Overall, the results were mixed at best for those players the St. Louis Cardinals drafted in June of 2007. Of the 24 hitters that signed a professional contract with the Cardinals, all were first assigned to one of three places: Johnson City, Batavia, or the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Those three teams finished a combined 30 games below .500 (83-113). But, the minors are not about wins and losses but instead about player development.
Some high draft picks struggled out of the gate while some lower round picks made an early name for themselves among Cardinals fans. One finished with the second highest qualifying batting average in the Cardinals' Minor League system. After being promoted to the Quad Cities, one of those drafted won the Midwest Player of the Week award. Two of the hitters made The Birdhouse's Top 40 prospect rankings.
Below, the player's name is listed and to the right is the round he was drafted. The picks are listed numerically by the round selected.
Pete Kozma (1)
Played four games with the GCL team and hit only .154/.267/.154. On to Johnson City, where he put up solid numbers, .264/.350/.396 with a respectable 21-to-12 strikeout to walk ratio. To log more at bats, the Cardinals sent Kozma to Batavia where he struggled at the plate and in the field. He finished with a line of .148/.179/.222 for the Muckdogs.
On the whole over the three levels, Kozma finished with a line of .233/.313/.342. Kozma's struggles carried over to the field where he committed 22 errors in 42 games for a .874 fielding percentage. Kozma was ranked as the Number 16 prospect in the Cardinals' system by the Birdhouse.
Daniel Descalso (3)
The University of California-Davis product had a rollercoaster first professional season. The 22-year-old got off to a good start in June, .302/.388/.326, but really struggled in July, .196/.303/.217. On a positive note, it is good to see him still getting on base even though he wasn't finding holes in the defense during his dreadful July. He put things together in August hitting .333/.379/.463.
For the season, Descalso finished with a line of .268/.346/.336 and 12 stolen bases. Descalso only notched 12 extra base hits and 31 RBIs, very anemic for a corner infielder. Got a late season promotion to the Swing but did not see any action.
Oliver Marmol (6)
The shortstop out of Charleston never got going in the field or at the plate. Started out at Batavia, hitting .213/.326/.246. Of his 30 hits, only four went for extra bases. He was needed to fill a roster spot with the Swing and the call up did not inspire better play. For the Swing, Marmol hit .209/.296/.267. Overall, Marmol hit .212/.314/.255 with 40 strikeouts and 23 walks. The 21-year-old struggled in the field as well, committing 22 errors for a .928 fielding percentage.
Tyler Henley (8)
Henley got a late start due to his participation in the College World Series. Started out for Batavia hitting .281/.397/.351. In limited action the former Rice standout posted an almost one-to-one strikeout to walk ratio, nine Ks to eight BBs. Henley was then promoted to the Swing but could never find his groove. Hit only .156/.200/.406 in 32 at bats while striking out almost 26% of the time. Henley did find some power in the Midwest League as he hit his first two professional home runs. For the season, Henley finished hitting .236/.336/.371 with a two-to-one strikeout to walk ratio.
Beau Riportella (10)
The speedy switch-hitting outfielder led Johnson City in hitting and steals in 2007. His .315 average ranked second in the Cardinals' Minor League system and fifth in the Appalachian League. Riportella hit .315/.366/.387 with 10 steals and a 31-to-13 K to BB ratio. Did not turn 19 until August 20. Was named The Birdhouse's Johnson City Position Player of the Year.
Steven Hill (13)
Drafted originally as a catcher, Hill will prove to have a much greater value if his defense allows him to stay behind the plate. Started the year in Batavia posting unreal numbers of .436/.511/.692 in 39 ABs over 10 games. Was then promoted to the Swing and continued to produce, finishing with a line of .303/.330/.487 in 261 ABs. At the Quad Cities, Hill hit 11 home runs with 44 RBIs but with a concerning 58 to 9 K to BB ratio.
The 22-year-old would have led the Swing in average, slugging percentage, OPS if he had logged by more at bats. The Stephen F. Austin product did finish third on the team in home runs, total bases, RBIs, and doubles. Hill was named the MWL player of the week for 7/30 as well as being The Birdhouse's Batavia Position Player of the Year.
Overall, Hill finished with a line of .320/.355/.513 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs. In the field, played 30 games at first, 27 games in left field, 15 games at catcher, and seven games as a DH. Hill was rated as the number 40 prospect in the St. Louis system by The Birdhouse.
Antone DeJesus (16)
Was assigned to Batavia where he posted an average of .186 while posting an OBP of .407. The 21-year-old was then promoted to the Quad Cities where he saw his average rise but his OBP take a slight hit. He finished with a line of .262/.373/.315 for the Swing while helping with their playoff run. In 189 total at bats, DeJesus finished with a line of .238/.385/.275. He needs to learn to make better use of his speed as he was thrown out seven times in 18 stolen base attempts.
Matt Arburr (17)
Assigned to the Johnson City club, Arburr never seemed to get going but did offer some flashes of hope. In 135 at bats, he hit .207/.280/.407. Did show good pop with five home runs and an isolated power of .200 in 135 at bats. Of his 28 hits, 17 went for extra bases. The right-hander slugged .473 against righties but only .262 against lefties.
