A Look at Cards 2008 Pitching Staffs: Memphis

As the beginning of Spring Training draws near, we will look at the candidates for each of the Cardinals' full-season squads' starting rotations as well as bullpens, starting with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. FREE preview of a new subscriber-only series.

Up first in our series is the Memphis Redbirds. Fans down on Beale Street have not had much to cheer about in recent years as the front office brought in journeymen veterans to staff the rotation. But this off-season, the organization made a decision not to go out and sign a large number of other teams' minor league free agents, meaning that for the most part the Memphis squad will be manned by players that have come up through the organization.

Here is a look at the potential Memphis starters.

The Starters

Mitchell Boggs

One of the fastest risers in the system, Boggs has positioned himself for the Memphis rotation with a strong 2007 capped off with an impressive Arizona Fall League season. His fastball can reach the mid-90s with good sink leading to lots of groundball outs that allowed him to work deeper in games.

Dewon Brazelton

The former third overall pick struggled mightily at Triple A-Omaha in 2007. In four starts, Brazleton lost all four and posted an ERA of over seven. Prior to latching on with the Kansas City Royals organization, he made fifteen starts for Double-A Altoona (Pittsburgh Pirates). He posted five wins against five losses, threw three complete games, and had an ERA of 3.53.

Blake Hawksworth (right)

After making a strong return statement with his play in 2006, Hawksworth seemed to take a step back in 2007. Making his Triple-A debut, Blake really struggled, going 4-13 with an ERA over five. "Hawks" seemed to put things together in May, posting an ERA of 1.70, only to see the wheels fall off in June. But he has still only pitched three full seasons, so he could be primed to bounce back in 2008.

Mike Parisi

Parisi looks to build upon his 2007 in which he threw a team-high 165 innings. A favorite in the organization, he has an outside shot at the big league roster. The sinkerball artist lets his defense do the work, as his K/9 was only 6.05 in 2007.

Anthony Reyes

What else can we say about Reyes? His struggles in 2007 have been well chronicled. I see Reyes returning to Memphis to start the season after the Cardinals signed Todd Wellemeyer for a million bucks and given Reyes still has options.

Brad Thompson

Thompson is probably in line for a spot in the St. Louis bullpen. If not, Thompson will start the year in the Memphis rotation. The 26-yea-old made two appearances at Memphis during 2007, posting an ERA over four.

John Wasdin

The 35-year-old was brought in to provide veteran depth at Memphis. I am just not sure he has much left. In 2007, Wasdin posted an ERA of just under six in 12 relief appearances for the Pirates. For Triple-A Indianapolis, he was worse, posting an ERA of 6.37 in seven starts.

The Relievers

Hugo Castellanos

The 27-year-old appeared in 46 games split between Springfield and Memphis during 2007. For the Redbirds, Hugo posted a 3.49 ERA in 56.2 innings while putting up a 2-to-1 groundball to flyball ratio. During the Mexican Winter League, Castellanos allowed a paltry 0.89 ERA in 34 appearances including seven saves.

Dennis Dove

The hard-throwing Dove made his Major League debut in 2007 but struggled, allowing five runs in only three big league innings. The results at Memphis were not much better before he was shut down due to shoulder surgery. Dove was removed from the 40-man roster in November.

Ron Flores (right)

Another of the Minor League free agents brought in by the Cardinals, Flores is the younger brother of the Randy Flores and a situational lefty as well. The 28-year-old made 17 appearances for the A's in 2007 and posted an ERA of 3.57. For the A's Triple-A affiliate, Sacramento, Flores made 40 appearances with an ERA of 2.72. Extremely effective against left-handers, Flores yielded an anemic .095 batting average against him in the big leagues and .240 in the Pacific Coast League.

Kelvin Jimenez

A minor league free agent signing a year ago, Jimenez turned a solid performance at Triple-A into a promotion to the big leagues. Jimenez posted a 2.72 ERA for Memphis with an almost 4-to-1 groundball to fly ball average. Unfortunately, the big league hitters were not as accommodating, as he registered an ERA of over seven in 34 appearances for St. Louis. Logged an ERA of 3.27 during winter ball in the Dominican.

Kyle McClellan

After undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, McClellan established himself as one to watch among the Cardinals' relief prospects. In 24 appearances for Springfield, he notched 30 strikeouts in 30.2 innings with an ERA of 2.35. The 23-year-old was rewarded with a spot on the 40-man roster as well as a trip to the Arizona Fall League.

Jason Motte

Having only been a pitcher for a little over a year, Motte went out and established himself as one of the best bullpen arms in the system. With a mid-nineties fastball, he recorded 63 strikeouts in 49 innings with a .208 batting average against at Double-A Springfield. The 25-year-old followed that up with a strong showing during the Arizona Fall League and was rewarded with a spot on the 40-man roster. Being that Motte is still quite inexperienced on the mound, it might be best for him to start the year at Double-A.

Chris Perez

Starting 2007 at Springfield, Perez blew his first save of the season and then converted his next 27 opportunities. Perez was then promoted to Memphis, where he notched eight more saves and racked up 77 strikeouts in 54 innings. The 22-year-old has an outside shot of making the big league club's opening day roster.

Mark Worrell

Rewarded with a spot on the 40-man roster after putting up another solid performance in 2007. Worrell logged 66 strikeouts in 67 innings while posting an ERA just over three.

Others with a shot

Jaime Garcia

One of the Cardinals' top pitching prospects will probably start the year at Double-A after missing the latter part of 2007 due to a tender elbow.

Eric Haberer

Lefty from Southern Illinois University led Double-A Springfield with 13 wins. Future seems more likely in the bullpen as lefties hit only .197 against him compared to righties hitting .308 against the 25-year-old.

Matt Scherer

The 24-year-old led Springfield with 55 appearances in 2007. Scherer is an imposing figure on the mound and notched 69 strikeouts in 70 innings while posting an ERA of 3.60.

Zack Zuercher

A very good lefty specialist, Zuercher allowed left-handed hitters a .167 average in 2007. Does need to concentrate on his control, as his strikeout to walk ratio was only 32-to-24.

Prediction

Rotation
Mitchell Boggs
Dewon Brazelton
Blake Hawksworth
Mike Parisi
Anthony Reyes

Brad Thompson starts the season in St. Louis.

Bullpen
Hugo Castellenos
Ron Flores
Kelvin Jimenez
Kyle McClellan
Chris Perez
John Wasdin
Mark Worrell

Dennis Dove starts at Double-A to get the rust off.

Note: If you enjoyed this free preview article and want to read the rest in the series, subscribe to The Birdhouse, stlcardinals.scout.com, and the rest of the Scout.com sites today. You have a seven-day free trial period to check out all the insider articles plus our premium, subscriber-only message board. Our annual Total Access Pass includes 56 issues of Sports Illustrated (a $39.95 value) mailed to your home and more. Click here to subscribe.



Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

© 2008 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories