New Jersey, part of the Class A short season New York – Penn League, is 1-0 on the season after a 4-3 win over Williamsport Tuesday night. The pitching staff features Nick Webber, Tuesday night's starter, who was converted to the rotation after closing at Central Missouri State. Webber will need to work on secondary pitches, a splitter and changeup, in order to be successful. At 6' 7", 210, he has the body to start. One scout in the Cape Cod league described Webber's fastball, which touches 96 mph, as having "wiffle ball movement."
Fifth round pick Mitch Boggs, out of the University of Georgia, joins Webber on the staff. Boggs' fastball sits at 90-93 mph, and lacks great command of his secondary stuff, but he is still raw with inexperience in baseball. Lefthander Zach Zuercher will compliment Webber in the rotation. Zuercher throws four pitches for strikes. He was the Atlantic 10 Conference Pitcher of the Year his sophomore year.
The catching duties for the New Jersey Cardinals will belong to Brandon Yarbrough and Brandon Marcelli. On the infield, Casey Rowlett, out of the University of Arkansas, will be at third base. Dan Nelson is at shortstop, with 2004 draftee Jose Delgado at second base, and John Skorupski at first base. Covering the outfield for the Cardinals is leftfielder Sean Dobson, centerfielder Carlos De La Cruz and rightfielder Yonathan Sivira. Free agent signee Matt Wilkerson will also get playing time in the outfield.
The New Jersey Cardinals' strength will likely be their pitching staff. Their lineup features some talent in Yarbrough, Rowlett, Delgado, and Wilkerson. Wilkerson, out of UC Santa Barbara, was the all-time home run leader at UCSB with 42 career home runs. In 2005, he hit .318 with 13 home runs and 51 RBI. He had only one error in 120 chances. Rowlett was batting .473 before being dismissed from the U of Arkansas team for violating team policy.
Johnson City suffered a 16-1 beating Tuesday night against Kingsport. The lineup featured Cardinals 2005 draftees Colby Rasmus and Daryl Jones batting first and second in the order. Rasmus was 1-for-3 with a single, while Jones went 0-for-4 with 2 K. But this lineup features a lot more power than just Rasmus and Jones. Infielders Donovan Solano and Jose Martinez, signed out of Venezuela, are also on the club. Solano, 17, has drawn comparisons to former Cardinal Edgar Renteria. Wilfrido Pujols, cousin of Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, joins Rasmus and Jones in the outfield. Taken in the sixth round by the Cardinals, the 17 year old will hope to move up the ladder as a leftfielder. A.J. Van Slyke, taken in the 23rd round out of the University of Kansas, will cover the first base bag for the Cardinals.
Second round pick Josh Wilson heads up the pitching staff for the Cardinals. Wilson is out of Whitehouse High School in Tyler, Texas. His fastball has touched 95 mph and has an above-average curveball. All of his pitches move down in the zone.
It will be fun watching a new wave of Cardinal prospects move up the ladder in the organization. There are some blue chip prospects to watch, like Colby Rasmus, Tyler Greene, who should report to New Jersey soon, Josh Wilson, and Daryl Jones. There are also names like Wilfrido Pujols, A.J. Van Slyke, and Jesse Schoendienst to watch. It should be a fun summer down in New Jersey and Johnson City.
You can email Drew Williams at email@example.com