St. Louis Cardinals: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Derrick Goold

Cardinals Top 10 Prospects Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

 Q:  Brace from St. Cloud, MN asks:
Jon Jay is ranked pretty high. Where do you see him fitting in with the Cardinals this year? Do you think he has a chance to move up to AA if he performs in Palm Beach? Also, what do you see him as in the upcoming years for the Cards? Thanks.
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Greetings everyone. Already a fine pool of questions for me to answer, so let's dive right in. ... I, like several people I've spoken with, are high on Jon Jay after his impressive pro debut -- easily the best of the Cardinals' 2006 picks. No reason to believe he cannot see Double-A this season. It's clear the Cardinals see Colby Rasmus as the center fielder of the future, but Jay has the ability to play that position -- as well as the corner spots. One Cardinals official I spoke with brought up the idea of having the two eventually sharing the same outfield (in Springfield, most likely) and see if they can climb together and see what positions they settle into.

 Q:  Ross from Boston asks:
Could the The Cardinals call up Travis Hanson in mid-may, early June as a utility player? Could they move him to a corner outfield? Anyway what happened to him last year? His numbers ie: bb, hrs were completely out of character?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Glad you asked about Travis Hanson. He was the organization's player of the year in 2005 and big things were expected from him -- starting with his invitation to spring training a year ago and time spent working on defense with Scott Rolen. During spring training, he caught a bug that sapped him of his energy and robbed him of many opportunities he had to be around the big leaguers. It turns out he had a parasite and as you can see from his season he never really recovered from the loss of weight and loss of time. So, yes, "out of character" is a good description. A call-up seems unlikely (Brendan Ryan could play his way into that June invite you ask about), but September isn't out of the question especially if Hanson reasserts his place as a prospect in Triple-A.

 Q:  Ben from Midwest asks:
What's been the reason for Lambert's regression? Did management make a mistake drafting him so high?
 A: 

Moderator: There are critics who would say so as the Cardinals' top draft pick from 2004 has one Triple-A start on his resume and doesn't have the as-advertised fastball. Lambert and the Cardinals however request patience. Spoke with Lambert a few weeks ago and he said that he learned more last summer in Springfield than he ever had about baseball. That's the word from the Cardinals, too: He was green as a pitcher when they drafted him, he had a lot of learning to do. They have been willing to give him the time to gain experience he didn't have, to learn to pitch, to learn how to be a different pitcher than he was in college. This year is a big put-up, prove-it year for the righthander. He'll answer your second question with how he responds.

 Q:  Ben from PitchertoHitterVille asks:
Can we officially cross off Ankiel in the Cards' future plans?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: So that last answer was from me, I just forgot to click off the "moderator" tag. Apologies. New to this. ... Can you cross retired pitcher Rick Ankiel out of the future plans? Absolutely not. Ankiel will be coming to spring training as a non-roster invitee and he's signed a minor-league deal. The plan is to have Ankiel continue his career reinvention and land in Triple-A where he can get the at-bats he lost with last season's knee injury. There are several things at work here with Ankiel and the Cardinals. They have invested a lot of money in him, his talent as an outfielderhitter is tantalizing (he and Chris Duncan were dubbed as the best "power prospects" in the organization back in 2005) and they like him. Tony La Russa genuinely likes Rick Ankiel and wants, as the manager says, something "to go right for him for once."

 Q:  Brett from St. Louis asks:
If Ottavino and Perez come out and dominate early in the year, do you think that they will jump on the fast track? Any chance we see them at Springfield or Memphis this year?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: There's a good chance to Chris Perez could scream through the system because of the quality of his arm and the role he's handling. He does have to leapfrog over two other closers who have moved steadily through the system -- chiefly Mark Worrell and his replacement at Palm Beach in 2006, Mike Sillman. Ottavino, likewise, will move as rapidly as his performance will carry him, but for him seeing Springfield in '07 would be the achievement to watch for.

 Q:  Jason from Boston, MA asks:
Jose Martinez is a player that has gone unrecognized by many commnetators and journalists. What do you make of him? What are the Cardinals' plans for him in 2007? Thanks, Jason
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Had an interesting exchange on Jose Martinez with some fans and members of the Cardinals' staff just this week. I was trying to determine who the top prospect was at each individual position and second base came down to Juan Lucena or Jose Martinez. What put Martinez ahead for me was his bat. Of his 88 hits in Quad Cities last summer, 30 were for extra-bases. An injury slowed down his production, but he was developing as an RBI producer for the team, according to several people I spoke to. The plans for him are to keep him climbing as a second baseman -- a position that is there for the taking at several levels.

