Cardinals' AFL Contingent Coming into Focus

Jason Scott confirms three more Arizona Fall League invitees from the Cardinals' organization.

As reported the other day by Brian Walton, Palm Beach Cardinals manager Ron "Pop" Warner will be managing the Surprise Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League later this year. It was also reported on the Birdhouse yesterday, by Mike Hobson, that Cody Haerther will join him.


We have also confirmed that three more players have been invited to make the trip down to Arizona. Cory Doyne, Travis Hanson and Chris Lambert will also be playing for the Surprise club, which before this season was located in Scottsdale.


Doyne, who began the season at low Class A Quad Cities, had already made it to Springfield by the beginning of May after a brief stint at Palm Beach and is now closing games for the Cardinals new Double-A affiliate.


He allowed no runs in 11-1/3 innings, striking out 16 and walking only two for Quad Cities and Palm Beach combined earlier this season. Since joining Springfield, he has a 1.90 ERA in 36 appearances. His biggest problem has been control. He has walked 27, struck out 40, and allowed 27 hits in 42-2/3 innings.


Doyne was signed by the Cardinals last season after he was released by the Padres because of problems with the coaching staff. He was originally drafted in the 8th round by the Astros in 2000, but they released him in 2003. The 23-year-old has a low-to-mid 90s fastball.


Hanson, 24, missed most of last season after breaking his ankle on June 3, but has been very good in his first season of Double-A ball. He has struck out 77 times, but in 406 at-bats is batting .273/.337/.448 with 20 doubles, 15 home runs and 68 RBIs. He is considered to be the best defensive infielder in the system. Hanson was the Cardinals' 9th round selection in the 2002 draft.


Lambert, 22, was the Cardinals first round draft pick last season out of Boston College. He was recently selected to pitch in the All-Star Futures Game in Detroit, where he pitched 2/3 of an inning for Team USA, striking out one and allowing no hits.


In 10 starts for high Class A Palm Beach earlier this season, Lambert went 7-1 with a 2.63 ERA, striking out 46 and walking 15 in 54-2/3 innings. Since being promoted to Double-A Springfield on June 2, he is 2-3 with a 4.35 ERA in 10 starts. He has struck out 50 and walked 29 in 51-2/3 innings.


18 Players on the Cardinals 40-man roster have played in the league: Carmen Cali (04), Chris Carpenter (96), Einar Diaz (96), David Eckstein (96), John Gall (01, 02), Reid Gorecki (04), Mark Grudzielanek (94), Ray King (96, 97), Mike Lincoln (98), John Mabry (94), Mike Mahoney (98), Abraham Nunez (97), Albert Pujols (00), Evan Rust (02), Skip Schumaker (03), So Taguchi (02), Brad Thompson (03), and Adam Wainwright (03, 04).


The league is regarded as the "graduate school" for Major League Baseball's top prospects. Other notable alums include MLB All-Stars Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Mike Piazza, Todd Helton and Nomar Garciaparra.


Each of the 30 major league organizations is required to provide six players for the league. So that means the Cardinals will send at least two more players in addition to the four that we have already announced.


Last season the Cardinals sent Carmen Cali, Andy Cavazos, Chris Duncan, Reid Gorecki, Gabe Johnson, John Nelson, Brad Thompson and Adam Wainwright down to Arizona. Gorecki was sent as a Taxi Squad player, meaning that he could only play on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Thompson replaced Wainwright when he left to get married.


Each club is allowed to send only one player under Double-A and players on Minor League disabled lists must be activated at least 45 days before the conclusion of their respective seasons.


Pitcher Mark Michael and shortstop Brendan Ryan would also seem like good candidates, but the Cardinals have reportedly asked Ryan if he is interested in playing in Latin America and Michael gets the feeling that he will be asked to pitch in the instructional league.


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