Cards well represented among game's top prospects
Taveras headlines strong group as MLB.com re-ranks list at midseason
Not only have the Cardinals positioned themselves for success in the immediate, but they boast one of baseball's best farm systems, per MLB.com's midseason rankings. It is packed with prospects to keep the club fueled for beyond 2013.
Ten players have made their Major League debut with the Cardinals this season, yet the Minor League ranks remain loaded will top talent and Major League hopefuls, headlined by Triple-A Memphis outfielder Oscar Taveras, who remains the top-rated prospect in the Cardinals' system and the No. 2 overall prospect in baseball.
Former Top 20 prospects Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Adams and Seth Maness have each made their mark in St. Louis, earning an extended stay on the big league roster.
Miller, who won the fifth-starter spot in Spring Training, has pitched his way into the Rookie of the Year Award conversation in the National League, posting a 2.92 ERA and nine wins in the first half. Both Maness and Rosenthal have asserted themselves as two of the Cardinals' top bullpen arms -- Rosenthal as the setup man to All-Star closer Edward Mujica, and Maness as a middle reliever.
Despite limited opportunities, Adams is batting .301 with 26 RBIs and seven homers off the bench, and he has filled in well for injured or resting starters all season.
Aside from the four players who graduated from the list, the only Cardinals Minor Leaguer not to return to the Top 20 rankings is right-hander Maikel Cleto, who was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City in late June.
Cleto, acquired in the 2010 trade that sent Brendan Ryan to Seattle, appeared in one game for St. Louis this season. He gave up five runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief and was immediately optioned back to Triple-A.
With the plethora of young pitching talent making its way to the big leagues this season, the Cardinals reloaded their Minor League ranks by drafting two left-handed hurlers in the first round of June's First-Year Player Draft. Both Marco Gonzales (No. 19 overall pick) and Rob Kaminsky (No. 28) begin among the Top 20 St. Louis prospects in their first year in the organization. They join Tim Cooney, Breyvic Valera and Tommy Pham as the fresh faces in the group.
Cooney, a 22-year-old left-handed pitcher out of Wake Forest, has made a quick rise to Double-A since the Cardinals selected him in the third round of the Draft last year. He became the third 2012 draftee to earn a promotion to Springfield and is now the organization's 17th-best prospect.
The 20-year-old Valeria, who signed out of Venezuela at age 17 in 2010, is batting .293 in 91 games as a second baseman for Class A Peoria. Pham, 25, played three-and-a-half seasons of Double-A ball before earning a promotion to Memphis in June, where is hitting .274 with a .310 on-base percentage in 26 games as an outfielder. Pham and Valeria round out the Top 20 list, placing at 19 and 20, respectively.
cardinals' top prospects
The only prospects to drop in the rankings are a trio of right-handed pitchers -- Seth Blair, Eric Fornataro and Jordan Swagerty. They now anchor spots 14 through 16. Each dropped one place from where they were to start the season.
Aside from the pair of 2013 first-rounders, Stephen Piscotty made the most ambitious climb. The outfielder vaulted eight places to No. 10, and, after hitting .292 with nine homers and 35 RBIs in the Florida State League, was promoted to Springfield last month.
Hurlers John Gast and Michael Blazek each enjoyed jumped five places, coming in fifth and sixth. Gast made three starts with the Cardinals in May, earning a 2-0 record with a 5.11 ERA. He has been on the disabled list with a right lat strain since. Blazek made four appearances -- three hitless -- in his second stint with the Cardinals this season before he was optioned back to Memphis on July 11.
Top 100 representation
The Cardinals are tied with six other teams for the seventh-most Top 100 representatives, placing Taveras (No. 2), Michael Wacha (18), Carlos Martinez (26) and Kolten Wong (55) on the list.
Based on "prospect points" -- giving 100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2 and so on -- the Cardinals rank fifth among all Major League clubs.
Taveras' move to the second spot wasn't the only the rise for the Cardinals' ascending stars. Wacha, who made his Major League debut earlier this season, owns the largest jump of any incumbent prospect, as the right-hander shot up 65 spots in the rankings.
Martinez, a current member of the Cardinals' bullpen, climbed seven places, and Wong leaped 24 spots.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.