Editor’s note: Our Top 40 St. Louis Cardinals prospect countdown would not have been as successful had two leaders from our message board community not stepped forward for the second consecutive year. “CariocaCardinal” and “Gagliano” managed the voting process and wrote 45 player capsules, speaking for the scores of individual voters. They did a tremendous job and I greatly appreciate their contributions.
Following is the overall Top 40, with the community list next to it. Highlighted are the names unique to each list. These bolded names may still be on the respective lists, but were ranked below where we drew the line, after number 40.
Bryan Augenstein. Augenstein was the community’s 42nd prospect, after having been acquired off waivers from Arizona in October. Augenstein made his MLB debut in May 2009 at the tender age of 22, skipping Triple-A to do it. His ERA was not pretty (7.94), but that’s a nice age to have made it to the show.
A seventh round pick in 2007, he had only one full season in the minors before appearing in the majors. Across Double-A and Triple-A in 2009, Augenstein fanned 65 to only 15 walks in 81 2/3 innings pitched, with only two home runs allowed and a 2.98 ERA. But he did much better in Double-A (ERA of 0.99) than Triple-A (5.50).
Those struggles in Triple-A continued in 2010, where he allowed 12 home runs in 120 2/3 innings pitched, while walking 35. He hit seven batters in 2010 to only one in 2009, adding to the suggestion that some control problems had developed. The 6-foot-6 Augenstein is reputed to have an excellent sinker. Both his performance through Double-A and sinker with potential make him interesting to watch, especially given that he is still only 24 and the Cards saw enough in him to give him a 40-man roster spot. - Gagliano
Frederick Parejo. Parejo was the community’s 44th prospect. A quick glance at his batting average is discouraging, only .221 and .216 in the last two years in the Midwest League. But we need to remember that he made his minor league debut in 2007 at the age of just 16, and won’t be allowed to drink legally in the US till next July.
Parejo showed improvement from 2009 to 2010 in both OBP (.294 to .326) and SLG (.307 to .371). And he did better after the all-star break (.350 OBP, .430 SLG) than before. This improvement continued in the Venezuelan Parallel League in the off-season, where he came in seventh in OBP at .432. Is this improvement of late chance, or has something clicked? Hopefully Mr. Parejo is poised for a significant jump in 2011. – Gagliano
Scott Schneider. Schneider was the community’s 45th prospect. The 20th round pick from 2009 made short work of the Midwest League last year, fanning 65 in 63 2/3 innings pitched, while walking only 40. After a midseason promotion to Palm Beach, his numbers slipped a bit, but he was still reasonably effective, with a 3.77 ERA, and the K’s falling to 50 in 74 innings.
He’ll begin next year at the age of 22 and could well make it to Double-A right around the time he turns 23, in early June. Schneider played infield as well as pitching until 2009, so he still is somewhat inexperienced as a pitcher. He can get some sink on the ball (2.49 grounder/fly ratio in the Midwest League last year, though that fell to 1.12 in the Florida State League). Hopefully he continues to refine his craft and climb the ladder. - Gagliano
Xavier Scruggs. The player affectionately known as the "X-Man" put up impressive numbers across High-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield in 2010. His 21 homers are impressive in that most mere hit in the pitcher friendly FSL. He legitimized that power by putting up a super impressive .273 ISO SLG% in the Texas League.
Scruggs' Achilles heal is his strikeout rate which worsened in 2010 to 30% while his walk rate dropped below 9%. Despite the high K rate, Scruggs was able to put good wood on the ball when he did hit it, he put up line drive rates of 18% at Palm Beach and 24% at Springfield.
Scruggs is still young, playing the 2010 season at just 22 years old, so there should be ample time for improvement on his strikeout numbers and also possibly room for developing more power. 2011 should give him a chance to return to Double-A and work on improving his numbers there. A reduction in his K rate of just 5% with continued power might be enough to vault him into the ranks of the higher rated prospects and be talked about as a possible major leaguer. - CariocaCardinal
Casey Mulligan. The numbers are incredible but speak for themselves: 0.30 ERA and 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 29+ innings at Palm Beach in 2010. Given those numbers, why isn't Casey Mulligan considered a serious top prospect for the Cardinals?
There are several possible reasons for this sleight by those who follow prospects. Mulligan's "stuff" has never been considered top shelf and he reportedly has a lack of movement on his low 90's fastball. That seems to be possibly confirmed by Mulligan's performance at Double-A Springfield where he posted a 6.00 ERA (though he has a 3.99 ERA there over the last two years). The other main reason is that Mulligan was slightly old for his league (but just barely). Are these reasons legitimate? Let's look more closely.
While Mulligan's traditional stat line at Springfield is less than impressive, his FIP at Double-A was a solid 3.22. He has suffered from a slightly high BABIP but to his credit those hits have pretty much stayed in the park. His home run rate even at Springfield remained extremely low. The worst part of his Double-A performance was an extremely high walk rate of 5.5 BB per 9 IP But even that is not terrible when put in context with his K rate of 11.7 that gives him a K:BB ratio of 2.17. He also left Springfield to go on the DL so he may have had an injury affecting his stats there.
Mulligan is a converted catcher who is in only his third year of pitching. And what kind of repertoire does he posses?
This is what Baseball America said about Mulligan in a May 8, 2009 article: "Mulligan’s past history as a high school pitcher meant that when he went to the mound for the Cardinals, he didn’t have nearly the adjustment period many catchers-turned-pitchers face. He already has a solid curve ball to go with his 92 mph fastball, and he also mixes in an occasional change up. He also knows how to hold runners and field the position. But Mulligan’s secret weapon is his ability to change arm angles. He normally throws over the top, but when he gets ahead in the count, he’ll also drop down to sidearm or three-quarters to give hitters something else to worry about."
Mulligan should spend 2011 at the Double-A or higher level so by this time next year there will be a better read on whether he is legitimate or just another pitcher who dominates at lower levels but can't take the next step. – CariocaCardinal
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 with our All-Prospect Team, the highest-ranked players at each position, and finally, a dive into the numbers behind the top 40.
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