Mark Worrell: Let Me Eat Crow

With Mark Worrell set to be the seventh new player to make his debut with the 2008 St. Louis Cardinals, it seems that I may owe a certain new Cardinal an apology. And possibly, eat a big helping of crow.

Dear Mark Worrell,


First let me say congratulations. You have had a very underrated career and also it could be said an overlooked one at that.  But, now you have become the seventh member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization to make their major league debut this season. 


Next, let me say I am sorry.  In The Birdhouse's 40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Prospects, I was the only staff member that did not rate you.  You ranked number 33 overall, but I guess I like many, underrated you as well.  But this season, you have gone out and done what you have accomplished throughout your minor league career - get people out.


In 21 appearances in 2008, you have posted a record of 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA over 24 innings of work.  To say you have been dominant is an understatement, as you have racked up 38 strikeouts compared to 11 walks.  Always thought as a right-handed specialist, right-handed hitters are hitting just .216 against you while lefties are batting only a comparable .233.  


When you make your major league debut, you will have appeared in 208 career minor league games spanning 244 innings and posting a 3.02 ERA.  With 78 career saves and 285 strikeouts, there is really nothing else to prove at the minor league level. 


I am sure that every one of your family and friends back in your home of Lake Worth, Florida will cheer your debut as they celebrated when you were selected by Tampa Bay in the 11th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft out of John Leonard High School.  As the 2001 Palm Beach County Player of the Year and being a two-time first team all-state honoree (2001 and 2000) and second team once (1999).   The Rays liked what they saw after you averaged 1.76 strikeouts per inning during your senior season.  In 11 starts that season, eight were shutouts.  You also pitched for the 2001 USA Junior National Team.

Instead of opting to sign with the Rays, you instead went to Indian River Community College, where you went 4-6 in 14 starts with the Pioneers.  Before you stepped on the college mound, you were named the No. 1 preseason junior college pitcher in the country by Baseball America. 

After leaving Indian River, next was a stop in 2003 at the University of Arizona.  Results were mixed as you finished with a record of 2-4 with a 6.75 ERA. You had trouble with getting people out, averaging 11 hits/9 IP and a WHIP of almost two. 

The desert sun must have not suited you as you transferred closer to home - Florida International – where you went 2-9, over 19 games, 12 starts, and logging 107 Ks in 84.2 innings.  St. Louis must have seen a diamond in the rough because in the 12th round of the 2004 draft, you became a Cardinal. 

In 2004, at Johnson City you posted a 1.21 ERA in 17 games including 6 saves while averaging 14.1 K/9.  Next on to Peoria with six more saves in 17 games and improving the K/9 to 12.27.

The first full professional season of 2005 saw you record a minor league high 35 games for Palm Beach.  Up next was Springfield in 2006 with 27 more saves. 


The organization began to stretch you out in 2007 at Triple-A Memphis and you proved ready with a career high 67 innings and an ERA just over three while averaging almost a strikeout an inning.


Now, at the age of 25, you will make your major league debut and become the second member of the 2004 draft class to make it to the big leagues.  Let me once again say I am sorry for underestimating and underrating you.  And even though I may already have egg on my face, the next time I go out to dinner, I will eat crow.



Dustin Mattison



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