The Season in Review – New Jersey

The fifth in a series of year-end reviews of each of St. Louis' minor league teams, focusing on the Cardinals' New York-Penn League affiliate.

The Season in Review – New Jersey

November 5, 2005

This is the fifth in my series of year-end reviews of each of the St. Louis minor league teams, following my look back at Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach and Quad Cities. Below are clarifications needed for this report:
- First, the roster used is the last active roster available, with a few notable exceptions and is listed by age, youngest to eldest, which should give a way to differentiate actual prospects from borderline prospects from strict roster filler.
- The age given is each player's age as of June 2005, the season's start.
- All stats given are minor league stats only unless otherwise noted.
- The "last month" line in the "Roster" sub-heading covers the final thirty games of the season.
- In the in-depth look at pitchers I charted how all pitchers' outs were recorded: via a groundball, fly ball or strikeout. Those percentages are listed after "Out Type".
- "Contact Outs" covers those outs made by contact with the ball. Those percentages of either ground- or flyballs were used to determine "Type of Pitcher".
- The ratio of ground-to-fly balls used to determine whether a pitcher is predominately groundball, fly ball or neutral changes from season-to-season, depending on each season's results. Therefore, a range of 1.2-to-1.3 ground-to-fly balls was calculated as the neutral range. This roughly corresponds to 52%-to-58% ground-to-fly balls. Anything outside that range places the pitcher in either the groundball or fly ball category.
- "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 2005 levels are listed in order each player experienced them so any promotion or demotion is clear.

Short-season A is the level at which many of the newest draftees begin their professional careers. Like the rookie level, it is a place of adjustment, experimentation and evaluation. The roster rules for maximum allowed do not apply at this level so there are a number of players competing for the available playing time. The prospects with the higher projected upside get more of the playing time. The main way the lower level or roster filler guys get more playing time is when they earn it by outperforming the higher-rated prospects. Sean Danielson, profiled in the Quad Cities report, is an excellent example of a roster filler player that forced his way into a promotion by outplaying the regular starters. Now, this is no different than most levels of the minor league system but the sheer number of players competing here means the window of opportunity to impress is very small. However, along with the rookie level this is the one where a player first gets "noticed". While the true tests will come at higher levels where the pitching and hitting improve, the good numbers put up here earn them the opportunity to take that test.

One thing I want to mention about the pitching stats at this level. The two areas I noticed most during my three-game visit to New Jersey in July were: 1) How much control is an issue at this level and 2) The quality of the umpiring. The two areas were a bit interconnected. Several of the New Jersey pitchers had stuff that consistently fooled the home plate umpire. Their stuff was way beyond the umpire's ability so pitches that at higher levels would hopefully be called strikes were called balls. (I say "hopefully" having been subjected to the egregiously bad postseason performance by big league umpires this year.) However, I do not want to put the control issues shown in this report entirely at the umpires' feet. These pitchers are pretty raw and have yet to harness themselves, for the most part. A good illustration of this is reliever Jason Cairns. I saw a two-inning outing of his on July 1st. It was only his second professional game appearance. What was noteworthy about his performance, according to my notes? "Kept ball down, threw first pitch strikes". Throwing first pitch strikes and keeping the ball down contrasted so sharply with some of his teammates that I noted it. Mr. Cairns was promoted to Quad Cities the next day. Also, hitters at this level tend to be pretty free swingers so the strikeout rate is inflated. Some of the pitchers profiled here have some very nice K/9 IP rates. See if that continues at higher levels before anointing them a strikeout artist.

Enjoy!

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Short-Season A – New Jersey Cardinals
League Affiliation - fourteen-team New York-Penn League, six-team McNamara division
Regular Season – June 21st through September 8th
Overall Record – 37 - 39
Final Standing – Fourth, fifteen games behind the Staten Island Yankees

A Look Back At The Season
The job of short-season A management is to evaluate and test new talent and simultaneously try to win games. There was a good bit of player movement during this process which certainly affected the team's ability to win. Contrast that with league champion Staten Island who promoted one player their entire season. They placed only one of their championship team in BA's Top 20 and he spent the entire season with Staten Island. Fourth place New Jersey got two in the Top 20: Tyler Greene and Nick Webber. Greene ended the season with the Florida State League champion Palm Beach Cardinals and Webber was part of the postseason qualifier Swing of the Quad Cities' rotation. I think the comparison between the two teams is valid since neither team functions within a particularly strong minor league system. The Yankees chose to keep this team intact while the Cardinals chose to promote.

New Jersey's season can best be described as uneven. The team went 5-8 their first thirteen games before going 7-4 their next eleven games. They then treaded water, going 7-8 their next fifteen games. This was followed by a week in which they went 5-2 and which preceded a week in which they went 2-5. Then it was back to the status quo, a two-week period in which they went 5-7. New Jersey finished the season by going 6-5 their final two weeks to finish two games under .500 for the season. Overall, the team finished third in the league in batting and ninth in pitching.

