Note: The term ‘draftees' is used loosely in this article to denote all players brought into affiliated professional baseball by the St. Louis organization, whether via the June draft or undrafted free agent signees – foreign and domestic.
Double-A Springfield Cardinals
Opening Day Roster Size – 24 active
Average Age - The average age of the 2007 opening day roster was 24 years, one month and 15 days. That is just under a year younger than the 2006 average age of 24 years, 11 months and fifteen days.
Roster Composition – Eighteen of the 24 players on the 2007 roster were drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals: C Bryan Anderson, RHP Mitch Boggs (pictured), LHP Jaime Garcia, OF Reid Gorecki, SS Tyler Greene, 2B Jarrett Hoffpauir, OF Jon Jay, RHP Chris Lambert, INF Juan Lucena, 1B Joe Mather, UT Mike McCoy, C Matt Pagnozzi, RHP Mike Parisi, RHP Chris Perez, CF Colby Rasmus, RHP Cory (Meacham) Rauschenberger, RHP Matt Scherer and LHP Zack Zuercher.
Their average age is 23 years, three months and 12 days. For 13 of those 18, or 72% of Cardinals' draftees, April 5, 2007 marked their first Double-A Opening Day: Anderson, Boggs, Garcia, Greene, Jay, Lucena, Mather, Pagnozzi, Perez, Rasmus, Rauschenberger, Scherer and Zuercher. Of those thirteen, only Matt Pagnozzi has previous Double-A experience and that was 36 at bats over 15 games during the 2005 season.
On the other hand, the 2006 roster contained twelve players that were either drafted or brought into affiliated professional baseball by the St. Louis organization: OF Reid Gorecki (pictured), OF Cody Haerther, 2B Jarrett Hoffpauir, RHP Chris Lambert, C Mike McCoy, C Dan Moylan, RHP Jordan Pals, RHP Mike Parisi, RHP Stuart Pomeranz, RHP Rich Scalamandre, OF Nick Stavinoha and RHP Mark Worrell.
Their average age was 24 years and three days. Nine of the twelve, or 75%, experienced their first Double-A Opening Day: Haerther, Hoffpauir, Lambert, McCoy, Parisi, Pomeranz, Scalamandre, Stavinoha and Worrell. However, four of the nine had prior Double-A experience to varying degrees: Haerther, Lambert, Pomeranz and Scalamandre.
Now let us break-down each group by draft class. The 2007 group of 18 players includes two from 2006 (Jay and Perez), seven from 2005 (Anderson, Boggs, Garcia, Greene, Rasmus, Rauschenberger and Zuercher), four from 2004 (Hoffpauir, Lambert, Parisi and Scherer), one from 2003 (Pagnozzi - pictured), two from 2002 (Gorecki and Lucena) and two from 2001 (Mather and McCoy).
The amount of prior professional experience, going strictly by draft year and not taking either injuries or time spent on the Disabled List into account, ranges from just under one year to just under six years, with half of them having under two years of prior professional experience.
The 2006 group of twelve included one from 2005 (Stavinoha - pictured), four from 2004 (Hoffpauir, Lambert, Parisi and Worrell), two from 2003 (Pals and Pomeranz), four from 2002 (Gorecki, Haerther, McCoy and Scalamandre) and one from 2000 (McCoy). The amount of prior professional experience, going solely by draft class, ranged from just under one year to just under six years, with 42% of them having under two years of prior professional experience.
Now, to answer the four questions from the opening paragraph:
Is the average roster age getting younger? In the case of the Springfield roster, the answer is "A bit". The average of the 2007 draftees was seven months younger than the 2006 group. That gap widened a bit when comparing the average age of those draftees experiencing their first Double-A Opening Day. The 2007 group of 13 had an average age of 22 years, seven months and 26 days while the 2006 group of nine had an average age of 23 years, four months and 26 days; a nine-month gap. Again, that gap widens a bit more when comparing the average age of those for whom Opening Day was their AA debut. Twelve of the 13 2007 players made their Double-A debut on April 5, 2007 (whether actually playing in the game or not) and their average age was 22 years, six months and three days. Five of the nine 2006 players made their debut on Opening Day 2006 and their average age was 23 years, six months and 27 days. That is a difference of almost thirteen months.
Is the roster comprised of more home-grown talent? The answer for the Springfield roster is a resounding "Yes". 75% of the 2007 Opening Day roster is home-grown and that is up 25% from the 2006 figure of 50%. That is a difference of six players.
Are players moving faster? The answer to this one is "Yes". Half (9 of 18) of the home-grown talent on the 2007 roster were drafted less than two years ago compared to 42% (5 of 12) from the 2006 roster. While the difference between 42% and 50% is not great, the difference in the size of the respective draft classes (18 in 2007 versus 12 in 2006) means that the actual number of players with less than two years of prior professional experience almost doubled from five to nine.
Further, the average age of this group drops a almost two entire years from 2006 to 2007. The average age of the five players in the 2006 group was 23 years, four months and two days as compared to 21 years, nine months and 19 days for the nine players in the 2007 group.
Does such a comparison tell us anything at all? The average roster age went down somewhat as did the average age of the respective 2006 and 2007 draft classes. St. Louis signed far fewer free agents to fill the Double-A roster, which is an encouraging sign. But the big difference between the two rosters is the quantity and average age of their least experienced players. The number of inexperienced players almost doubled while their average age dropped almost two years. The fruits of St. Louis' decision to draft some younger players in higher rounds, such as Anderson and Rasmus, combined with their gamble on drafting under-the-radar young players like Garcia, and promote them aggressively, is reflected in the 2007 Springfield roster.
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