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St. Louis Cardinals: Top 10 Prospects For 2013

 him St. Louis Cardinals prospectsSt. Louis Cardinals general Manager John Mozeliak emphasizes the importance of developing players internally to remain an annual contender. In recent seasons, homegrown talent has propelled the Cardinals – first to a World Series title in 2011 and then to a National League Championship Series in 2012.

The Cardinals will once again count upon contributions from players developed in their farm system. It appears they will turn to 26-year-old Daniel Descalso to man second base, joining two other Cardinals farm system products in Allen Craig (first base) and David Freese (third base) in the infield. If Rafael Furcal spends time on the disabled list, 24-year-old Pete Kozma can step in at shortstop, which would give manager Mike Matheny an all-Cardinals farm system infield.

St. Louis is also counting upon contributions from center fielder John Jay, first baseman Matt Carpenter, reliever Trevor Rosenthal and starters Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and top prospect Shelby Miller in 2013. These are more names harvested from the Cardinals organization.

More help is on the way, including outfielder Oscar Taveras, right-handed pitcher Carlos Martinez and second baseman Kolten Wong.

Here are the top 10 prospects in the Cardinals farm system entering the 2013 season:

1) Ranked No. 4 on the Baseball News Source Top 10 Prospects List for 2013, 20-year-old outfielder Oscar Taveras has a .321 average and a .906 OPS over four minor league seasons since he was signed as an international free agent from the Domonican Republic. Taveras hits for average and power and rarely strikes out. He also plays a proficient right field and is the heir apparent to Carlos Beltran.

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2) One of the top prospects in baseball last year at this time, 22-year-old right-hander Shelby Miller struggled during the first half of 2012, made some adjustments and looked impressive in the second half. Featuring a mix of three plus pitches, Miller’s power arm even logged a 1.32 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP in six games (including one start) for the Cardinals late in the season.

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3) Carlos Martinez has drawn comparisons to another power right-hander from the Dominican Republic with the same last name – Pedro Martinez. The 21-year-old Martinez boasts a high 90s fast ball, an exceptional change-up and a plus curve ball. He split 2012 between advanced Single-A and Double-A, and posted a 2.93 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 22 games (including 21 starts). He could make his Major League debut at some point in 2013 if he shows enough command.

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4) An unheralded 21st round draft pick out of junior college in 2009, 22-year-old right-hander Trevor Rosenthal has rapidly climbed the Cardinals farm system. Boasting a high 90s fast ball, Rosenthal throws strikes and can be used as a late-inning reliever or a starter. He recorded a 2.97 ERA, a  1.03 WHIP and a .203 opponent’s batting average in 20 starts between Double-A and Triple-A while also registering a 2.78 ERA and a  0.93 WHIP in 19 relief appearances for the Cardinals.

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5) Selected in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2011 draft out of the University of Hawaii, 22-year-old Kolten Wong is a left-handed hitting second baseman who hits for average, steals bases and plays proficient defense. He batted .287 with nine home runs, 52 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 523 at-bats at Double-A Springfield last season. He is slated to open this year in Triple-A and could see time in the majors if an injury arises with the Cardinals.

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6) A first round pick (19th overall) out of Texas A&M in 2012, 21-year-old Michael Wacha is a wiry 6-foot-6 right-hander who incorporates a plus fast ball and slider. Scouts believe he can add velocity to his fast ball, which currently ranges from 92-94. He projects as a middle of the rotation starter at the least.

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7) Over four minor league seasons since he was a 23rd round draft pick out of Slippery Rock University in 2009, 24-year-old Matt Adams is a left-handed hitting first baseman who has a .318 average and a .930 OPS, was named Texas League Player of the Year in 2011 and hit .329 with 18 home runs and 50 RBI in 258 at-bats last year at Triple-A Springfield before batting .244 in 86 at-bats for St. Louis.

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8) A supplemental first rounder (50th overall) out of high school in 2010, 20-year-old right-hander Tyrell Jenkins was swayed from his football commitment to Baylor University and since signing his career has been interrupted by injuries.  He is still raw as a pitcher, but the Cardinals like his upside as a power pitcher who throws strikes.

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9) A second round pick out of high school last summer, 18-year-old third baseman Carson Kelly signed an above-slot deal and started his pro career instead of heading to the University of Oregon. A physical right-handed hitter with raw power, Kelly was also a pitcher in high school and has the strong arm to play third base.

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10) Drafted in the 18th round out of a Puerto Rico High School in 2009, 21-year-old Anthony Garcia has a .285 average and a .876 OPS over four minor league seasons. His power potential was realized last season when he belted 19 home runs and knocked in 74 at low Single-A Quad Cities. The outfielder is working to improve his plate discipline, but he showed in 2012 that he can be a run producer at the plate.

Jeff Louderback is a professional freelance writer and the founder and editor of BoSox Banter a site about the Red Sox, the Red Sox farm system and baseball-themed travel