with another disappointing season at Double-A Springfield. The fall brought his removal from the 40-man roster with no takers in the Rule 5 draft. In his second full-season (and third partial season) with Palm Beach, 21-year-old Richard Castillo regressed, but there is still time.
To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2011 and read about each individual player, click here. You can also learn more about each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections and much more.
Next up: This article series continues as the voters highlight the players on our personal lists that did not make the 2011 combined top 40. We move on to our All-Prospect Team, the highest-ranked players at each position, a dive into the numbers behind the top 40 and finally a look at the best and worst picks from the 2010 top 40.
There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?
Subscribe by January 21 to our annual pass and receive in the spring the 2011 FOX Fantasy Guide / Scout Prospect Guide, the perfect hardcopy companion to "Forty Days", including the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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