The Cards' 2008 Pitching Staffs: Palm Beach

Part three in a series looking at the possible pitching staffs for each of the St. Louis Cardinals full season Minor League teams focuses on the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Class-A Advanced Florida State League.

As we get deeper into the St. Louis Cardinals' Minor League system, the competition for spots in the pitching rotation gets tougher. Florida State League candidates include three supplemental first round picks and a pair of second round picks among others who should get a serious look. The members of the Palm Beach staff will get the benefit of working with the highly-successful ex-big leaguer, Dennis Martinez. "El Presidente" will be serving as the Palm Beach pitching coach during the 2008 season.

Some tough decisions are in the future for the Cardinals' hierarchy - decisions such as whether a player's future lies as a starter or is better served by a move to the bullpen. Even tougher than deciding a pitcher's future role will be if the pitcher has a future with the organization.

First are the contenders, followed by those predicted to make the team out of spring training.

The Starters

Gary Daley

Struggled mightily in his second professional season. Between Palm Beach and the Gulf Coast League, Daley posted an abysmal 53-to-62 strikeout to walk ratio in 72.1 innings. To be fair, Daley was never healthy. The Cal Poly product did not turn 22 until after the season, so there is still time for him to put things together. That being said, with a fastball in the nineties and below-average secondary pitches, his future may be in the bullpen.

Eddie Degerman (right)

Was left in extended spring training before being promoted to Quad Cities. For the Swing, Degerman posted an ERA of 2.45 in 12 games. Even more impressive was his 71 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. Degerman found the Florida State League to be tougher, as he was roughed up for an ERA near six. His strikeout rate fell and his walk rate rose. With a very unconventional wind-up, Degerman's future could be as a relief specialist.

Brandon Dickson

Led the Quad Cities in innings and victories in 2007. Finished with an ERA of 3.50 while striking out 84 in 144 innings. To move up the ladder, Dickson will have to show better command and continue to keep the ball on the ground. Dickson posted a 2.26-to-1 groundball to flyball ratio in 2007.

Brad Furnish

The 2006 second-round pick will most likely return to start the year at Palm Beach after also finishing 2007 in the Florida State League. The lefty will have to improve on the almost 1-to-1 K-to-BB ratio he put up after his promotion from the Quad Cities.

Shaun Garceau

Even though he finished below .500 and with an ERA near five, the 20-year averaged just below a strikeout per inning during 2007. His 110 strikeouts were second on the team to Elvis Hernandez. Garceau could really benefit from the pitcher-friendly Florida State League and may vault up Cardinals prospects list with a strong 2008. Will most likely receive more seasoning back in the Midwest League, however.

Trey Hearne

After making a name for himself with a 12-3 record during 2006, Hearne came back down to earth in 2007. Hearne finished the season with an ERA near six while having given up 181 hits in 137.2 innings. Florida State League hitters torched the 24-year-old for a .323 average. Without a serious uptick, the end of the road could be nearing for Hearne.

Elvis Hernandez (right)

Hernandez started the season on fire before regressing when the Quad Cities abandoned the "piggyback starter system". Even so, he finished 2007 averaging more than a strikeout per inning. When I saw Hernandez, his stuff looked electric to one batter before looking average to the next. His future may be in the bullpen but he will probably begin the year back in the Quad Cities tandem starter rotation.

Tyler Herron

After struggling for two seasons, Herron put things together in 2007 and rocketed up the Cardinals' prospect rankings. Finished with a WHIP of just over one and 130 strikeouts in 137 innings.

Mark McCormick

After pitching in just 7.2 innings during the 2007 season, McCormick will most likely start the season with Palm Beach. If healthy, the 2005 supplemental first-round pick possess one of the best power arms in the system and could move up the organizational ladder quickly.

Clayton Mortensen

The supplemental first round pick in 2007 showed why the Cardinals drafted him during his professional debut. Should start the year in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League but could easily see Double-A before year's end if he continues to dominate.

Jess Todd

The supplemental first round pick had a very good professional debut. For Batavia, the former Razorback finished with an ERA of 2.78 with 69 strikeouts in 58 innings. Undersized at 5-foot-11, some believe Todd's future may be in the bullpen but I believe the Cardinals will keep him in the rotation for now. Most likely he will start the year at the Quad Cities, but it would not be surprising for Todd to be skipped a level as the organization did with Adam Ottavino in 2007.

The Relievers

Armando Carrasco

The 22-year-old spent 2007 at the QC, finishing with a record of 6-2 with a 2.19 ERA. Keeps the ball on the ground, as witnessed by his 2.35-to-1 groundball to flyball ratio.

Josh Dew (right)

Dew stormed onto the scene, finishing second in saves in the New York-Penn League during his professional debut. Opponents hit only .159 against him and he logged 32 strikeouts in 25 innings. It would not be surprising for the Cardinals to have the Troy product skip a level and start the year in Palm Beach.

Chuckie Fick

The 2007 draft pick reached the Quad Cities in his first taste of professional baseball. After posting a 6.50-to-1 groundball to flyball ratio at Batavia, Fick saw that ratio fall when he reached the Midwest League. Even so, he finished with a respectable mark of nearly 2-to-1. Will need to work on his strikeout to walk ratio of 25-to-11.

Marco Gonzalez

Combined to go 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA between Batavia and the Quad Cities. Went to Hawaii Winter Baseball, where he posted an ERA of 11.17 in seven appearances.

Kenny Maiques (right)

Maiques set a team record for the Quad Cities with 31 saves, which ranked second in the Cardinals' system. With him turning 23 during the season, the Cards could push him and see how he reacts in the Texas League.

Kyle Mura

With the higher-profile arms in the system, Mura is quite often overlooked. He shouldn't be much longer. For the Quad Cities in 2007, the right-hander finished 7-0 with a 1.66 ERA. In 59 innings, Mura logged 53 strikeouts compared to only 13 walks.

Kyle Sadlowski

The 23-year-old logged a 2.57 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 66.2 innings. Needs to improve on his 2-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Fernando Salas

The 22-year-old split time between Palm Beach and the Mexican League in 2007. For the Cardinals, Salas went 2-3 with an ERA over five in 16 appearances including four starts. He was no better during the Mexican League season posting an ERA of 6.75. Salas found his groove during the Mexican Winter League as he posted an ERA under three to go along with three saves in 18.1 innings.

Scott Vander Weg

Posted an impressive 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio in 2007. Could have even been in the mix for a spot at Double-A Springfield before being suspended for 50 games for a violation of baseball's PED policy.

Prediction

Rotation
Eddie Degerman
Brad Furnish
Tyler Herron
Mark McCormick
Clayton Mortensen

Bullpen
Armando Carrasco
Josh Dew
Chuckie Fick
Kenny Maiques
Kyle Mura
Kyle Sadlowski
Fernando Salas

In limbo
Gary Daley
Brandon Dickson
Marco Gonzalez
Trey Hearne
Scott Vander Weg

Previous articles in this series
Memphis pitching staff
Springfield pitching staff

Note: Updated 2/21 with Vander Weg's suspension and addition of Salas.



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

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