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ESPN: Cardinals farm system still formidable

Despite the fact that Kolten Wong, Carlos Martinez, Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, Micahel Wacha, Kevin Seigrist, Randal Grichuk and Oscar Tavares were all removed from the St. Louis' minor league ranks, ESPN's Keith Law still projects that the Cardinals' farm system still has plenty of good players in the pipeline.

Law says that of the top 100 prospects in Major League Baseball, four of them wear the Birds on the Bat: Stephen Piscotty, Carlos Gonzales, Alex Reyes and Rob Kaminsky.

As a whole, the Redbirds have fallen from the top of the minor league rankings to near the middle of the pack at 13. But that -- at least -- is to be expected when so many players have successfully made the transition to the big leagues.

It's unrealistic to believe that a team can stock it's entire MLB roster with home grown products because there are only so many draft picks. Even if a team chooses perfectly in terms of talent and makeup, some guys are going to wash out because of injuries and others aren't going to develop as much as expected. But the Cardinals make good on their young players as well as anybody for the past decade. That stands in stark contrast to the Walt Jocketty era in St. Louis when prospects were usually trade fodder. And very few of the players who were sent away in deals developed into above average players.

MLB teams are well ahead of the competition if they can construct a solid core with your minor league crop and fill in the holes through free agency and trades. The Cardinals have done exactly that with their catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, and centerfielder coming from within among position players and four of the five projected starters (I consider Adam Wainwright a Cardinals prospect since he was developed by the team from Class AA to the majors even though he was drafted by Atlanta), the closer and two or three other valuable pieces of the bullpen all coming from within.

The Birds have had the flexibility and the foresight to fill in the gaps with guys picked up through trade and free agency like Matt Carpenter, John Lackey and Johnny Peralta. But the money only goes so far if you have to pay retail for the whole roster.

It was rough to lose as much talent as the Cardinals did when Oscar Taveras died. There is simply no way to make up for it 100 percent. The Cardinals not only had to spend 15 times the money they would have paid Taveras to man right field when they landed Jason Heyward to replace their top prospect. They also had to trade away years of control of Miller, too.

So it's good to see that there is still a healthy yield coming from the farm. Here's to hoping the Birds can add some more fast trackers in the next draft as they did with Michael Wach and Gonzles the last couple of years.