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

St. Louis Cardinals: 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, 2009.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Are the Cardinals looking to keep Jaime Garcia in the bullpen for the forseeable future? Also, was his TJ the only reason why he missed the Top 10 list this year?

Derrick Goold: First, let me say thanks for joining me this afternoon. Looking forward to the questions. Took a quick scan of the gobs already here and found many to be pointed, excellent and compelling. Hope the answers are the same. Garcia was a tough ranking this year because he had Tommy John surgery after the season. Do you rank him on his potential — which is still high — or do you recognize he probably won't throw that many innings in 2009? I went with the latter. That shouldn't indicate, however, that his stock has falling. Garcia, when healthy, is the top pitching prospect in the organization. Excuse me, top STARTING pitching prospect in the system. He was used in relief later in the season not because the Cardinals see that as his future but because the club was so hungry for quality lefty relief in the present. He filled a role. Did well in it. But they want him to start — once that elbow is back to normal.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Why didn't Rasmus want to play any winter ball this past year?

Derrick Goold: The club asked him to play this winter. They wanted him to make for lost at-bats. Rasmus declined because, as he told me later, he wanted the winter to get healthy, get comfortable and get ready to make another run at the major-league roster this spring. The 2008 season did nothing to harm his stock as the organization's top prospect, but it was a learning experience for Rasmus, and it seemed like he just needed a winter to reset.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
How far off the Top 10 did Jon Jay fall? With Rasmus and Jones competing for an OF spot, where does this leave him?

Derrick Goold: Not far at all. Jay is right there on the fringe of the Top 10, in that No. 11, No. 12 neighborhood. I don't see Rasmus and Jay competing for the same spot. Jay fits the mold of a No. 4 outfielder to start his career and a nice fit in left field if there is power coming from center (read: Rasmus) and a need for a No. 1 or No. 2 hitter. There is an obvious comparison between Jay and Skip Schumaker, with Schumaker's biggest plus being a much better arm. Jones is the wild card. He oozes tools and could develop more power to go with his speed. If he clicks in the majors, he'll start.

 Q:  Randall from Your Computer asks:
I see you have Kozma at 2B on your 2012 lineup card. Does he have the tools to play this position, or will he be sticking at SS as far as you know?

Derrick Goold: Pete Kozma is listed at second base in 2012 out of necessity as much as anything. He'll advance as a shortstop and stay at shortstop as long as his defense is there. Kozma's glove is his best selling point and it's good enough compensate for some of the offensive struggles he's had and appears likely to have as he climbs. If he doesn't make the majors as a shortstop, there will be plenty of critics about that pick in the 2007 draft. You can almost see the two words on the tip of their tongues: Rick. Porcello.

 Q:  Craig from Nashville, TN asks:
Derrick, How close were Lance Lynn & Derryk Hooker to making the list and what can you tell us about their upside potential ?

Derrick Goold: Both made the rankings, just not the top 10 list. Lynn was the closer of the two for a lot of the reasons the Cardinals picked in high in the most recent draft. He's a durable, solid and project-able starter. He's got enough pitches to advance as a starter. He's got a pitch with a downward bite that Cardinals value and promote. And he's like a lot of the pitchers the Cardinals desire — a college pitcher from a quality conference who they know will perform. Those are traits of a top-20 prospect in this system. Hooker is as much promise as prospect. There is a lot to like from the young pitcher — starting with his 73 strikeouts in 64 innings this past season and continuing with a frame that is likely to fill out as he matures. Initial production is sound, the scouts like him (though some of the raves come with caveats about his mechanics) and there ample reason to believe he'll improve. That's the stuff of a top-20 prospect ... after another quality season.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Did Niko Vasquez come close to your Top 10, and what are scouts telling you about him?

Derrick Goold: Niko Vasquez stormed into instructs and made such an impression that one of the minor-league pitching coaches raved about him. The bat plays. Whether he'll stay at shortstop or finally give the Cardinals that offensive prospect at second base remains to be determined. He was promoted aggressively the past summer (and who wasn't?) and he turned heads when coaches got their first long exposure to him. Vasquez was close to the top 10. He's the top half of the rankings, and should be bookmarked as a player to watch — how well he hits, and where he plays in the field.

