Cards Shorey and McClellan Added to AFL

Mark Shorey and Kyle McClellan have been added to the Arizona Fall League to replace Colby Rasmus and Chris Perez, who are reportedly joining Team USA.

The St. Louis Cardinals' fall assignments of top prospects took an expected turn as the names of players to join Team USA this fall have begun to leak out. It is good news overall, as two Cardinals players are in effect stepping up a level of play with two more chosen to play into November.

 

Outfielder Colby Rasmus and closer Chris Perez will be representing Team USA with outfielder Mark Shorey and right-handed reliever Kyle McClellan named to replace them in the Arizona Fall League.

 

While the official announcements have not yet been made, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported these changes via their website on Monday. 

 

Next month, manager Davey Johnson will welcome Rasmus, 21, and Perez, 22, to USA Baseball's team. The two starred for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in 2007, with Perez finishing the season with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.

 

Perez was selected by the Cardinals in the supplemental first round of the 2006 draft from the University of Miami and collected a total of 35 saves this season. He is viewed as the top relief prospect in the system and should compete for a Major League roster spot coming out of spring training.

 

Recognized as the top prospect in the Cardinals organization, Rasmus was the Cards' first pick in 2005 as a high-schooler. The centerfielder hit 29 home runs and stole 18 bases with Springfield in 2007 and is the heir-apparent for veteran Jim Edmonds in center for St. Louis. Rasmus is expected to make his big-league debut some time in 2008.

 

Team USA will train in Arizona and play five games against AFL teams between October 27 and November 1. They will move on from there to the International Baseball Federation World Cup competition, scheduled from November 6 through 18 in Taiwan.

 

Last year, outfielder Skip Schumaker played on Team USA, with Memphis hitting instructor Rick Eckstein on the staff. Two years ago, pitcher Chris Lambert and third baseman Travis Hanson were on the squad.

 

The Cardinals contingent for the Arizona Fall League's Mesa Solar Sox was announced late last month. In addition to Perez and Rasmus, pitchers Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte and Stuart Pomeranz plus infielders Jarrett Hoffpauir and Joe Mather had been selected to play.

 

Now, Shorey and McClellan, both 23 years old, will be joining them in the Arizona sun.

 

Shorey's AFL selection caps a meteoric rise here in 2007. One year ago, he was playing in the short-season rookie-level Appalachian League as the organization's 31st round pick in the June, 2006 draft out of High Point University.

 

A combination of solid play and breaks caused by injuries to others enable Shorey to pass through Quad Cities and Palm Beach and all the way to Double-A Springfield during 2007. Overall, the left-handed hitter batted .279 with 17 home runs and 78 RBI across the three stops.

 

Reliever McClellan, drafted back in the 25th round back in 2002, has proven his health problems may be behind him. His pitching elbow first required Tommy John ligament replacement surgery then he underwent a procedure to relocate a nerve in 2006.

 

Limited to three games for Johnson City last year, the right-hander came back strong this season, posting a 1.81 ERA while striking out 54 in 59 2/3 innings between Palm Beach and Springfield. McClellan held opposing batters to a .212 average and most impressively, only walked ten all season long. He was our June Reliever of the Month here at The Birdhouse.

 

The Arizona Fall League's 16th season runs from October 9 through November 17 and is considered the MLB's top prospect showcase. Among the many Cardinals who are AFL alums are Albert Pujols, Chris Duncan and Adam Wainwright.

 

As always, stlcardinals.scout.com will be your leader in reporting on the Arizona Fall League. So, check back for first-hand information on the Cardinals prospects that will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox as well as Team USA this October and November.

 

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

 

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