Brendan Ryan - The New Kid on the Block

Ryan was added to the St. Louis Cardinals' 40-man roster on Friday with the intent to protect him from next month's Rule 5 draft. Here is our "Insiders" Scouting Report of the best all around athlete in the Cardinals' minor league system.

Added to the Cardinals' 40 man roster this past Friday after being drafted just two years ago, you could call Ryan's progress through the organization, the Ryan Express.

Selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh round of the 2003 draft, Brendan Ryan, the 23 year old shortstop is use to winning. He won a national championship with NAIA power Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) College and the National Baseball Congress World Series with the Alaska Goldpanners in 2002.

His first season within the Cardinals' organization, Ryan hit .311 in 53 games for the short season, New Jersey Cardinals of the NY-Penn league.

Ryan's first full season in the organization came in 2004, with the Peoria Chiefs. After a slow start due to a sprained wrist in spring training, Ryan led the Class A Midwest League in batting with a .322 in 105 games.

This year the Ryan Express continued to experience success at every stop. He started the season with the High-A, Palm Beach Cardinals, where he batted .303 in 49 games. In late July, he received a promotion to Springfield for his first-ever taste of Double-A action. Ryan hit a solid .273 with 11 extra-base hits in 154 at-bats.

Brendan battled his way through through another nagging injury early in the season, this time it was a left hamstring strain, with Palm Beach. The injury landed him on the DL on May the 17th. At the time, the Cardinals top rated position player, according to Baseball America, was batting .323/.380/.465 with a home run and 12 RBI in 26 games for the Cardinals High-A affiliate.

Despite his injury and being on the DL, Ryan was still selected to the Florida State League All Star Team.

Activated off the DL on June the 14th, the Ryan Express made its way to Springfield Missouri the next month after hitting .303 with 18 extra-base hits in 188 at-bats. The Palm Beach shortstop also stole eight bases in nine attempts.

At Springfield, his first time seeing Double-A action. Ryan hit a solid .273 with 11 extra-base hits in 154 at-bats.

Ryan is one of those Tony La Russa type of players, who gives 110% on the field, keeps his head in the game and has a good understanding on how the game should be played.

He is considered an above average hitter, hitting above .300 at every stop in the minors prior to dropping off to a respectable .273, at AA Springfield this season.

Scouts consider him a plus runner, he stole 30 bases in 2004, finishing 4th in the Cardinals minor league system in stolen bases. This past season, he stole a total of 14 bases, eight at High-A, Palm Beach and another six at AA Springfield.

He has a strong arm, quickness and good defensive instincts and he is expected to continue to move up through the organization as a shortstop. He is considered athletic enough to play other positions, but his lack of power will most likely keep him at short or maybe second base.

Ryan with all his talent, will never be a power hitter. In 53 games, in 2003, for short season New Jersey, Ryan didn't even hit a single home run. In his first full season at Peoria in 04, he managed to power just two balls out of the park and he hit just three home runs over the entire season this year.

He should get stronger as he matures, but don't expect him to ever be a long ball threat. To his credit, Ryan when hitting uses the whole ballpark. If he can get to where he can show at least a semblance of gap power and improve his plate discipline, the Ryan Express may make it all the way to the majors.

For now, just being added to the 40 man roster, in less than two and a half years after being drafted, isn't bad. =================================================
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