 Q:  Benjamin from Cards Fan Lane asks:
No one on the Top 30 plays at 2B on your depth chart, yet there's an abundance of OF'ers (9). Will STL go after more potential second basemen (or infielders in general), come this June?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Seems like a good question to answer right after discussing Martinez. The Cardinals have had a deliberate approach to second base in recent seasons -- they've almost purposefully had a rotating cast at the position since Fernando Vina held down the job. (Now Adam Kennedy will be there for three years, ending the annual rotation.) What it's clear from that is how the Cardinals view second base and how they believe that they'll be selecting a second base prospect not just from that pool, but also from the shortstops they have on hand. Brendan Ryan is a shortstop now, but he grew up playing second base. The club likes Tyler Greene at shortstop, but second base could be an option well down the road. Tommy Pham is a possibility. It doesn't appear they'll go after a second baseman for the sake of drafting "a second baseman" when they see that as a position they can develop from other sources.

 Q:  Jason from Cardinal Nation, Mass Outpost asks:
Thanks for the chat and for continuing the long line of great journalists covering the Cards. I've been a fan of Bryan Anderson since I saw him play last year. Recently, Nate Silver opined that based on the PECOTA's he is one of the top three catching prospects in the majors. In your book, how does he compare to Salty, Ianetta, and Montero? Thanks again!
 A: 

Moderator: You are too kind. I've got some work to do before being considered in that class. ... Bryan Anderson won a lot of fans when he came to major-league spring training last year as a 19-year-old and caught the big-leaguers attention. There are few things not to like about the young catcher with a sweet lefthanded swing, and you can see why PECOTA would have a crush on him. He's young, but he could compare favorable to catchers you mention. Anderson's power is expected to develop as he does. He's shown seasoned discipline. Behind the plate, he's working on his throwing mechanics to be more efficient but he gets the job done well enough. One thing that probably doesn't get talked about enough with Anderson is the pitchers he's handled and handled well -- Jaime Garcia, Adam Ottavino, Chris Perez, Trey Hearne and on and on (many of the top-ranked arms in the organization). Talk with those pitchers and they are Anderson fans. That stands out.

 Q:  Eric from Elk Grove asks:
Derrick, thanks for the chat. My question is about Mark Hamilton. He put up good numbers in college and in his pro debut, but doesn't seem to get a lot of respect. Is that mostly because the hitting standards for 1B are so much higher or is he just not that impressive?
 A: 

Moderator: Not a lot of respect? I don't follow you there. He's ranked in the top 15 of their prospects. He's the first first baseman ranked and the second infielder ranked on the list. Baseball America had him pegged as the 12th-best prospect in the New York-Penn league. Those sentences just ooze respect for the Tulane slugger. You don't do what he did -- tie for the league-lead in homers in 125 or more fewer at-bats than the other players -- without galvanizing respect. Offensively, he has all the right numbers in all the right places. He needs to find a position.

 Q:  Jaypers from IL asks:
Is it safe to assume Rasmus will be a lock to be Edmonds' successor? Any chance of a late '07 callup?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: That's the logical leap many people made when Jim Edmonds signed a two-year extension that leaves center field open for 2009, about the time Colby Rasmus will be leaving Triple-A for MLB if he continues his current ascent. Let's let the kid get some at-bats in Double-A before inking him in as the heir apparent. He's a scintillating talent, to be sure, but the Cardinals have no interest in rushing him to the majors just for a passing-of-the-torch ceremony. If there's a gap between the two, it won't be a big gap. Chance of a 2007 callup? Shoot, he's already got it. Rasmus will be in big-league spring training in less than two weeks. He'll be mixing with the major leaguers, might even play in a few of those games. He was honored at the local Baseball Writers dinner and spent time talking with La Russa, Anthony Reyes, Adam Wainwright and Brad Thompson (to name a few). He may not get a regular-season callup that soon, but he's getting the exposure now ... (Again, the "moderators" are me missing the button.)

 Q:  Jean-Paul from SPFLD asks:
Assuming Ottavino ever sees the Show, do you project him as a starter or a reliever?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: I've asked this question about several of the pitchers. Eric Haberer, for instance. Mark McCormick. The answer I consistently get from Mark Riggins, the Cardinals' minor-league pitching coordinator, and other executives with the team is as long as a pitcher shows he can succeed or improve as a starter he'll remain a starter. Developing their own starting pitchers is so important for the Cardinals -- and every club when you look at the prices of pitchers, eh? -- that the don't want to lose a starter to gain a fast-moving reliever. Haberer's a good example of that. For the last few years, I've heard how rapidly Haberer could move up the ladder if he moved to lefty specialist. The Cardinals are willing to give him the time so they don't lose a potential lefty starter. Relieving will be there for him if starting doesn't work. Ottavino has given them no reason to entertain the idea he won't advance, won't excel as a starter.

 Q:  Reese from Independence asks:
This top 10 has a 1 good prospect (Rasmus isn't in MaybinMcCutchenBruce's class) and a ton of tweeners, future relievers, and busts. Where does the Cards system rank among the 30 teams? Bottom 5?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Rasmus is the headliner for the organization, that's for sure. And the last two drafts have done a lot to replenish the talent in the Cardinals' system and change the outside assessment of the organization's talent. This year, Baseball America ranked the Cardinals' 21. Doesn't seem like much. But consider twice in the past five years, BA ranked the Cardinals 30th (last with a bullet) and twice BA ranked the Cardinals 28th. From those prospect pools, the Cardinals produced Yadier Molina, Josh Kinney, Adam Wainwright, Anthony Reyes, Chris Duncan, Tyler Johnson and some guy named Albert Pujols. Clearly there's a disconnect, and it's one that is closing as the Cardinals are clearly now putting more of an emphasis on not just developing depth and talent for trades in their minor-league system but holding on to talent and building from within. That shift will likely change their rankings. They do have a ways to climb.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
Where do you see Garcia projecting - a #2 or #3 starter as his ceiling? Does he rate anywhere near Veal, Elbert, Patton, Linclon, or is he a notch below those guys?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Give him another year. Garcia was the pitching sensation for the Cardinals last year. He comes storming out of 2005's 22nd round -- a quiet signing for 2006 made late in 2005 -- and elbows his way to Palm Beach with what pitching coaches call an "exciting, electric arm". He's got to do it again before there's a real feel for what his ceiling is. Now, there's no reason to think he couldn't be a No. 2 starter. Lefty. Great stuff. Good command. He's got the ingredients. Let's see how he does with another summer of seasoning to compare him to those prospects.

 Q:  Dan Williams from Sutton, MA asks:
How do you think Wainwright will fare moving back in to a starting role?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Well, I've been accused of being a "Wainwright honk" here locally, so why change now, right? I think he'll do well. Last spring training it became very clear that Wainwright was a different pitcher than he was the year before -- his mentality, his approach, his poise was different. What we saw through the 2006 season was a young pitcher mature into a World Series closer. It was something. He's got four quality pitches, including that sinister curve. He's grown up as a starter, he wants to be a big-league starter and he's now down in Jupiter doing what he did all of last season -- working Chris Carpenter for any suggestions the ace will give him about succeeding as a starter. There are many reasons to be optimistic about Wainwright as a starter. (Jason Isringhausen's health is the key, really.) See why I'm called a "honk"?

 Q:  johnny ray from ny asks:
Where did Tyler Green fall in place on your list. Would you say he is behind and what level do you see him at this year. Is his swing too long?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Shortstop Tyler Greene, who received a healthy signing bonus in the same draft that brought the Cardinals Colby Rasmus, finished the season in Low-A Quad Cities, a step back from the previous season. The Cardinals would like to see him slingshot to Double-A out of spring training this year. If he does that, then he'll be back on track. If he struggles again and finds himself in High-A for a long stretch then he'd be behind a level. I've heard that critique of his swing, but his troubles last season seemed to snowball when he hit a rough stretch. A strong start can fix some of his failings.

 Q:  AJ from MO asks:
Just curious to see where you had closer Mark Worrell listed at on the top 10, lead the texas league in saves. This guy obviously has proven himself in the minor leagues as sufficient closer. I saw where he was rewared with a non-roster invite to big league camp. How fast of a track is this guy on, his stock has to be high.
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Lost my connection there for a frustrating few minutes. Let me try to answer this question again. Worrell, who topped the Florida State League in saves in 2005 and won the Cardinals' organization pitcher of the year award, ranks in the top 25 of this year's Top 30. He'll continue his ascent and get the chance to close for Triple-A Memphis this summer. But first: He's going to spend some time with Dave Duncan. Worrell has a quirky delivery (to put it lightly) and that has a lot to do with his deception. Duncan said this week there is no plan to tinker with his, um, unique delivery -- it's been too, too effective. But how he performs in Triple-A, how he performs against hitters seeing him several times over will reveal what role he'll have at the next level. Setup? Specialist? His stock is high enough that they'll look for a spot for him.

