Memphis Redbirds Report: Season in Review

The final Triple-A Memphis Redbirds report of 2007 from our on-site beat reporter, Brent Diederich. Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Brendan Ryan are three of the Triple-A club's contributors to the Major League club this past season.



To say it was a long and trying season for Memphis may be an understatement.  The Redbirds finished 56-88, 33 games behind Nashville in the Pacific Coast League North.  The team struggled to put complete games offensively and on the mound together. 


Still, it was not a season devoid of excitement.  Rick Ankiel proved that he is a one-of-a-kind baseball player as he transformed himself from a pitcher to a power hitting outfielder.  Ankiel took over the spotlight after Ryan Ludwick was called up early in the season for his brilliant performance.  Soon after, Ankiel established himself as one of the most feared hitters in the PCL, blasting 32 home runs in only 389 at bats. 


The season also gave us the comebacks of Troy Percival and Mark Mulder, from retirement and surgery respectively.  The Cardinals also promoted promising young prospects Joe Mather and Jarrett Hoffpauir for the second half and each gave a glimpse into how good they can become.


Player Movement


Since rosters expanded on September first, the Redbirds have sent several players up to St. Louis to help in the race for the playoffs.  INF's Miguel Cairo and Brian Barden have been promoted as well as OF Skip Schumaker.  LHP Mike Maroth has been recalled after a couple of brief rehab stints as well as right-handed relievers Kelvin Jimenez, Andy Cavazos and Brian Falkenborg. 


Who's Hot - 2007 season


OF Ryan Ludwick started the season off in Memphis and he started off on fire.  Ludwick had eight home runs and batted .340 in his first 106 at bats.  He continued to hit after his promotion to St. Louis, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 38 runs while sharing time.


OF Rick Ankiel has been discussed more than any other player in Memphis and rightfully so given his performance.  When he left Memphis, he was leading the PCL in home runs, and he was the only Redbird to have a walk-off home run.  Since leaving Memphis, Ankiel hasn't missed a beat, hitting .343 with six home runs and driving in 19.


OF Joe Mather had a rough start in Memphis but has picked up his play.  Mather finished with a .271 average with 31 home runs and 77 RBI between Springfield and Memphis.  Mather also had 27 doubles and 10 stolen bases between AA and AAA.


RP Kelvin Jimenez was terrific in his 30 appearances in Memphis.  Jimenez had a 2.72 ERA while walking only 11 and striking out 34 in 39.2 innings.  Jimenez was the perfect bridge between the starter and closer as he often came in in the seventh and eighth innings of games.


RP Brian Falkenborg has had a good season filling in at closer and as a setup man.  Falkenborg accumulated a 3.25 ERA while recording 23 saves and allowing only two home runs in 52.2 innings.


Who's Not - Year in Review


C Brian Esposito had an extremely unremarkable season, batting only .178 with four home runs and 16 RBI.  Esposito's OBP ended at only .217 and managed only 10 extra base hits in 242 at bats. He was removed from the Cardinals 40-man roster at the completion of the season, one in which he made his first Major League appearance, a brief cameo.


INF Travis Hanson entered the season as a player looking to regain his prospect status but unfortunately the season didn't go as planned.  Hanson had only 14 RBI and nine extra base hits in 254 at bats.  He managed to hit only .217 with an OBP of .246, hardly what the organization expected of him. He also left the 40-man late in the season.


LHP Troy Cate had a terribly tough second half, ending with a 6.81 ERA.  Cate started the year off strong and went to St. Louis but was sent down and really struggled out of the team's bullpen. He did not receive a call back to St. Louis in September.


What We Know - Year in Review


Well, 2007 season is over in Memphis, but because of the Redbirds, the St. Louis Cardinals are still in the hunt for the playoffs.  The development of players like Ankiel and Brendan Ryan has meant a lot to the big league club.  Ankiel has put himself in place to be a star in the Cardinal outfield.  Ryan is a player who needed at-bats this year after several injuries and he got them in Memphis.  After he impressed in Memphis, Ryan has gone up to St. Louis and filled in at several different positions while still contributing with his bat.  Memphis was also the launching pad for Ryan Ludwick and the resurrection of his career.  The minor league system for the Cardinals has enabled the team to compete this year and possibly for the next couple with the development of Hoffpauir and Mather.


The pitching staff in Memphis was a bit of a letdown with no real dominant starter on the roster.  Blake Hawksworth was a player that was highly thought of but failed to impress for the most part.  Mike Parisi was the team's workhorse, leading the team in innings and not missing a start.  Parisi progressed as the season went on but was never dominant.  The relief core showcased some youngsters with potential such as Mark Worrell, Andy Cavazos and Chris Perez.  Others such as Mike Sillman and Dennis Dove went down with injuries and their seasons were lost.  Perez is a player to watch for next year, as is Worrell; those two have the opportunity to be big leaguers if they continue to use their talents.


Thanks to everyone who read the Memphis Report this year, I enjoyed writing it and covering the team.  I'd also like to thank the staff at The Birdhouse. It's been a great year; Go Cardinals!



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