The Season in Review - Springfield

The second of our series highlighting the players in each of the St. Louis Cardinals' affiliates in 2005. This week, our focus is on the Double-A Springfield Cardinals.

The Season in Review - Springfield

October 3, 2005

This is the second in my series of year-end reviews of each of the St. Louis minor league teams. Each report requires a bit of explanation, which I gave in the Memphis report, so will not repeat here. However, three more items require clarification:
- The terminology used for the two levels of full-season A ball is their official classification titles of A and A-Advanced rather than the commonly used "Low A" and "High A". The corresponding Cardinals teams are Quad Cities and Palm Beach.
- The 2005 levels are listed in order each player experienced them so any promotion or demotion is clear.
- "Type of Pitcher" – a pitcher qualifies for the "strikeout" designation with a ratio of one strikeout per inning pitched or higher which corresponds to 33% strikeouts or more.

The jump from A-Advanced to Double-A is considered to be the most difficult leap in the minor league system. When you reach Double-A you can almost taste the Show. Many players move straight from Double-A to the Major Leagues. Players that thrived at A-Advanced find Double-A to be a personal Death Valley. Therefore, six of the eight players chosen for an in-depth look made that leap this year for the first time, with differing results. I hope you have as much fun reading this report as I did preparing it.

Enjoy!

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AA – Springfield Cardinals
League Affiliation - eight-team Texas League, four-team East division
Season – April 7th through September 4th
Final Record – 35 – 35 (70 – 70)
Second Half Final Standing – Second, two games behind the Arkansas Travelers (Angels)

A Look Back At The Season
The Springfield club neither adequately fed their Triple-A cousin nor successfully competed for a post-season roster. They had to win nine of their final twelve games to get to the .500 mark for the season. The only thing approaching a prospect that was promoted to Triple-A this season was closer Josh Kinney and he finished the season back in Springfield. Overall, I would categorize the first year of the Springfield franchise as a disappointment on the field. Attendance-wise, Springfield was one of the top draws in the minors.

The most highly-touted position player at the season's start was centerfielder Reid Gorecki. Gorecki was promoted to the public as the face of the Cardinals but he struggled mightily with his bat. He ended up going .182/.264/.277 in forty-five games before being demoted to Palm Beach on May 31st when Cody Haerther was promoted. The offense, with the exception of Tyler Minges, was unable to consistently produce. Prospects up from Palm Beach, such as Cody Haerther, Brendan Ryan, Chris Lambert and Stuart Pomeranz, struggled on their introduction to Double-A although most turned it on enough in the final weeks of the season for Springfield to just miss the post-season. It was a case of "too little, too late" but better late than never. The club's finish gave hope for a better 2006 season.

The Roster (by age, youngest to oldest)
Pitchers
Pomeranz, Stuart – 12/17/84 (20) – RHP
- role/position - Starter
- 2005 level(s) - A-Advanced (more commonly known as "High A"), Double-A
- experience - third season, 263 innings pitched
- last month - 5 G, 5 GS, 0 CG, 3-1, 34 IP, 28 H, 13 R, 9 ER, 0 HR, 9 BB, 23 SO, 2.38 ERA, 1.09 WHIP

Lambert, Chris – 03/08/83 (22) – RHP
- role/position - Starter
- 2005 level(s) - A-Advanced, Double-A
- experience - second season, 178 innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 6 GS, 0 CG, 1-4, 22.2 IP, 39 H, 31 R, 28 ER, 2 HR, 12 BB, 15 SO, 11.12 ERA and 2.25 WHIP

Doyne, Cory – 08/13/81 (23) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever, closer
- 2005 level(s) - A, A-Advanced, Double-A
- experience - sixth season, 449.1 innings pitched
- last month - 12 G, 0 GS, 1-1, 7 SV, 3 BS, 12.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 HR, 9 BB, 13 SO, 2.13 ERA and 1.50 WHIP

Cavazos, Andy – 01/05/81 (24) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A, A-Advanced, Double-A
- experience - seventh season, 539 innings pitched
- last month - 10 G, 0 GS, 1-0, 1 SV, 11 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 HR, 1 BB, 8 SO, 4.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP

Ool, Kevin – 01/04/81 (24) – LHP
- role/position - Reliever, closer
- 2005 level(s) - A, A-Advanced, Double-A
- experience - third season, 166 innings pitched
- last month - 9 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 0 SV, 13 IP, 15 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 9 SO, 4.15 ERA and 1.69 WHIP

Pals, Jordan – 10/18/80 (24) – RHP
- role/position - Starter
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - third season, 359.1 innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 6 GS, 0 CG, 2-2, 34.1 IP, 40 H, 24 R, 19 ER, 6 HR, 11 BB, 19 SO, 4.98 ERA and 1.49 WHIP

Kinney, Josh – 03/31/79 (26) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever, closer
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A, Triple-A, Double-A
- experience - fifth season, 314.2 innings pitched
- last month - 9 G, 0 GS, 1-0, 1 SV, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 11 SO, 0.00 ERA and 0.77 WHIP

Axelson, Josh – 12/04/78 (26) – RHP
- role/position - Swing, used as a starter in A-Advanced and reliever in Double-A
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A, A-Advanced, Double-A
- experience - sixth season, 683.2 innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 1 GS, 0 CG, 0-0, 0 SV, 13 IP, 20 H, 22 R, 21 ER, 2 HR, 12 BB, 16 SO, 14.54 ERA and 2.46 WHIP

Cook, Jeremy – 05/11/78 (26) – RHP
- role/position - Swing, began season as starter but ended season mainly out of the bullpen
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - sixth season, 508 innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 1 GS, 0 CG, 0-2, 0 SV, 11 IP, 21 H, 17 R, 13 ER, 4 HR, 7 BB, 6 SO, 10.64 ERA and 2.55 WHIP

Rust, Evan – 05/04/78 (26) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Triple-A, Double-A
- experience - sixth season, 374 innings pitched
- last month - to disabled list on June 29, 2005

Leek, Randy – 04/18/77 (27) – LHP
- role/position - Starter
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A, Triple-A, Double-A
- experience - sixth season, 838.1 innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 6 GS, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 4-2, 40 IP, 36 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 2 HR, 4 BB, 23 SO, 2.93 ERA and 1.00 WHIP (combined stats – Springfield/Memphis)

Nelson, Joe – 10/25/74 (30) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever, closer
- 2005 level(s) - Triple-A, Double-A (Triple-A performance with another team)
- experience - nine years, 530 (minor) and 4.2 (major) innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 1 SV, 9 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 7 BB, 18 SO, 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP (to disabled list on August 26th)

Nussbeck, Mark – 05/25/74 (30) – RHP
- role/position - Swing, used primarily as a starter
- 2005 level(s) - Triple-A, Double-A
- experience - ninth season, 945 innings pitched
- last month - 2 G, 2 GS, 0 CG, 2-0, 11 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 HR, 1 BB, 8 SO, 4.09 ERA and 1.09 WHIP

Benes, Alan– 01/21/72 (33) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - twelfth season, 902.1 (minor) and 493 (major) innings pitched
- last month - 12 G, 0 GS, 1-0, 0 SV, 17 IP, 13 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 3 HR, 6 BB, 14 SO, 3.71 ERA and 1.12 WHIP

Position

Haerther, Cody – 07/14/83 (21)
- role/position - left field, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - A-Advanced, Double-A
- experience - third season, 933 at bats
- last month - .361/.378/.681/.1.059, 26-for-72 in 22 games, 14 R, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 1 BB, 11 SO

Ryan, Brendan – 03/26/82 (23)
- role/position - shortstop
- 2005 level(s) - A-Advanced, Double-A
- experience - third season, 961 at bats
- last month - .330/.413/.440/.853, 30-for-91 in 26 games, 20 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 13 BB, 13 SO

Boyd, Shaun – 08/15/81 (23)
- role/position - centerfield, left field
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - sixth season, 2,270 at bats
- last month - .257/.333/.394/.728, 28-for-109 in 25 games, 29 R, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 10 BB, 25 SO

Parker, Tyler – 05/13/81 (23)
- role/position - left field, centerfield, right field, designated hitter, catcher
- 2005 level(s) - A-Advanced, Double-A
- experience - fourth season, 998 at bats
- last month - .265/.315/.441/.756, 18-for-68 in 20 games, 9 R, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 4 BB, 19 SO (combined stats – Palm Beach/Springfield)

Herr, Aaron – 03/07/81 (24)
- role/position - second base
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - sixth season, 1,829 at bats
- last month - .344/.400/.469/.869, 33-for-96 in 24 games, 12 R, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 6 BB, 19 SO

Hanson, Travis – 01/24/81 (24)
- role/position - third base, first and second base
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - fourth season, 1,569 at bats
- last month - .321/.382/.443/.826, 34-for-16 in 28 games, 15 R, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 12 BB, 16 SO

Laya, Rayner – 09/30/80 (24)
- role/position - shortstop, second base, left field, third base
- 2005 level(s) - A-Advanced, Double-A
- experience - second season, 682 at bats
- last month - .356/.370/.444/.814, 16-for-45 in 16 games, 7 R, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SO (combined stats – Palm Beach/Springfield)

Estrada, Kevin – 10/01/80 (24)
- role/position - shortstop, second base, right field, third base, first base, left field
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - third season, 844 at bats
- last month - .429/.500/.643/.1.143, 6-for-14 in 5 games, 1 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO (to disabled list on August 16th

Minges, Tyler – 11/15/79 (25)
- role/position - right field, centerfield, first base, left field
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - eighth season, 2,806 at bats
- last month - .375/.475/.667/.1.141, 18-for-48 in 13 games, 16 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 10 BB, 9 SO (to disabled list on August 23rd

Johnson, Gabe – 09/09/79 (25)
- role/position - first base, catcher
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - eighth season, 2,457 at bats
- last month - .198/.271/.340/.611, 21-for-106 in 28 games, 8 R, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 33 SO

Ankiel, Rick – 07/19/79 (25)
- role/position - right field, designated hitter, centerfield
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A, A, Double-A
- experience - first season as position player, 321 at bats this season
- last month - .269/.321/.587/.908, 28-for-104 in 25 games, 16 R, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 8 BB, 18 SO

Moylan, Dan – 04/24/79 (25)
- role/position - catcher
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A, Triple-A, Double-A
- experience - sixth year, 1,285 at bats
- last month - .220/.361/.260/.621, 11-for-50 in 17 games, 8 R, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 11 BB, 8 SO

Bolivar, Papo – 10/18/78 (26)
- role/position - left field, right field, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - tenth season, 4,073 at bats
- last month - .356/.433/.593/1.026, 21-for-59 in 19 games, 13 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 8 BB, 12 SO

Diaz, Juan – 02/19/74 (31)
- role/position - first base, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - Double-A
- experience - tenth season, 2,847 at bats
- last month - to disabled list on August 2nd

In-Depth – The Pitchers
Cory Doyne
Drafted - 8th round (247th overall), 2000 draft, Houston Astros
Type of Pitcher - Strikeout/Flyball
Out Type - 29.23% ground, 35.90% fly, 34.87% strike in 195 outs
Contact Outs - 44.88% ground, 55.12% fly in 127 outs
Comment - Cory Doyne's rise through the St. Louis Cardinals' system this season was certainly abnormal as most players do not get promoted as quickly as did Mr. Doyne. He signed with the Cardinals in June 2004 as a previously released free agent, having spent time in both the Houston and, very briefly, San Diego organizations. Over four seasons from 2000 through 2003 he compiled a 3.92 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in seventy-three games and sixty-eight starts over three hundred forty-four innings. He never pitched beyond class A (Low A). Reportedly Doyne was released due to attitude differences between his coaching staff and him.

In contrast to his previous professional career, the Cardinals have used Doyne exclusively out of the bullpen. He spent the 2004 season at Short-season A New Jersey, compiling a 2.33 ERA and 0.88 WHIP with 12 saves in thirty games and thirty-eight and two-thirds innings pitched. Doyne began the 2005 campaign in class A Quad Cities but was promoted to A-Advanced Palm Beach on April 11th after only two games and two and one-third innings pitched. His stay in Palm Beach was only slightly longer, six games and nine innings pitched, as he was promoted to Springfield on May 3rd.

At Springfield Doyne compiled a sparkling 1.95 ERA and Double-A hitters batted only .188 against him in forty-eight games and fifty-five and one-third innings pitched. However, his Springfield WHIP was 1.31 due to a BB/9 IP rate of 5.85. Control is the chief area of weakness in Doyne's game and he will have to greatly improve it to see further promotions. Doyne turned 24 in late August so his window of opportunity is still open. He will continue to work on his game during the 2005 Arizona Fall League season.
Numbers By The Month -
- April – 8 G, 0 GS, 0-0 , 0 SV, 11.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 16 SO, 0.00 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 8.00 K/BB, 12.71 K/9 IP, 1.59 BB/9 IP (combined stats – Quad Cities/Palm Beach)
- May – 13 G, 0 GS, 1-0, 0 SV, 16.1 IP, 11 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 14 BB, 12 SO, 0.55 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 0.86 K/BB, 6.61 K/9 IP, 7.72 BB/9 IP
- June – 10 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 4 SV, 11 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 HR, 4 BB, 15 SO, 5.73 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 3.75 K/BB, 12.27 K/9 IP, 3.27 BB/9 IP
- July – 13 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 8 SV, 15.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 9 BB, 13 SO, 0.59 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 1.44 K/BB, 7.63 K/9 IP, 5.28 BB/9 IP
- August – 11 G, 0 GS, 1-1, 6 SV, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 HR, 9 BB, 13 SO, 2.32 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 1.44 K/BB, 10.03 K/9 IP, 6.95 BB/9 IP
- September – 1 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 1 SV, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 0 SO, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP, 0.00 K/BB, 0.00 K/9 IP, 0.00 BB/9 IP

Chris Lambert –
Drafted - 1st round (19th overall), 2004 Draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Type of Pitcher - Flyball
Out Type - 35.92% ground, 40.05% fly, 24.03% strike in 387 outs
Contact Outs - 47.28% ground, 52.72% fly in 294 outs
Comment - One of the most important points to remember about Chris Lambert when looking at this season's stats is his overall lack of pitching experience. Lambert's pitching history started in college so he has roughly half the experience than do comparable pitchers his age. This lack of experience showed up when he hit Springfield.

Lambert pitched in Palm Beach the first two months of the season before being promoted to Springfield on June 2nd. He struggled in his first month in Double-A against better quality hitters before improving in July. His August and September numbers, however, are horrific and that cannot be explained by an increased workload. In 2004 Lambert pitched ninety-two and one-third innings for Boston College before tossing an additional thirty-eight and one-third innings after being drafted by the Cardinals. Therefore, his total innings pitched in 2004 was one hundred thirty-one. This season Lambert pitched one hundred thirty-nine and two-thirds innings in Palm Beach and Springfield or only eight more innings than in 2004. Consequently, physical fatigue should not have been a significant part of his decline in performance. Certainly, he faced much better batters this year than he did in either college or class A and that may have required a greater mental effort than in the past. I reviewed his performance against each of his Double-A opponents and could find no discernable patterns on a team-by-team basis. Therefore, it appears as if Mr. Lambert simply needs more experience and consistency against a higher quality opponent. It will be interesting to see how he performs in the Arizona Fall League. Regardless, he should begin 2006 back in Springfield. At just 22 years old, he has time.
Numbers By The Month -
- April – 4 G, 4 GS, 0 CG, 3-0 , 20 IP, 17 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 HR, 5 BB, 20 SO, 2.70 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 4.00 K/BB, 9.00 K/9 IP, 2.25 BB/9 IP (Palm Beach)
- May – 6 G, 6 GS, 0 CG, 4-1, 34.2 IP, 36 H, 14 R, 10 ER, 3 HR, 10 BB, 26 SO, 2.60 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 2.60 K/BB, 6.75 K/9 IP, 2.6 BB/9 IP (Palm Beach)
- June – 5 G, 5 GS, 0 CG, 0-2, 22.2 IP, 23 H, 16 R, 15 ER, 5 HR, 15 BB, 23 SO, 5.96 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 1.53 K/BB, 9.13 K/9 IP, 5.96 BB/9 IP
- July – 6 G, 6 GS, 0 CG, 2-1, 35 IP, 29 H, 15 R, 15 ER, 3 HR, 18 BB, 30 SO, 3.34 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 1.67 K/BB, 7.71 K/9 IP, 4.63 BB/9 IP
- August – 6 G, 6 GS, 0 CG, 1-4, 26.2 IP, 42 H, 32 R, 23 ER, 2 HR, 14 BB, 14 SO, 7.76 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, 1.00 K/BB, 4.73 K/9 IP, 4.73 BB/9 IP
- September – 1 G, 1 GS, 0 CG, 0-1, 0.2 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO, 80.60 ERA, 5.97 WHIP, 2.00 K/BB, 26.87 K/9 IP, 13.43 BB/9 IP