As was mentioned in the introduction this is an evaluation level. Players' roles and positions were tested and sorted out. Nine different pitchers both started and relieved throughout the season, often with no discernable pattern. They would start one game then relieve a couple of games and then start again. Line-ups were shuffled like a deck of cards as management assessed which players did their best hitting in which slot and what were their best positions. On the player development front, nine pitchers and six position players moved upward from New Jersey. The pitchers are: starters Michael Cooper, Mark McCormick and Nick Webber and relievers Buddy Blair, Jason Cairns, Bo Dickerson, Michael Gross, Cory Meacham and Matt Trent. The position players are: Sean Danielson, Tyler Greene, Brandon Marcelli, Jose Mendez, Casey Rowlett and Brandon Yarbrough. Marcelli has since retired from baseball.

The Roster (by age, youngest to oldest)
Pitchers
Daniel Stevens – 06/08/85 (20) – LHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A (signed August 21, 2005)
- experience - first season, 3.1 innings pitched
- last month - 5 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 1 SV, 3.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 3 BB, 3 SO, 2.70 ERA, 2.70 WHIP

Michael Meagher – 09/24/84 (21) – LHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A (signed August 3, 2005)
- experience - first season, 1.2 innings pitched
- last month - did not pitch, on disabled list

Kyle Sadlowski – 06/19/84 (21) – RHP
- role/position - Swing
- 2005 level(s) - Rookie A, Short-season A
- experience - first season, 40.2 innings pitched
- last month - 2 G, 2 GS, 0-2, 9 IP, 22 H, 14 R, 14 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 7 SO, 14.00 ERA, 2.78 WHIP

Zach Zuercher – 04/10/84 (21) – LHP
- role/position - Starter
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 82 innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 6 GS, 1-3, 34.2 IP, 26 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 4 HR, 12 BB, 22 SO, 3.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP

Mitchell Boggs – 02/15/84 (21) – RHP
- role/position - Starter
- 2005 level(s) -Short-season A
- experience - first season, 71.2 innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 6 GS, 1-1, 34.1 IP, 33 H, 13 R, 8 ER, 2 HR, 10 BB, 30 SO, 2.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Trey Hearne– 08/19/83 (21) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 38.2 innings pitched
- last month - 10 G, 0 GS, 2-0, 0 SV, 16 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 27 SO, 1.69 ERA, 1.06 WHIP

Michael Repole – 07/12/83 (21) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 37.1 innings pitched
- last month - 10 G, 0 GS, 4-1, 1 SV, 15.1 IP, 23 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 2 HR, 8 BB, 14 SO, 7.63 ERA, 2.02 WHIP

Chris Clem – 05/23/83 (22) – RHP
- role/position - Swing
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 32.1 innings pitched
- last month - 5 G, 4 GS, 1-2, 24.2 IP, 35 H, 17 R, 14 ER, 1 HR, 8 BB, 19 SO, 5.11 ERA, 1.74 WHIP

Ashley Hooks – 05/18/83 (22) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Rookie A, Short-season A
- experience - first season, 36 innings pitched
- last month - 9 G, 0 GS, 0-1, 1 SV, 10.2 IP, 14 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 0 HR, 7 BB, 12 SO, 7.59 ERA, 1.97 WHIP

Blake Hawksworth – 03/01/83 (22) – RHP
- role/position - Starter
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - fourth season, 187.2 innings pitched
- last month - 2 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 0 SV, 2.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 2 SO, 15.38 ERA, 2.56 WHIP

Scott Vander Weg – 12/14/82 (22) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 25.2 innings pitched
- last month - 12 G, 0 GS, 1-2, 3 SV, 13.2 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 HR, 8 BB, 16 SO, 2.63 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

Mike Schellinger – 12/02/82 (22) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A (signed August 21, 2005)
- experience - first season, 10.1 innings pitched
- last month - 4 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 1 SV, 10.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 13 SO, 5.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP

Jeremy Zick – 08/25/82 (22) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - A, Short-season A
- experience - second season, 73.2 innings pitched
- last month - 10 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 0 SV, 17.1 IP, 16 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 2 HR, 8 BB, 13 SO, 4.15 ERA, 1.39 WHIP

Adam Daniels – 08/16/82 (22) – LHP
- role/position - Swing
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 26 innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 5 GS, 1-1, 0 SV, 18 IP, 13 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 0 HR, 17 BB, 13 SO, 5.50 ERA, 1.67 WHIP

Jessen Grant – 06/25/82 (23) – RHP
- role/position - Reliever
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - second season, 51 innings pitched
- last month - 11 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 1 SV, 11.2 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 HR, 11 BB, 11 SO, 5.40 ERA, 1.97 WHIP

Quinton Robertson – 12/18/81 (23) – RHP
- role/position - Swing
- 2005 level(s) - A, Short-season A
- experience - second season, 160.1 innings pitched
- last month - 6 G, 6 GS, 2-3, 36.1 IP, 42 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 4 HR, 5 BB, 23 SO, 3.47 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

Justin Brown – 10/07/80 (24) – RHP
- role/position - Starter
- 2005 level(s) - A, Short-season A
- experience - second season, 43 innings pitched
- last month - did not pitch, on disabled list

