Category Archives: Prospects

Brandon Buckman

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Jose Martinez

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 mart2.jpg Walking along side Amaury Marti.

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Cards escape with a win and Colby is honored

 First, I hope you like the new layout.  The black was really getting to me.   I hope to continue to update the site with new features over the next couple weeks. 

Colby racks up more honors.  Another former first rounder wins but struggles.  Yet another first rounder gets a step closer to returning to full season baseball while another first rounder has a first at Memphis. 

Colby Rasmus earned multiple honors for the week.  The 21 year old was named the Texas League Offensive Player of the Week and also was Number 1 on Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet. 

 Notice that Milb.com errors in calling him a catcher:

Texas League
Colby Rasmus, Springfield

.611 (11-18), 7 R, 0 3B, 3 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, 1.111 SLG

Cardinals catcher Colby Rasmus had two more hits than any other player in the Texas League this past week, and his three doubles and seven runs scored tied him for the league lead in that span. The catch? The 21-year-old did all of that in just four games. Rasmus was hit in the first game of the week and did not bat in the rest of the contest. He returned to bat .611 with a 1.111 slugging percentage to finish the week, though. The native of Columbus, Ga., seems to be returning to form. After a torrid May, he batted a mediocre .203 through June and July, but Rasmus is hitting .396 in August. 

From Baseball America:  With all the other 2005 high school first-round outfielders stepping up their play–Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin in the big leagues, Jay Bruce holding his own in Triple-A–Rasmus is the latest to hit a second gear. Rasmus batted .611 with a pair of home runs last week, improving his overall numbers to .260/.373/.507 with 21 homers for Springfield.
Even more impressive is the fact that Rasmus is doing it in a playoff race–Springfield, who won the first half in the Texas League’s North Division, is tied for first place with Arkansas with 16 games remaining in the regular season. And seven of those games are against the Travelers.

More on Rasmus from Kevin Goldstein’s Future Shock:  (Only an excerpt):  Rasmus was a 2005 first-round pick as a high school center fielder who was pushed to Double-A…he struggled at times, showing plenty of power and speed but also keeping his batting average hovering around .250 with plenty of strikeouts…Rasmus is finishing the year with a flourish, going 9-for-14 over the weekend with three doubles and pair of home runs. Now hitting .396/.522/.830 in 16 August games, Rasmus is hitting .267/.378/.520 in 114 games…with 22 home runs and 16 stolen bases. While his hitting skills continue to improve, his power, speed, range, and arm are all above-average, and with the progress Rasmus has made, the post-Edmonds era in the middle of the Cardinals outfield could start as early as next year.

The Cardinals got a much needed win in the final game of the series.  The team looked awful the first 2 games but got the bats going today.  Albert and Ankiel both went deep.  The bullpen was tremendous.  Ryan Franklin allowed 1 baserunner in 1.2 innings while Izzy allowed 2 baserunners while picking up the save.  Even after the Cards were roughed up in the first 2 games, the Cardinals only lost .5 games in the standings over the weekend. 

Anyone else holding his breath when a ball wass hit to the outfield in the late innings?  It is ridiculous that the game continues when the outfielders are splashing to get to the ball.  That is an injury waiting to happen.  I bet Eli Marrero would agree. 

Why do you replace a stadium that has gone through major renovations, has what seems to be a quality drainage system, and has seen more World Series winners than any other  but not a dump that has a tradition of losing?  Wrigley Field is a joke. 

Memphis 4 Iowa (Cubs) 5

Chris Perez blew his first save for Memphis.  Perez struggled with his control, walking 2 of the first 3 batters and then giving up a 3-run walkoff HR to Josh Kroeger.  Mike Smith was shaky as usual, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings. Tagg Bozied had 2 hits including his 24th HR.  Jarrett Hoffpauir had a hit and an RBI.  Joe Mather went 2-4. 

Here is a humurous article about “Joey Bombs”, as he is known in Springfield, and his first trip to Memphis and life in Triple A.

