2011 Cardinals Prospect #23 – David Kopp

Will this finally be the year that the talented right-hander's health is no longer mentioned before results?

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2010 and career stats)

2010 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NR RHS 10/22/1985 6-3 190 R R 2007 2nd

School: Clemson University

Selected 2010 stats

MEM 0 5 8.63 5 5 0 24 38 28 4 11 12 1.95 0.365
SPR 12 4 3.05 21 21 0 121 126 47 9 39 78 1.33 0.279
Total 12 9 3.97 26 26 0 145 164 75 13 50 90 1.42 0.295

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (25): The former Clemson Tiger is often overlooked in prospect talk but after his 2010 season maybe he shouldn't be. Kopp went 12-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 21 Texas League starts. The key to Kopp's success is staying healthy and his stellar 2010 was the first time he has managed to do so since becoming a professional.

Kopp works his fastball in the low nineties and it shows good sink. His slider and changeup both have the potential to be above-average pitches. Kopp cleaned up some mechanical flaws which in turn improved his fastball command. His walk rate dropped and success on the mound followed.

If Kopp can continue to command his fastball at Memphis, he can work his way into the Cardinals future rotation plans. His ceiling appears to be that of a fifth starter but those are increasingly valuable. Remember, Kyle Lohse, St. Louis' projected fifth starter next season will be in the third year of a $40,000,000 contract.

Message board community (26): Kopp had one of the most successful 2010 seasons of any Cardinal pitcher when it comes to meeting goals. He stayed healthy! For Kopp that was a big challenge to overcome as he had spent significant time on the disabled list in each of his first three seasons in the organization. While his pitching performance was secondary to his health, Kopp threw well enough that the organization rewarded him with a spot on the team's 40-man roster in the off-season.

Kopp has a reputation as a ground ball pitcher with good control but unfortunately his ground ball rate has decreased every year and his K:BB ratio has been below 2:1 the last two years. Possibly a year of working off the rust will allow Kopp to come back in 2011 and pitch to his strengths once again. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (22): Kopp not only pitched all season long, he maintained consistency when doing so. Putting aside a period of five rough starts with Memphis, he had a 3.08 Double-A ERA before the break and 3.00 afterward, earning berths on both the Texas League mid- and post-season All-Star teams.

Kopp rejoins our top 40 after missing out following an injury-plagued 2009. He fully understands the reputation he has received based on past time lost and is very focused on becoming known for his dependability instead.

"I want to go out there and pitch every single time," Kopp told me this summer. "I had the feeling that sometimes in the past, my body was disconnected from my brain. My brain would be like, ‘C'mon, you can do it!' but my shoulder just didn't want to agree."

The pitcher provided a little bit of insight into the difficulties on the mental aspects of a long and repetitive rehab process.

"People don't realize how tough it is when you are hurt and you have a lot of time to think about what you could be doing," Kopp said. "Other players are progressing and getting better and playing while you are sitting here rehabbing."

Rather than letting it drag him down, Kopp uses it to feed his competitive fire.

"You take it and you let it drive you for when you are back on the mound," he explained. "You put yourself in a position where you don't ever want to be in rehab again. I think I have taken the most of the opportunity of being healthy now. That is all I can do. I can't control anything other than that."

Kopp was added to the 40-man roster in November with his next challenge to master Triple-A. If 2011 is the year his mind and body are in full concert, the sky is the limit.

Our 2011 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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