2008 ranking: 5
Became a Cardinal: Selected in the first round (30th overall) of the June, 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
Selected 2008 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)
Dustin Mattison (14): It was a rough season for the former first round pick. After starting the season with an 0-4 record and 8.78 ERA in his first seven starts, he took a "mental break from baseball". Also, Ottavino made a trip to the disabled list due to shoulder inflammation in early May. The break must have helped because he rebounded to post a 3.27 ERA in June. Though he wasn't as good the rest of the way, he was respectable and he did decrease his walk rate each month there after. Then the Cardinals challenged him with a trip to the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Though he did strikeout 25 in 23.1 innings, he was hit hard for a .344 batting average against and ended his stay in the desert with an ERA over six.
The 23-year-old has a big sturdy frame that he could continue to add bulk to. Ottavino uses his frame to get on top of the ball enabling him to pitch on a downward plane, a plus in getting groundball outs. Ottavino has a good fastball that he can dial up to 95 but like the rest of his repertoire and an improving slider. He struggled mightily with command of both pitches but he did improve as the year went on. With more development of his changeup, Ottavino has a good chance of starting at the big league level but most likely as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. If he can't develop a third at least average offering, then he could definitely become a shut down middle reliever/setup man. Look for him to start the year at Springfield.
Ray Mileur (12): It was an ugly season for the former first round draft pick. He spent the entire season at Double-A Springfield, posting a record of 3-7 with a bloated 5.23 ERA. He made 24 starts, pitching 115.1 innings, giving up 16 home runs and 52 walks, while allowing opposing batters to hit .291, making it a rough ride for the entire year, for Adam and the fans. He continued to struggle in the Arizona Fall League as he finished with an ERA over six and a .344 batting average against. Up until now, you would tend to overlook some of his gaudy numbers, giving more weight to his potential rather than his performance, but he'll need to put it together this season to stay among the top ranked prospects in the organization.
Message board community (10): In the potential vs. performance debate in the selection of Community prospects, the potential argument certainly won out in the case of Adam Ottavino. Despite a disastrous 2008 where Ottavino put up a 5.23 ERA the Community vote only dropped him 6 places in their rankins from last year. It certainly wasn't his post season AFL performance than won over the voters as his ERA there was 6.17 though he did show flashes of excellence at times. Possibly voters took heart in knowing that Card's ace Adam Wainright also struggled once with a 5 + ERA while in the minors.
Many expect Ottavino to eventually be moved to the bullpen but for 2009 I think it is likely that he will return to AA Springfield to start the season. With the large number of Cardinal prospects up and coming it seems likely that without dramatic improvement in 2009 Ottavino very likely will take a tumble in future rankings. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (15): I'll let Cardinals farm director Jeff Luhnow set the stage. "Adam ended the year on a positive note for us and that is a good sign… I kept an eye on his velocities and there is no issue there. He still has the velocity, which means the arm strength is there. I think Double-A was a learning experience for him this year… The tools are still there.
"He's a hard worker but sometimes I think he over thinks things a bit and beats himself up maybe but he's still, for me, a guy who has tremendous upside. There is a reason we took him in the first round and eventually he'll show us it was the right pick," said Luhnow.
Yep, Ottavino has the first-round pedigree, good health, the look of a ballplayer and the stuff to back it up. Yet after having been ranked among our top five prospects each of the last two years, his slide has begun as others pass him by.
It's time for "eventually" to come, for Ottavino to step up, toughen up and drive his career upward. Having just turned 23, there is still time. The alternative, a second full year in Double-A, would have to be considered a disappointment. Otherwise, he may follow his first-round predecessor, Chris Lambert, into Cardinals pitching oblivion.
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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