Good & Bad News – Degerman, Parrott & Solano

Saturday news from the State College Spikes was decidedly mixed, with a new signing, Eddie Degerman, an apparent recurrence of an old injury to Rhett Parrott and a new one to Donovan Solano that just won't seem to go away.

Until now, only one of the Cardinals' first twelve selections in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft had remained unsigned – pitcher Eddie Degerman of Rice University, the Redbirds' fourth-rounder.

Well, cross another off the list.

I have learned that Degerman has agreed to terms and is expected to join the Cardinals' affiliate in the short-season New York-Penn League, the State College Spikes, when the team returns home from their current road trip.

The 22-year-old right-hander was dominating for the Rice Owls this past season, logging a 12-1 record with an ERA of 1.67 and 150 strikeouts in just 113 innings. Yet, his over-the-top mechanics raised questions just as his big curveball wowed scouts.

Degerman is a finalist for the 2006 Roger Clemens Award, given to collegiate baseball's best pitcher. The Award will be announced in Houston this coming Wednesday, July 12. That is most ironic, as that is the same day Degerman is slated to report to the Spikes to begin his professional career.

With Degerman having no real leverage as a fifth-year senior, some were surprised that it took so long to get him into the Cardinals system, but the three-week delay should prove to be insignificant over time.

Sadly, it looks like the Spikes have an opening on their roster and in their rotation. Good for Degerman, but bad for right-hander Rhett Parrott and the Cardinals.

Parrott has been on a long journey that has taken another turn for the worse.

The 26-year-old has endured so much already – from the high of being added to the Cardinals' 40-man roster and pitching for the big club in Spring Training 2004 to the low of injuring his shoulder seven games into Memphis' regular season that year and subsequently missing over two seasons of competitive action when a second procedure was required.

Yet, Parrott worked his way back to the mound. He began the 2006 season on an injury rehab assignment assigned from Memphis to the State College Spikes.

While Parrott had only a 1-2 record to show for his four starts, his numbers were impressive – a 2.40 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, nine strikeouts in 15 innings and an opposing batting average of just .200.

Yet, the numbers don't tell the whole story. When the Spikes arrived in Brooklyn to play the Cyclones Saturday, I didn't see Parrott get off the team bus, nor was there a cubicle in the clubhouse with #27 on it.

Disappointed I wouldn't be able to talk with him, but happy in my assumption that Parrott had passed his rehab test, I breezily strolled into Manager Mark DeJohn's office to learn the news about Parrott's next destination.

DeJohn's mustached face dropped when I asked the question.

"Not good. It's not good at all. He had a setback. He had to go back to West Palm Beach to be with our rehab coordinator and get some more work done. His shoulder isn't responding the way it should."

Without exactly saying so, DeJohn spoke like a man recapping a career at its conclusion.

"When he first came up to Double-A, I was his manager (with New Haven in 2002). And… he's just not responding. It is so unfortunate for him because he had a good arm and pitched as high as the Triple-A level.

"And who knows? The way their pitching up there (in St. Louis) has been, you never know. If he had been pitching well, he could have been called to the big leagues if he was healthy.

"Hopefully for him, he gets it back – he gets it all straightened out – but it is not looking good," DeJohn concluded. A few yards away, Spikes' pitching coach Sid Monge mostly looked down at the floor and shook his head, saying nothing.

Here's wishing the best to Rhett Parrott while fearing the worst.

Finally, Colombian shortstop Donovan Solano, who only played the first two games of the season before spraining his ankle, is now 16 days and counting into what was originally estimated to be a two-week rehab period.

Apparently, Solano has done some light running on his own, but has yet to assume any baseball-related activities, though informal talk in the coaches' office led me to believe that could be changing as soon as Sunday.

DeJohn's voice took on an exasperated tone when I asked him about the situation.

"Some guys just don't heal as well as others. I don't know. I'm one of those guys who don't worry about it. When he's ready to play, he's ready to play. I don't sit here and worry, "Oh my gosh, is he going to play today or not?"

In fact, the skipper singled out Jose Salazar, a non-drafted player from Texas A&M as one of the pleasant surprises on his roster. Salazar has been starting in Solano's absence and is hitting .302 with 11 RBI, second best on the Spikes. His OPS is a very respectable .842, only topped by first baseman Mark Hamilton and outfielder Nathan Southard.

"This game moves on…," DeJohn concluded.

So, there you have it. The Spikes lost one starting pitcher but will gain another and their injured shortstop may or many not be back soon.

Keep watching for more reports and interviews from the State College Spikes over the next few days.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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