Prospect Power Rankings Special Part-II

On the DL with a strained MCL, the Cardinals are hoping Blake Hawksworth will be back in the second half of the season to improve on his season mark of a 2-6 record with a bloated 6.22 ERA


30. Brad Furnish (LHP-Palm Beach), a second round draft pick from 2006, Brad is back for a second season with the Class A Palm Beach Cardinals. He split playing time between Quad Cities and Palm Beach last season, finishing the year with a combined 6-6 won-loss record with a 3.19 ERA in 29 games. This year he's 7-4 with a semi-respectable 4.21 ERA, but he's still having a problem being a fly ball pitcher in a ground ball organization. Brad has given up 10 HRs this season in 92 innings. To put that in perspective, he's given up more than twice as many home runs than anyone else on the team and Brandon Dickson who leads the club in innings pitched with 105.1 (13.1 more innings pitched) has given up only three home runs.

Brad needs to continue to work on his approach at the high Class A level and become more aggressive on the mound. He's a left-hander so there will be plenty of opportunity for him to move up in the organization. We could certainly use a good lefty out of the pen in St. Louis right now. It's safe to assume a second round pick has the stuff to be a stuff to be a major league pitcher, but it takes more than stuff to make it to "The Show".



29. Stuart Pomeranz (RHP-RELEASED), speaking of second round draft picks, the St. Louis Cardinals released the 23-year-old Pomeranz, their second round pick from the 2003 draft. Pomeranz made it all the way to #4 in our Birdhouse Top 40 Prospect Rankings in 2006 before slipping to #7 in 2007 and then all the way to 29 in 2008. He seemed to always be injured, he had shoulder surgery eventually in 2007 as a result of his nagging arm problems. The last time I talked to him I was expecting him to pitch and at that point he was dealing with an oblique injury. I can't begin to imagine what it must feel like to be blessed with so much talent and potential, only to see your dreams derailed by a serious of injuries.

At this time, Stuart hasn't signed with any other teams. We wish him the best of luck and I wish he had better memories of his time with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Heck for that matter, I wish I had better memories of his time here.



28. Luis de la Cruz (C–BATAVIA), the 19-year-old catcher is currently on the Disabled List for the Muckdogs, after being sent down from Quad-Cities where the Dominican Republic native struggled, with a line of .167/.185/.217 (BA/OBP/SLG). After a solid season with the Gulf Coast Cardinals in 2007 the Cardinals had Luis bypass the rookie league Johnson City Cardinals and the Class A short season Batavia Muckdogs to begin the season at Quad Cities. I have to admit, I was looking forward to seeing how he was going to play for the River Bandits, basically because I ranked him higher than the Birdhouse's other writers and Baseball America. He's already shown he can catch and has a plus arm behind the plate, throwing out 51 percent of basestealers in 2007. He had some great games behind the plate at Quad Cities, but he was in over his head, facing Midwest League pitching. In 34 games he was hitting just .167 with one home run and seven RBIs with a line of .185/.217/.402 (OBP/SLG/OPS), the kind of line that will have you standing in line for your bus ticket. He came in at #28 in the Birdhouse pre-season poll, due in large part to my highest ranking in the poll for him at #20. It could be couple of years before Luis becomes the rage of the Cardinals minor league system again. Luis begin the season at #20 in the PPR, dropping to #24 in week two, before falling out of the rankings in week three.



27. Cody Haerther (OF – SPRINGFIELD, it's amazing how you can get so emotionally attached to a player in this business and I'll admit straight up that Cody is one of my favorite players in the organization, despite the fact we have only spoken to each other on a couple of occasions in Florida and Springfield. I thought Cody was really going to break through in 2007 and make it to St. Louis to stay, this season. Cody then suffered from a severe bone bruise in spring training in an exhibition game, to put his trip to the majors on hold. Added to the 40-man roster last year, the Cardinals exposed him to waivers and he was claimed by Toronto, only to be claimed by the Cardinals later, with them adding him to the 40-man roster again, I guess basically to protect him from the Rule-5 draft.

My problems has been with how the Cardinals have used him this season, especially at the beginning, but when given the opportunity to play at Memphis, Cody struggled at the plate hitting just .243 with two home runs and 22 RBIs in 69 games for the Redbirds, 189 at-bats. His on-base-percentage was just .311, due in large part to him striking out 40 times, while reaching base on a walk just 18 times. So my problems, are my problems, it's hard to complain about Haerther not starting at Memphis, with these numbers and how well others are playing.

Cody is back with Double-A Springfield now, where he's hit safely in his first five games back, 9-for-18, but with the organization overloaded with outfielders and based on his recent trip to Memphis, Cody's stock has taken a hit a lot like my stock portfolio. He's signed to a one-year contract, I'm hoping Cody walks at the end of the year and gets a fresh start somewhere else, where he may be able to live up to his potential. I still think he is one of the better position players in the system, but the bottom line is, he hasn't even appeared in the Prospect Power Rankings this season and his time in our Top 40 countdown is probably over as well.



