Cardinals: Surveying the Crops 09/11/09

Senior Minor League Writer Dustin Mattison's weekly look around the St. Louis Cardinals farm system begins with outfielder Kyle Conley and third baseman Jermaine Curtis.

As the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals minor league regular season has come to a close, several performers caught my eye as they tried to finish strongly while looking ahead at 2010.

With only Memphis and Springfield still active in the playoffs, here is a look at 10 players whose seasons may have ended but with finishes that caught my eye.

Ten Players on My Mind

1. Overmatched at the Quad Cities, Kyle Conley showed fantastic power at Batavia posting an OPS of 1.204 in 109 at bats. The Cardinals are aggressive in their promotions so it would not surprise me if Conley starts the season at Palm Beach but a return trip to the QC might be appropriate.

2. After struggling mightily at Palm Beach, Jermaine Curtis found his stroke after being demoted to the Midwest League for the final 30 games of the season. At the Quad Cities, the former UCLA Bruin hit .304/.426/.438 including an 1.136 OPS in six games in September.

3. In his last 10 games of the season, Niko Vasquez hit over .300 to finish the season with an anemic .209 average. Everyone's darling this time last year struggled in his first full season, but look for the talented infielder to bounce back in 2010.

4. In his final 10 games of the season, pitcher Daniel Calhoun walked an astonishing four batters in 42.1 innings. This is not an aberration; he walked only six in 97 innings this past spring at Murray State.

5. Jesse Simpson showed stuff that made him a Brooks Wallace canididate his final season at the College of Charleston. After a promotion to Batavia, the right-hander struck out 30 in 22.2 innings.

6. Roberto De La Cruz really picked it up over the last month of the season. The 17-year-old hit .298/.327/.372 in his final 25 games after struggling to keep his average above .200 most of the season.

7. After returning from injury, infielder Luis Mateo hit .448 in his final 10 games. On the season, he posted on OPS of 1.006 against left-handed pitchers. If he can stay healthy, he is a name to remember in 2010.

8. Rainel Rosario posted an interesting platoon split during the 2009 season. The right-handed hitter hit .167/.250/.306 against southpaws while hitting .315/.390/.449 against righties. Described to me by a Cardinal official as a "tool shed", Rosario looks primed for a 2010 breakout.

9. Right-hander Chris Notti found his groove over his final six appearances. In 24.1 innings, he posted a record of 3-0 with an ERA of 0.37. I would like to see more strikeouts, 21, but his walk rate was fantastic, only three.

10. After finally escaping the Gulf Coast League, Zach Russell made the most of his time in Johnson City. The 20-year-old had 22 strikeouts in 19 innings while posting a 1.89 ERA.

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