As we have made our way through the system, this installment has been the most difficult to predict. The only certainty seems to be Pete Kozma. By far the most jumbled competition to date has been predicting the catcher for the River Bandits.
Remember, also, that at Class-A, the lineups seem to change from game to game. So, although this is a prediction of the starters, all the players on the roster will get at bats.
Here are the candidates:
Assigned to Batavia after being drafted out the University of Nebraska. The 23-year-old posted a good BB to K ratio, 31-to-52, while hitting .238/.330/.444.. 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.
The former West Virginia Mountaineer struggled in 2007, hitting .221/.250/.313 for Batavia. It was his second season in the New York Penn League and he did improve on his 2006 performance, during which he hit only .189/.278/.225.
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. During his final season at McNeese State, Cartie hit .354/.456/.506.
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.
Even though he started slowly, Descalso 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. The 20 year old (he turned 21 after the season) 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. If the Cardinals move him to second, he will probably start the year at Palm Beach. If the organization keeps him at third, he should start the year at the Quad Cities.
Started the year repeating rookie ball at Johnson City where his numbers were below what he produced in his debut in 2006. The 19-year-old (he turned 20 in January) was then promoted to Batavia where he seemed motivated to show that is where he should have been all along. In 33 at bats for the Muckdogs, Edwards hit .394/.429/.606. Even though he is still young, he could start the year with the Mississippi River back of him at the Quad Cities.
The second baseman put together a good debut at Johnson City but struggled against the more advanced pitching of the New York-Penn League. When assigned to Johnson City, Folli hit .269/.341/.385 with 25 walks compared to 31 strikeouts. After 61 games of rookie ball, he was promoted to Batavia where he finished 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.
During his first season in the U.S., Garcia made three stops, ending the year at the Quad Cities. The pitching in the Midwest League proved difficult for him, as he hit .202/.269/.250. Garcia did post a batting average above .300 and an on base percentage above .400 during his stops at Batavia and Johnson City. The Venezuelan will be only 20 when the season starts and could be a sleeper.
The catcher from Puerto Rico struggled at the plate for Batavia, hitting .176/.247/.189. In 74 at bats, Gonzalez had only one extra base hit.
Could be a long shot due to that he did not play above the Gulf Coast League in 2007 but made an impression during the fall instructional league. One of the last the draft and follows, Ingram is a superb athlete that made a great impression in his professional debut by posting a .325 average and a .430 on base percentage. He possesses great speed as he proved with 22 stolen bases while getting caught only five times. Most likely will stay in extended spring training but after having already made a strong impression, he could get a call up.
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. During his senior season at McNeese State, Kingrey posted on OPS of 1.107 with 15 home runs. Probably will get some more seasoning in extended spring training but could get a shot with his being a college product.
The Cardinals' first pick in last year's draft, Kozma struggled at the plate and in the field during his professional debut. The Cardinals believe in his ability and want him to get as many as bats as possible during his first professional season. He should be the starting shortstop for the River Bandits.
The St. Louis native started the year back at Johnson City, hitting .293/.323/.382 in 54 games. The 20-year-old was then promoted to Batavia, where he struggled, posting a line of .167/.167/.233. Most likely, he starts the year in Extended Spring Training.
The Dominican was solid in his first taste of professional baseball in the U.S. The 20-year-old was named the Birdhouse's Minor League Player of the Month in July after hitting .333/.408/.632 with six home runs and 20 RBIs for the Gulf Coast League team. Morales was then promoted to Johnson City where he showed power potential with an isolated power of .298. His raw power does catch your eye but he probably needs a little more seasoning before trying his hand at the Quad Cites. But with that power potential, he could make the jump if he has a strong spring.
Injuries hampered him in 2007 while he continued to struggle at the plate. The 20-year-old does provide a manager quite a bit of flexibility with his ability to catch as well as play first and third. Mulligan did not celebrate his 20th birthday until after the season, so he may start the year in extended spring training.
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.
Started off the year at Johnson City though I imagine he would have liked to stay in Eastern Tennessee. Pelt was hot from the get go, hitting .406/.500/.594 in nine games for the baby birds. The 23-year-old was then promoted to Batavia, where the more experienced pitching of the New York Penn League caught up with him. Pelt finished with 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.
The senior chosen out of the University of Texas broke his collarbone during the NCAA Regionals and was not ready to play this summer. Due to his college pedigree, Peoples could make his professional debut in full season ball.
No one doubts Pham's athleticism; he just has not put his tools together to achieve results on the field. The Nevada native got 32 at bats for the Swing in 2007 but hit only .063/.189/.063. He was then demoted to Batavia where he did improve his numbers but they were still an anemic .205/.283/.305. With an outstanding arm, could he be the next Jason Motte?
The recently-signed Pupo is on the Quad Cities working roster but will most likely start the year in Extended Spring Training.
Was our Scout.com Cardnals Johnson City Position Player of the Year after hitting .315/.366/.387 after being drafted in the 10th round of the 2007 draft. His .315 average ranked second in the Cardinals' Minor League system and fifth in the Appalachian League while his ten steals were a team high. The switch hitter did not turn 19 until Aug. 20.
Rodriguez, who recently turned 20, represents the Cardinals' big splash back into the Latin market. The organization paid the Cuban $460,000 and maybe it would like to see results on its investment by starting Rodriguez in full season ball. Rodriguez, an impressive physical specimen, would probably be best served by staying behind in Extended Spring Training. The switch-hitter could receive a call up if someone struggles early.
The 22-year-old got in only ten games during the Gulf Coast League season, hitting .385/.407/.423 against much younger competition. The son of former leaguer Lee Thomas, the St. Louis native missed most of 2007 due to a lower back injury.
The 22-year-old 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.
C David Carpenter
1B Andrew Brown
2B Jose Garcia
3B Osvaldo Morales
SS Pete Kozma
OF Beau Riportella
OF Antone DeJesus
OF Jon Edwards
Extended Spring Training
"The Cards' 2008 Minors Hitters: Memphis"
"The Cards' 2008 Minors Hitters: Springfield"
"The Cards' 2008 Minors Hitters: Palm Beach"
Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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