 Q:  Ian from RI asks:
I'd like to know if Sam Freeman got consideration for your list. Thanks!

Derrick Goold: He did. Not in the top 10, but somewhere in the 30, yes. Spoke with Sam Freeman at the beginning of the offseason because he had such an intriguing debut coming out of Kansas. I also thought it was interesting that one of the best athletes at instructs was a pitcher. (Word was his time to first was among the best — if not the best — of the group.) The Cardinals are in need of lefty relief help throughout the system, an in that regard Freeman has a clear path to advance as quickly as his production carries him. Look no further than holding lefties to a .038 average and striking out 14 of the 28 he faced last season to see what role they want him to fill.

 Q:  Paul from DC asks:
What can you tell us about late pick Curt Smith, and did he crack your 30?

Derrick Goold: Curt Smith is a fascinating prospect how did not crack the 30, but was good enough to finish the season at Low-A Quad Cities and also won the Appy League Player of the Year. As his manager said: He got there "and he never stopped hitting." Smith is a native of Curacao and he attended the University of Maine. He's a first baseman, so always keep that in mind with this system, but he's got enough natural offensive ability to force his way into any prospect conversation. He's got good strong hands and can make something out of an at-bat even when he's fooled. And there's the hint of improving power — 22 extra-base hits in his first 200 plate appearances as a pro.

 Q:  Elly from West Lake, OH asks:
No love for Adam Reifer? He seems to have good mechanics from what people are saying, including BA.

Derrick Goold: Plenty of "love" for Adam Reifer. I'd have to check to be sure, but I don't think anybody climbed higher who was within the system than Reifer. He's an arm that people were talking about entering the 2008 season and he met the hype. He's got one of the team's best fastballs, one of the best arms in the organization and he clearly handle late-inning relief. Do it again and he's a top-10 prospect easy. He just has to do it again. The season he had for Batavia coupled with his stuff put him on the cusp of the top 10, right around 13.

 Q:  Jeff from Springfield, Mo asks:
Wow Derrick, no top 10 for Boggs? Those two games in the MLB must have really hurt his stock with you guys. Have people forgotten he was the best pitcher in the PCL last year?

Derrick Goold: Yeah, that one is a toughie. Still wrestling with it, because how does a guy who did what Boggs did last season in the majors — remember how he pitched at Fenway? — and could be back in that No. 6/bullpen role this season not crack the top 10? Some of it has to do with the prospects ahead of him. Some of it has to do with his role. The Cardinals, no doubt, will disagree with this ranking. But at the same time they cannot pencil him into the rotation right now nor can they said his ultimate role in the majors will be in the rotation. Since seeing Boggs on the back fields years ago, I've been a advocate of him being aggressively ranked and I don't like downgrading a prospect just as he's about to reach the majors (See: Mike Parisi), but as you start filling the prospects and their ceilings and their place right now, Boggs fits with Jay — just on the outside of the top 10. But really, from prospect No. 8 through No. 13 you could put them in any order and be completely accurate. That's the kind of system the Cardinals have built.

 Q:  dave from nyc asks:
Which is more likely to you - Bryan Anderson moving to another position (perhaps 2B), or getting traded?

Derrick Goold: Right now? Today? Traded.

 Q:  Chris from Gaylord, MI asks:
Will Wallace stick at 3rd? Or is he more likely to move to OF? I see the move happening because they will want to advance him. What do you think about that?

Derrick Goold: Wallace better stick at third for him to reach his max value and max potential with the team that drafted him. The phrase I hear most from scouts and others about his defense is: "He's better than I expected." The followup question is: "Well, what'd you expect?" There is a phrase that the Cardinals use around the major leagues to describe an arm or a glove that is adequate enough to play the position, any position. That word ... "playable." Wallace is, right now, "playable" at third base and he's insistent that he'll improve. Spring training will be a boot camp for him. They will also look at him in the outfield during spring training because as John Mozeliak said in December they want to find a way to make room for Wallace's bat as soon as Wallace's bat forces a promotion.

