2009 Cardinals Draft Review: Hitters

During the final installment of a two-part series, Dustin Mattison reviews the professional debuts of the hitters selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in last June's Drafts.

In the final installment of our annual St. Louis Cardinals draft review; the hitters will get their due after the pitchers were reviewed earlier in the week.

Of the 50 selections the Cardinals made, 21 were hitters. Of those, 17 chose to make their professional debuts by signing with the organization. Of those that signed, eleven were from from four-year colleges, three came from junior college ranks, two from high school, and one player was selected out of Puerto Rico.

Two selections made their debut in full season baseball while the rest began in short-season ball. One was moved back to short-season ball while three would eventually make the move to the full season Quad Cities. Only one player advanced to Palm Beach.

Below, to the right of each player's name is the round in which he was drafted and position. Picks are listed in numerical order by the round selected.

Robert Stock (2, catcher)

The former highly-decorated amateur proved himself worthy of a second-round pick with a line of .322/.388/.550 at Johnson City. The left-handed hitter slugged seven home runs along with posting an isolated power number of .228. Of those players with at least 140 Appy League plate appearances, that was the third best ISO power number on the circuit while he was sixth in OPS under these circumstances. For his efforts, he was named a Post-Season All-Star.

The 19-year-old received a late season promotion to the Quad Cities to familiarize himself with his likely destination for 2010. In limited action, Stock really struggled, getting only two hits in 21 at bats.

Ryan Jackson (5, shortstop)

All reports were that the glove was as good as advertised but the questions about the bat remain. The former Miami Hurricane hit .216/.297/.241 with Batavia. Only five of his 53 hits were extra bases. On the plus side, the 21-year-old did put the ball in play, striking out only 37 times compared to 29 walks.

No one questions that the glove will play but Jackson needs to make strides with his bat to continue to move up the ladder.

Virgil Hill (6, outfield)

A raw but highly talented player, Hill got off to a slow start in his pro debut with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals but made strides as the season progressed. During the final month of the season, Hill posted an on base percentage of .364 after putting up a .262 mark in July.

The 20-year-old finished the season with a slash line of .216/.324/.321 with a home run and 22 RBIs. Speed is the name of the game for Hill, as he stole 11 bases in 18 attempts this past season. If he is going to move through the system, he will have to continue to get on base and cause havoc on the base paths.

Kyle Conley (7, outfield)

Shortly after he was drafted out of the University of Washington, Conley became one of the top power prospects in the Cardinals' system. The 22-year-old was overmatched during his first assignment at the Quad Cities. After 15 games he was sent to Batavia where the organization got a glimpse of his power potential.

In 29 games for the Muckdogs, he hit .385/.452/.752 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. That's an isolated power number of .367, tops in the New York-Penn League among players with a minimum of 120 plate appearances. Under the same circumstances, Conley also was he leader in batting average, on base percentage, slugging, and OPS.

In 2010, Conley will have to prove that he can make the adjustments and continue his power surge at the upper levels.

Jason Stidham (8, second base)

Though his numbers might not be overwhelming, it needs to be remembered that Stidham got a tough assignment with a professional debut in the Midwest League. Even so, he put up a respectable line of .261/.321/.374.

The 21-year-old was especially ineffective against left-handed pitching, hitting only .139/.225/.167 against southpaws. There is a lot to look forward to for Stidham going into next season. During his final 27 games, the former Florida State Seminole hit .300/.366/.430 with lone home run and more than half of his RBIs.

Alan Ahmady (11, 3B/1B)

The 21-year-old enjoyed a highly productive professional debut during which he represented Batavia at the New York-Penn League All-Star game.

Ahmady hit .292/.407/.391 with almost as many walks, 47, as strikeouts, 52. Unfortunately, he will miss the first 50 games of the 2010 season due to suspension.

Matt Carpenter (13, third base)

The then-23-year-old was the lone 2009 draft pick to reach the Florida State League. After a scorching start at Batavia, the TCU product was quickly promoted to Quad Cities. For the River Bandits, he hit .295/.405/.390 in 105 at bats.

He was then on the move to Palm Beach where he was seemingly overexposed in the always pitcher-friendly FSL. Look for Carpenter to start the 2010 year back at Palm Beach.

Ross Smith (14, outfield)

The toolsy outfielder would probably like to forget his professional debut at Johnson City. The son of a Cardinal scout hit .190/.294/.359 with a eye catching 70 strikeouts in 184 at bats.

Though the 22-year-old struggled to make contact, Smith did manage six home runs and nine stolen bases.

David Washington (15, OF/1B)

The former star prep basketball player struggled in his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League. The 18-year-old hit only .165/.228/.165 in 28 games for the Cardinals.

Washington possesses great size (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) and athletic ability. He is green in his baseball ability but brings a lot of upside to the table.

Jonathan Rodriguez (16, first base)

The GCL Cardinals Hitter of the Year hit .351/.462/.454 with 18 walks compared to 14 strikeouts. "J-Rod" would move on to Johnson City and would still prove to be productive. In 24 games, he hit .250/.363/.417 along with hitting his first two professional home runs.

A shoulder limited the 20-year-old to first base during his debut. Rodriguez had surgery after the season and tells me that rehab is progressing as planned.

Anthony Garcia (17, catcher)

Often overlooked since being drafted, Garcia put together a solid debut in the Gulf Coast League. The 17-year-old hit .235/.316/.333 in 23 games while proving able defensively behind the plate. Still young and very raw, Garcia has the tools to become a successful backstop if he continues to develop.

Travis Tartamella (18, catcher)

The defense-first catcher draws rave reviews for his handling of a pitching staff. Also, with a good arm and solid footwork, the 21-year-old helps shut down the opposition's running game.

Like many defense-oriented catchers, plenty of questions abound about his offensive ability. Unfortunately, he did nothing in his debut to put those questions to rest. At Johnson City, he finished with a line of .183/.256/.244 in 82 at bats.

Matt Adams (23, first base)

The Scout.com/Cardinal Nation Rookie Hitter of the Year hit .355/.400/.547 at Johnson City and Batavia. The 21-year-old slugged 10 home runs and drove in 52 runs during his two stops.

It is evident that Adams has a very polished bat that is very likely to play as he moves up the ranks. The question of Adams will be his position. With a thick frame, he appears to be more suited for first base and that position is taken.

C.J. Beatty (26, outfield)

After meeting C.J., I have to say he is one of the most charismatic people I have ever been around. Unfortunately, a wrist injury cut the 21-year-old's debut short after only 19 games with Johnson City.

Beatty is now healthy and is teaching hitting in his native North Carolina while preparing for 2010. Recently, his off-season activities were featured on one his local television stations.

Tyler Bighames (31, outfield)

An interesting pick at the time, the Cardinals paid Bighames above slot to keep him from helping rebuild the University of Oregon baseball program. The 18-year-old was assigned to the Gulf Coast League and never found his groove.

Bighames hit .216/.300/.330 with only six extra base hits in 88 at bats. Interestingly, he did hit .324/.419/.568 in 13 games away from Roger Dean Stadium.

Bighames is a high risk-high reward talent that will probably see time in the short season leagues again in 2010.

Devin Goodwin (33, second base)

One of my favorite late round picks at the time, Goodwin suffered through a horrendous July that affected his final stat line. During July, he limped home with a line of .181/.213/.241 in 83 at bats during the month. The then 22-year-old bounced back in August with a slash line of .288/.389/.538 with 14 walks and only 11 strikeouts at Batavia.

Goodwin is a solid player that I believe can be a solid contributor if he is able to adjust as the pitching becomes more advanced.

Rich Racobaldo (37, third base)

Racobaldo is a lot like Conley in that he dominated a league during his short stay in the circuit. At Johnson City, "The Rock" hit .408/.469/.592 with four home runs and 26 RBIs in 125 at bats. Of the players in the Appalachian League that had a minimum of 140 plate appearances, he ranked first in batting average, on base percentage, OPS, and second in slugging.

It was a different story after he was promoted to the Quad Cities. Facing more advanced competition, the 24-year-old never got on track. In 124 at bats, he hit .234/.304/.371 with three home runs and 16 RBIs.

It is not unrealistic for Racobaldo to start the season at Palm Beach. But he will have to show he can adjust to the advanced pitching of the FSL quickly or risk getting lost in the shuffle.

Dustin can be contacted at dustin@whiteyball.com.
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