Last week in this space, I shared information about a few of the hitting prospects in the upper levels of the St. Louis Cardinals system. This time, we’ll look at hurlers who might come into your keeper league aperture down the road.
Triple-A Memphis Redbirds
The pitching staff of the Cardinals’ top affiliate is among the top-ranked in the Pacific Coast League. Their starter with the most potential is former Ole Miss righty Lance Lynn, taken in the supplemental first round two years ago. The big right-hander is a durable middle of the rotation type who has suffered through an inconsistent Triple-A debut this summer.
A player to definitely watch is reliever Eduardo Sanchez. Though St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin is under contract for one more season, it could be Sanchez rather than heir apparents Jason Motte or Mitchell Boggs who seizes the ninth-inning job for the major league club down the road. The hard-throwing Venezuelan right-hander should make his MLB debut in early 2011.
Double-A Springfield Cardinals
Righty Scott Gorgen posted a 1.17 ERA and a 42:17 strikeout to walk ratio through his first 46 innings before suffering an elbow injury. Remember the Cardinals’ fourth-rounder from 2008 to see if he can pick up in 2011 where he left off in 2010. The former Cal-Irvine star might also be a candidate to return to the Arizona Fall League is his rehab is successful.
Class A Quad Cities River Bandits
The Cardinals first-round selection in the 2009 draft, Texas high school right-hander Shelby Miller, impressed Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan in major league camp this spring. An uneven season has followed for the 19-year-old, the only true front-of-the-rotation talent currently in the system. Miller has fanned an eye-popping 110 and walked 27 in 84 1/3 innings, but has also been unable to go deep into games due to high pitch counts. Still, he was just named the top pitching prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America so there is plenty of room to grow.
In the 2010 draft, the Cardinals selected pitchers with three of their top four picks. Including two supplemental selections to compensate for the losses of Joel Pineiro and Mark DeRosa last winter, St. Louis had four picks in the top 75. Only one of the three hurlers is signed and in uniform, but another has said he came to terms with the organization.
Seth Blair, taken 46th overall, was the Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year for Arizona State. The 21-year-old right-hander has already reported to the Batavia of the New York-Penn League but has not taken the field. He is considered a safe, middle of the rotation type.
Texas high schooler Tyrell Jenkins, selected four picks after Blair, is the kind of high-potential prospect that has scouts drooling. Wooed away from a scholarship to play quarterback at Baylor, the 18-year-old right-hander, 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, has some growth ahead, but bears watching.
The Cardinals second-rounder, taken at number 75 overall, is right-hander Jordan Swagerty, a teammate of Blair at ASU. The draft-eligible sophomore has been a two-way player as a catcher and closer, similar to Robert Stock of USC, who the Cardinals took in the second round in 2009. Unlike Stock, who is struggling with the bat as a catcher in A ball, all indications are that if Swagerty signs, he will take the mound. With a profile as a potential big league reliever, Swagerty could move quickly through the system.
Brian Walton is the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 12-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC last season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com.