 Q:  Daryl Jones Fan from Tampa, FL asks:
Daryl Jones must be one of only a handful of players to have produced around a .300 average, .400 OBP, and .500 SLG., while striking out less than 100 times. Throw in over 20 stolen bases, and a two-level climb through the minors, and it's easy to see why the Cards voted him minor league player of the year in their system. Maintaining success in AA, while actually showing more power, gives us an indication that he will continue to harness his impressive skillset. Are there any major leaguers whose names are comparatively mentioned when discussing Jones inside and outside the Cards' system?

Derrick Goold: This is a question that I get a lot — compare Prospect X to Major Leaguer Y. Is Jon Jay a lefthanded Doug Glanville? How fair is it to compare Brett Wallace at the plate to, say, Lance Berkman? To address this, I kind of look at like a spectrum — who the prospect would be like if he made the majors and who the prospect would be like if he max'd his potential, or reached his ceiling. The high of that spectrum for Jones, the one I most often here from scouts, is Carl Crawford. That seems like a shoot-for-the-All-Star comparison, but in many ways it works as what Jones' high, high end potential is.

 Q:  Big Dave from Arkansas asks:
Where would Jaime Garcia have ranked if he hadn't gone down w/ the injury?

Derrick Goold: Top five. No doubt.

 Q:  Indiana Cardinal from Lowell, Indiana asks:
Two prospect administration questions: First,has anybody with the Cardinals explained why they did not protect P Luis Perdomo on the 40 man roster thus losing him in the Rule 5 draft? I realize the Giants or another team taking him on waivers from the Giants will have to keep him on the 25 man roster all season, but the BB America write up on the Rule 5 draft indicates other team picking after the Giants wanted him also. The Cards both then and now certainly had room on their 40 man roster to avoid the risk of losing him. With 3 options the Cards would certainly have then had time to see if he developed into the major league pitcher that they claim and the Giants apparently feel he can become. Additionally on Perdomo, if the Cards still had him or get him back where would he rate on their top 30 prospects? Second question is, have you heard anything as to who the 3 players are from which list the Padres get to pick the PTBNL by April 1st to complete the trade for SS K Greene? I know that sometimes those names are leaked by either the trading or receiving team. Thanks. I really enjoy your work for BB America and the P-D.

Derrick Goold: They have explained it yes, and whether or not it is a valid explanation is up for debate. The Cardinals are banking that Perdomo won't be able to stick in the majors. They also felt that he wouldn't crack their depth in righthanded relief. The risk they run is their wrong, and they didn't have to take that risk as you mention. They also would end the Anthony Reyes Saga with nothing. Perdomo may have cracked the top 30, he certainly would have been in discussion for that 28-35 range. His numbers would have put him there, but I might have elected to put a starter or a position player ahead of a reliever. As for the PTBNL: One is a position player, Two are pitchers. Kevin Towers said he wanted to some flexibility depending on what players they landed in other deals (Read: Jake Peavy, at the time) and they wanted a chance to see at least one of the options. As for names, there has only been speculation, nothing substantiated.

 Q:  Todd from Chattanooga asks:
Does Jess Todd really have #2 quality stuff - or are the Cardinals hurting with frontline pitching depth?

Derrick Goold: There is a wide spectrum of opinion on Todd. Some see his cutter and his slider and his overall makeup and see a starter, perhaps even a No. 3 or so starter. Others see him pitch and think he's bound for the bullpen. That's really the situation in the Cardinals' minors. Beyond Jaime Garcia, who is injured, there hasn't been that front-line starter to emerge from the system. There are some who have that potential, but they've been bogged down by injury, inconsistency or mechanical issues. Todd is closer to the group that includes Lynn, Boggs, Walters, etc. than to that surefire frontline starter. He's just at the head of that class.

 Q:  Jason from Chicago asks:
The Cardinals certainly have a logjam of outfielders. How confident are you that a spot will be made available for Rasmus before the start of the 2009 season?