 Q:  AJ from MO asks:
Where did Stuart Pomeranze fall to, and is Reid Gorekis days as moving up the ladder slowly falling now? Is there anybody you see as somebody who is big league or close to being big league ready in this somewhat "empty" minor league organization?
 A: 

Moderator: Stuart Pomeranz fell to that area around 31 in this Top 30. I would say he just missed it, and I'm prepared to hear the case -- even make the case myself -- that he belonged in the Top 30. Pomeranz does a lot of the things that the Cardinals look for, and was really slowed down by an injury this past season. ... Gorecki, the club's player of the year in 2004, couldn't consistently decipher Double-A ball. He was removed from the 40-man and has been surpassed by a handful of other prospects. ... Are you asking for the next Chris Duncan? The next Josh Kinney? Both Tyler Johnson and Josh Kinney are still ranked in the Top 30 because of the definitions we use for prospects, so they have a World Series ring propping the door to the majors open. Beyond them -- Troy Cate. He went off to winter ball and shined as a starter. That has the Cardinals thinking the former Seattle farmhand might need a change of scenery from the relief role he played in the Cardinals' system last year. He's coming to big-league camp and at least one coach wants to see how he competes in the open auditions for the Cardinals' starting rotation.

 Q:  Jason from Boston, MA asks:
What does Chris Perez have to do to make this SAT question true? Colby Rasmus is to Jim Edmonds as Chris Perez is to Izzy? Is it just a matter of improving his control or more? Thanks, Jason
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Love the style of the question. Really takes me back. I think those are fair comparisons right now, even though Perez is just entering his first full pro season. Both would need to skip ahead a year to be the direct replacements for those two stalwarts. But in the spirit of the question, I think you nailed how the Cardinals would like to see the generations bridged.

 Q:  Dan Williams from Sutton, MA asks:
Jaime Garcia's birth year is listed as 1981 in the Top 10. That's not correct is it? Isn't he younger than 25?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Right-o. His birth year is 1986. As we say in the business, good catch.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
Randy Roth put up some nice numbers in A ball this year. In a system so devoid of hitters after Rasmus do you see him getting any shot to do anything? At 25 he's a liitle old to be a prospect I would think, and there's also no room at 1B for him in Stl. with Prince Albert there. Is there any future with the Cards for Roth - or does he at least have any chance to see the majors with another club?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: You outlined Roth's case as it stands right now. Good numbers. Age stands out. Looking for a position. He is getting consideration as a utility player, finding time at third base and anywhere else he's willing to work at. Roth's future with the Cardinals might halt shy of the major leagues, but he could play his way into a trade (ala Terry Evans) or advancing elsewhere.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Is it safe for me to delete these players from my prospect watch list? Thanks! Chris Lambert. Travis Hanson. Cody Haerther. Nick Webber. Stuart Pomeranz. Carmen Cali. Rayner Layla. Rhett Parrott.
 A: 

Derrick Goold: All depends on how you define prospect. Some of those players (i.e., Carmen Cali) are no longer with the Cardinals, so sure. But Hanson deserves a mulligan on last year, I think because of the details discussed above. Keeper Haerther and Pomeranz on the list and as for Webber ... hold on second there's a question about him in here, too ...

 Q:  J. Hickok from Charleston, W.V. asks:
Just how good is Bryan Anderson. Someone just pointed out that he posted numbers last year in the Midwest League that were very similar to what Joe Mauer did in the same league at the same age.
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Anderson was discussed in detail above, but your question sent me to the statistics to confirm -- for fun. It's an intriguing connection. Mauer played in Quad Cities, too, hence part of the comparison. Back in 2002, as a 19-year-old, Mauer hit .302.393.392 in 411 at-bats. He was in High-A and Double-A the next season. Anderson, as a 19-year-old, hit .302.377.417 in 381 at-bats. The big difference is BBK. Mauer's were 6142, and Anderson's were 4266. The comparison may continue, though, as Anderson could see time in High-A and Double-A the season after hitting .302 for Quad Cities.

