2008 Cardinals Prospect #34 – Blake King

Is there another St. Louis Cardinals prospect where the clash between potential and results is so dramatic?

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to 2007 and career stats)

2007 Ranking: 22

Position: SP

DOB: 4/11/1987

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 195

Bats: R

Throws: R

School: Eastern Oklahoma State

Became a Cardinal: Selected in the 44th round (1,334th overall) of the June, 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Signed to a 2006 contract on May 29, 2006 as a "draft and follow".

2007 stats

Tm

W

L

ERA

G

GS

SV

IP

H

R

HR

BB

SO

GO/AO

AVG

QC

2

3

5.21

19

9

0

57

44

36

3

44

62

1.50

0.214

BAT

1

4

4.70

16

9

0

53.2

48

28

3

34

65

1.14

0.240

Tot

3

7

4.96

35

18

0

110.2

92

64

6

78

127

1.31

0.227

Staff Comments (individual rankings in parens)

Leonda Markee (NR): The Birdhouse's 22nd-ranked player in 2006, King split his first full season of professional ball in 2007 between class A Quad Cities and Short-A Batavia. After struggling at Quad Cities mainly due control issues (6.95 BB/9 IP, 1.54 WHIP, 4.13 dERA in 57 innings pitched), King was sent down to Batavia where he continued to battle wildness (5.7 BB/9 IP, 1.53 WHIP, 3.48 dERA in 53.2 innings pitched).

There are aspects of King's game that are exciting as he averaged over a strikeout an inning and held the opposition to a cumulative .226 batting average. He turns 21 in April 2008, so definitely has time on his side. At this point, however, I thought there were better options for the Top 40.

Dustin Mattison (39): If King could overcome his command problems he would rank much higher. He can be overpowering as witnessed by his 127 strikeouts in 111 innings. But as overpowering as he can be, he can be just as wild as he gave up 78 walks. He did fare much better in relief and his future should definitely be in the bullpen.

Ray Mileur (34): King got caught up in the ill-fated, tandem starting rotation in Quad Cities this year, that didn't help with his development and progress as far as I'm concerned. Prior to the Swing returning to the traditional five-man rotation, King had struck out 62 batters in 57 innings, but he also issued 44 walks and made 18 wild pitches, both league highs at the time. Transferred to short-season Batavia, by the time the season was over, King had struck out a combined 127 batters in just 110.2 total innings.

King possesses some traits that are common to young power pitchers, boasting a blazing fastball and a sharp slider in his arsenal. He has great stuff that he just needs to harness. The grand-nephew of my favorite ballplayer of all-time, Hall-of-Famer Mickey Mantle, and born on my birthday, so how can King be anything but a can't miss prospect? I ranked him at #34 and that is where he falls in this year's rankings. His stock should continue to rise with his control.

Brian Walton (20): The guy has the same impressive, but uncontrolled repertoire as last year and at just 20 years of age (King, not me!), I am not ready to jump off this bandwagon for one second. Even with all the troubles in 2007, only five pitchers in the entire system whiffed more hitters than did King last season (127). Sadly, no one issued more free passes to first base (78), either. Let's get this young man some serious coaching attention, pronto, and be prepared to look out if it all comes together for him at Quad Cities in 2008. And if not, the others can exclaim down the road, "See, I told you so!"

Key: NR = not ranked, NA = not applicable

To see our entire list of 40 prospects as they are unveiled daily, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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