Springfield 4 Corpus Christi (Astros) 8

The Cardinals gave up 7 in the seventh to let this game get away. Mitch Boggs gave up 3 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings. Mike Sillman gave up 5 of those runs in only 0.2 innings.  For the first time since moving to the leadoff spot, Colby did not get a hit to start the game. He did have a hit but he also struck out 3 times.  Rico Washington had 2 hits and has provided a little spark since his return.  Reid Gorecki has not as he put up an 0-4 with 3 Ks and is hitting .087.  Mark Hamilton collected 2 hits. 

Palm Beach 9 Vero Beach (Devil Rays)  2 Game 1

Adam Ottavino got the win, but really struggled getting it.  The former first rounder gave up 2 runs in 5 innings, but walked 6 while only striking out 2.  A.J. Van Slyke had a double and 3 RBIs.  Mark Shorey had 2 hits, an RBI, and 2 runs scored.  Brandon Yarbrough had 2 hits including a 2-run HR.  Allen Craig had 2 hits, an RBI, and 3 runs scored.

Palm Beach 1 Vero Beach (Devil Rays) 6 Game 2

After putting up big offensive numbers in the first game, the Cardinals were only able to muster 2 hits in the night cap.  Jim Rapoport did not have a hit but walked twice and scored a run.  It doesn’t seem like I have put Rapoport’s name in an update in a long time.  Luke Gorsett and Dan Nelson each had a double to account for the only hits.  Stu Pomerantz made his season debut at Palm Beach and got really roughed up.  Pomerantz gave up 5 runs on 6 hits including 3 HRs in 2.2 innings. 

Quad Cities and Clinton (Rangers) were rained out.

Batavia 2 Mahoning Valley (Indians) 3

The Muckdogs got 3 in the eighth thanks to a wild pitch and then a 2 run triple by Daniel Descalso, who also singled.   Domnit Bolivar had the only other hit.  Thomas Eager struck out 6 in 3 innings to pick up his first victory.  Josh Dew picked up his 12th save. 

Johnson City 7 Bristol (White Sox) 4 Game 1

Pete Kozma moved to the 3 spot and responded with 2 hits, a walk, and 2 runs scored.  Jon Edwards went 2-5 with 2 runs scored and 5 RBIs including a 3-run HR, his seventh.  Travis Mitchell had 2 more hits and his average stands at .303.   Andres Rosales gave up 1 run on 6 hits while striking out 8 in 4 innings.

Johnson City 3 Bristol (White Sox) 4 Game 2

Pete Kozma was back in the leadoff spot and went 0-2 but did walk twice.  Mike Folli hit his fourth HR, a 3-run blast.  Omar Javier gave up 4 in 4.2 innings to pick up the loss.

GCL Cardinals 4 GCL Marlins 5

Mark McCormick got another rehab start, pitching 2 perfect innings.  The concern here is McCormick, a supplemental first round pick in 2005,  had no strikeouts.  Scott Thomas had a pinch hit and 2 RBIs.  Brian Buck also had a hit and 2 RBIs. 

I am doing a little research for a couple items I am working on while I was watching the Yankee/Angels game.  Do you realize the Cardinals passed on Phil Hughes in the 2004 Draft and selected Chris Lambert?

Blake Dewitt returned to the lineup in high fashion.  Blake went 1-4 with a 2 run HR that proved to be the game winner.   Dewitt had missed a couple games due to a hamstring injury.

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Cards drop Game 1

18 year old Deryk Hooker is dominate for the GCL.  Surprise, Steve Hill continues to hit.  Mark Shorey warms up to his Palm Beach surroundings and Colby likes his new spot in the lineup.   

 So the Cardinals drop game 1 to the Cubs, 2-1.  Looper was superb, he just made one mistake because his offense left him out to dry.  Pujols had 2 of the 4 Cardinal hits and drove in the only run on his solo HR.  The Cardinals can’t win if their 4-5-6 hitters, Juan Enc., Rolen, and Edmonds on this day, go 0-12.  This offense does not have enough weapons. 

