2008 Cardinals Arizona Fall League Review

The 2008 Arizona Fall League has come to a close and it is time to look back at the St. Louis Cardinals prospects and how they fared.

With the Arizona Fall League wrapping up play last week, it is now a good time to look back and analyze the performance of the St. Louis Cardinals farmhands.  The team's position players all put together solid performances while showing good power numbers and hitting a combined .362 with runners in scoring position.


On the rubber, the results were very much the opposite.  The organization sent three southpaws to work out of the bullpen along with a former first-round pick who was hoping to find some consistency.  As a group, the four combined for an ERA of nearly seven and were tagged for nine home runs.



In the Box


Brett Wallace got off to a slow start but ended his campaign on a hot streak.  In his last 12 games, the 2008 first-round pick hit .417 with four home runs and 17 RBIs.  On November 4, he put together a four-hit, six RBI outburst. The Arizona State product finished with a .966 OPS and 24 RBIs in as many games.  The third baseman's six home runs were tied for the seventh-best mark on the league's leader board while posting an impressive isolated power of .276. 


Of concern, Wallace did strike out 27 times in 94 at bats and hit only .187 against left-handers, but it was just over 11 at bats.  Overall, the Cardinals have to be very pleased with the way Wallace responded to the level of competition he faced in Arizona.


Tyler Greene had been something of an enigma to Cardinal fans until he broke out at Double-A Springfield during this past summer.  After struggling at Memphis, the Georgia native reestablished his power bat by slugging .506 in the desert.  He did strike out too much, 29 times in 87 at bats, although he did manage a .380 on base percentage. 


Greene moved around the diamond playing short as well as second and third.  Seems that he went to Arizona to audition for a possible shot at a utility role in spring training. That was supported by a .476/.522/1.143 line in 21 at bats against southpaws. 


Shane Robinson was another player who had a breakout 2008. The outfielder showed off his speed with eight stolen bases in eight attempts.  Honing his craft as a potential leadoff man, the 24-year-old walked more times than he struck out, 16-to-13, and posted a very respectable .372 on base percentage. 


Robinson came through in the clutch with a blistering .441 average with runners in scoring position.  Unexplainably, the former Florida State Seminole hit only .188 against southpaws.  Probably the odd man out among the Cardinal minor league outfielders, he could prove himself valuable to a team looking for a speedy centerfielder. 


Steven Hill continued to show superb power while donning the "tools of ignorance."  After missing time due to injury in 2008, he was able to get 46 at bats in the fall league and was able to take full advantage of the opportunity.  The 23-year-old finished with an isolated power number of .305 and an OPS of .991.  Though it was a limited number at bats, Hill absolutely crushed left-handed pitching.  He had seven hits in nine at bats with four of those hits going for extra bases. 


Contact was an issue as Hill struck out in 28% of his at bats.  Also, his permanent position seems to be still up in the air as his play behind the plate is still a work in progress.



On the Mound


The Cardinals sent three southpaws for relief duties in Arizona in hopes one might establish himself as a viable candidate to go to camp during the spring and fight for a bullpen spot.  Not only did none of the three separate themselves, but their overall performances were really quite brutal. 


Justin Fiske got a late start to the fall season after missing time early on due to a shoulder issue.  When he did return to action, Fiske really struggled with consistency.  The 24-year-old finished with an ERA close to five.  Left-handed hitters tagged him for a .350 average.  The former indy-baller struggled with his control, walking five while striking out only eight in 11 innings.


Brad Furnish was knocked around after a good stint with Double-A Springfield in 2008.  The hitters in the AFL batted .323 against him contributing to his 7.47 ERA.  Furnish struggled with his command as well, finishing with a 12-to-7 strikeout to groundball ratio. 


Tyler Norrick was hoping to make up for lost time after pitching only 22.1 innings during the 2008 season.  Though Norrick did put up excellent strikeout totals in the AFL, 20 in 16 innings, the rest of his performance was not what the organization was hoping for.  The St. Louis area native allowed five long balls while allowing a .343 average against.  Not only was he unable to get right-handed hitters out, but lefties batted .383 against him. 


Former first-round pick Adam Ottavino was never able to find any consistency at Springfield in 2008.  Well, it was much of the same in the fall league as he finished with an ERA over six and a .344 batting average against.  On the bright side, Ottavino did strike out 25 in 23 innings though he did walk 10 during that span. 



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


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