Once addicted to acquiring players via free agency or trading prospects for a major league veteran, the team is focusing on stocking their lineup with homegrown talent. The Cardinals' renewed commitment to player development for the past five years is paying dividends and will contribute to another decade of sustained success for the organization.
Bats There are enough bats to keep the Redbirds circling the base paths for years to come. Colby Rasmus, the Cardinals undisputed top prospect for three years, is an elite five-tool outfielder. Last season he suffered a knee injury that limited him to just 96 games and prevented his playing for Team USA in the Olympics. Rasmus will have a rendezvous with destiny this season when he makes his much anticipated major league debut in St. Louis. Third baseman Brett Wallace, the Cardinals first round pick in 2008, is a pure hitter who will need little more than an overnight bag for his stay in the minors. Wallace finished his first professional season playing at the Double-A level. Soon the Cardinals will be forced to make room for him at Memphis or St. Louis. Outfielder Daryl Jones, the Cardinals' 2008 Minor League Player of the Year, is widely considered to have the best tools in the organization. Jones combined to bat .316 with 13 home runs, 24 stolen bases and a .407 on-base percentage, between Palm Beach (A) and Springfield (AA). The best of the rest; outfielder Jon Jay (when healthy), third basemen Allen Craig and David Freese and catcher Steven Hill.
The Cardinals needed pitching last season to shore up a tattered rotation and an ineffective bullpen; they turned to their farm system for help. Right handers; Mitchell Boggs, Kyle McClellan, Jason Motte, Mike Parisi, Chris Perez, Mark Worrell and lefty Jaime Garcia were all members of the 2008 historic group making their major league debuts. This season McClellan & Perez are no longer rookies, disgruntled Mark Worrell has been traded and lefty Jaime Garcia will miss most of the 2009 campaign recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Meanwhile, Jason Motte figures to be on the 25-man roster with Mitchell Boggs and Mike Parisi at Memphis, eagerly waiting for another opportunity to pitch in St. Louis. Jess Todd, the Cardinals' 2008 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, is one of several promising arms including; Nick Additon, Richard Castillo, Scott Gorgen, Luke Gregerson, Lance Lynn, Clayton Mortensen, Adam Ottavino, Fernando Salas, Francisco Samuel and P.J. Walters.
Sleepers Shortstop Tyler Greene split playing time last season between Springfield and Memphis, before playing at second, short and third in the Arizona Fall League, auditioning to replace Aaron Miles as a utility infielder. Greene was added to the Cardinals 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
Right handed reliever Josh Kinney, a World Series hero from the 2006 club, missed most of the last two years dealing with setbacks rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Kinney could make the Cardinals 25-man roster out of spring training, but most likely will start the season at Memphis.
On the Horizon
Roberto De La Cruz, also known as, Roberto Pina, is a 17-year-old third baseman from the Dominican Republic, signed with St. Louis last year for a reported $1.1 million signing bonus. Roberto was considered by many scouts to be the best available hitter in Latin America during last summer's signing period. Insiders within the organization considered him the most impressive player offensively and defensively, during the club's fall instructional league in Florida. He could become one of the youngest players ever to make his major league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals. A future top prospect on the horizon.
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