I was really hoping the Cardinals could get this game.  My biggest fear is that LaRussa will get caught up with Pinella, the Cubs, et al, and get so wound up he causes his team to come out too tight.  The Cardinals face another lefty on Saturday, Sean Marshall.  Up for the Redbirds is Anthony Reyes. 

Memphis 3 Oklahoma (Rangers) 4

Blake Hawksworth had a good outing, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits including a HR while striking out 8 in 5 innings.  It is his second consecutive good outing.  Maybe he is turning the corner.  Edgar Gonzalez and Jarrett Hoffpauir each had 2 hits.  Hoffpauir add 2 BBs.  Nick Stavinoha had 2 hits. 

Springfield 2 San Antonio (Padres) 1 Game 1

Pop Warner shook up his struggling lineup and put Colby in the leadoff spot.  Well he paid off as Colby led off the game with his 21st HR.  He was 3-3 and scored both runs.  Keep’em in the leadoff spot.  Amaury Marti had 2 hits and an RBI.  Mark Hamilton had 2 hits.  P.J. Walters rebounded from a rough outing last time out to pick up the win.  P.J. pitched 5 scoreless innings, allowing only 2 hits.  Jason Motte picked up his eighth save.

Springfield 0 San Antonio (Padres) 1 Game 2

Reid Gorecki was in center to rest Colby and went 0-3.  He is now hitting .056 since his return from the DL.  Jose Martinez went 2-3.  Casey Rowlett and Rico Washington had the other 2 hits.  Eric Haberer went the distance, giving up 1 run on 2 hits but walked 5 and is now 11-7.

Palm Beach 6 Daytona (Cubs) 4

Mark Shorey had 2 hits including a 3 run HR.  Luke Gorsett also had 2 hits with a 2-run blast.  Brandon Yarbrough added 2 hits to get his average up to .275.  Tyler Norrick gave up 2 runs in 7 innings while striking out 6.  Luke Gregerson got 2 outs in the ninth to pick up his 23rd save. 

Quad Cities 3 Kane County (A’s) 1

Brandon Dickson gave up 1 run in 6 innings of work.  Kyle Mura pitched 2 more scoreless innings and his ERA sits at 1.69 in 48 innings.  Guess what?  Steve Hill just keeps on hitting.  Tonight he had 2 hits and 2 RBIs.  Kenny Maiques picked up save number 28.

Batavia 4  Auburn (Blue Jays) 8

Blake King gave up 4 runs in 3 innings but only walked 2.  Daniel Descalso had 2 hit, 2 BBs, and 3 runs scored.  Will Groff had 2 hits and 2 RBIs. 

Johnson City 4 Elizabethton (Twins) 5

Pete Kozma had a hit and a run scored.  Kozma has hit in 5 straight.  Nick Vera had 2 hits and an RBI.  Travis Mitchell added 2 more hits to get his average up to .300. 

GCL Cardinals 5  GCL Dodgers 12

Jairo Martinez was 3-5.  Edwin Conde and Luis De La Cruz each had 2 hits.  The worst line of the night belongs to Francisco Samuel who gave up 6 runs on only 2 hits and 7 BBS in 3 innings.  Deryk Hooker gave up a run on 2 hits while strking out 11 in 4 innings.  Yes, 11 Ks in 12 outs.  Impressive. 

Another 2005 HS outfielder has been promoted to the big leagues.  First, B.J. Upton and now the Tigers have promoted Cameron Maybin.  Remember, Colby Rasmus was a member of that loaded HS outfielder class. 

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Russell back to Austin

Here is the link.  Derrick Goold is reporting the same.  He, also,  sounds pessimistic about getting a deal for Stutes done.

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Brian Barden

  

Brian Barden was selected in the sixth round of the 2002 First Year Player Draft out of Oregon State University.  Barden stand 5’11, throws right and bats right.  The Diamondbacks assigned to Yakima and after 4 games he was promoted to Lancaster. 

The Diamondbacks designated him for assignment on Aug. 3. Barden was hitting .269 with two homers and 29 RBIs in 83 games at Tucson. 

Going into the 2007 season, Barden was rated as the #20 Prospect in a loaded Arizona system.   From the BA 2007 Prospect Handbook:  Barden doesn’t get much attention but keeps plugging away for the Diamondbacks….He has added power to his offensive game and versatility to his defense in the last couple of seasons, making him a legitimate candidate for a utility job.  Barden is the kind of player that grinds out solid performances everyday…He has a nice line drive stroke and is a good situational hitter…In the right situation, he’ll be a great role player for a big league team.  

From Scout.com:  Slick is the best word to describe Barden’s fielding. His defense is stellar, and always has been (he was twice voted the best defensive infielder in college by Baseball America) with fantastic range and a strong accurate arm he saves a lot of doubles and dares even the fastest hitters to bunt on him. 

According to Baseball America’s Recent Best Tools Survey, he is considered to be the best defensive 3rd baseman in Triple A by his peers.   

After a tremendous Spring Training in which he hit .397/.435/.638 with 2 HRs and 7 RBIs in 58 Abs.  He was rewarded by breaking camp with the big league club.   So, he started 2007 with the Diamondbacks but got off to a slow start, going 1-for-12 in eight games before being optioned to Triple-A Tucson in May.  Barden is a notorious slow starter as noted here in an article from BA in 2006:  A slow start is nothing new for Diamondbacks utilityman Brian Barden, whose three-hit weekend for Triple-A Tucson raised his average 20 points…”I struggled at the beginning of last year, too.” ..It takes me a little while to come around.  I am a slow starter but once I get going…”

Barden had a career .297 average, 55 home runs and 393 RBI in his six years in Arizona’s minor league system going into the 2007 season.

In 2006, Barden spent the season with Triple-A Tucson. He earned Arizona’s and Topps Pacific Coast League Player of the Month honors for July 2006 after winning back-to-back Player of the Week honors that month. For the season, he hit .298 with 16 home runs and 97 RBI.  He played 79 games at 3B, 20 at SS, 22 at 2B, and 10 at 1B.   

In 2005, Barden started the year for the first time at Triple A Tucson.  For the year he hit .307 with 15 HRs and 85 RBIs.   He played 115 games at 3B, 20 at 2B, and 2 at SS.   

Barden was barely scouted coming out of high school, but played so well in a tournament in Oregon his senior year that Oregon State offered him a spot as a walk on.  He accepted, and then rewarded the OSU coaching staff by becoming the team MVP, landing honors as a defensive star at third base.

 Although old to be considered a true prospect, he should provide good depth to an organization in dire need of minor league infield help.  With stellar defense and versatility, he should get a good opportunity to not only stabilize the Memphis infield defense, but also, have a shot at a utility role in 2008.

 Here is a great article that appeared in the April 1, 2007 edition of the Arizona Star.

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Rasmus injured and the Cardinals sign Zawacki

Colby Rasmus had to leave the game after his first at bat due to being hit in the elbow.  According to Kary Booher, an MRI was negative and Colby said that he should be fine.    

I am trying to catch up from the weekend.  No Cardinal minor leaguer won player of the week honors.  Seems there is dissention in the Cardinal clubhouse, this time it is Juan and Tony.  It seems it is always Tony and somebody.   Hopefully, the MRI Juan is having is clear and they can ship him somewhere. 

The Cardinals have a big week coming up.  The Redbirds have 7 on the road against the Brewers then the Cubs.   A 6-1 trip would be great but the Cardinals need to do no worse than a 4-3 split.