Andrew Brown (18)
Assigned to Batavia out of Nebraska. Brown did not put up much average, but was able to post a decent OBP. He hit .238/.330/.444 in 239 at bats The 23-year-old posted a good BB to K ratio, 31 to 52. Brown led the Muckdogs in home runs, doubles, triples, runs batted in, total bases, walks, and slugging percentage, His seven triples were tied for second in the New York Penn League, where he was named an All-Star.
Nick Peoples (19)
The senior chosen out of the University of Texas broke his collarbone during the NCAA Regionals and was not ready to play this summer.
Brian Cartie (20)
The 22-year-old appeared in only eight games for Batavia due to a separated shoulder. Cartie hit .154/.267/.154 before being shut down.
Charlie Kingrey (22)
The 22-year-old was a late sign due to a wrist injury he suffered at McNeese State. Kingrey was assigned to the Gulf Coast League where he appeared in only nine games. The outfielder finished with a line of .150/.208/.150, striking out nine times in 20 at bats.
Joey Hage (23)
Got to stay close to home in his first pro assignment, going to the Gulf Coast League. Home cooking agreed with Hage as he hit .393/.452/.714 in seven games. Hage was then moved on to Johnson City and must have gotten homesick, hitting only .208/.273/.244 in 168 Abs. The 18-year-old finished with a line of .235/.299/.311 with a 19 to 14 K to BB ratio.
Tony Cruz (26)
The most surprising player from this year's draft as well as the most traveled. Started the year with the GCL Cardinals, hitting .375/.382/.531 in seven games. Cruz was then promoted to Johnson City where he hit .280/.333/.600 in only six games. Next he was promoted to Batavia where his stop was brief. In only four games, Cruz hit .375/.412/.438. Then on to a higher level of talent in the MWL, Cruz held his own even though he slumped down the stretch. Cruz finished with a .282/.338/.421 with the Swing, swatting five home runs. So for the season, Cruz hit .299/.347/.451 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs in 268 at bats.
Brian Buck (27)
Originally assigned to Johnson City where he struggled from the beginning, hitting .188/.235/.313. Buck was demoted to the Gulf Coast League where his numbers improved but not as impressive as he should have been given he was older (21) than most of the competition. He finished with a line of .257/.388/.343 in the Gulf Coast League with twice as many strikeouts than walks.
Ross Oeder (28)
Assigned to Batavia where he put together a solid, yet unspectacular professional debut. For the Muckdogs, Oeder hit .279/.321/.304 in 148 at bats. As noted, none of these numbers are overwhelming, but Oeder does provide versatility; he had starts at 2B, 3B, and SS.
Charlie Pelt (29)
Started off the year at Johnson City and I am sure he would have liked to stay in Eastern Tennessee. Pelt was hot from the get go, hitting .406/.500/.594 in 9 games for the baby birds. The 23-year-old was then promoted to Batavia and the more experienced pitching of the NY-Penn League caught up with him. Pelt registered a line of .212/.302/.318 in 132 at bats for the Muckdogs. In 164 total at bats, Pelt finished with a line of .250/.342/.372.
Nick Derba (30)
I know the article is titled "Hitters" but Derba's defense gets first mention here. According to Baseball America, Derba was the top catcher in the Minors throwing out baserunners as he eliminated 53% of would-be base stealers, 21 points better than the NY-P league average.
Though he did not knock the cover off the ball, Derba did put up respectable numbers in his first professional season. The 22-year-old was originally assigned to Batavia where he hit .267/.413/.433. He was then shipped to the Quad Cities where he hit .268/.391/.372 in 164 at bats. Of note, Derba walked 44 times compared to 55 strikeouts in 224 at bats over the two levels to go with a line of .268/.397/.388.
Nick Vera (32)
Had a good pro debut for the Johnson City. Vera hit .286/.341/.402 with four home runs and 29 RBIs. Controlled the strike zone pretty well with a 35 to 17 K to BB ratio. Of note, he struck out less than 16% of the time. Vera will need to improve against lefties, as he hit only .237 against southpaws.
Collin Fanning (36)
Appeared in only 21 games for Batavia due to fracturing a bone in his leg. Fanning hit only .159/.266/.217 while striking out 22 times in 69 at bats.
Adron Chambers (38)
Playing in the Gulf Coast League, Chambers hit .279/.357/.360 in 36 games. Blessed with above average speed, Chambers definitely needs to learn to use that speed as he stole six bases but was caught five times.
Mike Folli (42)
Assigned to Johnson City where he hit .269/.341/.385 25 walks compared to 31 strikeouts. After 61 games of rookie ball, he was promoted to Batavia where he really struggled in limited action, finishing with a line of .222/.250/.333 in 27 at bats. The 22-year-old ranked in the top 20 in both hits and walks in the Appalachian League. Overall, Folli hit .264/.332/.379 in 261 at bats.
Rob Sanzillo (46)
The 22-year-old had a horrible time at the plate for Johnson City. Sanzillo hit only .136/.269/.167 in 66 at bats while striking out exactly 1/3 of the time.
Mateo Marquez (47)
The 22-year-old was assigned to Batavia where appeared to be overmatched. Hit only .191/.270/.301 while posting 49 strikeouts in 136 at bats. On the upside, he did hit .357 in 14 September at bats.
As the St. Louis Cardinals continue to rebuild their farm system through the draft, the 2007 draft has provided another influx of quality position players in which the Cardinals can build, even though the early results may not show it.
Up next, the pitchers.
Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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