Kevin Ool
Drafted - 16th round (474th overall), 2003 Draft, Boston Red Sox
Type of Pitcher - Extreme Groundball
Out Type - 52.88% ground, 27.23% fly, 19.9% strike in 191 outs
Contact Outs - 66.01% ground, 33.99% fly in 153 outs
Comment - Kevin Ool was part of the March 29th trade that sent lefty Mike Myers back to the Boston Red Sox. Ool was subsequently named to both the Midwest League's Midseason and Postseason All-Star team as the league's top left-handed reliever. In terms of his "Type of Pitcher" classification, he is one of the top five groundball relievers with 75 or more recorded outs this season in the Cardinals' system.

Like his Springfield teammate Cory Doyne, Ool began the season at class A Quad Cities and ended it in Double-A Springfield. However, Ool's rise through the system was far more traditional than was Doyne's in that Ool spent over two months in Quad Cities before earning his first promotion on June 19th and then another month plus in Palm Beach prior to his second promotion on July 24th. Ool and Doyne have at least two other things in common: They are born within seven months or so of each other and they each performed far better with the Cardinals than they did with their previous teams.

Ool's transition from league to league varied. His move from Quad Cities to Palm Beach was smooth as he posted an even better ERA in the Florida State League than he did in the Midwest League. (The FSL is traditionally considered to be a pitcher's league.) He compiled a 1.37 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in nineteen and two-thirds innings while at Palm Beach as compared to his 2.15 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in thirty-seven and two-thirds innings at Quad Cities. However, he got off to a very rough start in Springfield, compiling a 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in his first three appearances over three innings to finish up the month of July. He bounced back to post acceptable numbers in August before ending the season with a dreadful appearance in September.

Overall, Ool had a good year and probably exceeded at least some fans' expectations for him. I am happy to see it as I am a firm believer in promoting ‘em until they do not succeed. However, unless there is a concrete reason, such as a change in pitching stance, etc., to account for his sudden improvement over his previous two seasons, I question how much further Ool will advance. But he does have that lefty thing going for him and sometimes a player just gets "it" (that moment when all the instruction, etc. just falls into place and a player can consistently replicate a good performance) without any major changes to account the improved performance, so my reservations about Ool may be wrong.
Numbers By The Month -
- April – 10 G, GS, 3-0 , 0 SV, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 11 SO, 1.54 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 11.00 K/BB, 8.8 K/9 IP, 0.80 BB/9 IP (Quad Cities)
- May – 13 G, 0 GS, 6-0, 2 SV, 16.1 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 7 SO, 2.76 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 3.50 K/BB, 3.76 K/9 IP, 1.10 BB/9 IP (Quad Cities)
- June – 11 G, 0 CG, 0-2, 1 SV, 16.1 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 7 BB, 13 SO, 1.10 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 1.86 K/BB, 7.16 K/9 IP, 3.86 BB/9 IP (combined stats - Quad Cities/Palm Beach)
- July – 11 G, 0 GS, 2-0, 0 SV, 16 IP, 16 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 10 SO, 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 5.00 K/BB, 5.63 K/9 IP, 1.13 BB/9 IP (combined stats – Palm Beach/Springfield)
- August – 10 G, 0 GS, 0-0., 0 SV, 14.2 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 0 HR, 7 BB, 10 SO, 3.68 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 1.43 K/BB, 6.13 K/9 IP, 4.29 BB/9 IP
- September – 1 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 0 SV, 1.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 1 SO, 33.83 ERA, 5.26 WHIP, 6.77 K/9 IP, 0.00 BB/9 IP