Derrick Goold is reporting that the Cardinals are still attempting to sign Kyle Russell.  The Redbirds have until midnight on Wednesday to get a deal done.  The fourth round pick out of Texas is holding out for first round $$ and the Cardinals knew this when they drafted him.  A cool million will probably get the deal done.  Also, in the same article, Goold reports that the Cardinals signed prep righty Brett Zawacki.  I have more on Zawacki here.  Check out the pic of Zawacki over at the News Tribune.  He was considered one of the top righties in the country and fell due to signability concerns.  The deal was done over the weekend according to Goold and the deal could be finalized as early as today.  I am sure the Cardinals are delaying the announcement due to the deal being above the recommended slot dollars recommended by the Commissioner’s office.   

The Cardinals’ system had only one player on this weeks Baseball America Hotsheet, Springfield shortstop Jose Martinez at number 20.  From BA:  Martinez was one of our breakout candidates back in a March edition of Prospect Pulse, and while it’s taken the 21-year-old Venezuelan some time to get rolling after being promoted from high Class A Palm Beach in June, he’s proven to be a valuable commodity in the organization. After hitting .158 over his first eight games, Martinez is batting .391/.404/.696 in August–a month after he drove in 24 runs in July.

In the Not So Hot feature was Blake Dewitt.  From BA: Dewitt got off to a fast start when he was promoted to the Southern League, but is hitting just .138 this month with no RBIs.  It is actually .215 with an RBI.  He hit really well in the 2 hole, struggled when dropped to the five hole, and is beginning to hit again as he was shifted back to the 2 hole. 

From Baseball Prospectus Future Shock:  Daryl Jones is the best athlete in the Cardinals system…… After two up-and-down years in short-season leagues, the Cardinals put him in the Midwest League, and he struggled mightily…. Over the last two week, something is suddenly clicking with Jones, and perhaps Cardinals fans should be excited. On Sunday, Jones hit a game-winning home run as part of his first four-hit game of the year, and in his last 10 games he’s gone 17-for-39. As to whether or not this is real, that’s still a mystery, but this has been his hottest streak of the season by a mile, the potential for a breakout has always been there, and in the end we just don’t know yet.

The Cardinals claimed utility man Brian Barden from the Arizona system.  BA had him rated as the 20th prospect in the Diamondback system.  A natural 3B, Barden can play any of the infield positions and should add more depth to an infield challenged system.

 Memphis 2 Omaha (Royals) 4

Mike McCoy went 2-4.  Nick Stavinoha and Tagg Bozied each hit solo HRs.  Matt Ginter got the loss, giving up 3 runs in 5 innings of work. 

Springfield 1 Corpus Christi (Astros) 6

Adam Daniels was shaky again with 4 runs allowed in 5 innings.  Daniels allowed 7 hits and walked 5.  Matt Scherer gave up 2 runs on 3 hits in 2 innings. Amaury Marti was the only player with 2 hits.  Cody Haerther doubled and drove in the only run. 

Kary Booher has more on Daniels’ recent struggles. 

Palm Beach and the rest of the Florida State League had the day off.

Quad Cities 5 Fort Wayne (Padres) 2

Clayton Mortenson was very impressive allowing only 3 hits with 6 Ks in 4 shutout innings.  At one point, Motenson struck out 6 in a row. Jason Cairns got the win while allowing 1 run in 3 innings.  Saves leader Kenny Maiques notched save number 27.  Steve Hill had 2 hits including a 3 run shot, his tenth.  Jaime Landin went 4-4.  Antone DeJesus collected 2 hits. 

Congratulations to Kenny Maiques who became the Swing’s All-Time Single Season Saves leader over the weekend. 

I have to say that I am disappointed that the Quad Cities will be getting a new name.  I love the fact that this team has such an unique name. 

Batavia had the night off.

Johnson City 7 Bluefield (Orioles) 11

Senger Peralta was rocked for 8 runs in 6 innings.  Pete Kozma had 2 hits and a stolen base.  Mike Folli had 2 hits and 2 BBs.  Matt Arburr had 2 hits and 2 runs scored.  Travis Mitchell had 2 RBIs. 

