2009 Cardinals Prospect #20 – Josh Kinney

In an odd case, the 2006 postseason relief star is back from multiple elbow injuries, and is positioned as a low-mileage relief option for the 2009 Cardinals.

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

2008 ranking: #21

Position: RP

DOB: 3/31/1979

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 214

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

School: Quincy University

Became a Cardinal: Contract purchased from the River City Rascals of the independent Frontier League on June 15, 2001.

Selected 2008 stats

SPR 0 1 7.36 4 0 0 3.2 4 3 0 0 5 6 0.286
MLB 0 0 0 7 0 0 7 3 0 0 1 8 3 0.125

Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)

Dustin Mattison (16): One of the main components of the 2006 World Championship bullpen, Kinney has traveled a long road of rehab after Tommy John surgery in 2007. In seven innings of play this past September, he struck out eight while not allowing a run.

The former independent league pitcher should be in the mix for a roster spot in spring training. Kinney keeps the ball down in the zone and gets plenty of groundball outs with his above-average sinker.

Ray Mileur (27): At the age of 30, Kinney is the oldest player on the Top 40 countdown. He had to endure a extended recovery period after recovering from two 2007 elbow surgeries, before being recalled last season from a minor league rehab assignment when rosters were expanded in September. Kinney managed to pitch seven innings in seven appearances, without giving up an earned run, picking up basically from where he left off in 2006. The Cardinals expect him to be 100% by the start of the 2009 season.

Kinney's claim to fame is his remarkable performance in the postseason in the Cardinals 2006 World Championship season. Kinney was un-scored upon in seven postseason appearances. Kinney will likely begin the season at Triple-A Memphis, but I expect him to become an integral part of the Cardinals bullpen by mid-season.

Message board community (18): As Kinney enters the 2009 season he will do so knowing he hasn't given up a run in the major leagues since September of 2006. Of course he will also realize that it has been a long journey back from injury that has caused that anomaly. Kinney first injured himself in Spring Training of 2007 and has had several setbacks on his road to recovery. He finally reappeared in a major league game on September 10th of 2008 and he did not disappoint those looking forward to his comeback. In fact, he didn't disappoint the whole year, logging 7 one inning appearances without giving up a run while allowing just 4 base runners while striking out 8 batters.

Overall in his brief career Kinney has now logged 32 regular season innings with a measly .175 BAA. It is not just his regular season success that endears him to many Cardinal fans. In the 2006 post season he logged 6 and 1/3 scoreless innings in the Cardinals championship run. Kinney has a strong chance of being with the Cardinals all of 2009 though he does have minor league options remaining. One concern that presents itself is the fact that since returning from injury Kinney has yet to appear in back to back games so he may need to return to AAA to show that he is ready to face the strain of an entire major league season.

Kinney's ranking and selection by the Birdhouse community was not without controversy. Some voters said they did not vote for him earlier due to failing to realize his eligibility. Others acknowledged his technical eligibility but refused to vote him as a prospect due to his age, his previous strong post season contribution, or the length of time he had been on the disabled list. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (20): What an odd situation! A guy is out almost all season, his second in a row, and actually moves up one spot in our top prospect rankings.

Of course, this isn't anyone. Coming off long battles against multiple elbow problems, in September Kinney reminded Cardinals fans who he is and that he will be back in 2009. Unless he struggles in the spring, I don't expect Kinney to spend any time in Triple-A.

In another oddity, Kinney is less than one full season away from qualifying for salary arbitration, yet still officially remains a rookie. He hasn't pitched enough innings in the majors, nor has he been on the 25-man active roster for more than 45 days in total during the April through August months since his 2006 debut.

I suspect that 2009 will finally be the time when Kinney's service and skills start to get into sync.

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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