Derrick Goold: As manager Tony La Russa said in his office at Busch Stadium: Rasmus has the talent to push others aside. When he's ready, there is a spot for him. The other players the Cardinals have will move around to accommodate Rasmus. At least that's how La Russa explained the situation — and it makes season. Rasmus, with a good spring, could be the Cardinals leadoff hitter. He could be the starting center fielder. But he'll have to show he's ready to surpass Schumaker and Ankiel, respectively, to do that. The logjam won't block him.

 Q:  Big Dave from Arkansas asks:
How high is the organization on Richard Castillo? Did they have any interesting comments about him?

Derrick Goold: Quite high. And rightfully so: Here was a teenager thrust onto the High-A pitching staff because he was nearby and they needed an arm — and he shined. They moved him back to Quad Cities to get more innings as a starter and he kept going. Castillo wasn't highly sought after as a free agent in Venezuela. ("We would have been OK if he signed with another team, if they offered more," said one official.) But he was their best pitcher there. He was their best pitcher when he came to the backfields in Jupiter. And he was the best teenage pitcher in the system. It will be a good race ... what happens first — he turns 20 or he starts for Class AA.

 Q:  Big Dave from Arkansas asks:
How many of the top 10 prospects can I look forward to watching in Memphis this year?

Derrick Goold: Eight, give or take the need at the major-league level. And yes that number does include Brett Wallace. Have to believe he'll be there sooner than later.

 Q:  Nick from Boston asks:
Derrick, Great list, I love Todd at #4, what are some reasonable expectations for him in the future? Some people say he is destined for the bullpen, but I see in the 2012 projection he is the #2 starter. Is he really good enough to be a #2 for the Cardinals? Thanks again!

Derrick Goold: Explored this topic a few questions ago. Todd has upside, but opinions on him vary. The short answer is he'll get a chance to be a starter until he proves otherwise or there is a need for him as a reliever. Jaime Garcia has a better chance to be the No. 2 for the Cardinals than Todd, but Todd has health on his side right now.

 Q:  Gavin Aiston from Ottawa asks:
Did Fernando Salas receive any consideration for your top 10? Do you see him primarily as a RP or possibly given a shot to start at AA in 2009? Thanks!! Gavin

Derrick Goold: Chiming in from Ottawa. One of my favorite places to go back on the hockey beat — and skate the canal. Anyway ... Yes, Salas got consideration. Salas had a tremendous year, but in making the list I didn't see a way for Salas to rank ahead of Francisco Samuel, even though Samuel's number came at one level lower than Salas'. Have not heard much about Samuel as a starter, though his stuff could make the transition. I could see both Salas and Samuel in the same bullpen in the near future. Samuel's got wicked stuff. Salas has great command of his fastball. There's a lot to like about having them both moving quickly through the system.

 Q:  Ken from Lakewood CA asks:
Thanks for the chat. Wondering why David Freese isn't more highly regarded? He seems to hit wherever he goes and I don't read anything bad about his glove. A .300+ BA and 26 HR in AAA would seem to say this guy is ready? Yes Wallace is the 3B in 2010. But why isn't there more clammer for Freese? It seems like some team could use a 3B like him?

Derrick Goold: Could be his age. Could be all that time he spent blocked in the San Diego system without sniffing Double-A. Freese, who will turn 26 this coming season, is pinched between the 3B of the Now (Troy Glaus) and the 3B of the Future (Wallace). He had a breakout year in 2008, and that put him in the the top 10, but it wasn't the only reason. He's also a superb defensive third baseman and that could be his route to the majors — as a versatile bat, a player who can handle the outfield, first base and play third. Come to think of it ... There is an opening.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Had Mitch Harris not had a prior commitment to the Navy, approximately where would you have ranked him overall in your Top 30?

Derrick Goold: Fascinating question. His story was certainly worth a ranking, just to explore that alone. But on stuff and ceiling and all of those things you pour into the pot to cook up a ranking, I'm not sure he would have edged any of the other prospects in the Top 30. It will be interesting to see if you can ask me the same question a year from now. He can still sign with the Cardinals, and the club did try to arrange some kind of schedule that allowed him to pitch and fulfill is military obligation.

