1. Starlin Castro: Castro has a full tool shed to work with, including quick wrists that aren’t hitting for much power now but should support average power as his body fills out. At just 19 years old, his plate discipline is a long way off, but he’s slick and consistent with his glove already and projects as a defensive asset at shortstop.
2. Josh Vitters: It’s tough to know what to make of Vitters at this point. His plate discipline has been hugely disappointing and his overall performance the definition of inconsistent. But he’s just 20 years old and a good defender, and you could make the argument that his all-around bat projects a plus asset, including more home run power than I originally thought.
3. Brett Jackson: I was not a believer in Jackson’s upside heading into the 2009 draft, but the initial numbers show more power and sneakier speed than I was expecting.
4. Jay Jackson: Jackson’s fastball/slider combination is above average but not overwhelming. A third pitch would be a nice touch, but his stellar endurance will make sure that whatever repertoire he settles on will be put to use as a member of the starting rotation.
5. Hak-Ju Lee: The $1.15 million dollar signing bonus Chicago gave Lee in 2008 is looking like a strong investment in the early going. Lee has the ability to be great defensively, his speed is elite, and his bat looks fairly advanced for a 19-year-old.
6. Kyler Burke: Burke has a solid mix of skills, and he put everything together to tear up the Class-A Midwest League in 2009. He has a lot more to prove, as he was a bit on the old side for A-ball, but his career is off to a nice start.
7.Andrew Cashner: Cashner has a slick fastball/slider combination, but it seems better suited out of the bullpen at this point. Giving the bullpen idea further legs, his command comes and goes and his endurance is questionable to say the least. If I were a betting man, I would say his future lies as Chicago’s setup man.
8. Chris Archer: Archer’s control needs work, but he has a potent fastball/curveball combination and has produced a successful Midwest League season.
9. Chris Carpenter: I was a big fan of Carpenter heading into the 2008 draft, but his post-draft numbers were a turn-off. 2009 was an uneven but successful season, raising his stock as a potential back-of-the-rotation starter.
10. Ryan Flaherty: Considering that Flaherty turned 23 years old halfway through 2009, his Single-A season didn’t do much for me. He showed more power than expected, which I want to see more evidence of against better competition, but the rest of his offense was ho-hum.
St. Louis Cardinals
1. Shelby Miller: Miller was a steal at No. 19 overall in the 2009 draft. His fastball has projection, his curveball could quickly turn into a plus offering, his mechanics are top-notch for a high schooler, his frame is athletic, and his endurance is enviable. It’s hard to find faults.
2. Lance Lynn: Lynn has an intimidating presence on the mound, but he’s not a big swing-and-miss kind of guy. He has a strong four-pitch mix and solid sinking action in everything he throws. He has a good chance to be a mid-rotation starter.
3. Jaime Garcia: The Tommy John surgery appears to have been a success, and Garcia hasn’t missed a beat. He never had an overpowering fastball to begin with, but the sinking action remains. His groundball rate and plus curveball could turn him into a mid-rotation mainstay.
4. David Freese: Freese appears to be in line for St. Louis’ starting gig at third base in 2010. The organization’s confidence in him raises his stock. He won’t be anything special, but with his average plate discipline and potentially above-average power, his bat should play at third base.
5. Allen Craig: Craig’s position may have finally been settled as left field, and he has a strong enough bat to stick there. With his poor plate discipline I have to question his overall upside, but a .270 batting average with 20-25 home runs seems plausible.
6. Robert Stock: I think Stock has a future behind the plate. His defense will develop, and his arm is as good as it gets. On offense, there is a lot to question, but his raw power is for real, as evidenced by his Appy League debut.
7. Anthony Ferrara: Ferrara joined the Cardinals organization with an injury history, but it appears to be behind him. He has a nice three-pitch mix and has good projected endurance. There is a lot to like in his live left arm, but a lot to prove.
8. Daryl Jones: Jones is an athletic outfielder with average contact skills and plate discipline. I’ve been a big supporter of his for a while, but his power has yet to develop. Without power he doesn’t have a major league future.
9. Pete Kozma: It may be impossible for some to comprehend, but I think we have reached a point where Kozma is actually underrated. He provides a solid glove at shortstop, some workable plate discipline and contact skills, and some sneaky instincts on the base paths. He’s not a star in the making and will never live up to the first-round expectations, but a long career as a serviceable shortstop or utility infielder could be in his future.
10. Eduardo Sanchez: Sanchez’s stuff is good, but it does get a bit overrated. What separates him from the other relief prospects is his at times sharp, but inconsistent, command. Yet, at just 20 years old, his control will get even better.