This report differs from those preceding it because many of the starters at this level will come from the June 2006 draft. Therefore, an actual depth chart is not likely to reflect the Spikes' starters so is not included. Further, this league's age restrictions caused a revision in what players were projected to at least start the season at this level. Accordingly, a section has been added to this report for those players that may, at a minimum, begin the season in Extended Spring Training with a goal of playing at Quad Cities when the opportunity arises.
The only one of the four players listed above that will not be 23 as of July 1st is A. J. Van Slyke. Therefore, the ages, if nothing else, of Carter, Roth and Wilkerson work against them beginning at State College this season. The Quad Cities depth chart has Roth starting the season in Quad Cities with Carter and Van Slyke competing for a spot there. Roth and Van Slyke would be moving up one level and Carter would bypass State College. All three have a legitimate chance to make the Swing roster.
Matt Wilkerson is a June 2005 non-drafted free agent signee who played in short A ball last season. While he did not hit for average, just .239, he did hit a home run once every twenty at bats, on average. He also did it in a stadium not known as a hitter's park. That 1:20 ratio was good for seventh in the Cardinals' minor league system in 2005. Although the opportunities to prove oneself are directly correlated to the level at which the player was drafted, with free agent signees being below the drafted guys, Wilkerson should be around again this year. He may get a spot on the Swing bench but worst case will likely be slotted for the Swing after spending some time in extended spring training.
If Martinez and Solano begin the season at State College they should be the starting second baseman and shortstop, respectively. Both stand a chance to be the Swing's starters at those positions. Of the two I think it more likely that Solano would begin at State College since he did not hit for average at either Johnson City or New Jersey last season.
Both Becher and Landin will be at least 23 when the season starts. Becher is a 22nd round 2004 draftee that did not play during 2005 due to a broken right hand suffered during Spring Training. He went .286/.383/.536/.919, 48-for-168, while at Johnson City in 2004. The Cardinals signed Landin as a non-drafted free agent in November 2005. He played college ball at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi along with Charles Carter and Trey Hearne. Landin holds many of the school records and his .427 batting average was seventh on the NCAA's final stat report. At 5'8" tall he may suffer from ‘David Eckstein syndrome', a malady that causes you to get overlooked due to your slight stature. The Cardinals assigned Landin to the State College roster but that may change after they get a chance to evaluate him during spring training.
Like Jaime Landin, Costanzo was signed in November 2005 as a non-drafted free agent. He played college ball at East Carolina University. Costanzo went .284/.415/.512/.927, 57-for-201, with eleven home runs which led the team. Another statistic that stands out is that he walked forty-two times while striking out only twenty-five times last season. The Cardinals assigned him to the State College roster.
Yonathan Sivira is a 22-year-old, in January, player out of Venezuela. He went .253/.310/.342/.652, 57-for-225, in short A ball last season. 2005 was his second season of American ball. The Cardinals protected him through the Quad Cities level for the December 2005 Rule 5 draft. Since his age does not limit his options, as it does outfielders Carter and Wilkerson, he may begin the season back at this level.
As was mentioned in the Quad Cities depth chart article, where Brandon Yarbrough begins the 2006 season is completely up in the air to me. Last season he struggled at Quad Cities (.203/.272/.346/.618, 27-for-133) and did only somewhat better after being optioned to New Jersey (.255/.338/.399/.737, 48-for-188). To top it off he now faces stiff competition behind the plate from Bryan Anderson. At this point Yarbrough likely will not get the priority for playing time over Anderson. (It appeared to be telling that Anderson was given a non-roster invitation to Spring Training this year while Yarbrough was not.) Since the Cardinals project Anderson to start at Quad Cities this year, that would either relegate Yarbrough to splitting the catching duties with Anderson, at best, or leave him in Extended Spring Training. If Yarbrough begins the season at State College, he will be the starter.
Both Henry Guerrero and Craig Newton will be at least 23 by July 1st as Guerrero turns 24 in April and Newton turned 24 last October. Guerrero was signed by the Cardinals during the off-season after spending six seasons in the Orioles' minor league system. He did not play professionally in the United States during 2005. Newton spent 2005 in short A ball after being signed by the Cardinals in June 2005 as a non-drafted free agent. He went .260/.341/.452/.792, 19-for-73, which may get him kept as a back-up catcher in the Cardinals' system if he can handle a pitching staff. Neither project to be much more than roster filler.
Possibles for Quad Cities from Extended Spring Training -
Starters - Michael Cooper*, Adam Daniels, Tyler Herron*, Kyle McClellan**, Donnie Smith**, Josh Wilson*
Relievers - Michael Repole, Mike Schellinger, Jeremy Zick
*If does not make Quad Cities team
**Projected to begin full season on the disabled list
The pitching side of the equation is a little more crowded. Cooper, Herron and Wilson will all be competing for a slot in the Swing rotation while McClellan and Smith are likely to begin the season on the disabled list. McClellan had Tommy John surgery last July and Smith underwent shoulder capsule surgery last fall.
The last name among the possible starters is Adam Daniels. Daniels is a 14th round selection in the 2005 draft. His season at New Jersey was shortened a bit when the lefty spent some time on the suspended list last August. Daniels finished the season in the Cardinals' rotation where he held opposing batters to a .189. Like many young pitchers, control is an issue for Daniels. He walked over six batters every nine innings. Where he will begin the season may depend on what role the Cardinals project him to fill. He is likely to begin in Extended Spring Training if the Cardinals want him to start or he may be part of the Swing's bullpen if the Cardinals either project him as a reliever or want him to face real competition.
The first name on the reliever side is Michael Repole. If Repole had been a non-drafted free agent signee, he likely would not have even lasted the season and almost certainly would not be back this year. He compiled a 1.77 WHIP and .310 BAA in thirty-seven and one-third innings last year in short A ball. However, he is a 14th round, 2005 draft pick which will get him another shot this year. Mike Schellinger is an August 2005 non-drafted free agent signee that did quite well in limited action. He compiled a 1.16 WHIP, .237 BAA, 11.3 K/9 IP and a 4.33 K/BB ratio in ten and one-third innings. If this performance is backed by "stuff" then he may compete for a spot in the Swing bullpen. His age, he turned 23 in December, likely precludes him from returning to short A ball next season. Jeremy Zick, a 15th Round 2004 draft pick, split time between Quad Cities and New Jersey last season. If he is still around this season he may get another shot at Quad Cities but pitchers that end up repeating in short A ball at age 22 are not considered hot properties.
Both Garcia and Maiques are 2005 draftees that did not pitch in the regular season last year. Garcia, a 19-year-old lefty out of Mexico, did appear in the Florida Instructional League where he struck out fifteen in eight innings while walking only two and not allowing a run. Maiques, who turns 21 in June, spent 2005 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Prior to that, he featured a 95 mph fastball and power slider, both plus pitches. Baseball America referred to him as "the most dominant junior college pitcher in the country". Both may begin 2006 at State College due to professional inexperience but both could move quickly.
As mentioned previously, Tyler Herron may make the Swing rotation or go to Extended Spring Training where he could subsequently go to either Quad Cities or State College. It all depends on his performance as compared to the other candidates. Matt Lane spent 2005 in Johnson City where his numbers were not particularly noteworthy. However, he turns 22 in August and is a 16th round 2005 draft selection which will probably get him moved to State College this year, at best.
State College Bullpen
Lefty Candidates - Danny Borne*, Michael Meagher, Chris Noonan, Josh Schwartz*, Daniel Stevens
Righty Candidates - Ryan Dixon, Kevin Fitzgerald, Matt Weagle
*If does not make the Quad Cities team
There are two left-handed relievers that pitched at Quad Cities or below in 2005 for which there is far too little data to form any sort of opinion: Michael Meagher and Daniel Stevens. Meagher is a 43rd round 2005 draft pick out of Maryland who did not sign until August 3rd. Hence his 2005 season was already destined to be short. However, he made only two appearances shortly after his signing and did not pitch after August 7th. Stevens was signed on August 21st as a non-drafted free agent. He pitched a total of three and one-third innings over five appearances. What their respective 2006 seasons hold is entirely open to question but they are placed in the mix here.
The other three lefty candidates will all be 23 or older by July 1st so the chances of all of them beginning 2006 at this level are pretty slim. Both Borne and Schwartz did well in Johnson City last year and may well skip short A ball. Chris Noonan is a 17th round 2004 pick that did not pitch last season. He is included because no record of his release can be found.
All three of the righty options pitched at rookie level Johnson City last season. Ryan Dixon's best stat is the .219 average he held opposing batters to in a hitter's park. He also left a very nice 83% of batters on base. However, he is a non-drafted free agent signee which may work against him sticking around. Kevin Fitzgerald's season was schizophrenic. He compiled a 0.84 WHIP and 10.00 K/BB ratio with six saves over fourteen and one-third innings in eleven appearances in July as Johnson City's closer. However, August saw him lose the closing slot as he allowed twenty-two runs over eleven and one-third innings in twelve appearances while compiling a 2.70 WHIP. Did batters catch up with him in August or is there another explanation, such as tiring? In any event, the 45th round 2005 selection may not see a sophomore campaign.
The most promising possibility here is Matt Weagle. Weagle was selected in the 6th round back in 2003. His 2003 season was shortened when he underwent surgery for a torn labrum and did not pitch at all in 2004. Weagle spent all of 2005 at Johnson City. After a slow start August saw him compile a 1.16 WHIP and 2.80 K/BB ratio while striking out fourteen in twelve innings. Weagle held opposing batters to a .214 average for the month. If healthy, he may well skip State College in favor of Quad Cities.
The final installment of this series will look at those players expected to begin at Johnson City this season, including some possibilities from the Dominican Summer League roster.
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