They five are right-handed pitchers Dewon Brazelton, Armando Carrasco and Logan Collier, second baseman Juan Lucena and outfielder Reid Gorecki.
Dewon Brazelton was a former first round selection, third overall, by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2001. After some believe he was rushed to the majors the next season at 22, the former top prospect digressed.
The right-handed starter bounced around from San Diego to Kansas City to Pittsburgh, spending more time in the minors than in the majors and falling as far down as Double-A. Last November, the 27-year-old was signed by the Cardinals to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.
When Brazelton reported to major league camp, he was not ready to go and once he finally pitched in minor league games, alternated good and bad outings. He officially ended his short Cardinals tenure with an ERA of 9.53, six runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings pitched.
I interpret his release as a positive signal that the Cardinals are going to give their prospects the first shot at starting for the Memphis Redbirds in 2008.
Armando Carrasco, a 22-year-old Californian, was selected by the Cardinals in the 36th round of the June, 2005 First-Year Player Draft from Saddleback Junior College as a draft and follow.
In two seasons as a professional, at Johnson City in 2006 and then jumping to Quad Cities last season, Carrasco went 7-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 63 games, all in relief. The right-hander fanned 80 in 80 2/3 innings, but also walked 45 and uncorked a dozen wild pitches.
This spring, Carrasco allowed just one earned run in 7 2/3 innings, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio was 5-to-4.
Logan Collier, who turns 23 next week, had been taken in the 37th round of the June, 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Guilford College.
In 2006 at Johnson City and 2007 with Batavia, the right-hander went 3-4 with a 6.28 ERA in 30 appearances. Collier fanned 62, but walked 41 in 71 2/3 professional innings.
Collier really struggled this spring, allowing a team-high 13 walks in 8 1/3 innings. His ERA was 4.32.
Second baseman Juan Lucena had been an early favorite of Cardinals farm director Jeff Luhnow after the Venezuelan was taken as a June, 2002 free agent signing at the age of 18. A former .300 hitter (2004 and 2005), Appalachian League batting champion and All-Star (2004), Lucena was also considered a slick fielder. Yet, he seemed to level out at Springfield last season, hitting .257.
This spring was tough as he went just 3-for-17 with the bat (.176). Over six minor league seasons, Lucena posted a .279 batting average in 1625 at-bats over 447 games.
Always a confident player, outfielder Reid Gorecki was the organization's Minor League Player of the Year in 2004, a season which he culminated by ranking sixth in the prestigious Arizona Fall League with a .363 batting average. Gorecki was originally taken in the 13th round of the 2002 draft out of Delaware.
In 2005, Gorecki digressed, hitting .182 in Springfield before being demoted to Palm Beach. In the two seasons since, he managed just 74 at-bats as high as Triple-A due to injury and ineffectiveness.
Now, at the advanced prospect age of 27, he has been shoved aside by higher-ceiling outfield prospects like Colby Rasmus, Joe Mather, Nick Stavinoha, Cody Haerther, Amaury Marti and more, with youngsters like Jon Jay and Luke Gorsett coming up from the rear.
Gorecki was added to the Cardinals 40-man roster before the 2005 season and removed in December, 2006. He can't say that he wasn't given a shot this spring as Gorecki had the second-most at-bats of any player in camp with 45 at the time of his release. His March line was a disappointing .222/.286/.289.
Overall, in six minor league seasons, the right-handed hitter posted a .261/.334/.419 batting line in 2121 at-bats over 576 games.
With the release of Gorecki, the Cardinals have now parted ways with their Minor League Players of the Year for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Outfielder John Gall was the winner those first two years and recently-retired third baseman Travis Hanson took the honor in 2005. Current top prospect Colby Rasmus was selected the past two seasons.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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