Joe Mather (above) was selected by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2001 draft out of Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Mather really struggled in his first four professional seasons and never showed the power the Cardinals had hoped.
The versatile first baseman-outfielder began to drive the ball in 2005, hitting 17 home runs between stops in the Midwest and Florida State Leagues. 2006 saw Mather play the whole season at Palm Beach, where he hit 16 home runs and slugged .457. At the age of 24, Mather started 2007 at Double-A. In an incredible run at Springfield, he hit .303/.386/.607, good enough for an All-Star selection and a promotion to Memphis after just 64 games.
"Joey Bombs" struggled in the early going at Triple-A, but made adjustments as the season went on, slugging .500 in August. His 31 long balls in 2007 represent 36% of his career total of 86. The former shortstop turned third baseman turned first baseman turned outfielder was rewarded with a trip to the Arizona Fall League. Though he was shut down early due to elbow tenderness, Mather reports that he is healthy and the elbow feels good. On October 27, Mather was added to the Cardinals' 40-man roster.
Chris Perez (above) was selected in the supplemental first round of the 2006 draft. The Cardinals expected the former Miami Hurricanes closer to fast-track through the system, pushing the right-hander by assigning him to Double-A to start his first full professional season. The 22-year-old was up for the challenge by converting 27 straight saves for the Springfield club. In the Texas League, he posted a strikeout rate of 13.72 per nine innings.
Perez notched nine more saves at Memphis but really struggled with his command as he allowed 13 walks in 14 innings. Perez ended the year by being named to a Team USA squad that won the Gold Medal at the Baseball World Cup in Korea.
First up, Joe Mather's impression of the Cardinals fans at the Winter Warm-Up. Second, Perez comments on the group of talent the Cardinals have assembled in their minor league system.
Mather on if he pays attention to things like the change in direction of the organization and if either of the two have talked to Tony La Russa. Then, Mather discusses what was different for him in 2007. Perez then acknowledges his need to throw strikes.
Perez discusses his twice-in-a-lifetime experience on pitching for Team USA. Mather covers his long road to the 40-man roster and how versatility might help him earn a spot on the 25-man roster.
Perez discusses how he was informed that he was invited to Spring Training followed by Mather discussing earning a spot on the 40-man roster and about always being a slugger.
Perez is asked about how his arm feels after pitching so late into the year and his off-season workouts.
Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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