Adams, Hill pace Cardinals' success

System posts best record as five affiliates reach postseason

Matthew Adams hit 15 of his 22 homers after the All-Star break. (Paul R. Gierhart/

By Robert Emrich / Special to | December 10, 2010 5:00 AM

This offseason, will be honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. We're taking a look at each team to determine the outstanding seasons in Minor League baseball. Select a team from the dropdown below.

By any measure, the St. Louis Cardinals were the most successful baseball organization in 2010. Their composite .549 winning percentage was tops in pro baseball, and five of their affiliates reached the playoffs. The Triple-A Memphis Redbirds were the only ones to advance to the Finals, falling to Tacoma in the Pacific Coast League Championship Series.

Catcher -- Steven Hill, Springfield (93 games)/Memphis (nine games): Despite playing 102 games, the former 13th-round pick led the organization with 24 homers. Hill also topped the system with 92 RBIs and was second in the Texas League with a .545 slugging percentage. The All-Star also had a Major League debut to remember, homering in his first big league game on Aug. 15.

"He was a returning player that we expected a lot of and he produced, it was really huge," said Springfield manager Ron Warner. "Sad to lose him to the bigs for a bit and Triple-A, but he stabilized our lineup. He did a good job (behind the plate), he made a lot strides as far as his game management and his overall catching ability. He showed that, with the reps, he can get better and he can handle the responsibility of being an everyday guy."

First baseman -- Matthew Adams, Quad Cities (121 games): Adams led the organization with a .310 average and was second to Hill in homers (22) and RBIs (88). The 22-year-old came alive in the second-half, batting .341 with 15 homers after the All-Star break, while posting a gaudy 1.017 OPS. His season came to an early end when he suffered a right elbow fracture at the end of August, taking a key bat out of the Bandits' playoff lineup.

Second baseman -- Daniel Descalso, Memphis (116 games): For the third straight year, the 24-year-old California native increased his RBI total. He drove in 71 runs for the Redbirds, tied for best among Pacific Coast League second baseman. Descalso also led the team with 86 runs scored and had a strong playoff run, batting .280 with a team-best five runs scored. After the season he was honored as a Topps Triple-A All-Star.

Shortstop -- Tyler Greene, Palm Beach (two games)/Memphis (82 games): A first-round pick by the Cardinals in 2005, Greene split the bulk of his season between the Redbirds and in the bigs with the Cardinals. He hit .278 with nine homers and 34 RBIs, while setting a career high with five triples. The 27-year-old Greene also homered twice in 44 Major League games.

Third baseman -- Matt Carpenter, Palm Beach (28 games)/Springfield (105 games): Since being selected in the 13th round in 2009, Carpenter has ascended the organizational ranks quickly. He was second in the organization with a .309 average, while slugging 13 homers and driving in 69 runs. Even more impressive, 25-year-old Carpenter drew 90 walks while striking out 102 times. Carpenter also committed just eight errors in 892 innings at the hot corner.

"I didn't know much about the kid because I didn't see him in Spring Training, but he did well enough to warrant a promotion," said Warner. "When he got there, I was hesitant to think the success he had was going to last, but he carried it. He makes adjustments, he plays the game the right way and doesn't get into a funk when things don't go his way. He was probably one of our most consistent guys all year."

Carpenter carried that success into the Texas League playoffs, where he hit .400 with a homer and five RBIs in a five game loss to Northwest Arkansas. "He stepped up, it's one of the things we look at," Warner added. "He hit a little bit of a lull heading into the playoffs, but when it came to the playoffs, he stepped it up and hit another gear."

Left fielder -- D'Marcus Ingram Quad Cities (49 games)/Palm Beach (51 games): Ingram earned a promotion to the Florida State League after batting .324 with six triples for the Bandits, earning Midwest League All-Star honors. After a slow start at Palm Beach, the 22-year-old heated up in August, posting a .374 on-base percentage in 29 games. Ingram was second in the organization with 22 stolen bases and seventh with a .296 average.

Center field -- Nicholas Longmire, Batavia (68 games): A fifth-round pick out of the University of the Pacific, Longmire started his pro career off with a bang, driving in six runs in just his second game. A New York-Penn League All-Star, Longmire hit .287 and was second in the league with 53 runs scored and third with 55 RBIs. The California native also compiled nine outfield assists for the Muckdogs.

Right fielder -- Allen Craig, Memphis (83 games): Craig did most of his damage with the Redbirds in the first half before a big league promotion. The 26-year-old Californian batted .320 with 14 homers. He was third in the organization with 81 RBIs despite playing 44 games with the Cardinals, where he added four homers and 18 RBIs.

Designated hitter -- Xavier Scruggs, Palm Beach (87 games)/ Springfield (33 games): Scruggs was fourth in the organization with 21 homers and 74 RBIs. The Florida State League All-Star set career highs in nearly offensive category, collecting 201 total bases and scoring 58 runs over two levels. Despite playing only 33 games in Double-A, the 23-year-old right-hander went deep eight times with the Cardinals.

"He's a threat," said Warner. "He's a guy you put in the lineup and you have to respect him when he comes to the plate. He's one of those guys that, if you're the opposing manager, you have to respect. If he can cut down on the strikeouts next year, he's going to be a force for us."

Left-handed starting pitcher -- Ryan Copeland, Johnson City (13 games): The 22-year-old Copeland split time between the bullpen and rotation. He was up to the task in both roles, leading the organization with a 1.86 ERA while going 7-0. He held opposing batters to a .202 average en route to earning Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year honors.

Right-handed starting pitcher -- Brandon Dickson, Memphis (28 games): Signed as an undrafted free agent, Dickson enjoyed his finest season, tying a career high with 11 wins and posting a personal-best 3.23 ERA. He also was selected for the Pacific Coast League All-Star Game. The 26-year-old was third in the organization with 137 strikeouts, also a career high.

Relief pitcher -- Fernando Salas, Memphis (34 games): The 25-year-old Mexican was a PCL All-Star after notching 19 saves and striking out 44 batters in 35 2/3 innings with the Redbirds. Salas' performance was good enough to earn him a Major League promotion, where he posted a 3.52 ERA in 27 games with St. Louis.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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