Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
The optimist would observe that
the increasing depth of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system was
reinforced on Thursday during Major League Baseball's 2008 Rule 5 Draft, held in
conjunction with the Winter Meetings in
After not losing any players in the three-phase draft in recent years, the Cards had two players plucked this year, reliever Luis Perdomo, selected sixth overall by the Giants, and outfielder Cody Haerther, taken in the minor league phase. Neither had been protected by the Cardinals by being placed on the team's 40-man roster.
The pessimist might wonder why, with three open roster spots and several marginal prospects remaining on their roster, did the club not take a shot at improving themselves this year or at least protect Perdomo.
This time around, the Cardinals
sat out the Major League phase of the draft after having taken outfielder Brian Barton last year.
Team selections in the draft were made in inverse order of their number of wins in the 2008 season, putting the Cardinals in draft position number 18. However, teams must have open spots on their 40-man roster to participate in the draft.
While the Cardinals came into the day with 37 players on their roster, they chose not to make a pick after nine players had been selected and eight organizations passed.
Gain – Major League Phase
Loss – Major League Phase
Luis Perdomo. The final tie to the
Anthony Reyes era in
They chose not to put the 24-year-old Dominican Republic native on their 40-man roster after his up and down partial season with Springfield following his coming over from Cleveland on July 26. Instead, the Cardinals placed Perdomo on their Triple-A roster for purposes of the draft.
Perdomo's low 90s sinking fastball has always been his calling card, but he struggled against better competition in winter ball, as he allowed seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings with Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican League before ending play a month ago.
Gain – Minor League Phase
The Cardinals selected Haltiwanger in the first round of the Triple-A portion of the draft and ended their day right there, passing in subsequent rounds as well as in the Double-A draft.
The 24-year-old righty was acquired by the Royals from the Cincinnati Reds in a trade for infielder Jeff Keppinger almost two years ago, in January, 2007. Haltiwanger was originally taken by the Reds in the 29th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
Pitching in the A-Advanced Carolina League for the second full season, Haltiwanger posted a 3.83 ERA with 40 strikeouts, but also 29 walks in 56 1/3 innings in 2008. That translates into a too-high WHIP of 1.58. He held opposing batters to a .276 average, but his ground out to fly out rate was just 1.05.
Over his four-year minor league career, Haltiwanger has a 3.70 ERA with 128 walks and 198 strikeouts in 248 2/3 innings. He has also finished 29 games over the last two seasons, collecting six saves.
It is difficult to see this pick
as being anything more than the addition of some organizational relief depth. It
seems likely Haltiwanger will figure into the relief mix for
Loss – Minor League Phase
The odd tale of Cody Haerther as a member of the Cardinals organization came to a quiet end on Thursday as the 25-year-old outfielder was selected in the Triple-A phase of the draft by Toronto Blue Jays with the 19th pick in the first round.
Just over one year ago, the
Cardinals removed their 2002 sixth-round pick from their 40-man roster. He was
With a group of strong outfield
competitors rising through the system, Haerther split his time between
As a result, the Cardinals left Haerther on their Double-A roster for Rule 5 purposes, effectively offering to part ways with him for just $12,000. His new club has no restrictions where Haerther may be assigned in 2009.
After not participating in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft in 2006, the Cardinals got back into the action one year ago as they selected Barton from the Cleveland Indians with the tenth pick in the first round.
Other than some time on the
disabled list and a rehab stint with
The Cardinals neither selected any players nor lost any in the minor league phases, Triple-A and Double-A, of last year's draft. Each of the previous two years, they took a catcher and middle infielder, but none of the four are still in the organization today.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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