the Winter Meetings underway this week in
The Cardinals did not participate in the Major League phase in 2006 but the draft did prove to be very valuable for a few teams. Last year's Rule 5 draft witnessed picks such as the selections of Josh Hamilton and Jared Burton who ended up helping the Reds, Joakim Soria being picked by the Royals and the Padres' selection of Kevin Cameron. Hamilton hit 19 home runs in only 90 games on his way to being the feel-good story of the year. Burton posted a 2.57 ERA in 47 appearances. Soria became the Royals' closer, finishing with 17 saves and a 2.48 ERA. Cameron made 48 appearances and posted a 2.79 ERA for the Padres.
Also, the Nationals nabbed Jesus Flores from the Mets and now Flores sits number one on the catcher depth chart for Washington. Flores' play in limited action made last year's starter, Brian Schneider, expendable.
The Cardinals selected Juan Mateo from the Chicago Cubs in 2005 and later returned him during Spring Training. Hector Luna was selected in the 2003 Rule 5 and became a contributor before later being traded to the Cleveland Indians for Ronnie Belliard.
To participate in the Rule 5 draft, an organization must have open spots on its' 40-man roster. At this time, the Cardinals are at their maximum of 40, but can make a quick move as they did when designating John Rodriguez for assignment last weekend. Even though the Cardinals may not participate in this year's draft, there were a few names that caught my eye as players that could help the organization, though none appear ready to make a major contribution in the short term.
Diory Hernandez (
The odd man out in an organization loaded with middle infield prospects. The 23-year-old provides solid defense and exciting speed on the bases. For Double-A Mississippi, Hernandez hit .307/.370/.418 with 22 steals (he did get caught 20 times) and 59 RBIs. So far in the Dominican Winter League, he is hitting .248/.311/.248. He has good range and a very strong arm and could provide depth in an organization lacking in impact middle infielders.
Van Pope (
fifth-round pick in 2004 out of
Jose de la Cruz (Seattle Mariners) RHP
The 24-year-old has a big 6-foot-6 frame and possesses a low nineties sinker with a developing splitter. At Double-A West Tennessee, the Dominican posted a 1.25-to-1 ground ball to fly ball ratio and 3.18 ERA. The right-hander struggled at Triple-A Tacoma, posting a 11.32 ERA and a .375 batting average against. He can touch 95 at times with a full-effort delivery. Has the upside and stuff to eventually be a late inning reliever.
Matt Moses (
The 21st overall pick in the 2003 draft, Moses has struggled to live up to the hype of being a first-round selection. In 1542 career minor league at bats, he has a career line of .257/.312/.391. Early in his career, the Twins really pushed him and he has seemed to regress. The left-handed hitter has above-average bat speed but gets pull happy at times which causes him to go into long-lasting slumps. Moses is still only 22 years old and still has time to live up to his potential, though he is considered to be more of a third baseman at this point.
Randor Bierd (
A Tommy John survivor, he missed half of 2005 and most of 2006. Bierd bounced back in 2007 with 52 strikeouts in 45 innings and a 1.49-to-1 groundball to flyball ratio at Double-A Erie. The 23-year-old Dominican possesses a low nineties sinker and a good slider. Starting the year in the Midwest League, he posted an almost 4-to-1 groundball to flyball ratio before moving on to Double-A. Now playing in the Dominican, he has made only one appearance, giving up one run.
Nick Debarr (
Selected by the Boston Red Sox in last year's Rule 5 draft and later returned. A 14th round pick in the 2002 draft, Debarr missed all of 2005 due to Tommy John surgery. Debarr has a big, projectable frame and ranges from 89-93 mph with his fastball, sitting at 91 consistently. He also features an average slider that still needs work.
Sean Thompson (
25-year-old bounced around in 2007 playing in three organizations while posting
a 9-8 record with a 3.70 ERA.
Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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