2007 Cardinals Arizona Fall League Preview

Dustin Mattison breaks down the St. Louis Cardinals' seven prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League starting this week.

The Arizona Fall League will kick off play on Tuesday, October 9. Seven Cardinals' prospects will be joining minor leaguers from the Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, and Brewers on the Mesa Solar Sox. Representing the Cardinals will be pitchers Mitchell Boggs, Kyle McClellan, Jason Motte, and Stuart Pomeranz. Joining those pitchers will be first baseman Mark Hamilton, second baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir and outfielder Joe Mather. Hamilton will replace Mark Shorey, who is injured.

Colby Rasmus and Chris Perez were originally named to the league but instead will play for Team USA. The Solar Sox will be managed by Dave Clark of the Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros). Cardinals Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins will serve as the team's pitching coach.

Notables on the Solar Sox are 2007 first round pick Matt LaPorta (Brewers), 2005 first rounders Craig Hansen and Jed Lowrie (Red Sox), and J.R. Towles (Astros), who had eight RBIs against the Cardinals on September 20.

Mitchell Boggs was a fifth round pick in the 2005 draft out of the University of Georgia. In 2007, Boggs went 11-7 with a 3.84 ERA for Double A Springfield. Boggs' peripherals left much to be desired as he gave up 167 hits in 152 innings. He finished with a strikeout to walk ratio of 117-to-62.

At high Class A Palm Beach in 2006, Boggs posted a 10-6 record to go along with a 3.41 ERA. Once again, he gave up more hits than innings pitched, 153 in 145 innings. Boggs goes to Arizona to work on his changeup.

Kyle McClellan was a 25th round pick in the 2002 draft out of Hazelwood West High School in Missouri. After missing much of the 2006 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, McClellan underwent yet another operation during the past off-season to move his ulnar nerve. He was activated and assigned to high Class A Palm Beach on May 1st.

Working out of the bullpen for Palm Beach, McClellan went 4-1 with a 1.24 ERA. In 29 innings, he had 24 strikeouts compared to only four walks. He was then promoted to Double A Springfield, where his ERA might have gone up but he was still as dominating. McClellan finished with a 2.35 ERA in 30 innings along with 30 Ks compared to six walks and an 2.35-to-1 groundball to flyball ratio.

Jason Motte was drafted as a catcher in the 19th round in 2003 out of Iona College. He was a catcher for the first three years in professional ball but after struggling offensively, he was converted to the mound to take advantage of his strong arm. Since the switch he has flourished and enjoyed a quick rise through the system.

In May 2006, Motte joined the short season Class A State College Spikes where he posted a 3.08 ERA in 26 innings. He showed very good control, striking out 25 compared to only four walks. Motte was then promoted to the low Class A Quad Cities where he struggled with an ERA of 4.97 in 12.2 innings. On the upside, he did strike out 13 while walking three.

In 2007, Motte started the year at Palm Beach. In 10 innings of work, he posted an microscopic ERA of 0.90 and was quickly promoted to Double A Springfield. Motte continued to impress in the Texas League, posting a 2.20 ERA in 49 innings to go with an impressive 63 strikeouts.

Stuart Pomeranz will be making his second consecutive trip to the Arizona Fall League. He was drafted in the second round of the 2003 draft out of Houston High School in Germantown, TN. Pomeranz saw limited action in 2007 after undergoing surgery to clean up a frayed labrum after Spring Training.

He appeared in three games in the GCL, pitching 4.2 innings and allowing an ERA of 5.79. Pomeranz was then moved up to the Palm Beach Cardinals where he made three more starts. In 9.2 innings of work, he posted a 6.52 ERA. He made six appearances in the AFL in 2006 while posting an ERA of nine. Pomeranz had been limited to just 18 starts for Double-A Springfield in 2006 due to oblique and shoulder injuries.

Mark Hamilton was a supplemental second round pick in the 2006 draft out of Tulane. In 2007, Hamilton got off to a quick start for high Class A Palm Beach. In 60 games, he hit .290/.348/.520 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs. He was then promoted to Double A Springfield and found Texas League pitching a little more difficult. In 68 games, Hamilton hit .250/.318/.383 with six home runs and 41 RBIs.

Hamilton must improve on his isolated power of .133 he posted in Double A. He started by hitting four home runs in the Texas League playoffs including four in the Springfield's first round clinching win.

Jarrett Hoffpauir was drafted out of Southern Mississippi in the sixth round of the 2004 draft. Along with Mather, one of the two most improved players in the system. Hoffpauir was assigned to repeat Double A Springfield where he did nothing but rake. In 61 Texas League games, Hoffpauir hit .345/.420/.527.

After hitting .410 in June, he got to make the move west to Triple A Memphis. Hoffpauir cooled off a little bit when he hit Beale Street but did he post a respectable .284/.385/.432 in July. He made the necessary adjustments in August and hit .320/.387/.417 in 119 at bats during the month.

For the year between the two stops, Hoffpauir finished with a line of .323/.407/.473 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs. What is probably more impressive is his 55 walks compared to only 39 strikeouts.

Joe Mather was drafted in the third round in 2001 out of Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, Arizona. "Joey Bombs" without a doubt enjoyed his finest season as a professional in 2007. After repeating Class A Palm Beach in 2006, Mather was assigned to report to Double A Springfield and came out a-swinging.

During the month of April, Mather hit 10 of those 18 home runs and slugged .797. In 64 games, Mather hit .303/.387/.607 with 18 homers and 46 RBIs. Mather twice won Texas Player of the Week honors. He was named a Texas League Mid-Season All-Star but was unable to attend the game due to his promotion to Memphis.

Mather struggled early but did show some signs of life at Triple A, where he finished with a line of .241/.329/.443. Mather showed tremendous power, hitting 13 home runs and finishing with an isolated power (ISOP) of .202. For the season, Mather posted a line of .271/.357/.522 with 31 home runs and 77 RBIs.

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

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