Jason Scott's Cardinals Prospect Report

Big changes coming in the minor leagues plus news and notes from around the system

Baseball America reported this past week that there will soon be major changes made to the draft and the structure of the lower levels of the minor leagues. Here is a look at how these changes will affect the Cardinals organization.

Draft: The First-Year Player Draft will be moved back to the end of June for 2006, and they hope to institute a signing date that would be four to six weeks later by 2007. The players would be required to sign by that date or they would have to re-enter the draft the following season.

There is also interest in establishing an MLB-sponsored predraft scouting combine.

Minor Leagues: The biggest changes in the minors will come to the Rookie-level leagues. The Pioneer League will move up to short-season Class A, the same level as the New York-Penn and Northwest leagues (right now it's a step below) while the Appalachian League will become a co-op league. The Arizona Summer League and Gulf Coast League, which are both ran by major league teams, will be eliminated altogether.

Also, the short-season schedule will begin and end earlier than it does now, likely running from May into August rather than June into September, and will lead into a mandatory instructional league program that will run for at least six weeks.

The Appy League becoming a co-op league would mean that the Cardinals would no longer have a full affiliation with the Johnson City Cardinals. Instead, it would be similar to the Arizona Fall League, where each team is supplied with players from more than one organization. Since there are only 10 teams in that league, there would be 20 clubs without a Rookie-level affiliate, so each Appy League team would probably consist of players from three different organizations.

These changes could also encourage a lot of players that are drafted out of high school to go to college, rather than sign, since they wouldn't get much out of their first professional season anyway.

News and Notes
• In his first start for Triple-A Memphis since being optioned from St. Louis, Anthony Reyes pitched one of the best games in the minor leagues all season on Sunday. In seven shutout innings, he allowed only two hits and walked none while setting a Memphis Redbirds franchise record with 15 strikeouts. Rick Ankiel held the previous high with 14 against Iowa on June 20, 1999.

"It felt real good. I had all three of my pitches working," Reyes told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

"With a good-hitting club like Nashville, you really have to keep them off balance and guessing, and I was able to do that. They were sitting on my fastball and I was able to speed their bats up with changeups."

• In his first 13 starts for Double-A Springfield, Stuart Pomeranz went 2-5 with a 6.82 ERA, but he has won each of his past two starts, allowing only three runs on 13 hits in 14-2/3 innings (1.84 ERA), striking out eight and walking only one.

"Blaise (Ilsley) reworked his wind-up a little bit and got him going straight to home plate," Springfield Cardinals manager Chris Maloney told the Springfield News-Leader, "and he's a different man."

Pomeranz, 20, had a 3.35 ERA in eight starts for high Class A Palm Beach before being promoted on May 23.

Mark Michael almost received a promotion to Double-A Springfield recently. Bruce Manno, the Cardinals Director of Player Development, called Palm Beach Cardinals manager Ron "Pop" Warner and told him that he wanted to promote Mark after his next start, but Warner said that he would not give Michael up because they are still in the playoff race.

Michael, who turns 23 next week, recently spent nearly two months on the disabled list with shoulder tendonitis. He has a 4.05 ERA in 60 innings for Palm Beach, striking out 46 and walking 28.

Eric Haberer will likely be activated from the disabled list to start on Sunday for Palm Beach, and he will be on a throwing program.

Haberer was placed on the disabled list on August 11 with a hip injury after it caused him to leave his start after only 2-2/3 innings the night before.

The 22-year-old lefty is 8-4 with a 3.19 ERA in 14 starts since being promoted from low Class A Quad Cities on May 27. With the Swing, he went 4-2 with a 2.11 ERA in nine starts.

Mark McCormick has added a changeup to his pitching repertoire since joining the Cardinals organization.

"It's a pitch that I didn't have to throw much in college, but it's something I have to have now,'' McCormick told the Quad-City Times. "It's coming along well, and it's probably the thing that I am the most happy about.

"I've been able to get that down. I'm feeling confident about using it, and I've been getting it over for strikes. It's going to be a pretty good pitch for me, and it's been good to watch it develop.''

McCormick, who has a 3.04 ERA in five starts since joining Quad Cities, has accepted an invitation to participate in the learning-intensive instructional league next month.

• Speaking of the instructional league, here are some of the other players that have been invited: Mitchell Boggs, Justin Garza, Reid Gorecki, Blake Hawksworth, Mark Michael, Scott Vander Weg, Nick Webber and Zack Zuercher.

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

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories