2008 Cardinals Prospect #21 – Josh Kinney

Elbow surgery followed by a fracture suffered during rehab has set the late-season 2006 phenom back a step. Will he be his old self when returning in May or June? Today, we offer a free sample of our long-running prospect ranking series.

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

2007 Ranking: 13

Position: RP

DOB: 3/31/1979

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 214

Bats: R

Throws: R

School: Quincy College

Became a Cardinal: Contract purchased from the River City Rascals of the independent Frontier League in June, 2001.

2007 stats

















Staff Comments (individual rankings in parens)

Leonda Markee (15): Kinney's injury during spring training 2007 very likely kept him on the qualifying list for this Top 40. Otherwise, he probably would have logged enough innings in The Bigs to eliminate him from consideration here. Kinney got it all together in late 2006 and was one of the pitching stars of the Cardinals' 2006 post-season run. The big questions now are: 1) How well will he bounce back from surgery? and 2) Can he come close to replicating his late 2006 numbers? I think he will get the job done in 2008 and become a valuable part of the 2008 St. Louis bullpen.

Dustin Mattison (14): I ranked Kinney here because he has already proven he can get crucial outs on baseball's biggest stage. Kinney missed all of 2007 due to Tommy John surgery but should be ready to go by the beginning of the 2008 season. During the Cardinals' World Series run, Kinney was sensational. In six postseason innings, he did not allow a run and recorded six strikeouts. The former independent league pitcher keeps the ball down in the zone and gets plenty of groundball outs with his above-average sinker. With Ryan Franklin and Russ Springer pitching the seventh and eighth, Kinney will have the opportunity to work his way back slowly and should be picking up key outs by the end of the season.

Ray Mileur (27): Kinney missed the 2007 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander had a 3.24 ERA in 25 innings with the Cardinals in 2006 and then pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the postseason. He's proved that he can pitch at the Major League level if healthy and given the opportunity. The Cardinals hope that Kinney will be ready to pitch by the time the season starts. If he's not ready by opening day, at some point in the 2008 campaign he should be back in the Cardinals' bullpen as a middle reliever.

Brian Walton (30): I had felt a lot better about Kinney before I recently learned his return is not expected before May or June. The number 30 ranking talks more to my proclivity not to rank middle relievers highly. In fact, I labeled Kinney as my top rookie on the 2008 major league club. Perhaps that says more about the 2007 Memphis roster and the overall major league-ready pipeline than it does about Kinney.

Because he missed the entire 2007 campaign following ulnar collateral ligament reconstructive surgery on his elbow, Kinney's solid late-season 2006 debut has already been forgotten by many. Among the former independent league hurler's highlights were eight consecutive scoreless appearances to end the season for the World Champions, including seven in the post-season. Hopefully Kinney can pick up right where he left off with his low-90s fastball and plus breaking ball and maybe even help bridge the gap if Jason Isringhausen departs after the 2008 season.

Key: NR = not ranked, NA = not applicable, DNP = did not play

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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