The Scott Prospect Report

The Scott Prospect Report takes a look at the 2005 draft and catcher, Taylor Teagarden, a Scott Boras client who could be wearing Cardinal red some day.

The Cardinals own six of the first 72 picks in next week's draft. Having so many early picks could allow the Cardinals to take risks on players that other clubs might pass over because of signability or other concerns.

Usually any player represented by Scott Boras is considered to be somewhat of a risk. The Cardinal's history with their former minor leaguer could help them in this draft though.

The Cardinals haven't shied away from Boras clients since Walt Jocketty became General Manager. Since then, the Cardinals have given seven figure bonuses to four of his clients: J.D. Drew ($3 million in ‘98), Rick Ankiel ($2.5 million in ‘97), Chad Hutchinson ($2.3 million in ‘98), and Blake Hawksworth ($1.475 million in '02). Anthony Reyes, the Cardinal's top prospect, is also represented by Boras. All of this along with the fact that the Cardinals are giving Ankiel the chance to pursue a second career as an outfielder might help the Cardinals if they decide to select one of his clients in the draft.

Baseball America has projected the Cardinals to take catcher Taylor Teagarden, a Boras client, with one of their first round picks. Teagarden is the best defensive catcher in the draft. Some scouts believe that he could handle defensive responsibilities in the majors right now, but the question with Teagarden is how much he will produce at the plate.

Other Boras clients that the Cardinals would be interested in that might be available when they draft are Mark McCormick, Tyler Greene, and Jason Neighborgall.

McCormick is the least likely of the three to be available to the Cardinals at their draft position, but there is a chance that he could still be around when the Cardinals draft at No. 28. The righthander has one of the more electric arms in the draft, pitching at 92-95 mph and often touching 96-98. He even hit 101 mph last summer at the Cape Cod League all-star game. He is considered to be one of Boras' more signable players.

Tyler Greene, a shortstop from Georgia Tech, might be available to the Cardinals with the 43rd overall pick in the sandwich round. Greene was rated as the 4th best college prospect in the nation by Baseball America entering the season, but has fallen some because some scouts question his bat.

Neighborgall, another power arm, at times shows first round stuff but due to his inconsistency could fall all the way to the 4th or 5th round. His fastball sits at 95-97 mph and he hit 100 mph more than once in the Cape Cod League. The problem is that he lacks confidence and scouts don't like his mechanics at all.

News and Notes • Jeremy Cummings was activated from the restricted list and sent down to Double-A Springfield on Sunday.

Cummings, 28, was suspended 15 games on May 12 for violating minor league baseball's performance enhancing drug policy. He doesn't know why or what he tested positive for but he did mention a shot that he received from a team trainer during winter ball in Venezulela to the Springfield News-Leader.

"It had to be something like that," he said.

Cummings was 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 innings after being activated from extended spring training on April 14, where he was rehabbing an injury to his right hand that occurred while he was a non-roster invitee of the Cardinals in spring training.

In his return on Monday night, Cummings started and allowed only one run through four innings while striking out six and walking two.

To make room on the roster for Cummings, the Cardinals sent 26-year-old righthander Josh Axelson down to Palm Beach to turn him into a starter.

"He did fine for us," Springfield Cardinals pitching coach Blaise Ilsley said. "He's a guy the organization really likes, and you don't want to lose someone like that."

Axelson had an ERA of 3.54 in 28 innings out of the Springfield bullpen.

• The Cardinals have promoted two of their top prospects to Double-A Springfield.

On Tuesday, the Cardinals swapped two of their top outfield prospects, sending Reid Gorecki down to High-A Palm Beach and promoting Cody Haerther from there to Springfield.

Gorecki, 24, will return to Palm Beach where he spent most of the 2004 season after struggling at Springfield, batting only .182 in 159 at bats.

"We tried to do everything we could to get him going, and he just had trouble developing some consistency," Springfield manager Chris Maloney told the Springfield News-Leader. "He's still going to be a fine player for us. A lot of times, a guy just has to take a step back."

Haerther was rated as the Cardinal's top outfield prospect (No. 9 overall) by Baseball America prior to the season. The 21-year-old has already hit as many homers this season (8) as he did in his first two professional seasons combined, and what makes that even more impressive is that the Florida State League is probably the most pitcher-friendly league in the minors. He was also batting .318 with 30 RBI.

On Wednesday, the Cardinals promoted Chris Lambert to Springfield. The 22-year-old was the Cardinal's first round pick last June and had gone 7-1 with a 2.63 ERA and a 46/15 K/BB ratio in 54-2/3 innings for Palm Beach. He was scheduled to make his first start for Springfield on Wednesday night.

To make room for Lambert on the roster, Springfield placed Oscar Alvarez on the disabled list with a strained right calf muscle. The lefthander was 3-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 11 starts.

• Lefthanded starter Buddy Blair has dominated since he was sent down to Palm Beach on May 19. The 23-year-old has won both of his starts since the demotion while allowing only one run. He has struck out 11 and walked only one.

• The Cardinals also promoted Eric Haberer, their 3rd round selection out of Southern Illinois in last June's draft to High-A Palm Beach. The 22-year-old lefthander had allowed just one earned run over his last 20 innings for Quad Cities, lowering his ERA to 2.11. In 9 starts he was 4-2 and had struck out 33 in 55-1/3 innings.

In his High-A debut on Monday night, Haberer picked up the win by going six innings and allowing only one run on three hits. He walked four and struck out three.

"My command wasn't the greatest, but I battled through everything and got a few key double plays. A strikeout in the fourth was big," Haberer told the Bloomington (Il.) Pantagraph. "It was good to get my feet wet and pitch fairly well."

Haberer's promotion came after Mark Michael was placed on the disabled list with soreness in his shoulder.

Michael was removed after only two innings in his start on May 25. He had allowed only a hit while striking out three before leaving the game after he felt something strange in his shoulder. This problem is believed to be unrelated to the "click" that he heard in his elbow on May 8, when he was removed from the game after only three innings. Michael is 2-3 with a 4.19 ERA and a 32/23 K/BB ratio in 43 innings.

• Another top pitching prospect, Donnie Smith, was finally activated from extended spring training and added to the Swing of Quad Cities roster on Sunday.

Smith, 22, was left behind in extended spring training after experiencing arm troubles. In his debut on Sunday night, he allowed six runs (5 earned) in 4 innings. He struck out three and walked one.

Room was made on the roster for Smith when the Swing placed 20-year-old righthander Kyle McClellan on the disabled list with shoulder stiffness. McClellan started the season in the rotation but was moved to the bullpen on May 8, and in 12 appearances overall he was 0-3 with a 5.18 ERA in 40 innings.

Jason Scott can be reached via email at jasonscott@thecardinalnation.com.


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