 Q:  Tony from New York asks:
Are the Cardinals really considering moving Anderson to 2B? Also, who is the most likely candidate to break out like Jones this year... Tommy Pham? Other?

Derrick Goold: For the past couple years there are two tell-tale signs that the Winter Warmup is approaching. Fans want to know of Skip Schumaker can play second base and fans want to know if Bryan Anderson can play second base. Schumaker has laughed at the idea, saying he hasn't taken groundballs since college. Anderson said last year: "Let me know if I need to bring a different glove to spring training." At last check, moving Anderson was not on the front-burner for the Cardinals, but it also something that they haven't rule out. There is some question whether or not second would be the move, or if that would be too taxing for him.

 Q:  Harry from Idaho asks:
Was Rasmus the clear #1, or was it close between him and Wallace?

Derrick Goold: Rasmus was the clear No. 1. This is the third consecutive year he'll be the team No. 1 prospect in this list, and it is likely the last time he'll be eligible.

 Q:  Zachary from Rutland asks:
What kind of value could the Cardinals get in return for Bryan Anderson?

Derrick Goold: If this winter is any indication, the Cardinals will be looking to get a better answer about that in July. The names that came up most in trades this winter were Rasmus (of course) and Samuel, among a scattering of other prospects (like Boggs). Anderson was seen as a complementary element of any proposed trades, one that helps sweeten the deal, not make it. He'll get plenty of playing time to increase his value to the Cardinals — and sell his value to other clubs — this season.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Kennesaw Ga asks:
Mark McCormick? is he ascending, or descending? How would you rate the Cards system? Top 10? Lower 30?

Derrick Goold: Descending. This was a big year for the big-arm, big-bonus righthander out of Baylor. And he wasn't protected in the rule 5 draft. He has a lot of ground to make up before he reaches the potential his draft pick and his velocity indicated to some. Cards system? It's in the top half. If you want depth, it's probably top 10. If you're looking for star quality alone, it may slip to the edge of the top 10.

 Q:  Phil from Chandler, AZ asks:
Is Colby Rasmus going to the NL's version of Grady Sizemore?

Derrick Goold: More than a few scouts/officials I have talked to make that comparison, but let's see him play in the National League first.

 Q:  Bryan from San Francisco asks:
Any chance we see Mortenson in the Big Leagues in 2009?

Derrick Goold: Yes. He's got a fan, a very important and influential fan in Dave Duncan. Mortensen was pushed this past season to Triple-A, and that will serve him well as he preps for a likely September callup, at the least.

 Q:  chris from san diego asks:
Was pete kozma an overdraft in the first round? He doesn't have an above average tool nor do his tools jump out at you like other first rounders.Dont you think they could have waited a couple of rounds and still have gotten him?

Derrick Goold: Kozma was clearly the safe and solid pick in the first round of the 2007 draft, and it did address a need for the Cardinals. They are lacking — or were lacking — depth in the middle infield and are in many ways looking for that headliner middle-infield prospect. Kozma was the consensus top shortstop prep prospect in that draft, so he wouldn't have lasted long enough for the Cardinals to select later. The question will be whether they should have picked another player at that spot. The answer will be clear in a couple years.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
With Wallace, Freese and Allen Craig, the Cardinals are a big logjammed at 3B. Who ends up being the odd man or men out?

Derrick Goold: All three are going to have bring a few gloves to spring training as the Cardinals try to sort this out. Freese is the best glove at third base. Wallace has the most potential as a hitter. Craig has performed well enough at the plate that you want to find a place for him somewhere. He'll be the first move around a good bit, and the others will get looks in the outfield, at first base and at third as the Cardinals try to find a way to fit all three on the depth chart — and possibly at the same level.

 Q:  Don from Gilbert, AZ asks:
The high ranking of Chris Perez makes it seem that he could become an elite closer. However the truly elite closers (Papelbon, Rivera, Nathan) all share one rarely mentioned aspect: control - specifically minimizing walks. Will Dave Duncan be able to get Chris Perez to harness his control and at least get his BB% (12% in 2008) cut in half in order for Perez to become an elite closer?

