LaRussa is usually not one to surprise us during spring training. Very rarely does a position player come out of the blue to earn a spot on the Cardinals 25 man roster. Recently players such as Mike Coolbaugh and Emil Brown have had tremendous springs but found not ticket to St. Louis when it was time to travel north. My choice to possibly surprise and get to make the trip this year is Ryan Ludwick. It was not too long ago that he was considered one of the top outfield prospects in baseball. Ryan was selected by Oakland in the 2nd Round (60th overall) of the 1999 draft out of UNLV. He was assigned to Modesto and hit 4 homeruns in 43 games. He did slug a decent .444 and this was high A. 2000 saw him back in Modesto where he was a California League All-Star. He hit 29 homeruns and had 102 runs batted in. He did strikeout 128 times in 492 at bats. 2001 saw him start at Double A Midland where he hit 25 homeruns and drove in 96. Strikeouts were still high, 113 in 443 at bats. His OBP only slightly dropped from .359 to .356. Later that summer he was sent to Triple A Sacremento and struggled in only 57 AB’s. Then on Jan 14,2002, he was traded by the Athletics with Mario Ramos, Gerald Laird and Jason Hart to the Rangers for Mike Venafro and Carlos Pena. He started out 2002 at Triple A Oklahoma City and hit 15 homeruns and drove in 52 in 305 at bats. He also struck out 70 times but had a very respectable .370 OBP. Later that summer he made his very forgetable Major League debut. He hit 1 home run and drove in 9 in 81 at bats. He also managed to strike out 24 times. Back to Triple A in 2003 where he hit 17 home runs with 63 runs batted in while logging 317 at bats. Back to Texas was even more forgetable than his first trip to the bigs. He hit .154 during 8 games. Then on July 18,2003, he was traded by the Rangers to the Indians for Shane Spencer and Ricardo Rodriguez. He put up numbers for the Indians that would make Drew Carrey proud. He hit 7 homeruns and drove in 26 runs in 136 at bats. He slugged a very respectable .485, but did strike out 39 times. 2004 saw playing time cut. He played in only 52 games split between Double and Triple A. He did get into 15 Major League games but that too was a disappointment. 2005 saw another set back as he only saw action in 54 games in Triple A and 19 games for the Indians. Ryan had only 9 hits in 41 at bats with the Indians but 4 of those hits were homeruns. The Indians had decided that had seen enough and let him walk on October 15, 2005. Ludwick signed a minor league deal on Jan 4,2006, with the Tigers. He was able to play 134 games with Toledo last year. He hit 28 homeruns and drove in 80 in 508 at bats. He did strike out 167 times. He still was able to get on base at a clip of .342 and slugged .506. Though his strikeouts are very high, it seems reasonable that he could provide right-handed power off the bench that the Cardinals have not had since Eduardo Perez left. Also, I wonder how his career might have progressed if not for the setbacks in 04and 05.
I have a friend having surgery on Tuesday. She has oral cancer and the doctor is going to remove part of her tongue and then rebuild it. There is always a chance of excessive bleeding and the swelling could cause serious respiratory problems. If all goes well with the surgery, she gets to have radiation treatments everyday for six weeks. So if you would, say a prayer for Sherri Bowen.