Position
Donovan Solano – 12/17/87 (17)
- role/position - shortstop, third base, second base
- 2005 level(s) - Rookie A, Short-season A
- experience - first season, 222 at bats
- last month - .308/.408/.385/.793, 20-for-65 in 20 games, 8 R, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 7 BB, 8 SO (combined stats – Johnson City/New Jersey)

Chad Gabriel – 05/19/84 (21)
- role/position - right field, designated hitter, left field
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - second season, 403 at bats
- last month - .325/.387/.450/.845, 27-for-83 in 23 games, 12 R, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 9 BB, 24 SO

Calvin Hayes – 03/21/84 (21)
- role/position - second base, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - A-Advanced, Short-season A, A, Short-season A
- experience - third season, 595 at bats
- last month - .189/.250/.189/.439, 7-for-37 in 9 games, 5 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO

Dan Nelson – 02/12/84 (21)
- role/position - shortstop, third base, second base
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - second season, 311 at bats
- last month - .265/.329/.382/.711, 18-for-68 in 17 games, 11 R, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 6 BB, 12 SO

Yonathan Sivira – 01/24/84 (21)
- role/position - centerfield, left field, right field
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - second season (American ball), 362 at bats
- last month - .212/.271/.273/.544, 21-for-99 in 26 games, 8 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 8 BB, 24 SO

Carlos De La Cruz – 01/08/84 (21)
- role/position - right field, left field, center field, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - fourth season, 688 at bats
- last month - .273/.294/.379/.673, 18-for-66 in 18 games, 9 R, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 22 SO

A. J. Van Slyke – 11/19/83 (21)
- role/position - first base, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - Rookie A, Short-season A
- experience - first season, 85 at bats
- last month - did not play, to disabled list on July 25th with torn rotator cuff

Jose Delgado – 09/10/83 (21)
- role/position - second base, first base, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - A, Short-season A
- experience - second season, 366 at bats
- last month - .224/.333/.347/.680, 11-for-49 in 22 games, 8 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 7 BB, 12 SO

Kevin Richmond – 04/01/83
- role/position - second base, third base, shortstop
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 56 at bats
- last month - .342/.372/.500/.872, 13-for-38 in 15 games, 5 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 9 SO

Richie Cormier – 03/17/83 (22)
- role/position - catcher, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - A (in Brewers' organization), Short-season A (in Cardinals' organization)
- experience - first season, 19 at bats
- last month - .133/.125/.133/.258, 2-for-15 in 4 games, 1 R, HR, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 2 SO

Matt Wilkerson – 12/18/82 (22)
- role/position - right field, designated hitter, left field, first base
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 163 at bats
- last month - .217/.345/.370/.715, 10-for-46 in 13 games, 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 9 BB, 17 SO

Adam Rodgers – 12/01/82 (22)
- role/position - first base, catcher (1), designated hitter (1)
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 202 at bats
- last month - .298/.356/.447/.803, 28-for-94 in 26 games, 9 R, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 9 BB, 19 SO

Sean Dobson – 07/24/82 (22)
- role/position - left field, designated hitter, right field
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - second season, 395 at bats
- last month - .292/.333/.308/.641, 19-for-65 in 18 games, 6 R, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 9 SO

Randy Roth – 03/05/82 (23)
- role/position - third base, first base, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - Rookie A, Short-season A
- experience - first season, 238 at bats
- last month - .245/.283/.383/.666, 23-for-94 in 25 games, 6 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 19 SO

Scott Madden – 01/06/82 (23)
- role/position - catcher
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A (signed September 2, 2005)
- experience - first season, 6 at bats
- last month - .167/.167/.167/.334, 1-for-6 in 3 games, 0 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 2 SO

Craig Newton – 10/01/81
- role/position - catcher, designated hitter
- 2005 level(s) - Short-season A
- experience - first season, 73 at bats
- last month - .300/.378/.475/.853, 12-for-40 in 13 games, 10 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 9 SO

In-Depth – The Pitchers
Mitchell Boggs – RHS
Drafted - 5th round (170th overall), 2005 draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Type of Pitcher - Groundball
Out Type - 42.23% ground, 28.16% fly, 29.61% strike in 206 outs
Contact Outs - 60.00% ground, 40.00% fly in 145 outs
Comment - Unlike his New Jersey Cardinals' teammate Zach Zuercher, Mitchell Boggs spent most of his collegiate career coming out of the bullpen for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Boggs started only four games out of his forty-eight collegiate game appearances. Looking strictly at his overall stats, I wondered why the Cardinals drafted Boggs at all, more the less in the fifth round. However, his 2005 stats of a 5.89 ERA and 1.44 WHIP need to be split out between his three starts and sixteen bullpen appearances. Boggs compiled a 5.34 ERA and 1.25 WHIP out of the bullpen but the stats that really stick out are his almost 10 K/9 IP and 1.70 K/9 IP for a K/BB of 5.83. This was compiled in one of the strongest conferences around, the SEC. Clearly, the Boggs' drafting is based on his stuff which did not translate into stats.

Boggs was assigned to New Jersey where he appeared in fifteen games, fourteen of them starts. Boggs struggled for over half of the season. Boggs compiled a 5.54 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 2.21 K/BB and .295 BAA over thirty-seven and one-third innings in nine games and eight starts through August 7th, the first forty-six games. However, he turned this around in his final six starts over the final twenty-six games with a 2.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB and .244 BAA in thirty-four and one-third innings. I saw Boggs' July 3rd start in New Jersey and noted his high leg kick from the wind-up. His fastball ranged from 88-to-94 mph, his curve was around 80 mph and his slider was in the 84-85 mph range. He appeared to be the hardest thrower of the pitchers I saw during my three-game visit. That group included Jason Cairns, Jessen Grant, Blake Hawksworth, Trey Hearne, Cory Meacham, Nick Webber and Zach Zuercher. I also noted that he was not afraid to come inside. (Boggs hit five batters this season which trailed Zuercher who led the team with nine hit batsmen.) Boggs took part in the Florida Instructional League fall where he accumulated a 3.86 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB, 5.79 K/9 IP, 1.93 BB/9 IP in fourteen innings over five games

Mitch Boggs' first professional season has to be rated a success. At 21 he is within the age range of Baseball America's Top 20 for the New York-Penn League. The very good numbers he put up in his final six starts showed that he made the adjustment to the rotation. His strong finish bodes well for 2006 which I expect him to start in Quad Cities.
Numbers By The Month -
- June – 3 G, 2 GS, 0 CG, 0-0, 0 SV, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 2.50 K/BB, 6.43 K/9 IP, 2.57 BB/9 IP
- July – 5 G, 5 GS, 0 CG, 2-3, 25.1 IP, 33 H, 21 R, 19 ER, 3 HR, 11 BB, 23 SO, 6.75 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 2.09 K/BB, 8.17 K/9 IP, 3.91 BB/9 IP
- August – 6 G, 6 GS, 0 CG, 2-0, 33.1 IP, 34 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 1 HR, 9 BB, 28 SO, 2.43 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 3.11 K/BB, 7.56 K/9 IP, 2.43 BB/9 IP
- September – 1 G, 1 GS, 0 CG, 0-1, 6 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 SO, 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 2.50 K/BB, 7.50 K/9 IP, 3.00 BB/9 IP

Adam Daniels – LH Swing
Drafted - 15th round (470th overall), 2005 draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Type of Pitcher - Groundball/Strikeout
Out Type - 42.11% ground, 24.00% fly, 32.89% strike in 76 outs
Contact Outs - 62.75% ground, 37.25% fly in 51 outs
Comment - Adam Daniels has the distinction of being drafted in five straight drafts. In 2001 he was drafted by Toronto in the 27th round. He was drafted in '02 by Twins in the 19th round. Colorado drafted him in the 22nd round in 2003 and the Cubs drafted him in the 43rd round in 2004. He finally signed with the Cardinals after pitching for Oklahoma State University for one season. Prior to that he spent two seasons at Eastern Oklahoma State Community College. Daniels went 7-2 with a 4.20 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in seventeen game appearances, thirteen starts. Opponents hit .301 against him. But Mr. Daniels also struck out eighty-eight batters in seventy-five innings for a K/9 IP of 10.56. He walked twenty-five, a 3.00 BB/9 IP rate. That strikeout rate followed a pattern set at Eastern Oklahoma State where he struck out one hundred thirteen in seventy-nine and one-third innings during his sophomore year.

Daniels' signing was announced on June 19th when he was assigned to the New Jersey squad. He made his professional debut in early July and spent that month pitching exclusively out of the bullpen. He racked up some extremely impressive numbers that month. He did not pitch the first two weeks of August before making three appearances, including one start, the week ending August 21st. He compiled a 1.10 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and .109 BAA in seven game appearances, two starts, through August 28th. However, one horrific and one poor start on August 29th and September 3rd skewed Daniels' numbers upward. He pitched the season's final game and went out a winner as he allowed two runs, both earned, in five innings while striking out six and walking four. Daniels was part of the Florida Instructional League roster where he put up the following numbers: 5.40 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 IP, 2.33 K/BB, 4.05 BB/9 IP in thirteen and one-third innings over five games.

Daniels is a tantalizing prospect. His strike out numbers are very attractive but his control is an area that needs work. Batters hit .301 against him during Oklahoma State's 2005 season but just .189 in New Jersey. He turned 23 in August which is at the upper end of the league's age range and is old to be considered a true "prospect". Also, there are gaps in Daniels' academic background for which I could not find answers. The 2001 draft lists him at Eastern Oklahoma State Community College (a two-year program) but his 2005 biography at Oklahoma State University states that he spent the past two seasons (which would be 2003 and 2004) at Eastern Oklahoma State. He was also only in his Junior year of athletic eligibility in 2005. Therefore, there are gaps in his baseball development and it is unclear why, except for money, he remained unsigned in previous drafts. I suppose that is the best reason draftees have for not signing. Daniels will likely start the 2006 season in Quad Cities but it will be interesting to see whether it is in the rotation or bullpen.
Numbers By The Month -
- June – did not pitch
- July – 4 G, 0 GS, 1-0. 0 SV, 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 12 SO, 2.25 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 12.00 K/BB, 13.50 K/9 IP, 1.13 BB/9 IP
- August – 4 G, 3 GS, 0 CG, 0-0, 0 SV, 9 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 0 HR, 11 BB, 4 SO, 5.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 0.36 K/BB, 4.00 K/9 IP, 11.00 BB/9 IP
- September – 2 G, 2 GS, 0 CG, 1-1, 9 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 HR, 6 BB, 9 SO, 6.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 1.50 K/BB, 9.00 K/9 IP, 6 BB/9 IP

Scott Vander Weg – RHR
Drafted - 33rd round (1010th overall), 2005 draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Type of Pitcher - Strikeout
Out Type - 29.33% ground, 32.00% fly, 38.67% strike in 75 outs
Contact Outs - 47.83% ground, 52.17% fly in 46 outs
Comment - Scott Vander Weg was drafted out of Lamar University in Texas as a senior. He spent the final two years at Lamar, having started his collegiate career at Midland Junior College. Vander Weg was "Mr. Everybody" for the Lamar Cardinals. He appeared in nineteen games, starting nine. His .232 batting average against led the pitching staff as did his four saves. His last start was his first complete game, a victory over Texas-Arlington in the SLC Tournament. Overall, he compiled a 3.95 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 2.04 K/BB, 7.77 K/9 IP and 3.82 BB/9 IP in sixty-six innings.

Vander Weg was sent to New Jersey after signing with St. Louis. He appeared in only seven of the first thirty-three games but did quite well with a 0.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with nine strikeouts and three walks in seven innings. Opponents were batting .167 against him. He struggled a bit in his next three appearances, bringing his cumulative totals through the end of July to a 2.79 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 1.83 K/BB, 10.24 K/9 IP, 5.58 BB/9 IP and .243 BAA in ten games and nine and two-thirds innings pitched. August was a big improvement for Scott as his control improved significantly. September's stats are an excellent illustration of how stats alone never tell even close to the entire story. His line says he walked four batters in three and two-thirds innings but three of the four walks came in one inning and two of those three walks were intentional. The first of the two earned runs charged to him scored in the aforementioned inning when he wild pitched the runner home. Another wild pitch in a separate outing led to the other run scored against him. He struck out the batter who subsequently reached first on a wild pitch. Eventually, a hit batsman brought that runner in. For the season Vander Weg threw six wild pitches and hit two batters. Having seen the level of catching at New Jersey first-hand it is entirely possible that a better defensive catcher prevents those wild pitches. Vander Weg held opposing batters to a .204 average the final thirty-three games of the season. Scott took part in the Florida Instructional League. His line there was: 8 G, 1-0, 9.1 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 11 SO, 7.72 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 10.61 K/9 IP, 3.67 K/BB, 2.89 BB/9 IP.

Vander Weg bears watching which is why he is part of the in-depth section of this report. His control needs work, as is the case with many pitchers at this level, but his strikeout percentage is one of the highest in the Cardinals' minor league system (minimum 75 outs). I will be surprised if Vander Weg is not in the Swing bullpen next spring but his performance in the 2006 Spring Training will go a long way towards determining where he begins the season.
Numbers By The Month -
- June – 3 G, 0 GS, 0-0, 0 SV, 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, 5+ K/BB, 15.00 K/9 IP, 0.00 BB/9 IP
- July – 7 G, 0 GS, 1-0, 0 SV, 6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 HR, 6 BB, 6 SO, 4.05 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, 1.00 K/BB, 8.10 K/9 IP, 8.10 BB/9 IP
- August – 11 G, 0 GS, 1-1, 3 SV, 12.1 IP, 12 H, 2 R, 2 ER 0 HR, 4 BB, 11 SO, 1.30 WHIP, 2.75 K/BB, 8.03 K/9 IP, 2.92 BB/9 IP
- September – 3 G, 0 GS, 0-1, 1 SV, 3.2 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 7 SO, 4.90 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 1.75 K/BB, 17.17 K/9 IP, 9.81 BB/9 IP

Zach Zuercher– LHS
Drafted - 9th round (290th overall), 2005 draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Type of Pitcher - Flyball
Out Type - 33.62% ground, 39.67% fly, 26.81% strike in 235 outs
Contact Outs - 45.93% ground, 54.07% fly in 172 outs
Comment - Zach Zuercher, a native of Warwick, Rhode Island, began his collegiate career in 2003 at the University of North Carolina where he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. After his freshman season he transferred to the University of Rhode Island where he was a starter. The past two seasons he led the University of Rhode Island to their two most successful seasons ever, culminating in their first Atlantic 10 Championship and NCAA berth. This season Zuercher compiled a 3.05 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while holding opponents to a .220 average.

The Cardinals assigned Zuercher to their Short-season New Jersey club. While he appears to have been targeted for the rotation from the start, he did mix two relief appearances with five starts in the first three weeks of the season. He pitched exclusively in the rotation after July 15th. After getting off to an excellent start through July 15th when he compiled a 2.55 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and .203 BAA, Zuercher struggled greatly in his next two starts with a 9.28 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. This was the low point of his season. During the "last month" period, August 8th through September 8th, Zuercher compiled a 1.10 WHIP and .211 BAA. That WHIP was best among the New Jersey starters at season's end. However, his K/BB (1.83), K/9 IP (5.71) and BB/9 IP (3.12) were all fourth of the five pitchers that finished the season in the New Jersey rotation: Mitchell Boggs, Chris Clem, Adam Daniels and Quinton Robertston. I saw Zuercher's July 1st start and noted that while he allowed two earned runs in his six innings pitched, both runs would not have happened if his defense backed him up better. He had quick reflexes and a nice pick-off move to second base. He threw a 71 mph curveball which set up his other pitches which ranged from 83-to-86 mph. Zach Zuercher participated in the Florida Instructional League this fall where he accumulated a 5.00 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, 4.67 K/BB, 14.00 K/9 IP, 3.00 BB/9 IP in nine innings over four games.

Zuercher had a good initial campaign this season. At 21 he was among the youngest pitchers on the New Jersey roster. He had overall peripherals of 1.10 WHIP, 2.52 K/BB and .223 BAA for the season. His control was erratic as he would alternate excellent weeks with a BB/9 IP of around 1.40 with weeks that were much higher. His total innings pitched of 173.1, college and professional combined, are almost double his previous high of 92.2. I look for him to start the 2006 season in Quad Cities.
Numbers By The Month -
- June – 3 G, 1 GS, 0 CG, 0-1, 0 SV, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1.59 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 0.67 K/BB, 3.17 K/9 IP, 4.76 BB/9 IP
- July – 5 G, 5 GS, 0 CG, 2-3, 29 IP, 29 H, 17 R, 17 ER, 3 HR, 8 BB, 27 SO, 5.28 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 3.88 K/BB, 8.38 K/9 IP, 2.48 BB/9 IP
- August – 6 G, 6 GS, 0 CG, 2-3, 36.1 IP, 25 H, 16 R, 15 ER, 6 HR, 9 BB, 28 SO, 0.94 WHIP, 3.11 K/BB, 6.94 K/9 IP, 2.23 BB/9 IP
- September – 2 G, 2 GS, 0 CG, 1-0, 11 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 5 BB, 6 SO, 0.82 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 1.20 K/BB, 4.91 K/9 IP, 4.09 BB/9 IP

In-Depth – The Hitters
Daniel Nelson – bats S, throws L
Drafted - 13th round (390th overall), 2004 draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Comment - Dan Nelson was drafted out of Pierce Junior College in Los Angeles. He was assigned to the rookie level Johnson City club where he spent the entire season. His offensive line for 2004 was .258/.336/.363/.699 or 32-for-124 in 42 games. Nelson had 1:4 K/AB, 1:10.85 BB/PA and 1:4.55 K/PA rates.

Nelson spent the entire 2005 season with the New Jersey club. He split his time between short (27 games) and third (22 games) with five games at second. He played short until Tyler Greene's arrival in early July when Greene took over the shortstop position. (Greene appeared in 35 games in New Jersey, all of them at short.) He then played primarily at third until Randy Roth's arrival from Johnson City on August 2nd. He moved back to short when Greene was promoted to Palm Beach on August 11th. I saw him play in at least parts of three games in July during which he played shortstop. Nelson displayed a strong accurate arm from the six position. He also appeared to be a bit stockier in build than his listed 5'11", 180 lbs. He started off slowly in June with limited playing time. His playing increased in July as did his offense and batting eye (K/AB and BB/PA). August was his best month at the plate but his playing time dropped. August also saw his strikeouts increase while his walks dropped. Although September is only an eight-game sample size, it is the only month in which his walks outnumbered his strikeouts and his plate appearances per game were over the 3.1 required by MLB to qualify for Batting Leader listing. Nelson participated in the Florida Instructional League where he went .333/.417*/.524/.940, 14-for-33, in sixteen games. He led the team in average, hits and doubles and struck out once every 4.20 at bats. (*Note: Incomplete data given so OBP may be higher for all FIL participants but is not lower. I do not have sufficient data to determine plate appearances so cannot give BB/PA.)

Dan Nelson's stock certainly rose with his strong finish in the regular season and excellent performance in the FIL. On the other hand, he did not make a full-season squad, unless he had an injury of which I am unaware, so there appear to be other players at short, such as Greene, Brandon Yarbrough and Juan Lucena, ahead of him that may limit his playing time. I have no prediction as to what level Nelson will start the 2006 season.
Numbers By The Month -
- June – .222/.286/.278, 6 G, 18 AB, 1 R, 4 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS, 1:6 K/AB, 1:21 BB/PA, 1:7 K/PA, 2.10 PA/Game
- July – .270/.337/.338, 22 G, 74 AB, 5 R, 20 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 8 BB, 11 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS, 1:6.73 K/AB, 1:10.38 BB/PA, 1:7.55 K/PA, 2.86 PA/Game
- August – .317/.357/.381, 16 G, 63 AB, 12 R, 20 H, 0 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 15 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS, 1:4.20 K/AB, 1:17.50 BB/PA, 1:4.67 K/PA, 2.41 PA/Game
- September – .281/.378/.469, 8 G, 32 AB, 6 R, 9 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 2 SO, 0 SB, 3 CS, 1:16 K/AB, 1:9.25 BB/PA, 1:18.50 K/PA, 4.63 PA/G

