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Excellent Prospects
Very Good Prospects
1. Colby Rasmus, cf
Good Prospects
2. Jaime Garcia, lhp
3. Adam Ottavino, rhp
4. Bryan Anderson, c
5. Daryl Jones, of
Average Prospects
6. Chris Perez, rhp
7. Blake Hawksworth, rhp
8. Mark McCormick, rhp
9. Cody Haerther, of
10. Tyler Greene, ss

1. Colby Rasmus, cf
DOB: 8/11/86
Height/Weight: 6-2/185
Bats/Throws: L/L
Draft: 1st round, 2005, Alabama HS
What he did in 2006: .310/.373/.512 at Low A (341 PA); .254/.351/.404 at High A (225 PA)
The Good: One of many outstanding high school outfielders from 2005’s first round, Rasmus is a long, loose athlete with both tools and baseball skills. Excellent bat speed and a frame with room for bulk allow him to project for 20+ home runs annually. Good pitch recognition. Plus runner with plenty of range in center field.
The Bad: Has problems with lefthanders, particularly ones with good breaking balls, and can be busted inside. Tendency to get over-aggressive on the basepaths and in the field.
The Irrelevant: Colby’s already been to Yankee Stadium – standing on the field with Andy Pettitte after leading his team to the Little League World Series in 1999.
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A center fielder who bats second and puts up 20/20 seasons (or better) annually.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Average – Rasmus has a high ceiling, and he’s already put up some impressive numbers despite holes in his game. He’ll begin 2007 with a return to the Florida State League.

2. Jamie Garcia, lhp
DOB: 7/8/86
Height/Weight: 6-2/200
Bats/Throws: L/L
Signed: 22nd round, 2005, Texas HS
What he did in 2006: 2.90 ERA at Low A (77.2-67-18-80); 3.84 ERA at High A (77.1-84-16-51)
The Good: While it’s early, Garcia is arguably the steal of the 2005 draft. Highly advanced for age and pounds the strike zone with a low 90s sinker and plus curve. Flashes a good change at times, and mixes all of his pitches well. Groundball pitcher with a ground-to-fly ratio of nearly three-to-one.
The Bad: Body is mature and filled out, leaving little room for projection. Missing a dependable swing-and-miss pitch in the arsenal.
The Irrelevant: For some reason, batters in the third inning went just 15-for-85 (.176) against Garcia, with 14 singles and a double.
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A middle-of-the-rotation workhorse.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Low – Garcia will start at Double-A as a 20 year old, and could get a brief major league audition by the end of the season if all continues to go well.

3. Adam Ottavino, rhp
DOB: 11/22/85
Height/Weight: 6-5/215
Bats/Throws: R/R
Draft: 1st round, 2006, Northeastern University
What he did in 2006: 3.14 ERA at Short Season (28.2-23-13-26); 3.44 ERA at Low A (36.2-28-19-38)
The Good: Big, athletic righthander who can get into the mid-90s with his fastball while sitting at 90-93 mph. Will show a plus slider and a solid changeup every time out. Maintains stuff deep into ballgames.
The Bad: Secondary pitches come and go. Slider has tendency to flatten out leaving him susceptible to lefties. Needs to be more aggressive and pitch inside more often. Pitches up in the zone too often.
The Irrelevant: During a three start run in April, Ottavino threw a 14-strikeout no-hitter against James Madison, followed that up with 13 strikeouts over nine innings in an extra-inning loss to Old Dominion, then whiffed a career-high 16 over eight shutout innings against William & Mary.
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Average – Ottavino is a classic college righthander who should move quickly but maybe doesn’t offer the most projection. He’ll likely begin the year in the Florida State League, and could get some time in Double-A by the end of the year.

4. Bryan Anderson, c
DOB: 12/16/86
Height/Weight: 6-1/200
Bats/Throws: L/R
Draft: 4th round, 2005, California HS
What he did in 2006: .302/.377/.417 at Low A (433 PA)
The Good: Offensive-minded catcher with quick, compact swing. Knows how to wait for his pitch and then laces line drives to all fields. Rarely strikes out and has no platoon issues. Praised for his on-field leadership. Strong arm.
The Bad: Level swing and contact-oriented mechanics leave limited power ceiling. Not a great athlete and a below-average receiver, leading the Midwest League with 17 passed balls.
The Irrelevant: Anderson played his high school ball at Simi Valley in Southern California – the same school that produced Jered and Jeff Weaver, and well as former big leaguers Tim Laker and Scott Radinsky.
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A starting big league catcher, maybe in the mold of Jason Kendall.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: High – Few doubt Anderson’s ability to hit for average, but he needs work on most other aspects of the game. That work will begin in the Florida State League.

5. Daryl Jones, of
DOB: 4/5/85
Height/Weight: 6-3/205
Bats/Throws: L/R
Draft: 3rd round, 2005, Texas HS
What he did in 2006: .265/.367/.471 at Rookie Level (79 PA); .235/.308/.358 at Low A (92 PA)
The Good: The best athlete in the system and it’s not even close. More importantly Jones made incredible progress in translating his tools into skills in 2006, showing a much more mechanically sound swing that allowed him to make better contact and tap into his power potential. Plus-plus runner who should become a good center fielder and dangerous base stealer once he learns how to harness his speed.
The Bad: Jones remains remarkably raw in nearly every aspect of the game. Pitch recognition remains a big weakness and breaking balls still tie him up in knots. Has spent time in all three outfield positions because his defensive instincts are lagging.
The Irrelevant: Had he not played baseball, Jones would likely be getting ready for college football’s national championship game. One of the top high school wide receivers in the country, he was expected to play football at Florida had he not preferred America’s pastime.
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A dangerous power/speed combination in center field.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Very high – Jones made great steps in 2006, but there’s still a very, very long way to go. He’ll play his first full season in 2007, though it’s probably still too early to expect the breakout season.

6. Chris Perez, rhp
DOB: 1/22/84
Height/Weight: 6-4/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted: 1st round, 2006, Miami University
What he did in 2006: 1.84 ERA at Low A (29.1-20-19-32)
The Good: One of the best college relievers in this year’s draft, Perez delivers a heavy 92-94 mph fastball and has a downright nasty slider that breaks through the strike zone without starting or finishing within it. Changeup gives him a usable third pitch, and he was used as a starter in college, leaving the organization comfortable with using him for more than one inning at a time.
The Bad: Delivery has some effort in it, and Perez has a tendency to overthrow which leads to control problems.
The Irrelevant: Gearing up for the big moment – with runners in scoring position and two outs, opposing batters went 1-for-21 with 11 strikeouts against Perez in his brief pro debut.
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A right-handed set-up man with some closing possibilities.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Low – Perez might skip the Florida State League altogether and begin his first full season at Double-A. He has a chance to be one of the first 2006 draftees to reach the majors.

7. Blake Hawksworth, rhp
DOB: 1/25/85
Height/Weight: 6-1/205
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted: 28th round, 2001, Washington JUCO (DNF)
What he did in 2006: 2.47 ERA at High A (83.2-75-19-55); 3.39 ERA at AA (79.2-75-31-66)
The Good: Once considered the prize of the system, Hawksworth pitched less than 30 innings between 2004/2005 while recovering from labrum surgery, but stayed healthy throughout 2006 and pitched well. Has 88-92 mph fastball with nice tailing motion, along with average curveball and a changeup that is among the best in the system.
The Bad: Hawksworth has lost a tick or two on his fastball since the shoulder problems and needs to learn how to be more crafty with the heater now that he can’t blow hitters away anymore. The one healthy season is a great start, but any pitcher with labrum surgery in his past comes with some red flags.
The Irrelevant: Hawksworth has a career on-base percentage of .500 after going 1-for-4 with a pair of walks during his Texas League stint..
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A major league starting pitcher, but likely in the back of the rotation.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Average – Hawksworth’s season was one of the system’s most pleasant of surprises in 2006. He’ll begin the year as one of the few starters at the upper levels who can be called on should the need arise. Until then, he just needs to stay healthy.

8. Mark McCormick, rhp
DOB: 7/3/85
Height/Weight: 6-2/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Draft: 1st round, 2005, Baylor
What he did in 2006: 3.78 ERA at Low A (52.1-38-38-63); 11.25 ERA at High A (4-5-3-5)
The Good: Electric arm features what is easily the best raw stuff in the system. Blows hitters away with a fastball that sits at 92-95 mph, touches 98, and has a history of hitting triple-digits as an amateur. Power curveball has the makings of a plus pitch.
The Bad: Oh, so much. Control has been a constant problem for McCormick, and shoulder soreness (which also affected him in college) limited him to less than 60 innings when his primary need is experience. Makeup was a big issue for teams scouting McCormick coming out of college.
The Irrelevant: In conference play, McCormick held Big 12 opponents to a .214 average during his three-year college career, a Baylor record.
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A dominating front line starter.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Very high. McCormick participated in off-season workouts with the Cardinals, and the team claims he is 100% for 2007. His ceiling is higher than any pitcher in the system, but he’s so far from realizing it that it’s downright hard to find. He’ll likely begin the year in the Florida State League, and that’s about all anybody should be willing to predict.

9. Cody Haerther, lf
DOB: 7/2/83
Height/Weight: 6-1/156
Bats/Throws: R/R
Signed: 6th round, 2002, California HS
What he did in 2006: .277/.336/.437 at AA (452 PA)
The Good: Baseball rat/max effort guy who recovered from injury-riddled first half to put up decent numbers in the Texas League. Smooth lefthanded stroke is designed for contact, but he occasionally puts a charge into a ball. Coaches love his effort and all-out style.
The Bad: Weak arm and poor instincts limit him to left field, where he just doesn’t have the raw power to profile as an every day player there. Can’t hit lefties.
The Irrelevant: In his last 50 games of 2006, Haerther hit .339 with 14 doubles and six home runs. OK, that might actually be relevant.
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A fourth outfielder/occasional starter and dangerous hitter off the bench.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Low – Haerther will begin the year at Triple-A Memphis, and will likely make his big league debut at some point in the 2007 season.

10. Tyler Greene
DOB: 5/26/82
Height/Weight: 6-4/225
Bats/Throws: L/L
Draft: 1st round, 2005, Georgia Tech
What he did in 2006: .287/.375/.552 at Low A (256 PA); .224/.308/.325 at High A (303 PA)
The Good: Athletic shortstop had a tale of two seasons in 2006 – getting off to a miserable start in the Florida State League only to see it come together for him after a demotion to Low A. Generates impressive pull power despite a skinny frame and is an above-average runner. Plus arm strength and range at shortstop.
The Bad: Breaking balls give Greene fits, leaving some to believe that his turnaround was based more on seeing a steady diet of fastballs than any sort of real adjustments. Fielding can be as inconsistent as his hitting, as Greene is capable of making a Baseball Tonight-worthy play in one inning and then botching a routine groundball the next.
The Irrelevant: During his miserable time in the Florida State League, Greene was 6-for-47 (.128) against lefties. In the Midwest League, he battered them for a .407 (24-for-59) mark. The one common factor is that all 20 of his home runs in 2006 came against righties.
In a Perfect World, He Becomes: A big league shortstop with above average power.
Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: High. As bad as Greene was during the first half of the season, he’s still a physical specimen who can play shortstop and smacked 20 home runs last year. It’s far too early to write him off.

The Sleeper

One of the last of the draft-and-follows as a 44th-round pick in 2005, righthander Blake King finished with twice as many strikeouts (79) as hits allowed (37) over 62.2 innings in his pro debut. A power pitcher with a plus fastball/plus slider combination, he offers plenty to dream on, with some of those dreams within the organization culminating in closer possibilities.

The Big Picture: Rankings Combined With Non-Rookies 25 Years Old Or Younger (As Of Opening Day 2007)

1. Colby Rasmus, cf
2. Adam Wainwright, rhp
3. Anthony Reyes, rhp
4. Jaime Garcia, lhp
5. Adam Ottavino, rhp
6. Chris Duncan, 1b/of
7. Bryan Anderson, c
8. Yadier Molina, c
9. Daryl Jones, of
10. Chris Perez, rhp

Well, at least there’s some young pitching. Wainwright could be going from World Series closer to rotation stalwart, with GM Walt Jocketty indicating that the big righty will be one of many bullpen arms who will get a shot at starting in 2007. Reyes has a number of apologists/delusional supporters who seem to believe that just because he was brilliant in Game One of the World Series, that forgives an inconsistent regular season. If the Cardinals had missed the playoffs (almost happened), your last memory of Reyes would have been him not getting out of the first inning in his final regular season start. Duncan is between a rock and a hard place as he’s absolutely brutal in the outfield, first base is held down by some Pujols fellow, and few think his rookie season is for real as there is nothing in his lengthy minor league track record to support it. Molina is a wonderful defender who just can’t hit enough and is more ideal for a backup role.

The Cardinals system is still pretty bad, but things are better than they were (they couldn’t get worse) thanks to some recent drafts – in particular the 2006 college-heavy class where outfielder John Jay (a corner outfielder with nice hitting skills but limited power) and first baseman Mark Hamilton (plus power, few other skills) would rank 11th and 12th had I gotten that far. At the same time, while there are more prospects in the system than in years past, there are still few with impact potential, a common byproduct of going the all-college route.

Next: The San Diego Padres.

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