2006 Ranking: 12
School: Central Missouri State University
Cardinal: Selected in the second round of the June, 2005 First-Year Player
Draft. Received a $425,000 signing bonus. 2006 G W-L IP H BB K ERA WHIP
Jason Scott (21): Last year, Webber ranked No. 9 on my personal list of top 40 prospects. That was before a year at Palm Beach in which opponents hit .289 against him, he walked nearly as many as he struck out (63/65) and posted a WHIP of 1.60 in 134.2 innings.
A closer in college, the bullpen might be Webber's best route to the Majors and I wouldn't be surprised to see him moved there for the 2007 season. He lacks a second reliable pitch to compliment one of the better fastballs in the organization. It would probably be best if he returned to Palm Beach to start the season.
Leonda Markee (38): Nick Webber took a nose-dive in both The Birdhouse's and my personal rankings from 2005. Last year I ranked him at 15 and this year he barely made by Top 40. He just had a pretty disappointing 2006 season. He compiled a 1.60 WHIP and 1.03 K/BB at Palm Beach but did keep the ball in the park as he averaged 0.47 HR/9 IP. That was good for eleventh out of ninety-five. Webber's upside and draft ranking (second round of the 2005 draft) will give him more opportunities to succeed and he may well succeed. But I weight my rankings towards on-field performance and, in this aspect, Webber falls behind his Palm Beach teammate Cory Meacham. It will be interesting to see just where Webber begins the 2007 season.
Ray Mileur (20): Webber's progress stalled big time in 2006. After being ranked at #12 by our staff in 2006, he drops all the way down to 26, after posting a record of 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA last season with the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals.
I ranked Webber higher than my colleagues, because I still think he has the potential to make it to the majors with one of the best fastballs in the organization. So I'll stay the course in my confidence in him.
The 6' 7" RHP he is going to have to become more effective against left-handers who hit .316 against him last season and focus more when runners are on base and work on his secondary pitches.
Webber's future in my opinion is in the bullpen and I think he has a higher ceiling than some other pitchers on the countdown, but he'll need to be the hardest working pitcher in the organization next year, because another year like 2006 and he may not have a future in baseball.
Brian Walton (39): I admit that I may have dropped the 2005 second-rounder too low here based on a too-small sample size - his lost 2006. 63 walks compared to 65 strikeouts were impossible to ignore even after his 1.93 ERA in 2005 was the best in the system.
An over 90 MPH sinking fastball is Webber's bread and butter, which is a major differentiator. Yet, he struggled, perhaps because he hasn't yet developed a dependable second pitch, which could become his slider.
We should also remember that Webber is only 22. Returning to Palm Beach for 2007 seems almost a certainty unless the Cards return him to relieving. That is clearly his ticket to move up more quickly.
The 6-foot-7 Webber could and should get on the fast track. As a former closer, he has a proven fall-back role if he doesn't demonstrate enough consistency to remain a starter.
STAFF COMMENTS KEY: Staff Member (Individual Ranking), NR = Not Rated
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