Three members of the Low-A Quad Cities team and top-shelf prospects who hoisted that club to the Midwest League championship last fall had strong enough springs to leapfrog High-A entirely and reunite at Class AA Springfield. Now they share another distinction.
All three are Texas League All-Stars.
Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong, and Trevor Rosenthal do not have a High-A inning of play between them, but all three were selected from Springfield's roster for the Double-A midsummer classic. Outfielder Taveras and second baseman Wong will both be starters.
'Tis the season of All-Star announcements. Players from three of the Cardinals' four full-season affiliates have been notified of their selection to the individual league's exhibition games. The only affiliate waiting to hear on its All-Star selections is Class AAA Memphis, and fan voting continues through next week at the Pacific Coast League web site. One of the players who would probably have the best bet at being a PCL All-Star may not have the Class AAA at-bats because he's busy driving in runs at the big-league level -- Matt Adams.
It was a year ago that Adams blazed the trail followed this spring by Wong and Taveras. Adams, a first baseman, slugged his way from Low-A Quad Cities to Class AA Springfield without a stop in Palm Beach. Adams went on to win the Texas League's MVP award and in the season's final month took a stab at a triple crown. He set the S-Cards franchise record for homers. Adams hit 32 home runs and 57 extra-base hits in 115 games.
With 35 extra-base hits in 63 games, Taveras could match that.
In four days, Taveras will turn 20, and already he's taking a run at giving the Cardinals' back-to-back MVPs in the Texas League. (Though, Texas prospect Mike Olt might stand in his way.) Taveras ranks in the top five in all significant offensive categories other than run. His .322 batting average leads the league, his .580 slugging percentage is second to Olt's, his .954 OPS is second, and his 43 RBIs ranks third.
Here are the Cardinals' minor-league All-Stars, by affiliate, and their statistics:
SPRINGFIELD CARDINALS (AA)
All-Stars selected for Texas League All-Star Game
2B Kolten Wong -- .296/.368/.433, 6 HR, 16 XB, 26 RBIs, 37 runs, 59 games. Last year's first-round pick is less than 12 months into his pro career. The Texas League tends to be an offensive-oriented place, but it's also cozy. Teams play each other a lot. Wong's second half could position him for a chance to win a job in the majors next spring.
OF Oscar Taveras -- .322/.375/.580, 12 HR, 35 XB, 43 RBIs, 37 runs, 63 games. 'Nuff said.
RHP Trevor Rosenthal -- 5-6, 3.01 ERA, 13 starts, 63 Ks, 33 BB, 71 2/3 IP. Rosenthal had an impressive spring and was able to push his assignment one rung higher than anticipated. He's a power arm becoming a polished arm.
RHP Keith Butler -- 2-0, 1.59 ERA, 25 appearances, 13 saves, 27 Ks, 10 BB, 28 1/3 IP. The S-Cards closer has a fastball that hums in the low-90s, and he has a slider that's not quite as sharp as say Josh Kinney's but it's every bit as effective. He's able to throw it for a strike, and it's become difficult to ignore the righty's 1.86 ERA as a pro.
C Audry Perez -- .272/.279/.346, 1 HR, 8 XB, 18 RBIs, 10 runs, 35 games. The young catcher continues to find his place at Class AA. After playing hesitant most of last season, Perez is starting to blossom behind the plate
INF Jermaine Curtis -- .333/.454/.440, 1 HR, 13 XB, 8 RBIs, 35 runs, 48 games. Sometimes the DH, sometimes a utility infielder, always a high-average hitter, Curtis has been a .347 hitter since coming to Class AA. He was given consideration for a promotion to Memphis during the recent scramble for players at the Triple-A level. This season he has 27 walks and 15 strikeouts.
PALM BEACH CARDINALS (High-A)
Selected for 51st Florida State League All-Star Game
LHP Anthony Ferrara -- 4-4, 2.76 ERA, 11 starts, 47 Ks, 31 BB, 62 IP. The lefty, a seventh-round selection out of high school in 2008, has been the PB-Cards' most reliable starter. He's won his past two starts with a quality start in each.
INF Starlin Rodriguez -- .311/.391/.448, 2 HR, 17 XB, 20 RBIs, 31 runs, 49 games. The second baseman has proven to be one of the more intriguing infield prospects in the full-season clubs because of his steady showing as a switch-hitter since coming to the domestic teams from the Dominican Republic.
OF Mike O'Neill -- .349/.431/.420, 0 HR, 13 XB, 15 RBIs, 28 runs, 59 games. A 31st-round selection out of Southern Cal, O'Neill may not hit for much power but he has shown a nose for getting on base. He has a .323 career average in the minors and a .424 on-base percentage in three pro seasons.
RHP Seth Maness -- 6-1, 1.90 ERA, 12 starts, 53 Ks, 4 BB, 80 2/3 IP. The uncanny command that Maness showed in High-A Palm Beach has already earned him a promotion to the S-Cards but it left an impression in the FSL. Maness will be honored as an All-Star, but he will be replaced on the team because really who thinks the righty will take a demotion to pitch in the All-Star Game? You can find out more about Maness and his streak without a walk to start the season in this Minor League Insider from earlier this season.
QUAD CITIES RIVER BANDITS (Low-A)
Selections to the Midwest League All-Star Game
DH Colin Walsh -- .318/.416/.592, 14 HR, 32 XB, 55 RBIs, 49 runs, 62 games. If there is a breakout prospect of the first half this season it's Walsh. Now if only he could find a position. Walsh, a slugger out of Stanford, has played in the outfield, tried second base, and he'll be the All-Star starter at the position he's really thrived at, designated hitter. Walsh is among the leaders in homers, slugging, and extra-base hits throughout the minors.
C Juan Castillo -- .304/.369/.470, 5 HR, 17 XB, 31 RBIs, 26 runs, 47 games. The Dominican backstop has earned a second consecutive All-Star at consecutive levels for the Cardinals. A year ago he was a New York-Penn All-Star for the shot-season Batavia club. Castillo, 22, has already hit a career-high five homers and he's five shy of matching the career-high for RBIs that he had as a DSL player in 2007.
INF Luis Mateo -- .300/.349/.485, 7 HR, 22 XB, 35 RBIs, 42 runs, 55 games. A 20th-round selection out of Puerto Rico in 2008, Mateo is in his third tour with the QC-Bandits, and he's had an offensive breakthrough this season.
RHP Heath Wyatt -- 2-2, 1.21 ERA, 26 appearances, 9 saves, 27 Ks, 11 BB, 29 2/3 IP. He is the only first-year player on the Quad Cities to be an All-Star selection. The sidearmer/submariner Wyatt continues to do what he did so well in college -- close games. Wyatt was a Day 3 selection in last summer's draft during the 33rd draft, and he came to the Cardinals as a two-time All-American and the Division II leader in saves for several seasons. What stands out to me from Wyatt's resume is his final year at Southeastern Oklahoma State. As the Savage Storm's closer in 2011, Wyatt led the team with 100 innings pitched.