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Minor League Spotlight: Jeff Luhnow's Promotion History


I know you want more minor league information. Heck, it's one of the most exciting parts of this team as we look at the future of the contending club that will be. Subber10 does a great job each day running down our minor league recap, pointing out key trends and talking about the minors. Once a week, though, we'll take a minute to touch on another minor-league trend, story or team that's doing interesting things.

This week, I'm attempting to answer a simple question that Tim made me think about on a recent podcast. How long before we may see George Springer in the major leagues? What will his progress this season look like, assuming he doesn't get injured?

To answer that, I wanted to look at one thing in particular. How has new GM Jeff Luhnow handled player promotion when he was in the Cardinals. I know it wasn't entirely his purview when he was there, but he was involved in the decision-making process, and since he goes back to 2005 in that capacity, we have a fairly big sample size.

But, I did want to control our study. We're not looking at every prospect he's drafted. I wanted to just look at position players he took in the first round or the second round since 2005. I was going to limit it to just college players, but ended up leaving in the high schoolers as a comparison.

What have we seen?

First rounders

Brett Wallace, 2008 - Wallace started out in Low A ball after being drafted, making it to Double-A for 13 games. He started 2009 in Double-A, playing 32 games there before being promoted to Triple-A and playing 62 games there before being traded to Oakland in the Matt Holliday deal. Total games before majors: 148 before trade to Oakland

Colby Rasmus, 2005 - Rasmus started in short-season ball after being drafted, then played in both Low A and High A in 2006. He played the entire 2007 season in Double-A before being promoted to Triple-A in 2008. Total games before majors: 417

Tyler Greene, 2005 - Greene started out in the New York-Penn league after being drafted, but was quickly promoted to High A for another 20 games. He split 2006 between Low A and High A ball, finally making it to Double-A in 2007. He went back to Double-A in 2008 because of an injury in 2007, but made it to Triple-A after 97 games. Total games before majors: 466

Pete Kozma, 2007 - Played in three different levels of short-season ball after being drafted. He played at both Low A and High A in 2008, repeating High A the next season for 18 games before moving up to Double-A. He spent the next two seasons there before being promoted to Triple-A in 2011. Total games before majors: 460

Zack Cox, 2010 - Spent four games in rookie ball after being drafted. Played 42 games in High A before being promoted to Double-A for 93 more games. Started 2012 in Triple-A. Total games before majors: 145 and counting

Second rounders

Robert Stock, 2009 - He spent 41 games in rookie ball after being drafted, but was promoted to Low A for four games that season. He played the entire 2010 season in Low A, playing another 16 games there to open 2011 before moving up to High A to finish the season. Total games before majors: 189 and counting

Shane Peterson, 2008 - He went to the New York-Penn League after being drafted and started the next season at High A. He spent 76 games there before moving up to Double-A, where he spent 18 games before being traded to Oakland in the Holliday deal. Total games before majors: 156 before trade

Jon Jay, 2006 - Started in Low A after being drafted. Spent 2007 in High A for 36 games before being promoted to Double-A. He made it to Triple-A in 2008 after spending 96 games at Double-A to start the season. He spent the entire 2009 season in Triple-A and started 2010 there before being promoted to the majors. Total games before majors: 409

Mark Hamilton, 2006 - He started in the New York-Penn League for 30 games before getting promoted to Low A after being drafted. He spent 60 games at High A the next season before getting promoted to Double-A. He spent the next year at Double-A but only played in 72 games total that season. He spent 46 games in Double-A in 2009 before moving up to Triple-A, where he played 46 games that season and 72 more the next before making his major-league debut. Total games before majors: 441

On the whole, it seems like it's taken about 400 games for a prospect to make the majors with a team like the Cardinals. Springer's assignment at High A tracks with how they've placed these positions players, as most of the college guys started out there.

From these examples, we can also assume Springer could be promoted to Double-A after anywhere from 40 to 60 games. It also doesn't look like he's got a shot to see Triple-A this season, which tracks with what Brooks, Sean and I have said for the past few weeks.

However, the only tweak I'd give to this timeline is the team's relative success. With the Cardinals, Luhnow was dealing with a good team of established players. In that situation, there was time to bring a player along more slowly. With Houston, that time table may be moved up because of opportunities with the major league club.

I still don't think Luhnow will rush Springer along. He's too valuable for that. But, it may not be out of the question for him to see the majors at some point next season, assuming he gets about 90 games at Double-A and something like 70 games at Triple-A before then.

What do you think? Is there anything in this data that suggests we may see Springer sooner? Can we assume anything from these situations, or do you think Luhnow will make different decisions with Houston?