Stuart Pomeranz –
Drafted - 2nd round (65th overall), 2003 Draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Type of Pitcher - Neutral
Out Type - 44.16% ground, 34.81% fly, 21.03% strike in 428 outs
Contact Outs - 55.92% ground, 44.08% fly in 338 outs
Comment - Stuart Pomeranz, who does not turn 21 until December, is the youngest player on the Springfield roster, by over seventeen months. In fact you have to go down to the New Jersey roster to find players younger than Mr. Pomeranz. While he does not rival the Mariners' Felix Hernandez in the youthful performance category, he is still way ahead of schedule for his age.

Pomeranz was originally slated to begin the season in Double-A but that decision was reversed when he showed up late for a Spring Training practice. That tardiness occurred the morning after he was informed that he would start in Springfield. While Pomeranz' April numbers were not remarkable in any way, he compiled a 2.39 ERA and 1.26 WHIP over four May Palm Beach starts before his promotion on May 23rd. June and July were spent in Double-A "pitching school" as he struggled with his consistency and control. One factor in his July difficulties may have been his right shoulder as he went on the disabled list on July 31st for a week. In any event, whether due to improved health or lessons having been learned, Stuart hurled off a sparkling 2.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP to go 3-1 over his last five starts to close out the season quite well.

Pomeranz will almost certainly begin the 2006 season back in Springfield, due in no small part to his age. The Cardinals will want to see him replicate his end-of-season success over a longer time period. If he does that, then he may force his way to Memphis before the end of the season.
Numbers By The Month -
- April – 4 G, 4 GS, 0 CG, 1-3, 22 IP, 26 H, 17 R, 11 ER, 0 HR, 6 BB, 10 SO, 4.50 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 1.67 K/BB, 4.09 K/9 IP, 2.46 BB/9 IP (Palm Beach)
- May – 6 G, 6 GS, 0 CG, 1-2, 35.1 IP, 43 H, 18 R, 15 ER, 4 HR, 8 BB, 26 SO, 3.82 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 3.25 K/BB, 6.62 K/9 IP, 2.04 BB/9 IP (combined stats – Palm Beach/Springfield)
- June – 5 G, 5 GS, 0 CG, 1-1, 26.2 IP, 33 H, 18 R, 16 ER, 4 HR, 10 BB, 21 SO, 5.40 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 2.10 K/BB, 7.09 K/9 IP, 3.38 BB/9 IP
- July – 5 G, 5 GS, 0 CG, 1-3, 24 IP, 31 H, 21 R, 21 ER, 4 HR, 14 BB, 13 SO, 7.88 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, 0.93 K/BB, 4.88 K/9 IP, 5.25 BB/9 IP
- August – 6 G, 6 GS, 0 CG, 3-2, 39 IP, 33 H, 17 R, 13 ER, 1 HR, 12 BB, 25 SO, 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2.08 K/BB, 5.77 K/9 IP, 2.8 BB/9 IP
- September – Did Not Pitch

In-Depth – The Hitters
Kevin Estrada
Drafted - 42nd round (1,272nd overall), 2002 Draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Comment - Kevin Estrada played seven of the nine positions this season, six of them at least three times. (He pitched in one game so that position is not listed in his "role/position" section above.) His ability to play each of those roles capably while putting up overall solid offensive numbers caused his stock to rise within the Cardinals organization. Estrada's fifteen errors this season was third highest on the team, after third baseman Travis Hanson's thirty-six and second baseman Aaron Herr's twenty-two, but no other player on the Springfield team played multiple outfield and multiple infield positions. Estrada's hitting slid from April through June before rebounding dramatically in July and August. His season was cut short slightly when he landed on the disabled list in mid-August.

