As those who followed our Top 40 Prospects countdown over the last month and a half know, the selection of the master list was a melding of the individual views from four of us here at The Birdhouse, stlcardinals.scout.com.
As a result, a handful of deserving players on each of our personal lists did not make the consolidated Top 40. This is the second of four articles where each of us will highlight those prospects – our “Best of the Rest”.
Here is the overall Top 40, with my list next to it. Highlighted are the names unique to each list.
|| Mitchell Boggs|
|| Fernando Salas|
|| Steven Hill|
||Roberto De La Cruz
|| Luis De La
|| Anthony Ferrara |
It seems that I have a vastly different opinion on some of the St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers than my colleagues. Five of the players that I had in my top 40 did not make the final cut.
When looking at the state of the Cardinals system, fans should be excited about the depth the system now boasts. Disappointing is its lack of difference makers, especially starting pitchers. Of my five selections that did not make the cut, two are pitchers who possess the ability to be difference makers.
Two of the others were players that made my list last year but did not make the final tally. Both are outfielders that are good athletes who get lost in the shuffle due to the depth of their position in the system. Another is a high profile catcher that the Cardinals must think of very highly.
Anthony Ferrara. The seventh round pick in the 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft represents the most upside the organization has in a left-handed starter. Touted as one of the top high school arms entering his senior season, bicep tendinitis scared off some potential scouts and allowed the Cardinals to scoop him up on the second day of the draft.
Assigned to the Gulf Coast League, Ferrara put up big strikeout numbers but did struggle at times with his command. The long, lanky left-hander possesses a fastball that sits 89-91 to go along with an advanced curveball and changeup. A veteran of the showcase circuit, he could move quickly if he proves healthy.
Tyler Henley. A hard nosed player that some compare to Lenny Dykstra, Henley sometimes gets lost in the shuffle in an organization with very good outfield depth. The former Rice Owl might have played his way to Double-A in 2008 if not for a broken finger that kept him out of action for more than a month.
Henley plays solid defense in centerfield and is a capable leadoff hitter. He controls the strike zone and shows good power at the top of the lineup. Look for him to start the year at Springfield but reaching Triple-A would not be a stretch.
Luis De La Cruz. The team’s top catching prospect not named Bryan Anderson, De La Cruz ranked number 28 on our list last year. But a wrist injury cut his season short and he fell out of the graces of my fellow voters. De La Cruz does not turn 20 until the beginning of May so he has plenty of time to make up for his lost 2008.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic, he is a prime example of the organization’s dedication to international scouting. He possesses a big arm behind the plate and gap power in the batter’s box. Possibly an indication of his standing in the organization, he was awarded a spring training invite. When he reports with the pitchers and catchers on February 14, he will be the youngest player in camp at only 19 years old.
Brett Zawacki. The teenage right-hander had a rough time in his first full professional season but still the Illinois native offers plenty of upside. To complicate matters, he missed three weeks due to a spider bite in July.
A 12th round pick in the 2007 MLB First Year Player Draft, the Cardinals went above slot to keep him from taking his talent to Arizona State University. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder possesses a fastball that sits in the low nineties to go along with a solid curveball and changeup.
A high risk, high reward prep, look for a bounce back out the talent hurler in 2009. With a strong spring, he could start the year at the Quad Cities but I would not be one bit surprised to see him back at Johnson City. Look for the Cardinals to handle him like another high school pitcher in the system, Tyler Herron.
Tommy Pham. Like a lot of its prospects, the organization pushed the potential five-tool player with a promotion to Palm Beach to start the season. It was a little much for the 20 year old to handle so he was sent to the Quad Cities where he found his footing.
The Las Vegas native began to flash some of the tools that excited many when the Cardinals selected him in 2007. Pham showed his power potential with 17 home runs, tied for sixth best mark in the Midwest League. On the base paths, he swiped 17 bases in 21 attempts. All the while, he played solid centerfield defense and kept runners honest with his plus arm.
Though he flashed four of his five tools, his hit tool is still lacking. In 312 at bats, he struck out 126 times while drawing only 27 walks. Already one of the best athletes in the system, he will need to start making more consistent contact to move up the ladder.
To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2008 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.
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