Dan McLaughlin

If you haven’t noticed the Cardinals are using young players to make a run at another NL Central Division crown. While it’s always nice to see young kids produce at the major league level, it’s especially nice to see that the young talent has been drafted and brought up through the Cardinals system. In a game earlier this season, 8 of the starting 9 players were drafted and brought through the Cardinals minor league system. Jeff Luhnow, the VP of scouting and player development, along with his staff, deserve credit for producing the following players: Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia, Mitchell Boggs, Daniel Descalso, Allen Craig, Tyler Greene, Jon Jay, Fernando Salas, and Eduardo Sanchez. These players have played roles in getting the Cardinals to first place in the NL Central. If you look even closer, another former Cardinal prospect, Brett Wallace, was part of the deal that brought Matt Holliday to St. Louis as well.

There are many scouts around baseball that have seen the Cardinals farm system and will tell you in the lower levels there are very good arms that aren’t that far away from making an impact at the big league level. Carlos Martinez picked up his first win in North America over the weekend and was clocked at 100 mph and the club is easing along the progress of former first round pick Shleby Miller who has a dominating fastball. There are others that could see the major leagues in the not too distant future like third baseman Zack Cox and pitcher Lance Lynn.

This past week saw the major league debut of former first round pick Pete Kozma. While the numbers aren’t glowing there is progress being made by a prospect that is only 23. “It is very satisfying for everybody that scouted him and has worked with him along the way,” said Luhnow. “He has really developed. He has worked extremely hard on his defense and I hope that he hits enough to stay in the big leagues.”

It is very important to point out that the Cardinals have to draft well and develop players. If the club expects to keep Albert Pujols at what would be a hefty price and the contract ($120 million) of Matt Holliday in left field, then there has to be young, cheaper talent to plug into other areas. So, while there are some looking for the farm system to produce, take a closer look at what’s happening in 2011.

Please note that Jeff Luhnow will be a guest on the “This Week In Baseball” tonight between 6-8pm on KMOX.

Dan McLaughlin, the television voice of the Cardinals, hosts “The Sports Hub” weeknights from 9p-12a on KMOX