As our yearly 40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Prospects series nears its close, this article brings together the voting of the three participants from The Cardinal Nation, Dustin Mattison (DM), me - Brian Walton (BW) and the members of our Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals message board community (Cm)*.
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 46 players to ensure we had at least two votes for each of the group’s top 40.) Next are the 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006 rankings of the players in the new 2010 Top 40.
* (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.
Summarizing the numbers
In a fact that can be interpreted in several ways, a full one-fifth of the list, eight players, make their initial appearance for 2010 in their first year of eligibility. Each is a new draftee into the organization.
Continuing the high level of turnover on the top 40, another eight players previously in the organization made the list for the first time. Two players, Blake Hawksworth and Mark Hamilton, returned to the top 40 after missing out in 2009. Tommy Pham’s comeback was even greater, having rejoined the countdown following a two-year absence.
The traditional split had been in favor of pitching, but continued its erosion to the point position players now are in the majority for the first time. Non-pitchers hold down 21 of our 40 spots, up from 18 the year prior. Nine are infielders, three are catchers and another nine are outfielders.
Yet pitching is dominant at the top of the list. In a major change from last year, four of our top six-ranked prospects are pitchers. Last year, only since-traded Jess Todd at #4 placed that high.
Of the 19 hurlers on the list, six are relievers while only 13 are starters, the smallest number since we began ranking. Of the latter group, three are left-handed. A deeper dive into the numbers will be provided in the final article in this series.
Movers and shakers
Top debut – Shelby Miller - #2
(next – Eduardo Sanchez #7 and Robert Stock #9)
Not surprisingly, the Cardinals’ first-rounder debuted at #2 for the second consecutive year, with Miller following since-traded Brett Wallace last year. The former high schooler is considerably further away from the majors, with this ranking showing optimism as well as potential. After having not made the top 40 in the previous three years, reliever Eduardo Sanchez debuted at #7 with a bullet. Second-round 2009 pick Stock joined the list at #9.
Fastest riser – Sanchez – non-ranked to #7
(next – Blake Hawksworth - NR to #8 and Mark Hamilton – NR to #19)
As mentioned above, Hawksworth and Hamilton were previously ranked, but both endured difficult 2008 seasons to the extent they fell out of the top 40. In fact, Hamilton took the biggest fall the year before. Solid 2009s restored their ranking power.
Biggest fall – Niko Vasquez - #16 to #34
(next – Tyler Herron - #25 to released)
Vasquez slid offensively and changed positions from shortstop to third base, as well. Still, voters did not give up on him entirely. The Cardinals gave up on 2005 supplemental-rounder Tyler Herron just a few months after he was a non-roster invitee to spring training, reportedly for off-field reasons.
Past picks and pans
Next are my views of some of the top individual picks and pans, looking back at what we voters said one year ago with the benefit of a year of hindsight.
Best 2009 pick – Mattison – Tyler Greene - #13
Dustin was the one who most anticipated Greene progressing to the point he impressed in his major league introductions as well as enjoyed a standout season with Triple A Memphis.
Best 2009 pick – Community – Jaime Garcia - #6
Despite the left-hander’s Tommy John surgery, the message board community maintained a higher level of faith in Garcia’s return compared to the other voters. Their optimism proved wise as Garcia vaulted all the way to the top of the rankings this year.
Best 2009 pick – Walton – Jason Motte - #4
Having seen the former catcher throw in his St. Louis tryout late in the 2008 and in talking to him and others around him, I had a good feeling about Motte’s chances in 2009. Though he was only the closer for one day, he turned out spending the entire season in the majors.
Top 2009 pan – Mattison – Niko Vazquez - #24
Dustin took a more realistic stance on the former shortstop, now third baseman, who almost fell off the list entirely.
Top 2009 pan – Community – Scott Gorgen - #31
Gorgen did not have a terrible season, yet he began with shoulder woes and ended with a so-so performance in the Arizona Fall League. As a result, Gorgen fell from #25 last year to #36 this winter.
Top 2009 pan – Walton – Deryk Hooker - #32
I had no way of knowing that Hooker would be suspended in the very first week of April, yet that very event put his season on hold for 50 games. If he can keep on the path, Hooker could return to the list next year.
No one’s predictions can be 100 percent accurate. Here are our highest-profile misses from last year’s rankings.
Top 2009 miss – Mattison – Josh Kinney - #16
Dustin was more hopeful than the other voters about the potential for the right-handed reliever to effectively return from a pair of elbow surgeries. Only in the final month did Kinney seem to reach that point.
Top 2009 miss – Community – Richard Castillo - #13
This wasn’t a bad pick, but instead a view that the 20-year-old would continue to progress at the pace he did in 2008. Instead, he had an up-and-down season with Palm Beach. There is still plenty of time.
Top 2009 miss – Walton – Jon Edwards - #23
Edwards just looks like the kind of prospect the Cardinals need, a big, strong, agile outfielder with a power stroke. Yet for every two steps Edwards makes forward, he seems to take one back. I just projected the first two, but Edwards stepped considerably backward and out of the top 40.
To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2010 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 their personal lists that did not make the combined top 40. We wrap it up with our All-Prospect Team, the highest-ranked players at each position, and finally, a dive into the numbers behind the 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?
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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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