26. Tyler Norrick (LHP–MEMPHIS), began the year on the Disabled List with tendinitis in his left shoulder and didn't make his debut this season until the end of June. Tyler made three starts for the Palm Beach Cardinals before St. Louis promoted him to Triple-A Memphis, bypassing a stop in Springfield. Norrick's role with Memphis will likely evolve to him filling the spot in the Redbirds rotation, vacated by Jaime Garcia who was promoted to the major league club and will be actually making his major league debut as a starter Sunday. It's too early to get a read on Tyler this season. He's made one start for Memphis, that start coming on July the 12th against the Omaha Royal. Norrick pitch four innings, giving up only one run, on one hit and what killed him, six walks but he still struck out eight Triple-A batters in just the four innings. The odds are Tyler, who was drafted by the Cardinals in the sixth round of the 2006 draft out of Southern Illinois University, will move up in the rankings before the season is over and I'm still expecting some big things from the kid from Festus Missouri. I'd love to have another hometown boy makes good story for 2009 or 2010.



25. Jon Edwards (OF-BATAVIA), is still only 20-years, but he's in his third professional season and still playing short-season ball. One can only hope that he could turn out to be the next Joey "Bombs" Mather. The 6'5" 230-pounder is hitting .288 with four home runs and nine RBIs in 22 games for the Muckdogs, but he has struggled lately hitting just .206 over his last 10 games with two home runs and five RBIs. He's struck out 17 times in 34 at-bats and that is going to catch some attention, albeit, the wrong kind. Edwards' appearance in the Birdhouse Rankings was his only appearance this past winter in any prospect rankings that I can find. It will be interesting to see how much patience the Cardinals will exercise with Edwards, he certainly has the look of a future star, only time will tell, maybe more time than the Cardinals are willing to let him have.



24. Luke Gregerson (RHP-SPRINGFIELD), good month, bad month, good month, bad month, a disturbing trend, but at least August should be a good month. Perhaps no one in the system is driving me more nuts that Gregerson, he starts the season in April picking up three saves and holds opposing batters to a .147 batting average. In May he picked up four saves, but had three loses to go with them and opposing batters were hitting .290, as his ERA ballooned up from 1.74 to 5.63. He came back in June with a 4-1 record and a 2.63 ERA and was named to the Texas League Mid-Season All-Star team. But now comes July, Gregerson's record this month is 1-1 with one save and a 7.36 ERA.

At times Gregerson looks like a future star and I get e-mails complaining about not giving him the proper respect or ranking him high enough, then comes the following month and I'm looking for something to read because my e-mail in-box is empty with Gregerson supporters seeking shelter. Drafted by the Cardinals in the 28th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, I think Gregerson is pitching better and at a higher level than most would realistically expect, so he'll still show up in our rankings, at least every other month or so.

Gregerson began the season ranked in the Prospect Power Rankings at #21, only to fall out of the rankings for good so far, in week two. He's got potential so stay tune, if for no other reason than to enjoy the roller coaster ride for Gregerson fans.



23. Blake Hawksworth (RHP-MEMPHIS), selected by the Cardinals in the 28th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft and signed to a contract in 2002, doesn't that seem like 100 years ago? I sure some of you are surprised after all that has been written about Blake over the years, that he wasn't a first or second round draft pick. Once considered the Cardinals top pitching prospect, Blake has spent more time on the DL than I have in the Marine Corps, and I'm retired. I saw Blake pitch a bullpen session in spring training next to Chris Carpenter and I tell you, if it wasn't for the uniform with their names on it, you would have thought Carpenter was the struggling prospect and Hawksworth was the former Cy Young Award Winner. He's still on the Disabled List because of a strained MCL. He did throw a bullpen session last week and the Redbirds are hoping that he'll be available to pitch in the second half. So far in the first half he's 2-6 with a 6.22 ERA in 11 games, with opposing batters hitting .305 against him. I don't know what to do with him, or what role he can play because right-handed batters are hitting .296 against him and lefties are hitting .315. I just wonder where the kid went that was pitching that day next to Chris Carpenter?



22. Jason Motte (RHP-MEMPHIS), had a rough couple of months in May and June, when you begin to wonder, if the Midwest League hitters had learned to lay on his fastball. Since then, in his first seven games in July, Motte has responded with a 1-0 record and a 1.23 ERA, walking only one batter in 7.1 innings pitched while striking out 10. Opponents are hitting just .154 against him compared to a .340 & .317 batting average in June and May respectively. So who figured out whom? He's seems to pitch better when he's not called on to close, but I don't know a tougher or baseball smarter kid, than Motte, so he should be able to close, given the opportunity. Remember, he's only been pitching for two seasons.

Amazing, I got through a report about Jason without mentioning he's a converted catcher.



21. Josh Kinney (RHP-STL CARDINALS), has proven he can pitch in the big leagues, before missing the 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery. I thought that he was going to be ready at the start of this season, worst case scenario, the All-Star break, it now appears the worst case scenario is what we are going to have to deal with. His has undergone two surgeries, one for Tommy John and another one for a fracture and he hasn't pitched in game action since the 2006 postseason. I'm not aware of a timetable for his return or his workout schedule at this time. The Cardinals have him on the 60-Day DL and there doesn't appear to be any rush to get him back to St. Louis.



Related links;

40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Cards Prospects: 2008


Coming up;
Friday: Prospects 11-20
Saturday: Prospects 1-10

Monday: Prospect Power Rankings


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