Derrick Goold: That has to be the goal. The Cardinals returned him to Triple-A this past season so that he could get that work on his breaking ball in and get better command of it. He's got a pretty good slider. It could be a real good slider if he can throw it for a strike, consistently and effectively. That will be his objective this spring, because the Cardinals are in the market for a closer ...

 Q:  Greg from Oklahoma asks:
Who were the guys that just missed the cut? And who has the biggest breakout potential for 2009?

Derrick Goold: Some of the guys who just missed the top 30 or were considered for that No. 30 area were, in no order, Sam Freeman, Deryk Hooker, Frederick Parejo, Mark Worrell (until he was traded to San Diego), D'Marcus Ingram, Brad Furnish and Shane Peterson. I'm probably forgetting some, but that gives you a flavor of the spectrum to choose from Breakouts? Well, some of the following are ranked in the top 30 and a few aren't, but they still count ... think of them as breakouts and breakthroughts: Scott Gorgen, Luke Gregerson, Arnoldi "Tony" Cruz and I think Adam Ottavino has the potential to pull a Daryl Jones-like return.

 Q:  Jay from Washington DC asks:
Will PJ Walters pitch in the big leagues this year, and if so, in what role?

Derrick Goold: The description I heard from a minor-league coach I trust: "Walters will pitch in the big-leagues." There was no ETA offered, but his trajectory is an arrival sometime in 2009, and probably in that September callup area. Walters is a trick to watch. I first saw him in person back in Quad Cities and have seen him throw at several levels since. He's got a great changeup, and he knows how to use it and he'll do so as a starter. There is a lot to like about his makeup, his durability and the quality of his stuff. It's not overwhelming. It doesn't dazzle the radar guns. But, man, it works.

 Q:  Rick from St Louis asks:
I was really curious if Allen Craig would make the top 10. Did he merit consideration over Peter Kozma for 10?

Derrick Goold: Kozma's edge is his ability to play defense. Of all the prospects I talk to each season, one of the comments that stayed with me this year was Kozma's when he explained how people see him. He said once is not enough. ... Hold on a sec, let me go get the exact quote ... This is from the Post-Dispatch this past season: "I am really nothing too flashy," Kozma said. "I don't see myself as an All-Star the first time you see me. I can understand that. Over the course of the season, though, it's the things I do to help a team, the steady things, how reliable I play." His reliable defense is what sets him apart for this question. Craig is a man looking to improve on his position, or a man looking for a position. Kozma is a capable glove at a premium position. That breaks ties.

 Q:  Scott from Chicago, IL asks:
In terms of just pure hitting where would Brett Wallace rank among top position prospects? I realize that his ability to play 3rd base defensively is questioned by many and there is no room at 1st base in St. Louis. Thanks for the chat.

Derrick Goold: Do you mean within the Cardinals' organization? He would be at the top in pure hitting ability. Across baseball? Well, Jim Callis, the editor of the Prospects Handbook here at Baseball America, was kind enough to help me put together a blog entry this morning that ranked the top prospects for the entire NL Central, all in one Top 30. Looking at that list — and this is just my opinion — Wallace is the pure hitter in the group. The bat plays. We'll see where the glove does.

 Q:  Matt from Soulard asks:
DG- what kind of ceiling is being projected for Niko Vasquez? Is he viewed as potentially an Edgar Renteria/Yunel Escobar type shortstop?

Derrick Goold: Those two names represent a pretty high ceiling. Vasquez's offensive potential is high, but to be compared to those two shortstop's his defense has some catching up to do. I can reserve judgment after he gets a full season of pro ball on the back of his baseball card. But no one I've asked can guarantee he'll advance at shortstop, and he would have to do that to even be mentioned in the same company as the above.

 Q:  Jake from Bartlett, IL asks:
Hi Derrick! Love the chat. Is there any truth to the rumor that the Cardinals are going to give Wallace time in left field this spring to possibly expedite getting his bat into the big league lineup? Thanks for taking my question.

Derrick Goold: Yes. That is more than a rumor. That is a report. The Cardinals will do that, just in case Wallace's bat is ready for the big leagues before there is a position there for him.