Adam Rodgers – bats R, throws R
Drafted - 25th round (770th overall), 2005 draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Comment - Adam Rodgers was drafted out of Rice University where he was named All-WAC as a senior this season. His primary positions at Rice were first base and catcher. In fact he caught 35 games his junior year, handling a pitching staff that included Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend. (In case you missed it those three went third, fourth and eighth overall in the 2004 draft.) Rodgers went .332/.400/.518/.918, 75-for-226 in 63 games with twenty-eight walks and forty-five strikeouts in his 2005 collegiate season. He struck out once every five at bats and walked once every nine and one-half plate appearances.

The Cardinals assigned Rodgers to New Jersey where he appeared in sixty games; fifty-four at first base and one game each at catcher and designated hitter. The balance were pinch hit appearances. When I saw him in July, he was one of only two players on the New Jersey roster to start each game at the same position. (The other was Yonathan Sivira in center.) I was very impressed with Rodgers overall and particularly with his athleticism. He displayed excellent reflexes and hands at first with good stretch. He went 4-for-11 in those three games which was clearly a hot streak when you check his numbers for July. Rodgers was a streaky hitter this season. The season divided into eleven reporting periods, each a minimum of seven days. Rodgers' season broke down as follows, batting average-wise: .250 or below in six periods, .300 during one period, above .350 in another period and over .400 in four periods. Feast or famine. Rodgers played in the Florida Instructional League where he went .167/.211/.278/.488, 6-for-36 in thirteen games. Eye witness reports said that a number of the position players appeared tired. (Many of them had been playing ball since March which was much longer than they were used to.) What I found most interesting, possibly significant, is that Rodgers was listed on the FIL roster as a catcher, not a first baseman. Catchers that can hit have a higher value than do first baseman.

There are more questions than answers at this point regarding Adam Rodgers, as is true of most players at this level. The biggest question is just what position he will play in the future. Since his positions at this point are first and catcher, he either will need to play another position to have a good shot at the Cardinals roster or be trade bait. Rodgers turns 23 in December which is a bit old for the league but Baseball America's 14th ranked best prospect in the New York-Penn League this year turned 23 in June. I expect Rodgers to begin 2006 in Quad Cities.
Numbers By The Month -
- June – .333/.444/.600, 6 G, 15 AB, 3 R, 5 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS, 1:7.50 K/AB, 1:9.00 BB/PA, 1:9.00 K/PA, 1.80 PA/Game
- July – .222/.326/.319, 22 G, 72 AB, 11 R, 16 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 10 BB, 13 SO, 0 SB, 1 CS, 1:5.54 K/AB, 1:8.70 BB/PA, 1:6.69 K/PA, 3.00 PA/Game
- August – .307/.390/.455, 24 G, 88 AB, 10 R, 27 H, 7 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 11 BB, 22 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS, 1:4.00 K/AB, 1:9.09 BB/PA, 1:4.55 K/PA, 3.45 PA/Game
- September – .370/.419/.630, 8 G, 27 AB, 5 R, 10 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS, 1:9.00 K/AB, 1:10.33 BB/PA, 1:10.33 K/PA, 3.88 PA/Game

Randy Roth – bats R, throws R
Drafted - 10th round (320th overall), 2005 draft, St. Louis Cardinals
Comment - Randy Roth was drafted out of Southeastern Louisiana University where the roster listed him as a catcher. However, the team's June 2005 press release covering Roth's drafting is closer to reality when it called him a "utility standout". He started at six different positions for the Lions: Shortstop (his original position), catcher, first base, third base, right field and designated hitter. He also pitched while attending Delgado Community College his first two years of college. (If La Russa saw a profile of this draftee, which is likely, his heart must have been fluttering in anticipation of all the positions into which he could slot this guy.) Roth was clearly the Lions' best player as he led the team in batting for two seasons. This season he was named to the All-Southland Conference's second team as a designated hitter and third team as a catcher. Roth went .349/.405/.526, 87-for-249 in sixty games with twenty-one walks and twenty-seven strikeouts. His "plate rates" (new term here) were: 1:9.22 K/AB, 1:13.38 BB/PA, 1:10.41 K/PA.

