We break down the top five prospects for each organization for 2010, taking into consideration: games, at-bats, innings and major-league service time. We expect these players to have rookie status remaining heading into next year.
According to MLB rules: "A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a major league club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list)."
Note: Statistics are those at each stop in the minors this season and age represents how old they will be on opening day 2010.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals, an organization that has notoriously had an underwhelming farm system, reaped rewards from the minors last season, graduating a number of rookies to the majors and dealing prospects in aggressive trades for Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa. They will get more help from the prospects again in 2010, but the question of how much help they need will be answered this winter.
1. Lance Lynn, SP, 22
The Cardinals' supplemental first-rounder from 2008 had a strong first pro season that carried him all the way to the Triple-A postseason. He combined to go 11-4 with a 2.85 ERA, .251 batting-average against and 124 strikeouts in 148 2/3 innings in 22 starts between high Class A, Double- and Triple-A. The scouts suggest a back-end starter, but it is hard to believe that's his ceiling after the first pro year he just put together. The Cardinals figure to line up a veteran rotation again in 2010, but Lynn could be an impact June 1 call-up this season if they need a starter.
2. Allen Craig, OF, 25
Somewhat like Lynn, Craig doesn't get enough love among scouts and with Baseball America, but apparently he doesn't need the confidence boost. He just hits. The corner infielder-turned-outfielder hit .322 with 26 homers, 83 RBI, 78 runs, three steals, a .374 on-base percentage and a .547 slugging percentage. He put his Triple-A team on his back down the stretch, too, getting hits in 40 of the final 46 games en route to the playoffs. In the second half alone, Craig went an eye-opening .405-18-51-47-2 (.449-.764) to make us believe he could be an option to help the usually-crowded Cardinals outfield.
3. Jaime Garcia, SP, 23
Garcia returned impressively from Tommy John surgery in 2009, proving healthy and potentially dominant enough to be considered for a rotation spot with the Cardinals next spring. He was held to pitch counts and likely won't be asked to go over 150 innings next season, but his numbers were significant: (2-2)-2.87-.195-41 in 37 2/3 innings (eight starts) between Class A and Triple-A. The left-hander looked ready to be a Cardinals rotation member before the injury, so consider him a sleeper in NL-only leagues on Draft Day.
4. Daniel Descalso, 2B, 23
Descalso went from being organizational depth to a potential everyday major league second baseman in 2009. He combined to go .299-10-68-69-3 (.373-.459) between Double- and Triple-A -- although his numbers were far less impressive in the minors' highest level. Descalso has good pop, evidenced by his 30 doubles, and could be a midseason call-up candidate if he can make similar strides in Memphis to start the 2010 season.
5. Jon Jay, OF, 25
Jay doesn't get a whole lot of love as a future big league regular, but he keeps having better seasons at every stop than many of the Cardinals' more highly touted prospects, going .281-10-54-72-20 (.338-.394) in 505 Triple-A at-bats. He could contribute for the Cardinals in 2010, but his initial value will be as a reserve outfielder in NL-only Rotisserie leagues because he can steal some bases.
Best of the rest: David Freese, 3B; Bryan D. Anderson, C; Daryl Jones, OF; P.J. Walters, SP; Adam Ottavino, SP; Nick Additon, SP; Niko Vasquez, SP; Roberto De La Cruz, 3B; Shelby Miller, SP; Robert Stock, C; Joe Kelly, SP; Scott Bittle, SP; Ryan Jackson, SS; Fernando Salas, RP; Adam Reifer, RP; Tyler Herron, SP; Richard Castillo, SP; Arnoldi Cruz, C; Pete Kozma, SS; Francisco Samuel, RP; Shane Robinson, OF; Steven Hill, 1B; and Virgil Hill, OF.
2009 rookies to exhaust eligibility: Colby Rasmus, OF; Mitchell Boggs, SP; Blake Hawksworth, RP; Josh Kinney, RP; Jason Motte, RP; Brian Barden, 3B; Tyler Greene, SS; Nick Stavinoha, OF; and Joe Thurston, 2B.
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