Those of you sweating out the Kyle Russell signing, it is just not happening in St. Louis.  From BA:  We still have 13 unsigned first-rounders (there hasn’t been a first-rounder who didn’t come to terms since the Orioles’ Wade Townsend in 2004) and 40 unsigned picks through the first five rounds (compared to just four from 2006). Most of those players will sign, and many of them already have agreed to terms that won’t be announced until just before the deadline.

Baseball America is reporting that the Tigers are on the verge of signing Rick Porcello to a $7.7 million contract.  I know most really wanted Porcello when the Cards’ picked, myself included, but that money is totally ridiculous. 

John Sickels on Ankiel:  *Rick Ankiel is like something out of a novel. If you pitched this story to a Hollywood studio or major publishing house, it would be rejected as unrealistic and/or a derivative copy of someone else’s work.

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Thoughts on Springfield

Well I am back from Springfield with pictures in hand.  They at first were deleted but we were able to buy software that restored most of them.  How great is modern technology.  Or if you think of it a different way, it is kind of scary.  No matter if you delete an item, you can still go back and retrieve it.

Possibly,  the coolest thing at the park is the Colby Rasmus T-Shirt Jersey.  Both of my kids got a red one and  I got my wife a pink one.  Really cool for a minor league park.  When I asked Colby what he thought about having his own shirt, he just smiled with this funny and grin and replied, “It’s Cool.”

I would like to thank Matt Gifford, Springfield’s GM, for his great hospitality.  I got a tour of the facilities and they are top notch.  When walking in to the stadium, my first thought was that this was the big leagues.  There is nothing minor about it.  Some impressions of the team:

SS Jose Martinez–Without a doubt, I came away impressed with him more than anyone.  Let me add that I had seen Colby and Anderson before, so I knew what to expect.  Martinez’ ability was a complete surprise.  He has above average range at short with a strong throwing arm.  He makes good contact at the plate and is really hard to strike out.  Also, at the plate he has surprising pop.  He has average speed on the basepaths.  His body type reminds me of Edgar Renteria.  Springfield was really nervous when losing Tyler Greene, but Martinez has been an admirable replacement in the field and provided much more offense.

CF Colby Rasmus–Defensively, Colby is big league ready.  He gets great jumps of the bat and covers a lot of ground in center.  His arm strength is already stuff of legend in the Texas League.  At the plate, he has tremendous power but is still quite pull happy. 

3B Juan Richardson–A good minor league hitter.  But remember he is 28 and in Double A. 

LF Cody Haerther–Cody has been hampered by injuries this year.  He has good range in left and a slightly above average arm.  He has good doubles power at the plate and is quicker on the basepaths than expected.  Cody needs to really concentrate on making contact especially with such a log jam in the outfield at both Springfield and Memphis.

RF Amaury Marti–He is definitely one of the nicest people I have ever met.  Very respectful and you can tell he is really glad to be back in the US.  His nickname is “The Body” and there is no doubt why.  He is chiseled like a body builder.  I think his arms are bigger than my legs.  An awesome specimen for sure.  He is slow to the ball in the outfield and doesn’t get very good reads.  He has an above average arm.  He has average speed and almost seems muscle bound when running the bases.  His pitch recognition seems to be lacking but there is no question about his power.  He is as strong as anyone I have seen in the minors this year.  But he is 32 years old and even though I would love to see him make, I just don’t know how much time the Cardinals should invest in him.

C Bryan Anderson–I know that it has been extremely hot and being behind the plate is the worst place one can be during this weather.  But I feel that Anderson has regressed since I saw him in June.  Now I know I only watched 2 games so I am by no means here to draw conclusions.  Back in June I wrote that he needed work but seemed to be getting better with his footwork behind the plate.  Now it seems like he needs a whole lot of work behind the plate.  He took stabs at quite a few pitches behind the plate instead of shifting his body.  He has a strong throwing arm, but he is slow in getting the ball to second.   But his ability to hit left me with no questions.  His most impressive at bat of the 2 nights was actually an out.  He hit an opposite field shot that the left fielder caught up against the wall in the left center field gap.  He is still only 20, so maybe more power is to come.

2B Juan Lucena–His lack of power has been documented lately and I could not agree more.  Lucena makes good contact but with little pop.  What he does give you is a good contact hitter who strikes out very rarely.  But he doesn’t walk very often either.  He has good range, especially to his right with an above average arm.  He is really good with the turn at second.  He has good speed on the bases.  I could see him as a poor man’s Placido Polanco.  Probably not an everyday player but possibly as a decent utility player.

1B Mark Hamilton–I really wanted to get the chance to see Hamilton.  He has really good power but a long loopy swing.  So far the Texas League pitchers have taken advantage of this.  He is not real smooth at the bag.  He is not nearly as good defensively as the guy he replaced, Mike Ferris.  He is really pull happy as witnessed by the shift used when he was up.  I can say that is the first time I witnessed that at a minor league game.

PH Mark Shorey–He has a nice short stroke at the plate.  He seems to really know how to hit as witnessed by his smooth transition from Low Class A to Double A.  Really an underrated player in the system. 

P P.J. Walters–This was the second time I had seen Walters pitch, the last being in late May at the Quad Cities.  He still hides the ball really well but on this night he had very little command.  With his lack of “stuff”, if Walters can’t hit his spots, it will usually mean a short outing.  If Walters is to advance, he must have command of all his pitches.  Walters does have a good pickoff move for a right-hander. 

P Eric Haberer–Must have been the heat, because the lack of command was contagious.  On this night, Haberer struggled from the get go.  He had trouble with command and was not hitting his spots.  If not walking the opposing batters, he was leaving to much over the plate.  He was surprising as he hit 92 and worked 89-91.  His delivery is odd in that he starts in almost a stretch position and then steps back parallel to the rubber before making his pitch.  Also, the delivery is very slow and deliberate. 

RP–Chris Russ-Worked 93-95, mostly 95, and touched 97.  Needs a lot of help with control and his offspeed pitches.  It is totally amazing to me to see a guy who is 28 years old that can touch 97 on the gun still be at Double A. 

RP–Nick Webber–A really big guy that works 88-90 and can touch 91.  Has really struggled of late, with his command.  He is leaving way too many of his pitches over the plate and when you throw in the high 80s/low 90s that will usually get you in to trouble.  It almost seems that a promotion would do him good.  Maybe he has gotten to comfortable at this level and could use another challenge.  I had a chance to talk to him before the game and he seems like a good guy.  He signed for my kids and even took a picture with them.  Luckily, this happens to be one of the three that was not lost.

RP–Zachary Zuercher–Really good lefty that projects as a LOOGY at the big league level.  Lefties are hitting below .150 against him.  He hides the ball well and can touch 91.  He biggest area of weakness is his command and needs to cut down on the BBs to reach the next level.

RP-Matt Scherer–Big middle reliever who looks like he would throw much harder.  Averages more than a K an inning even though his fastball sits in the low 90s.  Uses his large frame to get good leverage coming to the plate.  Needs to do a better job against lefties. 

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Springfield

I just got back from the Springfield game.  I saw the last 2 nights and each night the team seemed flat and got little help from its pitching staff.  Colby’s defense is big league ready right now.  His bat still needs work as he was really pull happy the last 2 nights.  He did get a hold of one last night and there was no question it was gone when it left his bat.  Colby is also a really good kid.  He stays after the game until every kid gets an autograph.

The player I was most surprised by was Jose Martinez.  First off, his body type really reminds me of Edgar Renteria.  He has good range, a strong arm, a really good pop.  The homer he hit tonight was very impressive even though the game was out of reach.  He fouled off 3 consecutive pitches into the right field stands and then turned on an inside pitch to hit it out.  I was really high on him going into the season, but after his slow start I wasn’t so sure.  Now it seems the Texas League really agrees with him.

I will have more later;  some conversations with the Cardinals including GM Matt Gifford and Colby Rasmus, and lots and lots of pictures.

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Spring Training Surprises?

ludwick_jog.jpg 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.

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