 Q:  Mike from Raleigh, NC asks:
How do you see Brian Barton's prospect status? It seems that some Rule 5 picks get lost since they must sit on the MLB roster for the entire year even if they are not MLB ready. Do you think he will start the year in AAA? What do you think his ceiling is? Where would he be placed if eligible for this list? Thanks!

Derrick Goold: I've got about six more minutes and several dozen questions, so I'll attack as many as I can. I like this question. Clearly the Cardinals kept Brian Barton around this past season to gain control of his rights. He'll be back in Triple-A this coming season because there is so much traffic in the outfield at the big-league level. I'll do this Joyce-style: stream of conscious. To see where he would rank, I would first look at where Joe Mather would have fit and then dial it back a few spots. Mather would have fit in the top 10, probably bumping Kozma or Motte out. Barton would have fit, snugly, behind Garcia. So, he's a top 15, not the top five he was last year because the majors weren't all that kind. He did impress, though, and he's clearly better in games, livelier in games and more toolsy in games than he is when you're watching him around batting practice or spring training.

 Q:  Jerred G from York, pa asks:
How good can Steven Hill be?

Derrick Goold: Really good if he can stick at catcher. I personally in quite intrigued by both Hill and Tony Cruz. Hill got the plum invitation to the Arizona Fall League as the Cardinals' bonus player (he was limited on the days he could play) and he did well. He'll move around and as long as he proves adept at several position — including that trump card catcher — I'm eager to see where his offense takes him.

 Q:  Jerred from York, Pa asks:
Are there any pitchers in the low minors who we should keep an eye on?

Derrick Goold: Deryk Hooker, as mentioned before, is a good one. Richard Castillo is another, though he may not be in the low minors for long. Scott Gorgen was mentioned above. He may not fit the "low minors" bracket, but he hasn't been talked about enough in here and he deserves to be highlighted: Nick Additon. A finesse lefty that had one of the finer 2008 in the system. And deep down in the minors, out of Venezuela, closer David Brito had a tremendous year with 0.30 ERA in 30 1/3 innings.

 Q:  Kissel from Florida asks:
Will newest 40-man addition Matt Scherer have a chance to contribute to the pen this year?

Derrick Goold: Was wondering when his name would come up, and this will have to be the penultimate question for the chat. Scherer was added to the 40-man roster and was somewhat a surprise especially with Perdomo being left off. The Cardinals fixated on Scherer's strikeout rate from previous seasons, and took into account forearm soreness he had this past season that limited the velocity of his fastball. He would have to hurdle a parade of righthanded relievers to reach the majors this season, but we've learned that in recent years the Cardinals do go through their relief. Scherer can do a lot in spring training to put himself high on the depth chart for when the call goes out to Memphis.

 Q:  Dave from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL asks:
At what level does Roberto de la Cruz start 2009?

Derrick Goold: Some initial discussion has put him at Johnson City when it opens the season after extended spring training.

 Q:  Doug from Phx asks:
With your recent article about PJ Walters just wondering if was in the top 30?

Derrick Goold: He did. He's in the top 20. (OK, I do know the definition of penultimate, but I saw one followup that I could get to quickly.)

 Q:  Andy from Iowa CIty asks:
Who will be the Cards' Rookie of the Year in 2009? 2010? 2011?

Derrick Goold: I'm awful at these prediction things because I just overthink them. But this one looked like a fun one to answer as the final question. Thanks for taking the time to keep up with this today, and I know there dozens of questions left unanswered, so please fire them away to or log them at the blog and I'll do my best to get to them. So, rookie of the year for the Cardinals in 2009? Easy. Rasmus. Rookie of the Year 2010? Hard. Would you consider Garcia still eligible? Yes, then Garcia. Rookie of the Year 2011? Much harder. There are some real strong candidates, not the least of which is that lefthanded slugger we've talked so much about. He could find himself hitting in the heart of the order, near Albert Pujols ... Hmm. I'll break from the obvious. Rookie of the 2011? Daryl Jones. Thanks again everyone. Tip your moderator.