2012 Arizona Fall League Delegates: St. Louis Cardinals


This year we decided as a staff to preview each of the team’s preliminary assignments to the 2012 AFL and our goal is to tackle each of the 30 organizations over the next 7-10 days. We hope you will follow along with us, check in several times each day and enjoy reading what we come up with. If you’re not familiar with the eligibility rules or how the rosters are constructed just click here to brush up.

The Cardinals are sending eight players to the deserts of Phoenix this year: four pitchers and four hitters.  As with most organizations, the Cardinals contingent consists of a few top prospects mixed in with mid-level players and guys returning from injuries.  We’ll start with the consensus top Cardinals’ prospect going south to join the Surprise Saguaros.

2B – Kolten Wong (21) – Cardinals’ 2011 1st Round Pick (22nd Overall) 

2012 – Springfield (AA): .288/.350/.407, 23 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 21 SB, 44 BB, and 74 K in 521 ABs.

Wong was ranked as the 4th best prospect in the Cardinals system to begin the year by John Sickels, which says more about the troika of high-upside hurlers ranked ahead of him than it does about Wong himself.  A supremely solid player who excels at nothing but is above average at everything (with the possible exception of raw power), Wong is the future the Cardinals see for themselves at the keystone spot.  At only 5’9″, 190 lbs he doesn’t project to hit for a lot of power, but his 9 homers and 23 doubles show that the young Hawaiian has some pop in his bat.  His 21 steals prove Wong can run a bit too, though he’ll probably never challenge Shane Victorino for the title of Most Successful Base Stealer From The Non-Contiguous United States.  Playing in his first year of full-season ball, Wong is undoubtedly fatigued, but a good showing in the AFL may set the stage for a 2013 MLB debut.  Given his success thus far and the Redbirds’ underwhelming options at second base, once Wong makes it to the Show, he may never go back.

LHP – Sam Freeman (25) – Cardinals’ 2008 32nd Round Pick

2012 – Springfield (AA): 1.56 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 12 H, 4 BB, 12 K in 17.1 IP
2012 – Memphis (AAA): 2.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 25 H, 12 BB, 27 K in 30.1 IP
2012 – St. Louis (MLB): 5.54 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 10 H, 7 BB, 10 K in 13 IP

Despite standing a slight 5’11”, 170 lbs, Freeman can dial his fastball as high as 96 and sits around 93, automatically making him desirable as left-handers who throw hard are in short supply.  The Kansas graduate missed the whole 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery but has moved rapidly through the Cardinals’ system, (probably) due mostly to a lack of left-handed pitching prospects.  According to this report Freeman is a supremely gifted athlete, which evidently bodes well for his ability to develop a repeatable motion.  In any case, Freeman is the best lefty relief prospect the Cardinals have in house and they are undoubtedly hoping that pitching against top prospects in the AFL will set the stage for a successful tenure in their bullpen in 2013 and beyond.

RHP – Seth Blair (23) – Cardinals’ 2010 1st Round Pick (46th Overall)

2012 – GCL Cardinals (Rk): 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K in 3 IP
2012 – Palm Beach (A+): 5.40 ERA, 1.92 WHIP, 18 H, 14 BB, 12 K in 16.2 IP

Blair is an interesting case, a former supplemental 1st round pick who missed the majority of this season when a benign tumor on his throwing hand had to be surgically removed.  When he is right, Blair has the potential to be a major league hurler, with a repertoire that includes a mid-90s fastball and a curveball and change that, when right, flash plus.  But Arizona State graduate has had a long road back from his injury and he must learn to harness and control his pitches, having walked 78 in 100.1 professional innings.  Nor does Blair, 23, have all the time in the world to figure it out.  The Arizona Fall League will be a crucial time for the young right-hander as he looks to end the year on a positive note and come out strong in 2013.

C – Cody Stanley (23) – Cardinals’ 2012 4th Round Pick

2012 – GCL Cardinals (Rk): .300/.300/.500, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, o SB, 0 BB, 4 Ks in 10 ABs
2012 – Palm Beach (A+): .280/.300/.401, 8 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 1 SB, 6 BB, 32 Ks in 157 ABs

Suspended 50 games at the beginning of the year for violating the MLB’s substance abuse policy, Stanley made his 2012 debut on May 30th and then promptly dislocated his throwing hand 7 games later, putting him out another month.  After his return in early July Stanley had a good, though not stellar, season at A+, a disappointment after he turned some heads with a surprisingly successful 2011. Scouts have commented that there is some power in the young catcher’s bat and that his defense has improved significantly from his college days, but the UNC-Wilmington graduate lost valuable development time this year–at a tough developmental position–and needs to have a strong showing in the desert to get back on track.  A major league future is possible for Stanley, but the clock is ticking.

LHP – Kevin Siegrist (23) – Cardinals’ 2008 41st Round Pick

2012 – Palm Beach (A+): 2.28 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 33 H, 22 BB, 41 Ks in 55.1 IP
2012 – Springfield (AA): 3.62 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 26 H, 9 BB, 27 Ks in 32.1 IP

The scouting information on Siegrist is sparse–he was, after all, a 41st round pick–but one thing that seems clear is that the tall, rangy(6’5″, 190 lbs) lefty has excellent movement on his fastball, evidently by far his best pitch.  Various reports also note the presence of a cutter, change-up, and forkball, though they stop short of commenting on their effectiveness.  The velocity on his fastball is also source of mystery; one report listed him at 94-96, another at 85-87, and others practically everywhere in between.  One person who claims he saw Siegrist pitch says the lanky southpaw was at 91-93 with good movement, but it’s impossible to know who to trust.  Let’s stick to what we know: Siegrist’s body is what the experts refer to as “projectable,” so maybe there is more velocity in his frame.  He is left-handed, which is always a bonus.  He has reasonably good control, which he actually improved upon his promotion to AA.   He has had success in the minor leagues.  And he can strike hitters out, a characteristic which he also improved after his promotion.  Put it all together and Siegrist may be a secretly noteworthy prospect for the Cardinals.  It will be intriguing to see how he does against the high-level prospects of the AFL.

RHP – Boone Whiting (23) – Cardinals’ 2010 18th Round Pick

2012 – GCL Cardinals (Rk): 7.71 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 10 H, 1 BB, 11 Ks in 7 IP
2012 – Quad Cities (A): 0.56 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 7 H, 1 BB, 14 Ks in 16 IP
2012 – Springfield (AA): 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks in 6 IP

Another prospect who missed almost all of of the past season with an injury, Whiting is in some ways reminiscent of Siegrist, though he throws from the right and at 6’1″, 175, he is much more traditionally sized.  Still, Whiting has been able to achieve success in the minor leagues–particularly in the 2010 and 2011, when he posted an atmospheric 190/9 K/BB ratio across 173.2 rookie- and A-level  innings–with an underwhelming fastball (88-91 mph).  Whiting’s key to success is what one industry expert described as a “great… very deceptive” change-up, a truly devastating weapon if paired with good control and a decent fastball.  Whiting has had difficulty keeping the ball on the ground in the past and was a recipient of some good batted ball luck (.244 BABIP) in his breakout 2010 campaign, but if he continues to display excellent command of his secondary pitches (curveball, slider, and change-up) and his fastball, there is no reason to think he couldn’t be a back-end starter in the big leagues.  Arizona will be important for the young righty as he continues to rehab from his arm injury this past season.

2B/OF – Colin Walsh (22) – Cardinals’ 2010 13th Round Pick

2012 – Quad Cities (A): .315/.420/.533, 18 2B, 5 3B, 16 HR, 4 SB, 60 BB, 63 Ks in 349 ABs

A caveat to Walsh’s impressive numbers: at 22 (almost 23), he is older than the average Midwest League player, and thus it is hard to consider him a serious a prospect.  He is also on his third go-around in the MWL.  There is a tremendous competition jump between A and A+ and another between A+ and AA, so Walsh has a ways to go before he can really get taken seriously.  That said, Walsh’s numbers are undeniably excellent and cannot be overlooked.  A switch-hitter, his nearly 1:1 BB/K ratio indicates strong command of the strike zone and no less an authority than John Sickels has noted that Walsh shows good bat speed from at least the left side (incontrovertible evidence here)  In short, the AFL will go some ways towards showing Walsh’s true value.  Is he a future major leaguer who can adapt to high levels of pitching or was he simply feasting on low-level hurlers?  We’ll find out soon.

OF – Mike O’Neill (24) – Cardinals’ 2010 31st Round Pick

2012 – Palm Beach (A+): .342/.442/.417, 19 2B, 5 3B, 0 HR, 12 SB, 70 BB, 24 Ks in 386 ABs
2012 – Springfield (AA): .563/.643/.719, 5 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 SB, 8 BB, 2 Ks in 32 ABs

Had O’Neill played in 1903 his stat-line might have made sense, but in this era of the Three True Outcomes O’Neill’s numbers stand out more than Randy Johnson amongst a gaggle of middle infielders.  He is not a center fielder, so his absolute lack of power looms large, but O’Neill’s career OBP is .443 and he has hit–and hit and hit and hit–at every level at which he has played.  At 24, he is not young for his level, but on the other hand he has yet to struggle at any level at which he has played.  The Cardinals probably don’t know what to do with the USC graduate, but if he knocks around AFL pitching the way he has Florida State League and Texas League pitching this year, the Cardinals will be hard-pressed to keep him off the MLB roster.  Zero power notwithstanding, if John Mozeliak cannot find a spot on his team for someone on base over 40% of time he may need to readjust his priorities.


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