Cardinals 2009 Rule 5 Protection Predictions

An annual look at those prospects that may be added to the 40-man roster and those potentially left unprotected.

Each year at this time, I identify those players I believe the St. Louis Cardinals will protect from December's Rule 5 Draft by adding to their 40-man roster. This year's deadline is Friday, November 20 for organizations to set their rosters.

Any discussion of this subject first requires boundaries to be established. The regular season ended with the Cardinals 40-man at 39. It currently sits at 26 following the declaration of free agency by nine players and removal of four others from the 40-man. Joe Thurston and Matt Scherer remain with the organization while Jarrett Hoffpauir (claimed by Toronto) and Brad Thompson (released) are gone.

By my estimation, the organization will want to hold back at least five spots for major league free agent additions approximating the following:

• Left-handed hitting reserve position player (replacing Thurston/Ankiel)
• Reserve catcher (replacing LaRue)
• Left fielder (replacing Holliday)
• Starting pitcher (replacing Smoltz)
• Veteran reliever

That would leave a maximum of nine spots for Rule 5 additions. (26 under contract +5 new veterans +9 protected =40)

If required later on, the Cardinals could also clear several additional roster spots by outrighting players currently on the 40-man. Examples might include Matt Pagnozzi, Nick Stavinoha and Josh Kinney. In doing so, the risk is that the player could be claimed by another organization as recently occurred with Hoffpauir.

In selecting players to protect, there are several questions to be pondered:

• What is the ceiling of the player in this organization?
• How much internal competition does he have and where does he stack up?
• Will the player be selected by another organization if left unprotected?
• If selected, will the player be able to remain on that organization's 25-man active roster all 2010 season long?

Inherent in the final question is the reality that many Rule 5 selections have to be returned to the prior organization because they did not play at a high-enough level to become full-time major leaguers.

Following are the maximum of nine names I predict the Cardinals may protect, in rough order of probability. I would not be totally surprised if they drew the line at seven.

Noted is the year each player first signed with the Cardinals, his age at the time and highest level attained in the Cardinals system.

Player Pos DOB Draft yr/rd Signed Age Team
Jon Jay OF 03/15/1985 2006 2 2006 21 Memphis
Daryl Jones OF 06/25/1987 2005 3 2005 17 Springfield
Allen Craig UT 07/18/1984 2006 8 2006 21 Memphis
Adam Ottavino RHS 11/22/1985 2006 1 2006 20 Memphis
Francisco Samuel RHR 12/20/1986 FA 2006 19 Springfield
Tyler Norrick LHR 09/27/1983 2006 6 2006 22 Memphis
Bryan Anderson C 12/16/1986 2005 4 2005 18 Memphis
Mark Hamilton 1B 07/29/1984 2006 2a 2006 21 Memphis
Mike Parisi RHS 04/18/1983 2004 9 2004 21 St. Louis

Of the nine, only Norrick, Hamilton and a then-injured Parisi did not place on our Top 40 Cardinals Prospect List one year ago. Each demonstrated a higher level of play this summer, improving their stock.

Perhaps almost as interesting are those players who would then be left unprotected and therefore become Rule 5 eligible. Here are a dozen of those candidates, six position players and six pitchers, in alphabetical order.

Position Player Pos DOB Draft yr/rd Signed Age Team
Amaury Cazana OF 9/2/1974 2006 18 2006 32 Memphis
Jose Martinez 2B 01/24/1986 FA 2004 18 Springfield
Jim Rapoport OF 06/25/1985 2006 35 2006 20 Springfield
Mark Shorey OF 08/13/1984 2006 31 2006 21 Memphis
Donovan Solano IF 12/17/1987 FA 2005 17 Memphis
Joe Thurston IF 9/29/1979 FA 2008 29 St. Louis
Pitcher Pos DOB Draft yr/rd Signed Age Team
Gary Daley Jr. RHR 11/01/1985 2006 3 2006 20 Springfield
Brandon Dickson RHS 11/03/1984 FA 2006 21 Springfield
Brad Furnish LHS 01/19/1985 2006 2 2006 21 Springfield
Trey Hearne RHS 08/19/1983 2005 28 2005 21 Memphis
Mark McCormick RHS 10/15/1983 2005 1a 2005 21 Springfield
Matt Scherer RHR 1/20/1983 2004 16 2004 21 Memphis

Only one of these 12 and none of the other potential Rule 5 eligible players not noted above ranked among our Top 40 Cardinals prospects last winter. Double-A second baseman Jose Martinez did make the tail end of last year's list, but subsequently missed the entire 2009 season due to family issues.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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