I doubt very many people can claim the breadth of knowledge that John Sickels or Kevin Goldstein can. They cover a vast number of prospects across all the organizations. That’s not something that has a great deal of interest for me. We offer depth here that they can’t because of time constraints. That’s not to say, however, we’re deaf to the discussion of prospects as a whole.
Below, you’ll find our favorite prospects that aren’t in the Cardinal organization. This isn’t an attempt to identify the most valuable prospect. It’s more like choosing your favorite child — not always the most talented but still your favorite.
azruavatar – Elvis Andrus
Moved in part of the Mark Teixeira to the Braves trade during the 2007 season, Andrus, SS, spent 2008 in AA Frisco at age 20. Offensively, he’s not a world beater with the ability to hit for average being his main staying point. He doesn’t draw a ton of walks and there’s not more than gap power to project in the future. His calling card, and the reason he’s an MLB caliber prospect, is that he’s a slick defender in the field. A strong arm combined with tremendous range makes for some spectacular plays. If he makes it to the majors (and it may not be with the Rangers as they have Michael Young and Ian Kinsler signed long term up the middle), he’s a bottom of the order contact hitter who will likely be undervalued for his outstanding defense.
erik – Alicides Escobar
AZ and I must be on the same wave length, because my pick is a player really similar to Andrus, and that is Alcides Escobar. Offensively, he doesn’t hit for much power or draw tons of walks, nor does he portend to, but he has a .293 career minor league batting average, and hit .328/.363/.434 for double-a Huntsville. He also can swipe a bag, with 34 this past season. He was a Sept. call up for the Brewers and played in nine games, used mostly as a defensive sub. Like Andrus, Escobar’s calling card is his slick glove. He is the complete package at shortstop: Plenty of range to his right and left, a cannon arm, quick, agile, good instincts. FWIW, his Davenport Translations have him at a +37 (!!!). I see several gold gloves and zillions of Baseball Tonight web gems in his future. He’s only 21 but could be the Brewers starting SS next year, with the stone-gloved Rickie Weeks moving to CF and J.J. Hardy over to 2B.
roarke – Fernando Martinez
I have really liked Brandon Wood and Andy LaRoche (who hasn’t) for a few years now, but my new favorite non-Cardinal prospect is Fernando Martinez from the Mets system. It was love at first sight: I watched him turn on a Jason Motte 98 mph fastball in spring training and rip it down the rightfield line and into the corner for a double. It also doesn’t hurt that he put up a .287/.340/.432 line as a 19 year old in AA this year. He strikes out a bit and has a lot of maturing to do, but in the long run he seems to be a five tool player that might be able to take over for Beltran in CF in a few years.
theredbaaron- Matt Wieters
I like Wieters largely for the same reasons that I like Bryan Anderson so much (i.e. he plays a position of great scarcity but doesn’t hit like a catcher), but with even more to like. Wieters has massive power, is a switch hitter, and by all accounts has an absolute cannon behind the plate. There are lots of other great choices one could make here, guys like Andrus and his ilk, but to me, Wieters is a true cornerstone player, and almost totally unique. Just so, so good.