2009 Cards Prospect #30 – Nick Stavinoha

If there was a Comeback Player of the Year in the Cardinals system, Stavinoha might be it, but is there enough additional upside for him to claim a big-league spot? If not in 2009, when and where?

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2008 and career stats)

2008 ranking: #38

Position: OF

DOB: 5/3/1982

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 225

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

School: Louisiana State

Became a Cardinal: Selected in the seventh round (230th overall) of the June, 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

Selected 2008 stats

Mem 0.337 427 67 144 23 3 16 74 20 50 2 0.366 0.518 0.884
StL 0.193 57 4 11 1 0 0 4 2 11 0 0.217 0.211 0.427

Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)

Dustin Mattison (31): Stavinoha was one of the real success stories of the Cardinals system in 2008. After struggling at Triple-A in 2007, he went out and hit his way to the major leagues. During the off-season, the former LSU Tiger bulked up after losing a significant amount of weight the previous season. The added strength helped him improve his slugging percentage nearly 150 points from 2007's disappointing showing.

The Memphis Redbirds only All-Star did appear overmatched in his big league debut. In 57 at bats, he posted a line of .193/.217/.211. Stavinoha appears to be a fifth outfielder at best and he will once again start the year after Memphis considering the organization's outfield depth.

Ray Mileur (26): If there was an organizational comeback player of the year award, I'd say you would have to give Stavinoha consideration. I almost didn't recognize him the first time I saw him in a uniform this past season. He showed up in spring training in the best shape of his career and put together a very strong year at Triple-A Memphis, hitting .337 with 16 home runs and 74 RBIs, leading to a call up to St. Louis in September, after making his major league debut earlier with a brief stint with the Cardinals in June.

The outfield is very crowded in St. Louis and Memphis, so it will be interesting to see where Nick gets his at-bats next season. His stock is rising after the numbers he posted last season, but at best he projects to be a fourth or fifth corner outfielder.

Message board community (33): Stavinoha was one of the more controversial Community rankings due to his age, repeating of his league and poor performance when called up to the Major League club. His minor league performance itself left little to argue with however.

After a disappointing 2007 campaign where he nearly fell off the prospect map, Stavinoha was able to rehabilitate himself with an outstanding year in 2008. Improving in nearly every category, Stavinoha's line of .337/.366 /.518 put him among the PCL leaders in several categories.

Stavinoha however played the 2008 season at 26 years old while repeating the league. Many discount his performance because of this. More disturbing to some was his poor performance in St. Louis. While it was a limited performance, many who saw him play came away questioning his ability to ever adapt to major league pitching.

2009 should be a make a break season for Stavinoha has he should get another look at some point during the year in StL. That opportunity could very well determine his future with the organization. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (35): Despite his major league debut, I am the only returning panel member to drop Stavinoha in my rankings year-to-year. In fact, I took our former number ten prospect (in 2007) down ten points after my #25 ranking last year was probably the only reason he remained in the top 40 at all 12 months ago.

Why the change? Simply put, it is the calendar. This is Stavinoha's fourth year in these rankings after having joined the Cardinals as an accomplished collegiate hitter.

By the time the 2009 season will be one month old, Stavinoha will be celebrating his 27th birthday. Yes, he put up very nice numbers during his second year in Memphis in 2008, but when he had his chances in the majors, Stavinoha simply looked lost at the plate.

During the Winter Meetings, manager Tony La Russa talked in depth about his top six outfielders. While generously mentioning 2008 rookie Joe Mather and minor leaguer Colby Rasmus, Stavinoha did not receive one word of notice.

Perhaps it isn't completely fair to Stavinoha, but it difficult for me not to think "John Gall", another top collegiate power hitter and outfielder who was in the system earlier this decade. Gall was a former two-time Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year, an award Stavinoha has never won.

Of course, the catch line is that Gall was never able to make the final step to claim a full-time major league job, even as a reserve. I hope I am wrong drawing the Stavinoha parallel, though.

To see our entire list of 40 prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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