St. Louis Cardinals 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm rankings via Baseball America (2009)
2009 (8) | 2008 (13) | 2007 (23) | 2006 (21) | 2005 (30) | 2004 (28)
Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [91 – 71] NL Central
AAA: [77 – 67] Pacific Coast League
AA: [71 – 69] Texas League
A+: [61 – 77] Florida State League
A: [61 – 78] Midwest League
A(ss): [37 – 39] New York – Pennsylvania League
R: [37 – 30] Appalachian League
R: [25 – 31] Gulf Coast League
The Run Down
The Cardinals 2010 ranking isn’t looking pretty (#29) and here is why. Colby Rasmus graduated and they traded their numbers 2,3,4,6,28, and 29 ranked prospects this year, not to mention releasing their number 23 ranked prospect (who was picked up off the waivers by Pittsburgh). Here is the breakdown of what happened:
- Received Matt Holliday (OAK) for (#2 3B) Brett Wallace, (#6 RHP) Clayton Mortensen, (#28 OF) Shane Peterson and $1.5 Million
- Received Mark DeRosa (CLE) for (#3 RHP)Chris Perez and a PTBNL (#4 RHP Jess Todd)
- Received Julio Lugo (BOS) for Chris Duncan and cash
- Received Khalil Greene (SD) for (#29 RHP) Luke Gregerson
- Released (#23 RHP) Tyler Herron
Good thing they resigned Holliday otherwise that would have been one of the largest rental seasons for an entire organization since they lost DeRosa and Greene. I won’t rate the trades, but I will say they lost a gratuitous amount of talent. Grey just mentioned David Freese and what kind of value he may possess, thus I will withhold my comments. Furthermore, the fifth rotation spot is worth watching as the winner may hold more value for you playing in deeper leagues (Jaime Garcia versus Ben Jukich versus P.J. Walters versus Kyle McClellan). Personally, I like Garcia and Jukich. With Spring Training underway, hopefully we (Razzball readers) will start to see some of these players mentioned vying for a 25 man roster spot. Without any further ado, the Cardinals Minor League Review:
Players of Interest for 2010
#26 Allen Craig | 1B-LF-3B | AAA | 24 | .322/.374/.547 | 472 AB | 53 XBH | 26 HR | .225 ISO | 95:37 K:BB | .358 BABIP | 44.5 GB% | 18.8 LD% | 36.6 FB%
With Pujols clogging first base for the rest of his career (Yes, I am that sure he’ll remain a Card for life.), Craig isn’t going to get many options to play first base beyond the Pacific Coast League. All the scouting reports mentioned that he’ll probably stay in left field but first base is his best defensive position. His defense is average in the outfield where his below average speed and arm strength are noticeable. However, if Holliday wasn’t resigned, Craig may have been given multiple opportunities to start in the majors this year. Offensively, Craig has the skills to hit between .280 to .300 at the major league level with 20 to 25 homers. His poor strikeout-to-walk ratio doesn’t necessarily tell how well he controls the zone, yet, this is the culprit for predicting a lower average at the major league level – plus the inflated stat line from the PCL and his high batting average on balls in play (.358). Ranked as the seventh best prospect in the Cards system for 2010, Craig could provide some midseason help off the bench if he continues to play well to start the season. He could also be used as trade bait as the season progresses. He’ll make his major league debut sometime in this season. Just remember, it’s his bat that is going to get him to the majors to stay.
#16 Tyler Greene | SS | AAA | 25 | .291/.369/.482 | 340 AB | 30 XBH | 15 HR | .171 ISO | 31/3 SB/CS | 86:38 K:BB | .354 BABIP | 44.4 GB%| 21.8 LD% | 33.8 FB%
An injury to his kneecap in 2007 derailed much of his confidence and speed as this was the most steals since 2006 when he was at Single-A and High-A. This was easily his best year as a pro and it happened to come while playing in the PCL. I am hesitant to claim he is going to be much more than a utility fielder (supported by the scouting reports). He is vying for that role this spring. His greatest assets is his speed and multiple positions he is able to play. His strike zone judgment is Delmon Young-like and defense is spotty at short. If given a full time gig, you’d be looking at a .260 hitter at best with 30 to 35 steals. Great for fantasy purposes as he looks like Everth Cabrera but he is four years Cabrera’s senior. With the recent signing of Felipe Lopez, look for Greene to be back at Triple-A.
#13 Jaime Garcia | LHP | R/A+/AAA | 23 | 9.8 K/9 | 3.3 BB/9 | 37 2/3 IP | 2.87 ERA | 3.69 FIP | 1.04 WHIP | 1.2 HR/9 | 6 H/9 | .212 BABIP | 62.4 GB% | 6.4 LD% | 24 FB%
Following two straight seasons (2007 and 2008) of ending with elbow problems, Garcia went under the knife of Dr. Freeze in 2008 and returned for the end of the 2009. Since his 2009 season is such a small sample, here is his career line:
8.3 K/9 | 3.3 BB/9 | 402 IP | 3.49 ERA | 3.71 FIP | 1.25 WHIP | .6 HR/9 | 8.3 H/9 | .308 BABIP | 58.7 GB% | 14. LD% | 23.4 FB%
Note the groundball ratio (slightly over two-to-one) and the good strikeout rates. He has an 88 to 92 mph fastball with a devastating curve and a new cutter he developed while rehabbing. The favorite to win the fifth rotation sport, Garcia still has to prove he is durable enough to pitch a full season. Further, his control is inconsistent. Don’t be surprised to see the Cards place him at Triple-A for a couple of months and call him up at the end of May. Think of J.A. Happ (but a groundball pitcher instead) and Randy Wells (without the control) for his expectations for 2010. While everyone is watching Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, Brain Matusz, Neftali Feliz, Stephen Strasburg, Aroldis Chapman and Madison Bumgarner, keep an eye on Jaime Garcia. With Dave Duncan as his coach and the revival of Joel Pinero’s career via extreme groundball splits, Garcia could provide excellent value in 2010.
Ben Jukich | LHP | AAA | 26 | 7.8 K/9 | 2.9 BB/9 | 123 IP | 4.10 ERA | 4.28 FIP | 1.34 WHIP | 1.2 HR/9 | .306 BABIP | 51.3 GB% | 16.8 LD% | 26.9 FB% (career 53.6 GB% | 15.3 LD% | 27.9 FB% | .6 HR/9)
Jukich had a great year, but with better defense (as noted by Bryan Smith from FanGraphs) and his great career ground ball ratios (53.6%) he’ll perform better than expected. He is rather old and his prospect status is non-existent. His fantasy prospects aren’t much different, but each year a ground ball pitcher can come up and surprise (Matt Palmer had a few good outings, Scott Feldman had a great year relying on a sinking 2-seam fastball, etc). I accidentally placed him in the Cincinnati Reds Minor League Review, however, with the Cardinals he is vying for the fifth rotation spot with Jaime Garcia and P.J. Walters. Read Garcia’s ending sentences about Dave Duncan for what Jukich could provide in 2010.
#17 P.J. Walters | RHP | AAA | 24 | 8.4 K/9 | 3.3 BB/9 | 121 IP | 4.54 ERA | 3.58 FIP | 1.42 WHIP | .4 HR/9 | 9.5 H/9 | .348 BABIP | 49 GB% | 18 LD% | 27.9 FB%
Walters is a finesse pitcher with a deceptive changeup and an 88 to 91 mph fastball. He saw 16 innings of the major league last year too. He isn’t sexy and doesn’t have the skills to overpower hitters at the major league level. His control and durability are better than Garcia’s. However, his upside is nowhere near Garcia’s. Walters had a high batting average on balls in play (.348), which inflated some of his peripherals (ERA and WHIP). With a more normal BABIP, Walter’s could provide some nice fifth starter value for the Cards. His upside is Aaron Cook. Nothing stellar, but serviceable.
Tyler Henley | RF | AA | 24 | .303/.367/.482 | 423 AB | 47 XBH | 13 HR | .179 ISO | 9/4 SB/CS | 64:40 K:BB (15.1 K% | 8.5 BB%) | .312 BABIP
Invited to spring training and ranked number 18 in the current Baseball America Handbook (non-roster invite), I am not sure why he doesn’t have extended stats at Minor League Splits but he doesn’t. Oh well. Henley projects as a fourth outfielder with good contact skills and strike zone judgment, solid but not great defense and gap power. The Cards have other high ceiling outfield prospects in their system and Henley happens to be the lowest ceiling but most predictable. If there are several injuries to the outfield to the major league club, Henley may be the one called upon to cover the open spot.
#25 Steven Hill | C-1B | AA | 24 | .282/.333/.470 | 464 AB | 47 XBH | 19 HR | .168 ISO | 106:36 K:BB | .326 BABIP | 41.9 GB% | 17.5 LD% | 40.3 FB%
Defensively, he is a liability and his future as a catcher seems to be closing. Swing for the fences only works for so long in the minors before the pitchers catch on. The reason I mention him is that his defense could improve and natural power is difficult to teach. Let’s watch how the 2010 season unfolds for him. If things go well, he could be a sleeper candidate in 2011.
Eduardo Sanchez | RHP | A+/AA | 20 | 9.8 K/9 | 3.0 BB/9 | 75 IP | 2.28 ERA | 3.49 FIP | .92 WHIP | .7 HR/9 | 5.3 H/9 | .234 BABIP | 51.3 GB% | 15.9 LD% | 30.2 FB%
He was aided by an extremely low BABIP (.234) and an even lower one at High-A (.185). Mainly a closer or late inning setup man, Sanchez could provide a mid season boost to a rather uninteresting bullpen for the Cards. He has a 94 to 97 mph fastball and a good slider. Touted as the next closer (over Motte) for the Cardinals because he is actually able to control his pitches. He has the makings of a great closer or reliever with ability to blow his pitches past the batters and keep the ball on the ground (51.3 GB%). For those MR. B’s out there, Sanchez may help sooner rather than later. Might be a midseason call up as he needs to work on his game a little more.
#15 Lance Lynn | RHP | AA | 22 | 7 K/9 | 3.6 BB/9 | 126 1/3 IP | 2.92 ERA | 3.79 FIP | 1.33 WHIP | .4 HR/9 | 8.3 H/9 | .307 BABIP | 47.9 FB% | 16.6 LD% | 31.1 FB%
Possesses an 89 to 92 mph sinking fastball and a solid slider, curveball, and changeup. An inning eater type pitcher, Lynn looks poised for a good season in 2010. If that happens, 2011 may be when he makes his MLB debut.