The 2008 edition should have those same Championship aspirations, but this time the pitching should play a more dominant role. With two of the organization's top pitching prospects and two other hurlers that ranked at the top of the Florida State League's final statistical leaders, fans in the Ozarks should look forward to seeing fine mound performances night in and night out.
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy struggled in his first taste of Texas League action. Daniels started the year starting 12 games for Palm Beach and posting a groundball to flyball ratio of 2.39 to 1. The 25 year old was then promoted to Springfield where more of his pitches got hit in the air and his ERA went up as well. Daniels finished with an ERA of almost six and a slightly better than 1 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. Also alarming is that the lefty allowed left-handed hitters a .348 batting average against.
Furnish started the year by posting a 2.42 ERA and allowing only a .191 batting average against at the Quad Cities. The 22-year-old who was known for his control in college, really struggled with it after a promotion to Palm Beach, giving out 22 walks compared to 24 strikeouts in 36 innings. Furnish improved as he gained experience, posting an ERA of 3.91 in his last four starts. Due to the numbers, Furnish will most likely start the year back at Palm Beach.
The organization's number 1 starting pitcher prospect, Garcia may return to Springfield to start the season after missing quite a bit of time in 2007. The Cardinals report his elbow is sound and he is pitching with no restrictions this spring. Will most likely be in Memphis before the end of the season.
Haberer returned to Springfield after seeing action there during the 2006 season. The former Saluki led the Cardinals with 13 wins even though he allowed hitters a .284 batting average against. On a positive note, lefties hit below .200 against the southpaw. The 25 year old got almost twice as many groundball outs as flyball outs but his strikeout to walk ratio was exactly 1 to 1.
Tyler Norrick (right)
An often overlooked prospect in the Cardinals system, Norrick finished second on the team in wins with 11 – that ranked him third in the FSL, second in ERA - ranking tenth in the FSL, first in innings with 165 which was tops in the league, and first on the team in strikeouts with 134 which ranked second in the FSL.
The Cardinals number one draft choice in 2006, Ottavion will get his first taste of the Texas League in 2008. For Palm Beach in 2007, Ottavino finished first on the staff in wins with 12, ERA with a mark of 3.08, second in innings pitched with 143, and second on the team in strikeouts with 128. These numbers put him near the top of the final Florida State League leaders.
Ranked third on the Springfield team with 144.1 innings in 2007. Of concern is a strikeout to walkout ratio of 79 to 53. Allowed left-handers a .325 batting average against.
Pomeranz missed most of 2007 due to shoulder surgery. Impressed during the Arizona Fall League. The 2003 second round pick left Arizona with two victories and a miniscule ERA of 0.64. Though he did not put up many strikeouts, hitters batted only .188 against the tall right-hander.
P.J. Walters (right)
The organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Walters finished the season with a record of 12-6 with an ERA of 2.55. Just as impressive is his strikeout to walk ratio of 147 to 33. While Walters does not overpower anyone, he does keep the ball in the park (8 home runs allowed in 152 innings) and changes speeds to keep hitters off balance. May very well find his way to Memphis before the end of the season.
Appeared in 21 games for Springfield and struggled posting a strikeout to walk ratio of nearly 1 to 1 and an ERA of 7.71. Demoted to Palm Beach, he was not much better posting an ERA of 5.02 and a similar strikeout to walk ratio. The Cardinals sent him to the Hawaii Winter Baseball and the 24 year old finished with an ERA over eight. He did improve his strikeout to walk ratio finishing with 28 strikeouts to 11 walks.
Might start the season at Double-A Springfield after being shut down in June due to shoulder surgery. The hard throwing Dove made his Major League debut in 2007 but struggled allowing five runs in only three big league innings.
Luke Gregerson (right)
Luke Gregerson stood out head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to the Palm Beach bullpen. The 23-year old dominated Florida State League hitters posting a 1.97 ERA. Gregerson's 29 saves ranked third in the league while he averaged more than a strikeout an inning.
In 68 innings over 53 games, Mikrut posted a 2.91 ERA for Palm Beach. His 53 appearances tied Luke Gregerson for the team high. The 25 year old kept players off base recording a WHIP of 1. 25.
With a fastball in the high nineties, Motte will be the first reliever sent to Memphis. Very well could start the season at Triple-A.
Appeared in a team high 55 games for Springfield in 2007. For the Cardinals, Scherer posted a 3.60 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 70 innings. The imposing Scherer was roughed up for 11 runs in 13.1 innings during the Venezuelan Winter League.
With all the good bullpen arms the Cardinals have in the minors, Smith could get overlooked. During 2007, Smith finished with an ERA of just over three while recording 50 strikeouts in 59 innings.
Nick Webber (right)
The menacing Webber struggled with his control walking 22 batters compared to only 29 strikeouts. Did keep the ball on the ground with an almost 2 to 1 groundball to flyball ratio. Lefties tagged the former second round pick for a .375 average.
The LOOGY allowed Texas League lefties a .167 during 2007. Finished with a 2.68 ERA in 43.2 innings.
Others looking in
The new all-time leader for the Quad Cities franchise could get a taste of the Texas League before year's end.
The 2007 first round supplemental pick will not start the year at Double-A, but looks to move up the ladder quickly.
Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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