Deric McKamey on Cards Minors Pitching: 2008

One of baseball's preeminent minor league experts answers reader questions about the improving Cardinals prospect pipeline. The focus today is on pitchers with position prospects following.

Deric McKamey has been BaseballHQ's Director of Minor League Analysis for ten years now and a baseball analyst for twenty. A long-time disciple of Bill James and formally trained by MLB's Scout School, McKamey is uniquely skilled to integrate sabermetrics and scouting.

Once again, McKamey and HQ are publishing the "Minor League Baseball Analyst", in which Deric profiles 1000 prospects from across the game with in-depth scouting reports and stats that include batter skills ratings, runner speed, pitch repertoires, Major League equivalents, ultimate potential and much more. The book, in its third year, is available for ordering now for shipping next month.

Last week on this site, McKamey provided a special advance preview from his book. The excerpt covered the top 15 Cardinals prospects along with the Cardinals' organizational rankings in contrast with their National League Central Division competitors including year-to-year comparisons.

In this, the second of three follow-on articles exclusively for subscribers, McKamey responds to questions posed on our premium message board about those Cardinals prospects and much more. Today's focus is on minor league pitchers.

Make sure you check back here tomorrow for the final set of questions and answers focusing on top Cardinals position player prospects.

Previous articles in the series:
Deric McKamey on Cards Prospects: 2008
Deric McKamey on Cards Minors Overall: 2008

Q: In his first real pro season, Kenny Maiques was dominating at low A. What is your take on him?

A: Maiques has excellent arm action and easy velocity, while getting excellent movement to his sinker and slider. He did very well against batters from both sides (sub-.200 oppBA), though his pitches will likely play-up better against RH batters. He throws with some effort and has a light-frame, so you always worry about stamina with him. Absolutely the right move to shift him to the bullpen, where he can be a solid match-up reliever.

Q: What is your take on these pitchers at the lower end of the system: Jess Todd and Deryk Hooker?

A: Todd has a nasty slider and good fastball movement. He has that closer mentality that you like, along with excellent command and the ability to miss bats. His body doesn't project, so he is what he is, and throws with effort, but it hasn't affected his stamina thus far.

Hooker is a tall, projectable pitcher with good velocity (88-93 MPH) and two workable comps. His numbers were outstanding in the GCL. I watched scouting video on him and wasn't entirely impressed with his arm action, which looked a little stiff.

Q: What are your thoughts on Andres Rosales (RHP), Jose Garcia (2B), and Edgar Lara (OF)? Have you seen any of them, and do you expect any to become legitimate prospects next year?

A: I saw all three in spring training, but not over an extended period of time. Rosales has a very live arm for his thin frame, getting good movement with his whip-like delivery. His fastball wasn't overpowering, but seemed to throw strikes easily. Garcia is an athletic infielder with solid-average defense. Offensively, he makes excellent contact and will be the type that rarely walks or strikes-out. He might develop a little power if he puts weight in the right places. Lara is a projectable outfielder who hasn't grown into his body. He has excellent bat speed and power, but his contact rate is miserable, so I don't know how game-usable his power can be. Of these three, I could see Rosales making the jump to legitimate prospect.

Q: How about these pitchers on the higher end: Mitchell Boggs and Mark McCormick?

A: Boggs has a very nice fastball (88-95 MPH) and is able to hold his velocity with his arm strength and strong frame. He'll cut and sink his fastball and his curveball is an average pitch. He doesn't repeat his delivery very well which leaves him with a below average change-up and poor command, and doesn't miss many bats. I see him as a setup reliever.

McCormick has some of the best stuff (90-97 MPH fastball and curveball) in the organization, but his command is awful and hasn't been able to stay healthy. I could see him putting it together if moved to the bullpen.

Q: What is your take on P.J. Walters? Given he pitches with far below average velocity, do you think he survive in the majors based on guile and pinpoint control alone? Will he eventually be a starter or reliever?

A: As mentioned, Walters doesn't throw hard (85-88 MPH), but has a plus change-up and an average curveball. His command is excellent and repeats his delivery, which helps with deception. I certainly don't see him as a starter with his below-average velocity and have questions whether he can succeed at all, despite his ability to dismantle lower level hitters.

Q: I understand Jason Motte still "throws like a catcher". But with his stuff, can he be successful in the majors?

A: Perhaps as a matchup reliever. I got a chance to see Motte in the AFL. He throws with tremendous effort and his mechanics were very inconsistent, but seemed to have good command. He touches 95 MPH with his fastball and his slider is tough on RH batters. I only saw one splitter (in the dirt), so didn't get a good read on it.

Q: What pitchers could see performance jumps by transitioning from starter to reliever (or vice versa)?

A: We already talked about ones that could make a successful transition from starting to reliever on previous questions (King, Walters, Boggs, and McCormick), but I'll also toss-out Mike Parisi. I'm not a big advocate of moving a pitcher from the bullpen to the rotation and I really don't see any reliever that the Cardinals have drafted that I'd want to make a starter out of.

Q: How would you rank the following pitchers in terms of closer potential: Chris Perez, Jason Motte, Luke Gregerson, Kenny Maiques, Mark McCormick?

A: Perez and McCormick have the knock-out stuff and the mentality to close, but due to the volatility in projecting closers, I'll say only Perez will actually be one. Motte, Gregerson, and Maiques project as setup relievers for me.

Q: Please rank the following Cardinals pitchers is terms of potential as a LOOGY: Brad Furnish, Tyler Norrick, Zach Zuercher, Eric Haberer, Adam Daniels?

A: Zuercher is flat-out nasty to LH batters and has the best chance, and Furnish might be able do it if moved to the bullpen. Norrick and Haberer walk too many people to be effective, and Daniels doesn't get RH or LH batters out.

Q: Who are your sleepers in the Cardinals system?

A: As astute as most of the Cardinals fans on this site are, it might be difficult for me to find a true sleeper, but a couple of pitchers I like better than most are right-handers, Blake King and Eddie Degerman.

King gets tremendous movement to his sinker and has a plus slider, and can be deceptive with his overhand slot. He doesn't change speeds well and throws with effort, but could dominate in relief with that strikeout rate.

Degerman, with his unorthodox delivery, plethora of pitches, and ability to attack hitters' weaknesses, continues to get hitters out. He'll always have to fight for chances, but I think we need to look at the things he does well, rather than focus on what he doesn't.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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