 Q:  Dan Williams from Sutton, MA asks:
I see Nick Webber didn't make the Top 30 in the Prospect Handbook. What happened to him?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Webber did not make the top 30 a year after being ranking in the top 10. There are several reasons for this. Webber's numbers in High-A Palm Beach didn't standout anywhere near two other pitchers on that staff (Garcia, Mitchell Boggs). He was like so many Cardinals pitching prospects -- more hits than innings pitched -- but he added to that 63 walks to 65 strikeouts. The two bigger contributions to his drop out of the Top 30 are the infusion of new names (Garcia, Boggs, etc.) and that he was a closer in college moved to starting because of the quality of his sinking fastball. Count him among the three, four pitchers who could shoot back into the Top 30 with a strong year -- or a move to the bullpen.

 Q:  Todd from Branson, MO asks:
What are your thoughts on Eddie Degerman? Can be a solid No. 3 Starter in the majors?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Shortly after Degerman was drafted this past summer several members of the Cardinals front office attempted to describe his delivery. The one that stays with me to this day is "pie-thrower". No. 3 starter would be a nice aspiration for him, No. 4 would be realistic in the sense that he can throw consistently and quality starts. He had a strong start to his pro career (coming off a fantastic finish to his college years, of course). I think one that will be interesting this year is the derby developing between all of the new (read: 2005, 2006 draft picks) pitchers now clogging the lower levels. Who will get to Palm Beach and succeed in Palm Beach next?

 Q:  Chuck K. from Buffalo, N.Y. asks:
Aside from Juan Luccena and Jose Martinez the Cards ramped up Latin American presence does not seem to be producing much. Are they still enthusiastic? About Who?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: It's still relative new. This is the year to start measuring its success. The Cardinals are starting a Gulf Coast League team for this season, one that will have Dennis Martinez as a pitching coach. The lineup for that team will be heavy with the products from the Cardinals new Dominican Republic campus and other Latin players. They are still enthusiastic. They are very enthusiastic. Edwin Conde won the team's Venezuelan MVP award. Edgar Lara and Jairo Martinez are two other prospects from the DR that received healthy contracts. Lara is a name to know.

 Q:  Adam from NYC asks:
How fast will STL move Jon Jay through the system? I know he has an unorthadox approach to hitting, but does he have the ability to develop more power through his minor league stops? What can we expect from him as far as a major league career?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Running out of time here and I feel like I haven't even made a dent into the inbin here. Tell you what, if I didn't get to your question doesn't mean it will go unanswered. I have a place for questions over at the Post-Dispatch -- postcards@post-dispatch.com or dgoold@post-dispatch.com -- and I'll attempt to answer all that I can over there. I'll make another sweep of questions, starting here with one that summarize a slew about Jon Jay. Jay could move fast through the system because he has a strong, refined approach at the plate. Sure his mechanics at the plate are a bit quirky. But you cannot argue with the results. All the scouts and execs I've spoke to compare him to outfielders who did not develop power but retained a high-average swing and high on-base-percentage approach all the way through the minors and into successful careers in the majors.

 Q:  John from Central California asks:
Is there one player in their organization that strikes you as a sleeper who just needs to put it together?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Troy Cate and Andy Cavazos coming into big-league spring training. Pitchers Blake King, Kenny Maiques, and Gary Daley Jr. on the lower levels of the organization. And it's not so much "put it together" as it is keep it going right toward a big uptick that puts them on the map.

 Q:  Mike from St Louis asks:
From a recent release by the Swing of the Quad Cities - 'The most recent issue of Baseball America listed the Top 10 Prospects for each organization. For the St. Louis Cardinals, eight of the 10 players listed played in Quad Cities during the 2006 season.' With that many top prospects in Single A ball, there's good and bad aspects to that news. Good: more promise at the lower levels. Not so good: it might be 2 to 4 years before the farmhands are much help. Do you see the 2005 and 2006 Cardinals draft class as having a big impact? Might there be some overlooked or unheralded talent in the AA and AAA levels (at Springfield and Memphis)?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Mike, there you have the current situation with the Cardinals' minor-league organization and why this is such an interesting year coming up. Some of the club's highest-profile pitching prospects -- if not highest-performing pitching prospects -- all pooled at Double-A last year (say that five times fast). This is the year you will start seeing the talent from the '05 and '06 draft outside of Quad Cities. The Cardinals have been upfront with their recent plans for Triple-A Memphis: It was a place to keep depth and protection for the big-league team. That was where the so-called Class-AAAA players collected -- "not prospects, but suspects," as one said a few years ago -- to be ready a moment's notice to fill in and keep the big-league club rolling. Double-A was where you first saw the glimmer of prospects, faint as it was there for awhile. This is the summer that changes.

