Cardinals: Surveying the Crops 09/02/09

Senior Minor League Writer Dustin Mattison's weekly look around the St. Louis Cardinals farm system begins with Palm Beach right-hander Richard Castillo.

Less than a week remains in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league schedule with two teams having already ended their seasons this week. Two other teams are preparing for post-season play with each going in opposite directions.

With their win on Tuesday tonight, Memphis is back in first place in the PCL American North Division by half a game. Springfield is still in the playoffs due their first half win, but they sit in last place in the second half.

In the Appalachian League, Johnson City finished with a record of 37-30, good for second place in their division. Once again, it is the Elizabethton Braves and Danville Braves battling it out for the Appy League Crown.

GCL Cardinals finished their season at 25-31, a nice improvement over last year's 17-38 season.

As the end of the season is in sight, here are 10 things I've been thinking about over the past week.

Ten Things on My Mind

1. It has been a somewhat disappointing season for Palm Beach pitcher Richard Castillo. He has an abysmal 5-13 record and has struggled with his consistency most of the year. But as the season is wrapping up, he is beginning to find his groove. In his last three games, the right-hander has allowed only two earned runs in 20 innings (0.90 ERA). Remember he has played this whole season as a 20-year-old.

2. Though it was reported that Robert Stock would finish the season at Johnson City, he was promoted aggressively to the Quad Cities. Stock has put together a fine professional debut and is very deserving of a promotion. But I think this is an aggressive move for a 19-year-old in his first season of pro baseball.

3. Shelby Miller is set to make his professional debut for the River Bandits. I know a lot of Cardinal prospect watchers will be keeping an eye on the box score while anxiously awaiting the results from Modern Woodman Park. Along the same lines, I am convinced that Miller's debut was one of the reasons for Stock's promotion. It gives the two a head start on getting familiar with each other since they are sure to be battery mates in 2010.

4. Congratulations to Daniel Calhoun and Kyle Conley for being named the organizational players of the month. Both Muckdogs are putting together fine debut seasons in the always tough New York-Penn League.

5. After not breaking camp with a team in Spring Training, Xavier Scruggs struggled out of the gate when he returned for his second season at Batavia. He was promoted after 41 games and has done nothing but hit since joining the Quad Cities. In 104 at bats, he is hitting .308/.433/.538 with six home runs. Unbelievably, his long ball total ranks third on the team for the season.

6. Since the Pacific Coast League All-Star break, Jon Jay has a slash line of .345/.376/.510. After a slow start, he has to have positioned himself to get a long look as an extra outfielder next spring.

7. Allen Craig looks to be wrapping up his claim to be the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year. Craig ranks eighth in the Pacific Coast League in average, fifth in OPS, sixth in slugging, third in home runs and total bases, and 12th in runs.

8. Glove man Ryan Jackson of Batavia is hitting .333 in his last 10 games to raise his average to .226. Possessing the best glove in the system, Jackson could be a fast mover if he figures out his craft at the plate.

9. Steven Hill has quietly put together solid power numbers at Springfield. "The King of the Hill" ranks sixth in the Texas League in home runs, 19, and seventh in slugging percentage, .480.

10. Here is hoping Niko Vasquez bounces back in 2010 after a very disappointing 2009 season with Quad Cities and Batavia.

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