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. “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.
||Roberto de la Cruz
||Roberto De La Cruz|
Mike Parisi. Parisi might be the one who got away, as he was taken in the Rule 5 draft by that National League team from Chicago. Parisi was drafted in the ninth round in 2004 and rose steadily through the system (Peoria in ’04, Palm Beach in ’05, Springfield in ’06, Memphis in ’07, and St. Louis in ’08). Then he had Tommy John surgery, coming back for just 15 1/3 innings in 2009. But he also pitched in the Arizona Fall League, and per the Hardball Times, his fastball hit 95, 92 on the sinker. And he developed a cutter.
Parisi will turn 27 in April, but he was 8-2 with a 3.86 ERA in Memphis at age 25 before blowing out his elbow. If he’s really back from his injury, he might just make the back of a major league rotation. Hopefully the Cards will get him back and they can plug him into the Memphis rotation as insurance, but he would face a logjam with the Cards. I’m disappointed they didn’t protect him, given they have a couple roster spaces left. - Gagliano
Charles Cutler. Charles Cutler's emergence as a prospect reminds me somewhat of other recent prospects such as Allen Craig and P.J. Walters who were not high draft picks, had uneventful rookie ball seasons and then leapt to prospect status with strong showings in their first full seasons.
Cutler didn't perform as well as Craig or Walters, but he did play well enough to draw attention. If he can become a decent defensive catcher, he could on a position-adjusted basis be nearly as valuable. There have been mixed reports on Cutler's defense, so it is fair to say the jury is still out on that and by association, still out on his prospect status. One area of statistical note with Cutler is that he walked more than he struck out in 2009 and that is always an encouraging sign in a young player. – CariocaCardinal
Shane Robinson. Robinson was a fifth round pick in 2006, and he, too, has risen steadily (Quad Cities in ’06, Palm Beach in ’07, Memphis in ’08, and St. Louis in ’09). The Cards think enough of him that they protected him on the 40-man roster this offseason.
Robinson’s defense is said to be quite strong. His offense peaked at Springfield in ’08, where he managed .396 OBP, .496 SLG in 244 AB’s. He struggled in Memphis (.657 OPS) and St. Louis (.511 OPS) this year. But the Memphis number represents an uptick from a .532 OPS there in ’08. He turned 25 in October.
With Rasmus batting lefty, there could be a spot on the MLB roster at some point for Robinson as backup centerfield, defensive outfield sub, and speedy righty off the bench. And if he can come anywhere close to those ’08 numbers, he’ll probably be a starting CF somewhere. - Gagliano
Donovan Solano. Solano is probably my personal favorite of these guys left out of the merged top 40. He made it to Memphis last year at age 21, where he managed a .364 OBP in 164 AB’s. And his defense has long been rumored to be quite solid.
However, Solano struggled in Double A last year (.526 OPS in 251 at-bats, with an OPS over .570 in only one month, one in which he had only 14 AB’s). And he’s never shown much power (his .360 SLG in Memphis this year is the best of his minor league career). And he doesn’t seem particularly speedy, with no more than five SB’s in any season.
But reaching Triple A at 21 with that sort of OBP, he seems a plausible future utility infielder. Jose Oquendo had an OPS of .509 when he hit Triple A at age 21. Placido Polanco’s best minor league SLG was .378, and he didn’t reach Triple A till he was 22. And as you can tell from whose name I took as my moniker, I have a soft spot for utility infielders. - Gagliano
David Kopp. There is no point in discussing stats when talking about David Kopp. All one needs to know is his medical status – is healthy? Because when healthy, Kopp is said to have some of the best stuff in the Cardinals organization, including a devastating sinker that has the potential to make him a ground ball machine.
Despite pitching just 134 innings over three years, Kopp was selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League this year prior to his latest health setback. And how is that health? Kopp has undergone several surgeries to his pitching shoulder including one in September. The good news is that the latest surgery was supposedly just a bone shaving to relieve pressure on the nerve and did not involve his labrum or rotator cuff.
He is expected to be ready for Spring Training. 2010 could be a breakout year for Kopp if healthy or he could be on his way to following Mark McCormack into prospect oblivion if not healthy. – CariocaCardinal
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 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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