Question: Is this the best set of pitching prospects the Cardinals have had in their farm system since Jeff Luhnow took over Scouting & Player Development?
The barren days of the farm system seem remarkably barren in retrospect but that’s not for a lack of pitchers in the system. A look at the 2005 Baseball America Prospect Handbook makes a case for a system built on pitching prospects. While many of the prospects would suffer ignominious ends, at the time it was a strong cadre of arms composing the core of the Cardinals farm system.
The top six Cardinal slots in Baseball America’s 2005 Prospect Handbook were occupied by right handed pitchers. Of those six, one would be classified as an unmitigated success, three have had varying degrees of major league exposure and two never amounted to anything in the majors. Let’s start from the top with Anthony Reyes.
Reyes is probably the most polarizing prospect for internet-active fans in the last decade. It’s easy to forget the stubborn headbutting that went on between Reyes and Duncan in the wake of the LaRussa-Rasmus spat. Simply put, Reyes and Duncan did not see eye to eye. Prior to reaching the majors, Reyes was regarded as a “front-of-the-rotation starter, from his body to his stuff.” He featured a mid-90s fastball with a slider and a changeup that both projected well. At the time, Reyes was regarded as a blue chip prospect.
Following Reyes on the list was Adam Wainwright, who obviously has experienced more success than anyone could have expected. Regarded as having an upside “nearly the equal of Anthony Reyes” the Cardinals had two front end starters entering the Triple A rotation. My favorite quote regarding Wainwright is that “the curveball might be his best pitch.”
Blake Hawksworth (#3) was still listed under the premise that he’d return fully healthy from the various surgeries and setbacks he’d encountered. At #4, the Cardinals had Chris Lambert who was well regarded (remember he’d only been in the org for a year) as a potential front line starter. Stu Pomeranz (#5) was just out of the low-A organization with a good two-seamer and lots of potential development. The last prospect, Brad Thompson, was regarded as a useful future reliever after pitching 49 scoreless innings in Double A.
So, with pitchers like Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez at the forefront and a deep set of impressive pitchers (Joe Kelly, Deryk Hooker, Scott Schneider, David Kopp) progressing through the system, I’d argue that this is the most impressive set of pitcher’s we’ve had in the system in the last 10 years.