Parisi: First to MLB from the Cards '04 Draft

Widely panned by the draft experts, the St. Louis Cardinals 2004 draft has yet to produce a big league player. Mike Parisi, a ninth round selection, is about to change that.

The St. Louis Cardinals have been criticized repeatedly for their selections in the 2004 first year player draft. The first five selections are no longer in the organization with first round pick Chris Lambert being the only one of them still in affiliated baseball. Lambert was nothing more than the player to be named later in the deal that brought Mike Maroth and his one good outing to the Cardinals from the Detroit Tigers in 2007. Now pitching for the Tuledo Mudhens, Lambert is off to a good beginning with a record of 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA in six starts.

By selecting almost all college players in the 2004 draft, high schoolers Phil Hughes of the Yankees, Dodger third baseman Blake DeWitt, and the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo were some of the high profile names selected after the Cardinals chose Lambert with the 19th overall pick.

Second round choice Mike Ferris, Eric Haberer, taken in the third round, and Donnie Smith who was picked in the fourth, were all released by the Cardinals before the 2008 season. Fifth round pick Wes Swackhamer was released before the 2007 campaign.

Now, almost four years after the 2004 draft took place, the first player from the Cardinals selections will make his major league debut, Mike Parisi. Selected in the ninth round out of Manhattan College, Parisi is 2-1 with a 4.41 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Memphis. Known as a groundball machine, Parisi has a 1.85-to-1 groundball to flyball ratio. In 32.2 innings, he has a 23-to-13 strikeout to walk ratio and hitters are batting .287 against him.

Of the batters Parisi has faced, over 16% have been left shaking their head as they return to the dugout after just striking out. Of the balls put in play, 61% are hit on the ground when he is on the mound.

In his last outing, Parisi allowed seven runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts in only four innings against a red-hot Salt Lake City team. Of the 10 hits, five were for extra bases.

Going into the 2008 season, Parisi held a career record of 32-35 with a 4.33 ERA in 95 career starts. In his minor league career, he has given up almost 10 hits per nine innings with a WHIP of 1.46. He doesn't really help himself out of jams either, with only 409 strikeouts in 552 career minor league innings.

After the 2007 season, Parisi was added to the club's 40-man roster and was ranked by The Birdhouse as the number 35 prospect in the Cardinals system.

In his three seasons at Manhattan College, Parisi posted a record of 14-16 with 272 strikeouts in 243.2 innings.

2004 Draft Remainders

Of their top ten selections, only Parisi and sixth round pick Jarrett Hoffpauir are still in the Cardinals family. Hoffpauir, the starting second baseman at Memphis, is hitting .283 and has walked almost as many times as he has struck out, 11 to 14. In 2007, Hoffpauir hit a combined .323 between Springfield and Memphis and finished with 55 walks compared to 39 strikeouts. For his effort, Hoffpauir was added to the 40-man roster and played in the Arizona Fall League.

12th round selection Mark Worrell and Matt Scherer, whom the Cardinals selected in the 16th round are teammates in the Memphis bullpen. Worrell has established himself as one of the top relief arms in the system. The sidewinder has a 2.51 ERA and has 23 strikeouts in 14.1 innings.

Scherer started the season at Springfield and posted a 2.08 ERA and recorded a save in five appearances. The 25-year-old was then promoted to Memphis where he has not allowed an earned run in four innings prior to heading to the disabled list on Sunday.

Dan Nelson, selected in the 13th round and 21st rounder Mike Sillman both started the 2008 season on the disabled list. Nelson was slated to be the utility man at Springfield before suffering a fractured hamate bone that delayed the start of his season. Sillman missed significant time in 2007 with tightness in his right forearm and shoulder problems led to Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery.



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

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