2006 Depth Charts – Palm Beach Cardinals

The fourth of a seven-part series on 2006 depth charts for the St. Louis Cardinals' system focuses on A-Advanced Palm Beach.

Today we look at the 2006 depth chart for the Palm Beach Cardinals. The Cardinals compete in the Florida State League and they work with a 25-player roster.

As with prior reports, likely alternatives to the projected starter are listed under the heading "Variables" in the pertinent section. Since both bench and bullpen slots will be decided by Spring Training performances, projections were not made for either group. The most probable candidates were listed with those players that are likely competing for a spot on a higher roster having an asterisk by their name.

The list of competitors/candidates is mainly drawn from two areas; those players currently assigned to the pertinent roster and those players that are projected to make a higher level squad. If I think there is a particularly strong candidate that is in neither of aforementioned groups, they are included as well.

Position Players

First Base
Known Competitors - Jesse Hoorelbeke*, John Santor*, Andy Schutzenhofer*
Projected Starter - Jesse Hoorelbeke
*If does not make Double-A team
This is a competition among the non-prospects that do not make the Springfield club as Mike Ferris, Quad Cities' first baseman, has yet to prove that he can hit consistently at that level. The main competition could be between Hoorelbeke and Schutzenhofer. (Try typing those names three times very quickly!) In this case I give the nod to Hoorelbeke due to the pop in his bat. Since I do not project Palm Beach's 2005 power threat, Matt Dryer, to get the starting nod at third base, the Cardinals will need to replace that offense. Hoorelbeke could be the answer. Then again he may be the same answer for the Springfield club. Hoorelbeke is a 28-year-old free agent signee this offseason.

Variables -
Hoorelbeke makes the Springfield club - Then Andy Schutzenhofer starts at first. "Shooter" is a true lefty with one of the best gloves in the Florida State League for his position. His batting average and on-base percentage are superior to Santor's while his slugging percentage is just behind that of Santor. Either could be replaced fairly early into the season if Ferris finally gets untracked offensively.

Second Base
Projected Starter - Jarrett Hoffpauir
The Birdhouse's thirty-third ranked prospect is expected to start the 2006 season in Palm Beach. He went .257/.346/.310/.656 in two hundred twenty-six at bats at Palm Beach after his promotion on June 19, 2005. If all goes well I expect a mid-season promotion to Springfield.

Shortstop
Projected Starter - Tyler Greene
The well-publicized Mr. Greene, The Birdhouse's eighth-ranked prospect, will start his first full season of professional ball at class A-Advanced Palm Beach. He went .271/.326/.388/.714 in eighty-five at bats at Palm Beach after his promotion from Short-season A New Jersey on August 12, 2005. Greene is considered a fast track prospect who should see Springfield in 2006.

Third Base
Known Competitors - Matt Dryer*, Jake Mullinax
Projected Starter - Jake Mullinax
*If does not make the Springfield team
This competition is between the "old" and the "new"; Palm Beach's 2005 third baseman, 26-year-old Matt Dryer, and the Swing of the Quad Cities' 2005 third baseman, 23-year-old Jake Mullinax. Dryer's main asset is his power but he has a poor glove. While he is currently assigned to the Springfield roster, I do not think he stands a good chance of making it. His best shot there appears to be in a bench role but Brian Martin, who is also under consideration at that level, hit for better average and power at Palm Beach last year, although in half the at bats.

The only question regarding Jake Mullinax is whether he can replicate the numbers he put up in Quad Cities prior to dislocating his left ring finger last July. That injury, which required stitches, sidelined him for just over two weeks. He was batting .307/.377/.414/.791 in two hundred seventy-three at bats when he was injured. Mullinax was activated from the disabled list on August 1st and went .202/.247/.310/.557 in eight-four at bats the balance of the season. I think Mullinax will perform well enough in Spring Training to get the starting job with Dryer going into the bench pool.

Centerfield
Known Competitors - Matt Lemanczyk, Tyler Parker*, Simon Williams
Projected Starter - Simon Williams
*If does not make the Springfield team
The battle for the starting job in centerfield will most likely be between Matt Lemanczyk and Simon Williams since I expect Ty Parker to begin the year in Springfield. I am taking Williams over Lemanczyk for a couple of reasons. First, when Palm Beach's centerfielder, Reid Gorecki, went on the disabled list, Williams was the one called up to start in center. Also, Williams, who is two years the younger, supplanted Lemanczyk in center at Quad Cities. Lemanczyk goes into the mix for the left field starting job.

Left Field
Known Competitors - Matt Lemanczyk, Brian Martin*, Joe Mather*, Tyler Parker*
Projected Starter - Matt Lemanczyk
*If does not make the Springfield team
If Martin, Mather and Parker all make the Springfield squad, as may well happen, this may end up being no competition at all. Lemanczyk was protected through the Double-A level for the Rule 5 draft when the Cardinals moved him to the Springfield roster. He does not have a legitimate shot of skipping Palm Beach for Springfield, as does Nick Stavinoha, but should be a strong candidate for a starting job with Palm Beach. Lemanczyk's forty-eight stolen bases was the best in the Cardinals' system during 2005. However, he turned 25 in October which greatly diminishes his "prospect" status.

Variables -
Mather does not make the Springfield club - In the unlikely event that Joe Mather does not make the Springfield roster, he would likely supplant either of the projected starters for left or right.

Right Field
Known Competitors - Terry Evans*, Brian Martin*, Joe Mather*, Tyler Parker*
Projected Starter - Terry Evans
*If does not make the Springfield team
Like the starting left field situation, this may be the competition that wasn't. While the other three candidates have a good chance to make the Springfield squad, Evans does not. Evans appeared in right for one hundred eight of the one hundred forty games Palm Beach played last season. He went .221/.285/.330/.615 in three hundred eighty-five at bats. Since I project the better right field option, Nick Stavinoha, as skipping Palm Beach to be the Springfield starter, Evans may get another shot here.

Variables -
Stavinoha does not make the Springfield club - Then he will be Palm Beach's starting right fielder with Evans moving to a secondary role.

Catcher
Known Competitors - Jason Motte, Matt Pagnozzi, Brady Toops, Spencer Wyman
Projected Starter - Jason Motte
All of the candidates for the starting job at this level are offensively challenged, to put it kindly. As I have mentioned in other reports, Motte reportedly has major league level defensive skills. Pagnozzi is an adept defensive catcher as well. Motte, Pagnozzi and Toops ended 2005 on the Palm Beach roster. A sign of how valued Motte and Pagnozzi are is that both were protected through Triple-A although neither cracked the Mendoza line in 2005. Wyman was transferred to the Springfield roster for the Rule 5 draft so is included for consideration at this level. Since their offensive differences are negligible, in the end I went with the best defensive catcher as the starter.

Bench
The bench slots at this and lower levels are very difficult to predict with any accuracy. Bench spots are almost entirely determined by on-field performance during Spring Training. Therefore, I will first give some of the leading candidates with their most recent level played, according to position. That will be followed by some general comments.
Outfielders - Terry Evans* (A-Advanced), Brian Martin* (A-Advanced), Joe Mather* (A-Advanced), Ty Parker* (Double-A)
Middle Infielders - Chris Patrick (A), Matt Shepherd (A)
Corner Infielders - Matt Dryer* (A-Advanced), Andy Schutzenhofer* (A-Advanced), John Santor* (A-Advanced)
Utility - Mike McCoy* (A-Advanced)
Catchers - Matt Pagnozzi (A-Advanced), Brady Toops (A-Advanced), Spencer Wyman (A)
*If does not make Springfield team

Do not be surprised if the Cardinals sign minor league outfield free agents around the season's start. All of those included in the back-up bench spots may not be available which would necessitate signing players to fill in. The middle infield bench options come from Quad Cities. Both Patrick (.307/.383/.462/.845, 77-for-251) and Shepherd (.292/.402/.370/.772, 78-for-479) play at least one of the middle infield slots in addition to third base. Mike McCoy is a true utility guy who played seven of nine positions (all except catching and first) for Palm Beach last year.

Pitchers

Rotation
Known Competitors - Tyler Adamczyk, Phillip Andersen, Dennis Dove, Eric Haberer, Blake Hawksworth, Mark McCormick, Mark Michael*, Mike Parisi, Nick Webber
*If does not make Springfield team.
Projected Starters - Phillip Andersen, Dennis Dove, Eric Haberer, Blake Hawksworth, Mike Parisi

Palm Beach has the most competitive battle for the starting rotation in the entire Cardinals system. Somebody(ies) have a very difficult decision ahead of them and I am glad it is not me.

Although he is currently assigned to the Palm Beach roster, Tyler Adamczyk should begin 2006 back in Quad Cities where he ended up last year. Adamczyk finished 2005 in the Quad Cities bullpen due to his performance and is not a serious candidate to start at this level.

Eric Haberer, Blake Hawksworth (if healthy) and Mike Parisi should be locks for starting spots. Haberer and Parisi pitched successfully in Palm Beach last season but have areas on which they can work. Hawksworth is a very high upside prospect that needs to prove he can stay healthy and pitch. Mark McCormick is a lock as a starter if his control improves sufficiently. However, it is more likely that McCormick begins the season in Quad Cities. Mark Michael is a lock at this level as well but Michael has a good shot at starting in Springfield

Therefore, there will likely be two spots in the rotation open and it should be a competition between Phillip Andersen, Dennis Dove and Nick Webber. Webber could use a bit more time in Quad Cities; he had a 1.22 K/BB ratio with the Swing last season, while Andersen was dominant at the same level. Andersen held opposing batters to a .216 batting average while compiling a 1.16 WHIP and 2.32 K/BB ratio. Hence, my best estimate puts both Andersen and Dove in Palm Beach with Webber in Quad Cities.

Bullpen
Projected Closer - Mike Sillman
Sillman, the Swing's closer for most of 2005, compiled a season that merits a promotion to Palm Beach. Opposing batters hit just .171 against the side-armer. He struck out over a batter an inning. His primary area of concern remains his control. Sillman walked over six batters every nine innings. However, with not other foreseeable closing options, I expect him to be promoted to Palm Beach.

Like the bench, there are too many variables in play to predict a bullpen with any degree of accuracy. Therefore, the main candidates are:
Lefty Candidate - Carlos Artiles*, Buddy Blair*, Troy Cate, Kevin Ool*, Anthony Rawson*, Sam Walton*
Righty Candidates - Josh Axelson*, Roberto Batista*, Jose Garcia*, Justin Garza*, Chris Russ*, Rich Scalamandre*, Jaymie Torres
*If does not make the Springfield team

All the lefty candidates are competing for a slot on the Springfield roster except one, by my estimation. The only lefty not in play at the Double-A level is Troy Cate. Cate is a recent free agent signee whose highest level of success in four minor league seasons has been been A-Advanced. Accordingly, I have him competing for a job in Palm Beach. The rest will be considered for the Palm Beach bullpen only if they do not make the Springfield squad.. The only righty candidate that is not competing at the Double-A level is Jaymie Torres. He spent most of the 2005 season in Quad Cities but should be in play for a promotion to Palm Beach this season.

Palm Beach

Position Likely Starter
C Jason Motte (R/R)
1B Jesse Hoorelbeke (R/R)
2B Jarrett Hoffpauir (R//R)
SS Tyler Greene (R/R)
3B Jake Mullinax (R/R)
LF Matt Lemanczyk (R/R)
CF Simon Williams (R/L)
RF Terry Evans (R/R)
Bench
C Matt Pagnozzi (R/R)
Rotation
SP Phillip Andersen
SP Dennis Dove
SP Eric Haberer (L)
SP Blake Hawksworth
SP Mike Parisi
Closer Mike Sillman

Next up: Quad Cities.

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