St. Louis Cardinals: Surveying The Crops

Dustin Mattison takes his weekly look at the St. Louis Cardinals farm system.

This week was highlighted by a flurry of roster moves in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system. With the disabling of Brendan Ryan on the big league level, Tyler Greene earned his first trip to the big leagues. Though his bat has been slow to respond, the former first round pick has played solid defense.

To take his spot at Memphis, the Cardinals promoted the often-overlooked Donovan Solano. The 21-year-old had struggled at the plate for Springfield but was playing steady defense.

As the dominoes continued, another former first round pick was on the move. After hitting .315/.381/.384 at Palm Beach, Pete Kozma will take his bat and glove to Double-A. Kozma's glove will play at Springfield; I am not so sure his bat is ready. This is a situation to keep a close eye on and hopefully this will not affect the number 12 prospect in the Cardinals' system development. In Florida State League play, only five of his 23 hits were for extra bases.

The final corresponding move was the move of Domnit Bolivar from the Quad Cities to Palm Beach. Only 19-years-old, the Venezuelan is often overlooked due to the likes of Kozma and Niko Vasquez. Remember his name, he seems to always be young for his level but if his production ever matches his tools, watch out.

On the bump, an Elvis Hernandez oblique strain caused Cardinal prospect watchers to take notice. Lance Lynn joins Brett Wallace as the only 2008 draft picks to reach Double-A. A 6'5", 250 pound workhorse, Lynn had posted a fantastic 17-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Palm Beach. He continued that trend in his Texas League debut with five shutout innings including six strikeouts and two walks.

In corresponding moves, two pitchers who don't rank high on prospect lists but are two personal faves were rewarded. After a strong 2008 at the Quad Cities, Chuckie Fick found himself back in Iowa to start the season. But he is now taking his game south to Roger Dean Stadium. From the back lots of Roger Dean in extended spring training, Jonny Bravo will fill Fick's role for the River Bandits. Bravo is interesting for sure. The 5'7" southpaw struck out 48 in 35 innings during his 2008 professional debut. Plus, he has one of the best names in Minor League baseball.

Hitting

2008 Appalachian League Player of the Year Curt Smith made first base his home up until recently. Palm Beach manager Tom Spencer has used Smith in the outfield of late to add to his versatility. Plus, the Cardinals' big league team already has a pretty good first baseman.

Daniel Descalso's hit streak might have ended but he still is one of the top hitters in the Texas League.

Former 38th round pick Adron Chambers ranks second in batting average on the prospect-filled Florida State League leader board. Smith and Shane Peterson also rank in the top-10.

I was hoping for a breakout year from Tommy Pham. Well, he is off to a start of .194/.272/.222 in 72 at-bats so it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Oh well, it's still early.

Charlie Cutler along with Steven Hill, Tony Cruz, and Bryan Anderson give the organization a lot of offense behind the plate. Cutler is hitting .319 in his full season debut and he might have the best receiving skills of the group.

Osvaldo Morales is second among Midwest League hitters in RBIs. He is only one shy of the leader and former Cardinal draft pick, Kyle Russell.

Paul Cruz' video game line of .370/.491/.522 is eye popping to say the least.

Pitching

Congratulations to Casey Mulligan for being named the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Month. With an ERA of 1.00 while averaging almost two strikeouts per inning, it's easy to understand why he won the award.

Along with the Cardinals' brass, I was hoping Adam Ottavino would build off his strong WBC performance. But with a record of 0-3 and an ERA approaching eight, those hopes appear to be for not.

Samuel Freeman has an ERA of 1.76 and FSL hitters are only hitting .154 against him. But, he needs to improve upon his 11-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio if he is going to make it to Springfield this season.

It is nice to see Scott Gorgen back on the mound and even better to see him having early success.

Tyler Norrick is really thriving in the Springfield bullpen. The southpaw has 21 strikeouts in 16 innings. Plus, he has an impressive 3.5-to-1 groundball-to-fly ball ratio. Left-handed hitters are batting only .167 against him.

The Quad Cities' Kevin Thomas and Adam Veres are being absolutely brutal to the hitters of the Midwest League. Thomas has not allowed an earned run in 18.1 innings while Veres has given up one in 14.2 innings.

Control artist Arquimedes Nieto has more strikeouts, 21, than hits and walks combined, 19.

Feel free to contact Dustin at dustin@whiteyball.com.

 

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