With the 2010 season approaching, MLB.com takes a look at 10 of the Cardinals most intriguing prospects that you should keep an eye on.
Prior to the 2009 season, we identified 10 prospects to watch in the Cardinals farm system. Of those 10, three remain on the 2010 list.
Bryan Anderson, C: It might seem like he's been around forever, but the truth is he'll play all year at age 23. He only played in 58 games in 2009 due to a shoulder injury caused by a collision at home plate. He made it back at the very end of the season and played in the Arizona Fall League. He's shown the ability to hit for average (.299) from the left side, though not for power. He'll head back to Triple-A, hoping to get in a healthy season and blocked by Yadier Molina.
Daryl Jones, OF: Despite injuries that limited him to 80 games last year, Jones made it to the Futures Game in St. Louis. A terrific athlete, he's continued to refine his baseball skills (he was a football standout in high school) as he's climbed the ladder. When he's healthy, he's capable of stealing bases, as shown by the 24 he swiped in 2008. He's got the range to play center field, though his arm might mean he's limited to left field. He has the chance to be a top-of-the-order type, though he might be a little bit of a tweener in terms of position. He'll continue to work in Triple-A this year.
Pete Kozma, SS: With a career .243/.320/.342 line, it's easy to say that Kozma has underperformed as a 2007 first-round pick. He got off to a red-hot start at Palm Beach last year, hitting .315 over 18 games to earn a promotion. His time in Springfield didn't go as well (.216/.288/.312), but he's had a habit of figuring out a level the year after going through it the first time. His tools won't wow you, but he's the type who grows on you the more you see him. He'll give Springfield another shot to start the year.
These seven players were on our 2009 list but are not on the 2010 list, due to the loss of rookie status, poor performance, injury, the addition of other prospects to the list, etc.
Mitch Boggs, RHP: A starter for most of his career, Boggs did some nice things out of the 'pen when he got called up last year. He also made nine starts and pitched a total of 58 innings. He was competing this spring for a relief role in St. Louis.
Tyler Greene, SS: Greene got into 48 games during his big league debut in 2009, spanning 108 at-bats. While he showed his versatility defensively -- he saw time at five positions -- he hit just .222/.270/.324. He did bat .291 with 31 steals in 2009 at Triple-A, and that's where he's going to start this season.
Clay Mortensen, RHP: He made his big league debut with the Cardinals last summer but was traded to Oakland as part of the Matt Holliday deal in July. He got some big league time with Oakland last year but will start the 2010 season with the A's Triple-A club in Sacramento.
Jason Motte, RHP: Motte had an up-and-down 2009 season, but it was all in the big leagues. He appeared in 69 games, covering 56 2/3 innings, and struck out 54 but also walked 23. Once thought to be a future closer, he'll likely serve as Ryan Franklin's setup man in 2010.
Colby Rasmus, OF: Rasmus had a solid, ableit unspectacular, rookie season, finishing eighth in Rookie of the Year voting. He hit 16 homers and had 22 doubles over 520 at-bats and played a solid center field before going 4-for-9 in the NLDS. He'll play most of 2010 at age 23, so there's plenty of growth to look forward to from the center fielder.
Prospects to watch
Bryan Anderson, C
Bryan Anderson, C
Mitchell Boggs, RHP
Allen Craig, 1B
Tyler Greene, SS
Daniel Descalso, 2B
Daryl Jones, OF
David Freese, 3B
Pete Kozma, SS
Jaime Garcia, LHP
Clay Mortensen, RHP
Daryl Jones, OF
Jason Motte, RHP
Pete Kozma, SS:
Colby Rasmus, OF
Lance Lynn, RHP
Jess Todd, RHP
Shelby Miller, RHP
Brett Wallace, 3B
Robert Stock, C
Jess Todd, RHP: Todd did an outstanding job closing for Triple-A Memphis last year, with 24 saves and a 2.20 ERA. He also made his big league debut with the Cardinals but was sent to Cleveland as the player to be named in the Mark DeRosa deal. He got into 19 games with the Indians but will start the year at Triple-A for the Tribe.
Brett Wallace, 3B: Wallace, the club's first-round pick in 2008, got the thrill of playing for the hometown Cardinals fans at the Futures Game last July, shortly before he was traded to Oakland in the Matt Holliday deal. He wasn't there long, getting shipped to the Blue Jays over the winter.
The following seven players are new additions to the Cardinals Prospects to Watch list.
Allen Craig, 1B/3B/OF: Ever since he was drafted in 2006, all Craig has done is hit. He's got a .306 career average and .513 slugging percentage. Last year, his first at Triple-A, Craig finished .322/.374/.547 with 26 homers and 83 RBIs. The one question is his defensive home, and he's seen time at third, first and the outfield. His best position is in the batter's box, but the versatility might help him get that bat to the big leagues.
Daniel Descalso, 2B: Descalso made a strong impression in his first big league camp, going 7-for-15 in 10 games. The 2007 draftee broke out last year at Double-A to make it up to Memphis, where he didn't hit quite as well, then left to play on Team USA's gold medal-winning team at the World Cup. The second baseman showed some pop with Springfield (.531 SLG), and, if he can regain that stroke at Triple-A this year, he could have a future as an everyday second baseman.
David Freese, 3B: When you're competing for a big league job in Spring Training, it's a good idea to do what Freese has done. Working to be the Cardinals third baseman, he hit .309/.371/.455 and drove in 10 runs over 19 games. The ankle injury that kept him from winning the job a year ago is a thing of the past, and he was pretty productive after coming back last season, including during a brief big league stint. He'll turn 27 at the end of April, and it's looking like now is his time.
Jaime Garcia, LHP: Garcia made a very strong return from Tommy John surgery late last year and helped pitch Memphis to the Pacific Coast League title. He made his big league debut back in 2008 before the injury, and it looks like he's ready to return to the Majors. He gave up only two earned runs over his first 12 2/3 innings to win the last spot in the Cardinals rotation. Look for the 23-year-old to use his outstanding curve to keep NL hitters at bay.
Lance Lynn, RHP: Lynn is the epitome of a workhorse. In his first full season out of Mississippi, he totaled 148 2/3 across three levels, including one start at Triple-A. He won't blow hitters away but keeps them guessing, and when he's on, he commands the ball well. Last year, he finished with a 2.85 ERA even though he gives up a fair share of base hits. He should start the year in Memphis, just a phone call away, and could be the type of innings-eating starter that fits perfectly in the middle of a good big league rotation.
Shelby Miller, RHP: While Miller has barely begun his professional career, the Cardinals can't help but be excited about his future. Last June marked the first time in 18 years the Cardinals took a high school pitcher in the first round. He's got everything -- size, stuff, makeup -- that could make him a top-of-the-rotation type. He got to throw a couple of innings in big league camp and should get settled in at Class A Quad Cities when the Minor League season begins. There, he'll get to sharpen his secondary offerings and refine his command, but there doesn't appear to be anything to limit Miller's ceiling.
Robert Stock, C: A catcher who left high school early to attend college? Perhaps Stock understands what Bryce Harper is going through right now. Stock's an interesting case, one who left high school to get to USC early. He never really hit as a college player, and several teams would've been interested in him on the mound, where his plus arm throws 95 mph. The Cards are giving him the chance to catch, and he hit .322 during his pro debut at Rookie-level Johnson City. He'll be Miller's catcher at Quad Cities, giving the Cards a very intriguing look at a potential future battery.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.