Our annual ranking of the top prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system by position…
The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Player Profile
(including links to full 2011 and career stats)
Selected 2011 stats
CariocaCardinal (12): Anthony Garcia joins a long list of Cardinals prospects that seem to get no respect. The 19-year-old Puerto Rican was fifth in the Appalachian League in OPS while being young for the league, yet garnered no post season recognition or seems to make anyone's top prospect list. Even my colleagues at this site seem to doubt him. Yet Garcia's season is no fluke as he was one of the top hitters in the Gulf Coast League in 2010 as well (he would have been third in the league in OPS if he would have had just a few more at-bats to qualify.)
Garcia's 2011 season was slightly different from his 2010 season in that he had slightly less plate discipline (in 2010, he walked more than he struck out) but showed improved power numbers. An amazing 42.7% of his hits this year were for extra bases - a better number than even slugger Matt Adams or Oscar Taveras. In fact, Garcia's OPS was higher than Taveras logged in the same league just a year earlier and he is only a year older. One disappointing aspect of Garcia's year was out of his control. In the off-season prior to the start of the year, the Cardinals indicated that Garcia would get more time at catcher in 2011 (the position at which he was originally drafted) but that didn't happen as he played almost strictly as an outfielder throughout the season.
Garcia is most likely headed to the Quad Cities to start 2012. It is possible that with a fast start he could be in Palm Beach by the end of the year. Hopefully a third straight strong season will get him the respect he deserves.
Message board community (23): Garcia was the community's 23rd selection this year. He did not even receive a mention until voting for 22, but he moved quickly after that, leaving me wondering if he'd just been overlooked. Last year he clocked in at 24th and this year he definitely continued his progress.
Garcia was drafted at 17 years, five months. There was a report from the community that being drafted this young was a particularly good predictor of future success in MLB. He turns 20 in January.
Garcia was both able to get on base (.408 OPS) and hit the ball a long way (.533 SLG with 24 of his 56 of the extra base variety). In 2010, his OPS was .192 above league average. This year it was .197 above average. He did slug better at home, but his OPS on the road was still .894. The year, he played the corner outfield, especially left field, after having caught a couple of games the year before. It looks like he has the sort of stick that a corner should have. It will be interesting to see where he plays next year.
Prepping for these capsules, it was exciting to see Pham yesterday at 23 and Garcia today at 22. Two upside guys this far down the list? The Cards should have both dry powder and trading chips if they need help at midseason. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (28): I guess I am the designated wet blanket around here. There can be no reasonable argument made against the conclusion that Garcia can hit. As noted above, his numbers look good, which is why he is here in the top 40.
On the other hand, Garcia would be a much more attractive prospect if he was considered a catcher. However, there is a reason Garcia was not appearing behind the plate on a daily basis. His defense is simply not considered to be good enough for him to be played ahead of others at his level. That will probably not be changing ahead.
Now, Garcia may be able to make his way up the ladder as a corner outfielder, but that remains an open question, at least in my mind. Reports on his defensive play from Johnson City this year were not strong, yet there is still ample opportunity ahead to improve. I am just not ready to assume that will occur, hence my more cautious ranking.
Our 2012 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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