Memphis Redbirds Starter of the Year: 2008

Right-hander Mitchell Boggs is our Starting Pitcher of the Year for the 2008 Memphis Redbirds of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The 23-year-old talks about his winter preparation and his goals for 2009.

On Monday, September 1, the Memphis Redbirds brought their second-best-ever Pacific Coast League season to a victorious close with a 4-2 win over Oklahoma, finishing at 75-67.

The Redbirds pitching formula for victory was familiar and notable in that starter Mitchell Boggs and closer Jason Motte picked up the win and save, respectively. It should come as no surprise that the two have been named our top starter and reliever, respectively, on the 2008 Memphis club.


In what would be his final outing of the season, Boggs frustrated the visitors from Oklahoma through seven strong innings that afternoon. The 24-year-old right-hander yielded just three hits and one run. He added six strikeouts and walked just two in picking up his ninth win of the season against only three losses.

Motte, who was yesterday's winner of our Memphis Redbirds Reliever of the Year Award for 2008, finished the game and notched his ninth save of the year in the process.

With the strong season-ending showing, Boggs took the 2008 PCL Earned Run Average title away from Nashville's Lindsay Gulin, by 3.45 to 3.54. In fact, Boggs helped power his Memphis club to the league's ERA title at 4.34.

In the process, Boggs tied for the club lead in wins. He also paced the Redbirds in innings-pitched (125 1/3) and finished with a stellar WHIP of 1.22, second among starters on the team (John Wasdin). In a less-pleasant category, his 48 walks were second-highest among Memphis pitchers (P.J. Walters).

All season long, Boggs limited opposing hitters to a collective .235 batting average, though he is considerably more effective against right-handers than left-handed hitters (.189 vs. .286).

Yet, despite these lofty stats at the highest level of play short of the majors, there seems quiet trepidation about Boggs, a fear that he is good, but perhaps not good enough.

After all, with that September 1 start, Boggs was deemed to be done for the year as he was not recalled to St. Louis for the final month stretch drive. Despite having made his first six major league starts during the season, he was apparently not deemed necessary.


Boggs was hardly a stopper for the big-league Cardinals with a 7.41 ERA, more walks than strikeouts and an opposing batting average of .304, but many pitchers stub their toe in their first introduction to the majors.

Prior to 2008, Boggs had been well recognized, named to the Arizona Fall League's "Rising Stars Showcase" just one year ago, was a 2007 Mid-Season All-Star in the Double-A Texas League and a Post-Season All-Star in the Florida State League in 2006. The latter came just one year after his introduction to professional ball after having been drafted in the fifth round in 2005 from the University of Georgia.

Baseball America perhaps best illustrates the Boggs conundrum.

On one hand, they love him. BA awarded Boggs a berth on their post-season Triple-A All-Star Team, one of only three starters across all 30 Triple-A squads to be recognized and the only starting representative from the entire PCL.


Apparently, PCL managers also love Boggs. Reporting their collective opinion in their annual "Best Tools" report in late August, BA labeled Mitchell Boggs the "Best Pitching Prospect" in the league.


Yet, just a few weeks later, the same source ranked him only #17 among the league's top prospects, and sixth among PCL pitchers. In this report, based on input from managers and scouts, BA gave a nod to Boggs' low 90's two- and four-seamers with good sink and cut along with his out pitch, a sharp-breaking slider.


Between the lines, there are concerns, covered up by nice-isms for a perceived overachiever like "high baseball IQ", "outstanding competitor" and "a pitcher, not a thrower".


Boggs may not have stuff that impresses the scouts or velocity that blows out the radar guns, yet that can be no debate that he was the best pitcher on a very good Memphis Redbirds staff this past season.


In his own words


Contacted by The Birdhouse with news of this award, Boggs took the time to answer a few questions.


Mitchell, how do you view your 2008 season?


"2008 was a very successful season not only for me, but also my teammates in Memphis. We were in the race until the final weeks and played well all year long. Personally I feel like I improved greatly, and the time I spent in St. Louis will no doubt give me an advantage heading into 2009. I was healthy all year long and made every start this past season, and I look forward to doing the same in 2009."


What do you have planned for this off-season?

"This off-season, I will continue the strength and conditioning program I am already into and I will begin my throwing program in the winter where I will work as hard as I can to try to do the things I need to do to give myself the best chance to make the Big League club out of spring. Other than that, I will spend the majority of my time with family and friends who I don't get to see as much during our busy season."


What are your goals for 2009? 

"My goal for 2009 is simple; I want to be in St. Louis. I will work as hard as I can this off-season to show in February and March that I am capable of being successful in the Big Leagues, and I look forward to making that happen. Other than that my goals are to be strong and healthy, and to give my team the chance to win every time I pitch, no matter where I'm at."


We at The Birdhouse are pleased to honor Mitchell Boggs as our Memphis Redbirds Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2008.



Other top starting pitching performances


Following his early-season call-up from Double-A Springfield, right-hander P.J. Walters would go on to lead the Redbirds with 23 starts. He fanned an impressive, team-high 122 in 122 innings, but also led the staff in walks with 62. Walters tied Boggs and swingman John Wasdin for the Memphis lead in wins (nine). His ERA was 4.87.


Aggressively pushed upward since being drafted in the supplemental first round in 2007, righty Clayton Mortensen had an up and down Triple-A debut after his arrival from Springfield in early June. The tall 23-year-old walked 42 and fanned 67 in 80 innings. His ERA was 5.51, perhaps due in part to his groundout-to-flyout proclivity dropping substantially from Springfield (2.57:1 to 1.54:1).


Coming into this season, our top pitching prospect on the Redbirds and the entire Cardinals system in fact, was lefty Jaime Garcia. His season began in Double-A (notice the trend?) and ended with "Tommy John" elbow ligament replacement surgery. In between, the 22-year-old made 12 starts for Memphis (4.44 ERA) and his first ten promising major league appearances.


Had his season not ended prematurely due to the need for the same elbow procedure as Garcia, Mike Parisi could have been a strong contender for this award. The right-hander made 15 Triple-A starts and chalked up eight wins with a 3.86 ERA, and also made his MLB debut in what would have been his second full season with the Redbirds.


First drafted in 2001 and seemingly healthy now, the enigma named Blake Hawksworth seems unable to ready himself to make the next step, watching as Parisi and Garcia passed him on the way to the bigs. The righty struck out 83 in 88 2/3 innings, but was extremely hittable. Despite pitching 2/3 the innings of the leaders, Hawksworth yielded the most hits on the team (111) and his ERA and WHIP showed it (a team-worst 6.09 and 1.68, respectively). His seven losses also led the club.


Speaking of enigmas, Memphis had a pair in their 2008 rotation. Upon his demotion from St. Louis, right-hander Anthony Reyes made 11 effective starts for the 2008 Redbirds (3.25 ERA). During his fourth partial season in Triple-A, the Cardinals finally decided Reyes didn't consistently demonstrate what they were looking to see and dealt him to the Cleveland Indians in late July.



Master article with all 2008 Cardinals Minor League Players of the Year and the schedule for daily announcements: link. (This link is also permanently located at the lower left of The Birdhouse home page.)



Brian Walton can be reached via email at


© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories