Some were promoted from within, some were traded to help. However you look at it, there's no question the Cardinals' farm system played a direct hand in St. Louis making it to the playoffs last year.
Colby Rasmus was the big name, of course, but arms like Mitch Boggs, Jason Motte and Blake Hawksworth all came up and contributed. Prospects Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, Chris Perez and Jess Todd were traded to bring Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa to St. Louis.
Obviously, there's not as much down on the farm as there was a year ago, but it's far from barren. Cardinals fans can look forward to homegrown players helping out in the rotation, at third (OK, David Freese technically was acquired from the Padres, but he was developed by the Cardinals) and in some reserve roles. None of these players may have the fanfare Rasmus did upon his arrival, but all will be vital if the Cardinals want to finish atop the National League Central again in 2010.
Allen Craig, 1B/3B/OF
His bat is definitely ready to contribute at the big league level, but the question has been where will he play? He had a terrific spring, fighting for a spot as the club's fourth outfielder and perhaps a backup at the infield corners to boot. Even if he opens the season in Memphis, he should make his big league debut in 2010.
David Freese, 3B
He missed out on a chance to be the club's third baseman a year ago because of injury. It doesn't look like anything will stand in his way now. Completely healthy, he's hit well this spring and Cardinals fans should get to see how his power bat will translate to the NL.
Jaime Garcia, LHP
Now all the way back from Tommy John surgery, Garcia has parlayed a strong spring into a spot in the Cardinals' rotation. He'll be the No. 5 guy and should make a more lasting impact than he did during his brief big league debut in 2008.
Joe Kelly, RHP
The Cardinals' third-round pick last June was a terrific closer in college and he did have a 3.33 ERA as a reliever with Batavia last year. But the Cards may give him a shot to start in 2010. He's a ground-ball machine, with a 2.47 GO/AO ratio. If the starting thing doesn't work out, he still has a good fall back as a short reliever who can get to the big leagues fast.
Donovan Solano, INF
Signed out of Colombia in 2005, Solano seemed little more than an organizational player, a guy who could play three infield positions. He was hitting .222 in Double-A in April when he got moved up to Triple-A. He responded by hitting .317 over 164 at-bats before going back down. He got an invite to big league camp and even after he was reassigned, he keeps filling in and has hit .571 (12-for-21).
Anthony Ferrara, LHP
Once thought to be a top high school lefty in the Draft class of 2008, Ferrara slid to the seventh round because of some injury concerns. He's been fine, making his debut in the Gulf Coast League and then moving up to the Appalachian League last summer. The southpaw had a 3.24 ERA over 50 innings. It's time for him to give full-season ball a try.
RHP Shelby Miller (1) got in three innings late last summer with Quad Cities, but he'll really get going there this spring. ... C Robert Stock (2) hit a surprising .322/.386/.550 in his debut, mostly with Johnson City. ... OF Kyle Conley (7) was a two-time New York-Penn Player of the Week and hit .385 over 29 games for Batavia to go along with a .452 on-base percentage and .752 slugging percentage. ... RHP Scott Schneider (20) had a combined 2.04 ERA between Batavia and Quad Cities. In 70 2/3 total innings, he allowed just 51 hits for a .195 batting average against while striking out 76 vs. only 13 walks. ... Matt Adams (23)spent time with Johnson City in the Appalachian League and Batavia in the NY-Penn League and hit in both places, finishing with a combined .355/.400/.547 line in 245 at-bats. ... RHP Andrew Moss (35) won the Appy League ERA crown with a 1.32 mark across 54 2/3 innings before getting promoted up to Batavia at the end of the season.
Hitter of the Year -- Daniel Descalso
He broke out in Double-A, then slowed down when he got promoted. He'll figure out the Pacific Coast League in 2010 and lead the organization in hitting while showing nice pop for a second baseman.
Pitcher of the Year -- Lance Lynn, RHP
The temptation is to go with Shelby Miller, but let's give him a year to get acclimated. Instead, the nod goes to last year's winner, Lynn, who'll again lead the organization in ERA and be up there in strikeouts as well.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.