2010 Cardinals Prospect #8 – Blake Hawksworth

Has the oft-injured top prospect turned the corner as an MLB reliever? Today's article is FREE!

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2009 and career stats)

2009 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Throw Signed Round
NR RHP 3/1/1983 6-3 195 R R 2001 28th

School: Eastlake High School, Redmond, Washington

Selected 2009 stats

MEM 5 4 3.58 12 12 0 73 61 31 3 20 57 1.06 0.222
STL 4 0 2.03 30 0 0 40 29 10 2 15 20 1.58 0.209

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (9): After years on prospect lists, "Hawks" finally saw his potential translate to solid results in the big leagues. It was not in the rotation but in the bullpen where he helped Tony La Russa's team.

In 30 games for the Cardinals, Hawksworth posted an ERA of 2.03 and was a solid option out of the pen down the stretch. Two numbers are worrisome, his lack of strikeouts, 4.50 K/9, and his walk rate, 3.38 BB/9. But it was his first season in the bigs along with a new role; I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Looking at projections for the soon to be 27-year-old, Bill James sees a sophomore slump. James projects him to post an ERA of 5.00 in 43 appearances. Chone projects him to post an ERA of 4.68. I really think that both are off the mark. If healthy, Hawksworth provides a valuable multi-innings reliever for the Cardinals. Plus, he might get a shot to be in the mix for the fifth starter spot in spring training.

Message board community (6): Has there ever been a Cardinal prospect who showed up on Cardinal prospect lists for as long as Blake Hawksworth? 2010 will make seven years that Hawksworth has been popping up on one prospect list or another. Enjoying possibly his finest minor league season and certainly his best since 2006, Hawksworth's key to success this past year appears to be his possibly dialing back a bit and learning to pitch rather than throw. His K rate was down over recent years but he made up for that with reduced walk and HR rates.

While Hawksworth's minor league season was good, it was his major league time that solidified his prospect status as he became an integral member of the Cardinals bullpen down the stretch. Analyzing his stint in St. Louis though, indicates that Cardinal fans may need to temper any expectations of him repeating his 2009 success in 2010. Even though he had a 2.02 ERA, his FIP for his time as a Cardinal was 3.91. Hawksworth also benefited from an unusual low (lucky?) BABIP average of .237.

With the release of Brad Thompson, Hawksworth would seem to have the inside track as the Cardinals long relief specialist in 2010. Others have touted Hawksworth as a possible starting candidate in 2010, but it must be remembered that he has only once pitched more than 130 innings in a season. Whatever the role of Hawksworth, he almost certainly be doing it in 2010 at the major league level as he is out of minor league options and would need to clear waivers to be sent to Memphis again. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (7): I have followed Hawksworth for a long time and to be honest, had pretty much given up on him after a seven-year professional career marked by injury and disappointment, interrupted by brief periods of success. Did you remember that Hawksworth was both our Scout.com and the Cardinals' organization Pitcher of the Year in 2006, a most impressive feat given his past shoulder surgery?

Following that, he went 9-20, 5.65 the next two years with Memphis and seemed destined to plateau at Triple-A. On June 6 of this season, the door opened. Three weeks away from being traded to Cleveland, Jess Todd was demoted, creating an open roster spot. Mitchell Boggs, P.J. Walters, Chris Perez and Todd had already been tried. It was now finally Hawksworth's turn.

I am not one for issuing mulligans, but making one's MLB mound debut has to be one of the most difficult assignments anyone could face. That day, Hawksworth yielded four earned runs to the Brewers. Over his final 29 outings, he would shut out the opposition 25 times, allowing just five more earned runs. Though the team struggled late, especially the pen, Blake did not. He yielded his last run back in August.

Hawksworth did not always get the easier job of starting innings fresh, either. He retired seven of ten inherited runners and came in to induce a bases loaded double play in a tight game against the Braves on September 12. He earned four holds.

After his rocky debut, Hawksworth's ERA was a sparkling 1.18. There seems to be more here than just good fortune.

Our 2010 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?

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