Jason Scott's Cardinals Prospect Report

The return of our popular weekly feature with news and commentary about the Cardinals minor leagues.

He was shaky in his first start of the season when he allowed four runs on six hits in four innings, but Blake Hawksworth has been nearly dominant since then. In his past two starts for high Class A Palm Beach, he is 2-0 and has not allowed a single run while striking out seven and walking three in 11 innings.

The 23-year-old right-hander was rated as the Cardinals top prospect just two years ago by Baseball America, who at the time, said that he "has the highest ceiling of any St. Louis pitching prospect since Rick Ankiel." They also projected him to be a front-of-the-rotation starter in the major leagues.

However, a torn labrum that he suffered early in 2004 season would keep him out for most of the next two seasons. He made just two starts for high Class A Palm Beach in 2004 before being shut down with a sore shoulder that required surgery on July 3, to repair a partially torn labrum and remove loose cartilage. The operation was performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who said he had never seen anything like what was wrong with Hawksworth's shoulder.

The Cardinals sent Hawksworth to short-season Class A New Jersey on a 30-day rehab assignment last July, but his shoulder was apparently not up to the task. He made seven appearances for the club, going 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA in 14-2/3 innings, but his shoulder continued to give him problems, causing the Cardinals to shut him down for the rest of the season on August 24.

"I'm not going to lie," Hawksworth told the Springfield News-Leader for a story that was published during spring training. "Last year, I didn't know if I was going to get through the pain in my shoulder. Warming up before the game was painful every time. So it was hard to take the mound and feel confident.

"But I don't care if I'm not going to be able to throw 98 mph. I just want to pitch."

A 28th round draft pick out of Bellevue (WA) Community College in 2001, Hawksworth received a $1,475,000 signing bonus as a draft-and-follow in 2002. Entering the season, he is 10-11 with a 3.40 ERA, striking out 181 and walking 56 in 187-2/3 career minor league innings. In 2003 he was shut down for the season in July to have a bone spur removed in his ankle.

• According to the Springfield News-Leader, shortstop Brendan Ryan received "encouraging news" from a wrist specialist that he visited in St. Louis on Monday. He hasn't played since March 18, when he injured a ligament in his left wrist taking a warm-up swing. It was the second time in two years that he has suffered the same injury.

• Lefthander Tyler Johnson went on the disabled list, retroactive to April 12, for Triple-A Memphis with soreness in his left (throwing) arm. In three games, Johnson had posted a 10.12 ERA, allowing five hits and three walks in 2-2/3 innings.

• Outfielder Yonathan Sivira was suspended 50 games on Tuesday for violating baseball's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment program. The 23-year-old was one of five minor league players suspended on Tuesday by Major League Baseball. Signed by the Cardinals in 2002 as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela, he had two hits in 10 at bats for low Class A Quad Cities this season. According to the Quad-City Times, the Cardinals sent Sivira home on Tuesday after a discussion late Monday with Cardinals director of player development Bruce Manno and Swing manager Keith Mitchell.

• Righthander Mark McCormick's scheduled start on Wednesday for low Class A Quad Cities was pushed back to Saturday because of stiffness in his throwing arm. Kyle Sadlowski made the spot start in his place. In two starts, McCormick is 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA, allowing just four hits, striking out 14 and walking nine in 10-1/3 innings.

"We're erring on the side of caution right now," Swing pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd told the Quad-City Times.

Email: jasonscott@thecardinalnation.com

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