 Q:  Jared from St. Louis asks:
Thanks for the chat, Derrick. Been waiting months for this. From the second tier outfielders; Stavinoha, Haerther, and Daryl Jones is there a potential major league regular? Best bet to play along-side Rasmus in '09? Strengths? Weaknesses?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: No problem. Been a good time, though it does feel kind of like taking the SAT -- or furiously pounding out several articles at once on deadline. I need to get back to other assignments (and packing for Jupiter!), so these will be last couple questions. Thanks for taking the time to join me today. Wow, Jared, you really ran the spectrum in your names there. Daryl Jones has a lot of fans because of his raw athleticism. That hasn't yet translated into tangible stats, but the tools are there to make a lot of scouts excited. (Witness his high ranking by scouts as a prospect in the Appalachian League; No. 6). The hope is he develops into a regular. All Stavinoha has done is hit and hit and hit. Can he improve defensively to gain consideration? Perhaps. Can he hit well enough to be on a big-league bench? That's the idea. Haerther can reassert himself as a prospect this summer. He's a talented hitter and there is an opening for him -- or Rick Ankiel, I suppose -- to shove their way into the competition for 2008. Almost forgot because you can look above for the answer to your final question: Best bet to play alongside Rasmus in '09 has to be Jay right now. Jay-Rasmus-Duncan anyone?

 Q:  Colby Rasmus from Russell County High School, Seale, Alabama asks:
Where do I start this year? Palm Beach or Springfield. Could I possibly pull and Albert and make the Big C out of spring training?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Thanks for joining us Colby. All indications are that once you've taken some swings with the big leaguers this spring, you'll be given the chance to win the center field spot at Springfield. See you down there shortly.

 Q:  Q from Ohio asks:
What's the history on pitchers like Hawksworth --is he likely to hold together? Also, if all goes well, what is his ceiling? Is he only a back of the rotation -- since you had him listed as the no. 5 St. Louis starter?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Hawksworth had a one of the more impressive seasons in the Cardinals' minor-league system last year. After years lost to two serious injuries, Hawksworth regained his place among the club's top prospects and is the top-10 prospect closest to the majors. Don't confuse his No. 5 ranking there as a glimpse at his future. He's No. 5 in that list because of the other names on it -- Wainwright, Carpenter, etc. Hawksworth has a high ceiling.

 Q:  Frank from Denver asks:
What are your opinions on Mitchell Boggs?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Frank here asked a question that was asked almost verbatim by several other people. (Makes me wonder if Frank is also John, but that's besides the point ...) Glad somebody asked about Boggs. There are members of the Cardinals' organization who have been raving about Boggs for several seasons. So much so that I tried to attend his back-field starts as often as possible last spring. His mentality, his consistency and his makeup blended with his stuff is why he's so highly regarded in the minor-league offices. Other pitchers have better pitches, more electric stuff, but Boggs has a steady pulse that is just as valuable. Got to run. Thanks for joining this chat. Wish I could have gotten to more of the questions. Somewhere in there there has to be one about Amaury Cazana Marti ... -30-

 Q:  Rocky from Cardinal Nation asks:
Trey Hearne quietly had a terrific season. He certainly doesn't profile as a power pitcher, but the reports I've read of him is that he's very heady and has pinpoint control. Is Jeff Suppan a fair comp for Hearne?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: OK, OK. Some lagniappe. Just when I thought I could get away, two excellent questions pull be back in. (I've got Valentine's gifts to buy ...) Hearne had some of the best numbers of any pitcher in the minors. Hawksworth, Garcia and Hearne -- those were the trio of stories on the mound last summer. The radar gun does not love Hearne. Some scouts doubt Hearne will escape Double-A. Thing is, Hearne told me he's heard that at every level. At yet, he just keeps winning, keeps producing. He's not Jeff Suppan. Hearne doesn't throw as fast as Suppan, doesn't have a changeup as good as Suppan's. (I've heard Hawksworth compared to Suppan.) Hearne's game is location, location, location, a "sneaky-fast" fastball with movement and guile. Can't wait to see what he does at the next level.

 Q:  Andy from Iowa City asks:
The prospect book says that Mark McCormick will be 100% at spring training, but I've heard that he recently had surgery on his shoulder. Any truth to this? If so, when will he be pitching again?
 A: 

Derrick Goold: Got to be the last one. You are right. McCormick had a clean-up surgery done on his right shoulder. A "labral debridement". He is expected to throw off the mound by May. Hard to go out on an injury update. Thanks again. -30-