A Minor Review of 2013: Cardinals

There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.

The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013’ will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’

The player listed in the sleeper section was featured in a pre-season series that looked at one fringe prospect in each organization that was expected to take a big step forward during 2013, chosen by myself, a scout or a front office talent evaluator.

The Graduate: Shelby Miller, RHP: Pick a rookie, any rookie. The Cardinals may have received more impact from the minor leagues than any other club in 2013. Miller produced the second highest strikeout rate (8.78 K/9) of any rookie pitcher with at least 130 innings pitched, behind only Jose Fernandez of Miami. After some inconsistent results in the minors, the Texas native is once again looking like a future top-of-the-rotation talent.

The Riser: James Ramsey, OF: Ramsey was a tough player to rank in the offseason because the third-party scouting reports weren’t as kind to him as the opinions I received directly out of the Cardinals organization. I finally settled on a home for the outfielder at the 11th spot of the Cardinals Top 15 prospects list. He went on to play at three levels in 2013 and finished the season in Triple-A. Ramsey showed unexpected power with 16 home runs and posted an OPS of .814.

The Tumbler: Carson Kelly, 3B: When I spoke to a talent evaluator last winter, he said Kelly might have the highest ceiling of any player taken by the Cardinals in the 2012 amateur draft. The 19-year-old third baseman opened 2013 in low-A ball but posted a .590 OPS in 43 games to earn a trip back to short-season ball where he regrouped. That same talent evaluator compared Kelly’s offensive potential to the Giants’ starting catcher Buster Posey, which is fitting considering the Cardinals decided to move the second-year pro behind the plate after the ’13 season.

The 2013 Draft Pick: Steven Farinaro, RHP: The right-hander was considered a tough sign due to his commitment to UCLA, as well as the mixed opinions on his future (starter or reliever). Only three other players (The first three picks) received a larger bonus in the Cardinals’ draft class than Farinaro’s $750,000 — even though he was selected way down in the 11th round. He had a rude introduction to pro ball when he posted a 6.29 ERA in 10 games (six starts).

The Sleeper: Tony (Anthony) Bryant, OF: This was a huge miss. Bryant’s raw potential caught the attention of a talent evaluator I spoke with in the winter. However, before the end of spring training, the young outfielder was handed his release papers and failed to appear in an official game in 2013 despite later catching on the with Washington Nationals.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

8 Responses to “A Minor Review of 2013: Cardinals”

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  1. Uncle Randy says:

    Wait, Kelly’s a catcher now?

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    • stan says:

      I hadn’t heard that either. Its exciting news though if true. Funny how that glut of third basemen the Cardinals had at this time last year has completely evaporated. Wisdom is still there but he struggled. Piscotty is an outfielder. Kelly is a catcher. Carpenter is a second baseman, and Freese struggled so badly that he’s probably going to have to play out his arbitration year without a long term deal.

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  2. Mike Trout Fishing In America Ferrera says:

    Fair write-ups, Marc. I might quibble with the characterization of youngster Carson Kelly as a “tumbler,” though. It was just Kelly’s age-18 season, and after the Midwest League unsurprisingly proved a touch overwhelming, he was in fact quite solid in the pitcher-lovin’ environment of the NY-Penn League, with a 123 wRC+ and sturdy plate discipline markers (under 11% K rate, and a near 7% walk rate).

    Give yourself a huge pat on the back, however, for being the *only* prospect evaluator *anywhere* who put Michael Wacha above Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, and Carlos Martinez last off-season. Very well done, Sir!

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    • TRace says:

      Good point, that Wacha ranking raised a lot of eyebrows and seems justified. I still question it as Wacha can’t even throw a no-hitter ;).

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  3. Will says:

    I hadn’t heard about Bryant signing with the Nationals? Upon closer inspection, he signed with them in late March, but didn’t feature for them at all this season.

    The whole story is a bit odd. Bryant showed a lot of promise at age 20, good patience with a good combination of speed and power…. but the Cardinals released him. You don’t just do that. Then why didn’t the Nationals play him in a game, even though they signed him before the season began?

    Does anyone have insight into what’s been going on?

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  4. Lou says:

    Maybe a bit harsh on Farinaro. At 17 he was young, even for the Gulf Coast League. He was doing pretty well until his final outing, when he gave up 6 ER in 1.2 IP. Before that his FIP was under 3.00, and about half his ERA.

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  5. tehzachatak says:

    No discussion of Mike O’Neill’s 0.026 ISO?????

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  6. If Don Mossi were Dorian Gray, how bad would the painting look? says:

    C’mon, don’t pick on Mike O’Neill. He’s half of half your size.

    Besides, his five weeks of awful AAA ISO wasn’t really in line with his other poor-but-not-microscopic career numbers. In AA, his ISO was .072, and in high-A it was .075. At both lower levels, he ISO’d triple digits. If ever given the MLB chance, I don’t think he’ll be a completely Punchless Wonder.

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