2009 Cardinals Prospect #23 – P.J. Walters

The Cardinals' 2007 Minor League Pitcher of the Year dropped 13 places in our rankings year-to-year. Was it justified? Today's article is FREE!

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

2008 ranking: #10

Position: SP

DOB: 3/12/1985

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 200

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

School: South Alabama

Became a Cardinal: Selected in the 11th round of the June, 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

Selected 2008 stats

SPR 1 2 3.25 6 6 0 36 35 17 5 8 34 1.06 0.252
MEM 9 4 4.87 23 23 0 122 123 71 17 62 122 1.36 0.266
Tot 10 6 4.50 29 29 0 158 158 88 22 70 156 1.28 0.262
CAR 3 3 4.34 8 8 0 37.1 42 21 3 11 38 1.83 0.290

Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)

Dustin Mattison (17): The 2007 Birdhouse Minor League Pitcher of the Year made the transition to Triple-A after starting the season at Springfield. In 122 innings at Memphis, Walters struck out 122 hitters. Though he racked up the strikeouts, his stellar command wavered as his strikeout-to-walk ratio went from almost 5-to-1 in 2007 to a little over 2-to-1 this past season.

With a fastball in the mid-to-high eighties, Walters mixes his pitches to maximize to keep his off balance. His changeup grades out as his best pitch and he will throw it in any count. To make it to the next level, the Alabama native will have to find his control to overcome his lack of pure stuff.

Ray Mileur (39): It is clear that I didn't rank Walters as high as the others and I'll admit I have a hard time ranking Walters, for whatever reason. It may be that I have expected too much too soon from Walters and that my disappointment has led to my less than stellar ranking of Walters in this countdown as well as the Prospect Power Rankings throughout the regular season.

P.J. spent most of the season at Memphis after making just six starts from Springfield. He posted a Triple-A record of 9-4 with a 4.87 ERA, while making 23 starts, picking up seven of his nine wins before the All-Star break, giving some cause for concern for his performance or success in the second half.

Message board community (17): Up to now I have refrained from commenting on the votes of others, but I don't understand how Ray could vote Walters #39. Was it due to his advancing to AAA in just his second full season despite being a relatively unheralded (11th round) prospect? Was it due to his 9-4 AAA record with a K per inning? Was it due to his Cardinal Minor League Pitcher of the Year award last year?

While some continue to doubt Walters due to his lack of great "stuff" he continues to move up the minor league ladder and silence his critics. Walters seems surely to open the year next year at AAA again and with a little improvement could be battling for a roster spot in St. Louis by the end of the year. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (17): There are whispers of concern, so I looked into the data. Walters had one rough June outing that raised his period ERA from 1.57 to 4.88. Through June and July, the numbers moved back into more of an expected range. There was a momentary problem with home runs in July and the walks were still too high. Other than that, it was a fine conclusion to the 2008 season for Walters.

He was asked to pitch in winter ball for Jose Oquendo and the Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Getting international experience and prolonged exposure to the coach rumored to be the leading candidate to follow Tony La Russa as Cardinals manager says a lot about what the organization thinks of Walters.

There, his strikeouts continued at a rate of basically one per inning and his walk rate was under control. Walters' ground ball rate was up considerably compared to Memphis. Though his opposing batting average was also up, the level of competition was too. Overall, it was a nice showing.

For more on Walters' regular season and winter ball results in Puerto Rico, check out my article at The Cardinal Nation, entitled "PJ in PR: Finishing in Style".

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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