2008 ranking: 9
Became a Cardinal: Selected in the supplemental first round (36th overall) of the June, 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
Selected 2008 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)
Dustin Mattison (11): Though many eyebrows were raised when the Cardinals selected Mortensen with the 36th overall pick in 2007, he has definitely proved worthy of the pick after making it to Triple-A in his first full professional season. David Price, number one overall, and the sixth selection Ross Detwiler are the only 2007-drafted pitchers to have reached a higher level than the Gonzaga product.
Starting the year at Springfield, Mortensen posted a 2.57-to-1 groundball to fly ball ratio in 59.2 Double-A innings. He then made the move to Triple-A where he started off strong but struggled down the stretch.
Mortensen will repeat Triple-A and could join Price and Detwiler as 2007 draft picks that have made their Major League debuts.
Ray Mileur (9): Mortensen split playing time between Springfield and Memphis posting a combined record of 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA, which may not seem impressive on the surface, but Clayton is pitching in Memphis in only his second professional season. The Cardinals are very high on the kid from Gonzaga, rarely is there a discussion about pitching prospects that his name doesn't surface immediately. A projected #3 starter or a middle reliever, with command of his pitches, Mortensen needs to be more aggressive on the mound if he's going to keep pace with the Cardinals aggressive plans for him.
Message board community (14): Mortensen is one of the hardest prospects to judge in this ranking game. His performance in 2008 was not particularly great but that has to be tempered by the knowledge that he was pitching in AA/AAA in his first full professional season. He has risen as fast as nearly anyone in his draft class and his rise is unprecedented in recent memory for a Cardinal pitching prospect.
There were warning signs though of problems in his rise to AAA. His K/BB rate deteriorated and his ground ball rate declined significantly (this is of particular concern as Mortensen's forte is a famed ground ball inducing sinker). Hopefully this can be explained by his being tired due to increased innings from previous years.
Mortensen should return to AAA Memphis to start 2009. While many think he could be in line for a late season promotion or September call-up to STL, due to 40 man roster limitations I think it will take an extraordinary year by Mortensen to accomplish that. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (11): I have been surprised to see Mortensen, one of the quietest top prospects around, slip off some Cardinals top prospect lists already, less than two seasons after having been drafted. Had he been left to dominate in A or A-Advanced, he might have been the pitcher of the year in the system.
All the angst expressed over Mortensen's 2008 reminds me of another big righty's first year in the Cards' system with the 2004 Redbirds. Having just come over from Atlanta in the J.D. Drew trade, I recall Adam Wainwright being called "overrated" and worse when he didn't impress in Memphis at age 22 in his fifth year as a professional. Compare his first season as a Redbird with Mortensen's.
As you can see above, by the end of the next season, 2005, Wainwright had improved enough to earn his MLB debut and from there, would soon be off to the races. It remains to be seen whether or not Mortensen can follow that quickly, but he clearly has the potential.
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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