2009 Cardinals Prospect #22 – Adam Reifer

Our Cardinals Minor League Rookie Reliever of the Year is ready for the next step in 2009. Will he bypass Quad Cities and make Palm Beach? And if so, how long will he remain there?

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

2008 ranking: Not ranked

Position: RP

DOB: 6/3/1986

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 195

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

School: UCal Riverside

Became a Cardinal: Selected in the 11th round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Selected 2008 stats

BAT 2 1 2.97 32 0 22 30.1 18 14 2 15 41 1.68 0.162

Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)

Dustin Mattison (18): Possessing one of the best arms in the system, Reifer showed he was healthy after not playing in 2007. The Cardinals took a chance on him in the 11th round of the 2007 MLB draft and patiently waited on him while he rehabbed that summer. Assigned to Batavia this past season, the native Californian rewarded their patience with 22 saves and 41 strikeouts in 30.1 innings.

With a fastball that sits 96-96 and touches 99, the sky seems to be the limit for the right-hander. He throws his slider in the low nineties with good tilt while mixing in an occasional changeup. After proving to be healthy, Reifer could rocket up the ladder in 2009 and should see Double-A by August.

Ray Mileur (20): The Birdhouse Minor League Rookie of the Year Reliever, finished the 2008 campaign with 22 saves and a 2.97 ERA. His save total was second-best in the NYPL, as he contributed significantly to the Batavia Muckdog's New York-Penn League Championship.

A winner, who performs well under pressure, Reifer was on the mound for the Muckdogs to close out the championship game. Reifer has been ranked by others in the industry as the top pitching prospect in the NYPL. He performed better than I would typically expect a 11th round draft pick would, but injuries in college likely impacted the round in which he was drafted.

Message board community (22):Reifer supposedly fell on draft day in 2007 due to injury but looking at his college stats, they don't blow you away (even in the years he was healthy). The Cardinals apparently saw something they liked though as they reportedly bonused Reifer way over slot to sign after his junior year of college. Though he did not pitch professionally during 2007 while recovering from injury, he quickly made up for lost time in 2008 by pitching remarkably while helping Class A Batavia win their league championship. During the season Reifer compiled 22 saves (in a 74 game season) and striking out 12.2 batters per 9 innings while giving up only 5.3 hits per 9 innings. Reifer's only statistical downside was his walking of 4.5 batters per 9 innings.

Reifer's great year did not go unnoticed. He was named a NYPL all-star, Birdhouse minor league pitcher of the year, and was named the #3 overall prospect (and 31 pitching prospect) in the NYPL by Baseball America. The most likely reason he did not rate higher with community voters is that due to his injury last year, Reifer was slightly old for his league in 2008. To move higher in the rankings he will need to show he can perform well in an age appropriate league.

Reifer is often compared to Chris Perez in terms of pitching repertoire. They both throw hard and have devastating sliders. If Reifer follows Perez's trajectory of advancement, he could be pitching most of 2009 in AA Springfield and possibly even see AAA by the end of the year. Reifer is starting from a lower league though and the pitching pipeline in the Cardinal's system is slightly more crowded than the one Perez faced so his actual starting spot in 2009 may very well be Class A Palm Beach. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (24): Not much more to add here. Cardinals Vice President of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow flew up to Batavia for the New York-Penn finals and remains impressed with what he saw.

The farm director noted that he expects Reifer to compete for a job in Palm Beach next spring, bypassing Quad Cities. Yet it will have to be locked down through performance in March in Jupiter.

"We'll have to sort it out. Every year, there's always surprises. There are guys that immediately make that club because of how they show up in spring training and some guys have to go back to Quad Cities. But that would be the expectation (to make A-Advanced)…" Luhnow explained.

While the Batavia club was pretty much kept together to make a run for the post-season, don't expect Reifer to remain with Palm Beach for more than half of the 2009 campaign. He is a prime candidate for an aggressive promotion schedule. If Reifer continues on his current trajectory and delivers in his first full professional season on the mound, the results should be there.

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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