Roth was assigned to rookie level Johnson City where he dominated the competition. Roth, who turned 23 in early March, was quite old for that league and was a 10th-round draft pick. Therefore, I wondered why the Cardinals would have sent him there. Looking at how the Cardinals used Roth, I concluded, and this is merely an educated guess, that the Cardinals wanted Roth to gain more experience playing third base. While he played third a bit in college, two games his junior year, he primarily either caught or DH'd so third would not be his most familiar position. Assigning him to a rookie league would allow him to work on his defense and become comfortable there without having to focus on his offense. Roth played most of his games at third while in Johnson City along with acting as the designated hitter. He also appeared in left field for parts of two games and in right field for one game. He was promoted to New Jersey on August 2nd where he replaced Adam Morris on the roster and at third base. Roth did play first for four games and did a little DH'ing. Roth spent roughly the final five and a half weeks of the season at New Jersey where his offense was uneven. He went .375/.400/542, 9-for-24 in six games, his second week there but did an offensive nosedive the next three weeks. He recovered to go .357/.438/.500, 4-for-14, the final four games of the season. Roth took part in the Florida Instructional League where he .302/.348/.512/.859, 13-for-43 with three walks and seven strikeouts in fourteen games.

Roth did not spend a great deal of time at New Jersey and, for the most part, struggled offensively there. However, he had a very good showing offensively in the FIL. Where Roth begins the 2006 campaign may well depend on his 2006 Spring Training performance. He should make a full season club, Quad Cities, if he is healthy and does well. Otherwise, he will go to extended spring training and await an opening.
Numbers By The Month -
- June – .375/.375/.625, 9 G, 32 AB, 5 R, 12 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS, 1:10.67 K/AB, 0.00 BB/PA, 1:10.67 K/PA, 3.20 PA/Game (Johnson City)
- July – .310/.366/.632, 26 G, 87 AB, 22 R, 27 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 6 BB, 21 SO, 3 SB, 1 CS, 1:4.14 LAB, 1:16.83 BB/PA, 1:4.81 K/PA, 3.88 PA/Game (Johnson City)
- August – .229/.257/.365, 26 G, 96 AB, 7 R, 22 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 3 BB, 16 SO, 0 SB, 2 CS, 1:6.00 K/AB, 1:34.00 BB/PA, 1:6.38 K/PA, 3.52 PA/Game
- September – .304/.385/.478, 6 G, 23 AB, 1 R, 7 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS, 1:4.60 K/AB, 1:8.67 BB/PA, 1:5.20 K/PA, 3.25 PA/G

Donovan Solano – bats R, throws R
Drafted - signed January 14, 2005
Comment - Donovan Solano hails from Baranquilla, Columbia and signed with St. Louis last winter. Per Brian Walton's interview with Cardinals' Vice President Jeff Luhnow (link), Enrique Brito, the Cardinals' scouting coordinator for Latin America, found Solano for the Cardinals. Mr. Brito has found a number of big league players, but the biggest find is Miguel Cabrera. The Cardinals are very high on young Mr. Solano who has been compared to a young Edgar Renteria.

Solano spent the first part of the baseball season at extended spring training conducted at the Cardinals' spring training facility in Jupiter Florida. After impressing Cardinals' management he was assigned to Johnson City for the start of their season on June 21st. While Solano's overall offensive numbers of .262/.337/.29 are not eye-popping, he did walk fourteen times in one hundred sixty-four plate appearances (1:11.71 BB/PA) and more impressively struck out only twenty-two times in one hundred forty-five at bats (1:6.59 K/AB). The Cardinals saw enough from Solano to promote him to New Jersey on August 15th. In New Jersey he went .263/364/333, 15-for-57 in fifteen games, the balance of the month before flirting with the Mendoza line in September. Like all of those profiled in this "In Depth" section, Solano participated in the Florida Instructional League. He went .303/.378/.333/.712, 10-for-33 with four walks and six strikeouts in fifteen games. Baseball America writer Matt Eddy advised that Solano just missed being ranked in the Top Twenty of the Appalachian League in their annual rankings. Per Eddy "his defensive actions and knowledge of the strike zone were advanced for a young player".

Donovan Solano appears to have a very high upside and he is very young. At just 17 he was the youngest player on the Johnson City roster and by far the youngest player on the New Jersey roster. As such I think the Cardinals will move fairly conservatively with him. I expect him to start 2006 back in the New York-Penn League on the short-season A roster. But I would not be overly surprised if he did not move quickly.
Numbers By The Month -
- June – .258/.343/.258, 9 G, 31 AB, 6 R, 8 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 4 BB, 8 SO, 1 SB, 2 CS, 1:3.88 K/AB, 1:9.00 BB/PA, 1:4.50 K/PA, 3.60 PA/Game (Johnson City)
- July – .241/.330/.266, 24 G, 79 AB, 17 R, 19 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 8 BB, 12 SO, 01 SB, 0 CS, 1:6.58 K/AB, 1:11.38 BB/PA, 1:7.58 K/PA, 3.50 PA/Game (Johnson City)
- August – .283/.359/.348, 27 G, 92 AB, 9 R, 26 H, 6 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 8 BB, 9 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS, 1:10.22 K/AB, 1:12.88 BB/PA, 1:11.44 K/PA, 3.55 PA/Game (combined stats – Johnson City/New Jersey)
- September – .200/.273/.250, 7 G, 20 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 5 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS, 1:4.00 K/AB, 1:23.00 BB/PA, 1:4.60 K/PA, 2.88 PA/Game


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