The combination of Estrada's positional flexibility, age and strong offensive finish may allow him to compete for a slot as a utility player on the 2006 Redbirds with a shot at a bench role on the big club in his (not near) future.
Numbers By The Month -
- April – .280/.308/.360, 14 G, 50 AB, 5 R, 14 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO, 4 SB, 3 CS
- May – .258/.314/.402, 26 G, 97 AB, 15 R, 25 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 8 BB, 21 SO, 6 SB, 2 CS
- June – .233/.303/.317, 21 G, 60 AB, 5 R, 14 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 6 BB, 12 SO, 3 SB, 0 CS
- July – .347/.418/.551, 19 G, 49 AB, 8 R, 17 H, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 6 BB, 7 SO, 3 SB, 1 CS
- August – .444/.512/.583, 11 G, 36 AB, 6 R, 16 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB, 1 CS (to disabled list on August 16th for a dislocated knuckle)
- September – did not play

Cody Haerther –
Drafted - 6th round (192nd overall), 2002 Draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Comment - One of the bright prospects this season was young Cody Haerther who turned 22 in mid-July. In his third professional season, Haerther put up his third straight year of a .300+ batting average as he went .307/.354/.538 cumulatively. He also earned the first in-season promotion of his professional career going from Palm Beach to Springfield.

Haerther began the year as the Palm Beach Cardinals' left fielder/designated hitter and hit exceptionally well in a league not known for high batting averages. He was promoted to Springfield on May 30th along with Chris Lambert. Haerther got off to a slow start in Springfield which was compounded by a hyperextended left knee injury suffered during a collision at first base on June 15th. That injury limited his in-game action to three pinch hit appearances the rest of the month. He began July as a designated hitter and did not appear in left field until July 9th, over three weeks after being injured. However, he came on strong offensively the rest of the season, posting excellent numbers.

I expect Haerther to begin the 2006 season in Springfield, primarily due to his age but also the need to work on his defense which is not at the same level as his hitting.
Numbers By The Month -
- April – ,341/.389/.622, 21 G, 82 AB, 16 R, 28 H, 5 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 7 BB, 14 SO, 3 SB, 0 CS (Palm Beach)
- May – .297/.366/.549, 25 G, 91 AB, 13 R, 27 H, 3 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 9 BB, 17 SO, 5 SB, 3 CS (Palm Beach)
- June – .200/.234/.333, 15 G, 45 AB, 8 R, 9 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 12 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS (Springfield)
- July – .296/.329/.444, 24 G, 81 AB, 7 R, 24 H, 6 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 3 BB, 21 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS
- August – .348/.386/.667, 22 G, 66 AB, 12 R, 23 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 3 BB, 9 SO, 0 SB, 1 CS
- September – .375/.412/.563, 4 G, 16 AB, 3 R, 6 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 0 SB, 0 CS

Aaron Herr –
Drafted - 1st round (40th overall), 2000 Draft, Atlanta Braves
Comment - Some familiar names returned to the Cardinals' system this season as we drafted a Van Slyke and signed a Herr. The "Herr" in question is Aaron Herr, a former first round draft choice out of Princeton University who simply never fulfilled his draft slot while in the Atlanta organization. While there he compiled a .254 batting average in four hundred two games over five seasons and his highest level reached was Double-A in 2004. The Seattle Mariners took Herr in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft in December 2004 draft. However, he requested and was granted his release in March 2005 during Spring Training when he learned the Mariners did not have a starting role in mind for him. Herr then signed to play for his father's independent league club but was signed by the Cardinals on April 27th before he played a game. The Cardinals assigned Herr to the Double-A Springfield squad.

Herr accumulated career high offensive numbers with the Cardinals this season, going .298/.336/.498 in one hundred twelve games and four hundred twenty-six at bats. His numbers peaked in June, dipped in July and recovered in August. He missed four of the last five games of the season when he tweaked his knee diving for a ball in a game against Wichita on August 30th. He recovered enough to play the final game of the season on September 4th. Two items stick out, negatively, when you look at Herr's 2005 stats; his strikeouts and lack of walks. Herr struck out once every 3.94 at bats this season which was the worst of any Springfield Cardinal with two hundred or more at bats. He also walked only once every twenty-eight at bats which is the worst walk-per-at bat ratio of any position player in the Cardinals' system playing full season ball this year (Herr just nipped the Swing's Juan Lucena who walked only once every twenty-seven point six seven at bats.) Defensively, Herr committed twenty-two errors at the keystone corner which was second highest on the team, as previously mentioned.

Herr will need to improve his defense and batting eye if he wants to move up.
Numbers By The Month -
- April – .125/.222/.250, 2 G, 8 AB, 0 R, 1 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS
- May – .304/.304/.471, 26 G, 102 AB, 10 R, 31 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 0 BB, 28 SO, 1 SB, 2 CS
- June – .319/.360/.596, 25 G, 94 AB, 16 R, 30 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 22 RBI, 4 BB, 19 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS
- July – .263/.321/.444, 29 G, 99 AB, 13 R, 26 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 4 BB, 33 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS
- August –.305/.354/.500, 29 G, 118 AB, 15 R, 36 H, 8 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 6 BB, 25 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS
- September – .600/.600/.600, 1 G, 5 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 0 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS

Brendan Ryan –
Drafted - 7th round (215th overall), 2003 Draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Comment - How must it feel to be Brendan Ryan? In February 2005 Baseball America names you as the Cardinals' top position prospect and their seventh best prospect overall. But your name appears in the publication as "Brennan". Repeatedly and in more than one issue. Might make you think "Gee, if they thought I was any good, maybe they would get my name correct?" (Actually, I think that speaks far more about the skill of the BA writers than it does Mr. Ryan.)

Ryan has made steady progress through the system, starting in short-season A in 2003, progressing to the class A Midwest league in 2004 and being promoted from class A-Advanced Palm Beach to Double-A Springfield on July 19th of this season. His progress was slowed this season when he went on the Palm Beach disabled list on May 17th with a left hamstring injury. In fact, comparing his April games played to May makes me wonder just how long Ryan was injured before he went on the disabled list. Ryan played in twenty of twenty-three April games but only six of the first fourteen May games. (He was placed on the disabled list before the fifteen game played that month.) A lingering leg injury, hamstrings are notoriously slow to heal, would help explain the precipitous decline between his April and May numbers. Ryan was activated on June 14th, having missed twenty-eight games. At the time of his injury, Ryan was hitting .323/.380/.465 and his performance after his return dropped his stats to .303/.355/.410 when he was promoted. Ryan got off to a very slow start in Springfield as his combined July stats can be broken down as follows: .311/.367/.378 in twelve games and forty-five at bats in Palm Beach and .227/.286/.295 in twelve games and forty-four at bats in Springfield. While Ryan's overall Springfield numbers are not sparkling, he did bat over .330 in the last month (26 games) of the season.

In the shortstop pipeline Ryan has John Nelson ahead of him at Memphis and Tyler Greene breathing down his neck in Palm Beach. My best estimation is that Ryan will begin the 2006 at short in Springfield.
Numbers By The Month -
- April – .359/.419/.526, 20 G, 78 AB, 14 R, 28 H, 10 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 8 BB, 8 SO, 2 SB, 0 CS (Palm Beach)
- May – .190/.228/.238, 6 G, 21 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0 SB, 1 CS (Palm Beach)
- June – .250/.283/.318, 11 G, 44 AB, 4 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBi, 2 BB, 9 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS (Palm Beach)
- July – .270/.327/.337, 24 G, 89 AB, 14 R, 24 H, 6 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 6 BB, 5 SO, 6 SB, 0 CS (combined stats – Palm Beach/Springfield)
- August – .253/.346/.385, 27 G, 91 AB, 18 R, 23 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 13 BB, 14 SO, 5 SB, 0 CS
- September – .474/.474/.526, 4 G, 19 AB, 5 R, 9 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS

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