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Cardinals Chat with Will Lingo
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Moderator: Will Lingo will begin talking Cardinals at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Dave from Maryland asks:
where will chris lambert start 2005, at A Palm Beach or AA Springfield?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Welcome in everyone. Let's light this candle...

Will Lingo: Lambert didn't show his good stuff after the Cardinals made him their first-round pick last year, and he's not as experienced as the average premium college pitcher. So he'll open 2005 at high Class A Palm Beach.

 Q:  Dave from Maryland asks:
right now the cardinals have 5 of the first 80 in the 2005 draft what direction will they go with?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Way too early to guess on specific players, but we can be pretty sure they'll go for college guys--no high school players signed out of last year's draft--and impact bats are their biggest need, so that's where I would look.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
Where would Daric Barton have ranked if he wasn't traded?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Numero uno, I think. He clearly would have been the top bat in the system, so it would have come down to him and Reyes.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
How much did losing Haren and Barton damage the Cardinals' farm system?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Haren is no longer eligible for our lists (wasn't eligible last year either), but Barton definitely took a bite out of the system. He was probably the only player they had who you could project as a premium offensive player in the big leagues. But they've always been willing to trade for good veterans, and those deals have usually paid off.

 Q:  OppOJacks from So. Cal asks:
I am glad to finally see that Carmen Cali if finally getting some notice. All he has done is put up great numbers since he arrived in the Cardinals organization. What are his chances of making the roster out of spring training or sometime during the season? Also, What are your views as Cali as a prospect?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Cali will definitely compete for a big league job in spring training, and the Cardinals should have an opening for a lefty in the bullpen. If he doesn't break camp with the team, he'll go to Triple-A and could get called up at anytime if he performs well. He wouldn't be in the top 10 for most organizations, but he's a quality middle reliever. If he continues to throw in the mid-90s, he could be better than we think.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
What role do you foresee for John Gall? I like him and think his bat could help out off the bench right now.
 A: 

Will Lingo: I like him as well, but he battled shoulder problems and slumped at the end of last season and didn't get a September callup. He did show better power, but I think he might have to change organizations to get a shot at big league playing time. He projects as a big league reserve long-term.

 Q:  Chris from NJ asks:
I saw Mike Ferris when he was playing in the NY-Penn League. Though he wasn't all that impressive, what do you see for him in his first full season?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Ferris didn't sign until a month after the draft, and the Cardinals attribute the layoff to his lackluster debut. I think you have to go back to his college scouting report to get an idea of what to expect this season: good stroke, good plate discipline, good power, adequate defender at first, bad runner. He'll go to low Class A to start the season and try to show those tools.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
When John Nelson came back from his injury last year he seemed to put up some decent numbers. Any opportunity for him to dual Eckstein for the starting spot this year?
 A: 

Will Lingo: No. He hasn't proven himself as a hitter enough to make that a reasonable expectation. He looks good when he hits the ball solid, but he hasn't shown he can make the adjustments to do that consistently. He will try to win the Triple-A shortstop job instead.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
I was a bit surprised not to see Shaun Boyd in the top 10. Was he close? Thanks.
 A: 

Will Lingo: No. He has great tools but has not performed well enough to justify inclusion in the top 10, even in a relatively weak organization like the Cardinals. He'll be on the fringes of the top 30, even. Buy the Prospect Handbook to find out if he makes it!

 Q:  Steve from Las Vegas asks:
Does Calvin Hayes have a Major League future at all?
 A: 

Will Lingo: It would have to be based on an optimistic projection of his tools and a hope that he can finally stay healthy, which he has never done. He was drafted in 2002 and has just 283 career at-bats, missing time with a wrist injury in 2003 and a hamstring injury last year. He'll probably be back in low Class A to start the year. If he gets in a full season, then we can start thinking about whether he has a big league future.

 Q:  Stephen Milner from Lexington, KY asks:
I know that John Gall probably didn't qualify for this list because of his age, but what is the likelihood that he'll have any impact at the Major League level. Is he a 4-A player?!? Also, what sort of ceiling is there for Adam Wainwright and how do you see him performing this year?
 A: 

Will Lingo: A lot of John Gall love out there today. His age doesn't disqualify him for the list, though clearly it's a factor in the judgment of every prospect. As I said before, I think he's a big league reserve, which isn't a whole lot different than a 4-A player.

Will Lingo: Wainwright's ceiling is probably that of a No. 2 or 3 starter, though he has never dominated hitters the way you feel like he should based on his stuff. His performance will depend a lot on whether he's fully recovered from last year's elbow strain. He's supposed to be healthy, and if so he'll be in the Triple-A rotation.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
Travis Hanson will never make the majors unless he improves his KBB ratio, right?
 A: 

Will Lingo: That would help. He also hasn't shown much pop, so it's hard to figure out what his offensive profile is going to be. He broke his ankle last year so played in just 57 games. He's a good defender, and the Cardinals moved him to second last year. He might open at third this year as he eases back into action, but long-term he'll probably go back to second.

 Q:  A.J. Simon from Nutbush, CA asks:
Please tell my brother that Rick Ankiel is going to be a great pitcher again.
 A: 

Will Lingo: Rick Ankiel is going to be great again.

 Q:  J Deloney from Dayton, OH asks:
The Cardinals don't have an outstanding recent history of drafting, particularly with position players. Might we see a somewhat dramatic shift in drafting philosophies (moving away from low-ceiling college players)?
 A: 

Will Lingo: The dramatic shift came last year, with no high school players getting signed, but the Cardinals have always favored college players. The club hasn't drafted a high school pitcher with its first pick since 1980, and in the last 10 years have used the first pick on high school players just three times: Shaun Boyd, Cal Hayes and Daric Barton. So I wouldn't expect the college lean to change.

 Q:  J Deloney from Dayton, OH asks:
Outside of Yadier Molina, are there any other catching prospects in this system? Seems to me that there is quite a dearth of catching.
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think Brandon Yarbrough is the only legitimate catching prospect in the system, and he hasn't played full-season ball yet. But he has a good lefthanded bat with some pop. The question is whether he'll be able to stay behind the plate. He will be the catcher at low Class A Quad Cities to open the season.

 Q:  Petey Pablo from Carrboro NC asks:
What do you see as John Nelson's eventual position (short, third, right?) and where is he likely to open the '05 season?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Interestingly, one scout told me during the season that he would like to see the Cardinals try Nelson on the mound because his arm is so strong and his bat is so questionable. I would expect him to play mostly shortstop at Memphis this year, but he could also play in the outfield.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
John Nelson is prospect-oldish at 25 in 2004 but he put up surprisingly good numbers for a SS at AA. Previously, the best that was being said about him is "he should be a pitcher, with that arm." Is he a SS prospect or should he be toeing the rubber in 2005?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I'm not sure why I also chose this question to answer, since I just answered it. But hello to Tom, and thanks for joining us today. My fault.

 Q:  from asks:
OF Skip Schumaker was able to build on a good year at AA Tennessee with an impressive winter ball campaign. How close was he to making the top 10?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Not that close, though he will be in the top 30. Schumaker, a Jim Callis favorite, is an outstanding defender but doesn't offer enough with the bat to project as a regular at this point. He did show encouraging signs in Double-A and in Venezuela this winter, but he'll have to prove he can keep hitting for average and draw walks because he offers no power.

 Q:  Jim from Florham Park asks:
I keep hearing Anthony Reyes is the hottest prospect the Cards have. That said, how high is his ceiling? What makes him more special than some of the other arms the Cards have had in the minor leagues over the past 5 years?
 A: 

Will Lingo: He's what you might call a fringe impact player, meaning it's possible he could be a dominant big league pitcher but not likely. If he can stay healthy, he does have potentially dominant stuff, with a mid-90s fastball, good slider and changeup and great command. He was regarded as a stud early in his Southern California career before injuries dragged him down, and like many of the Cardinals' top pitching prospects over the last few years, health will be the big question.

 Q:  Kerry from Chicago asks:
How close was Mark Michael to making your Top 10? And what are your general thoughts on him. He looks like he posts some pretty solid numbers when healthy.
 A: 

Will Lingo: Michael probably would have been in the top 10 if not for shoulder problems that ended his season early. He's got a nice assortment of pitches--89-93 mph fastball, curveball, change--and isn't afraid of working inside. He hit 19 batters to tie for the Midwest League lead last year, even though he made just 20 starts. He just needs to stay healthy and get innings to move up the list.

 Q:  Dan from Phoenix asks:
Who is more likely to be promoted to the big leagues first, Anthony Reyes or Adam Wainwright?
 A: 

Will Lingo: I think Reyes is next on the Cardinals' list, providing he stays healthy and performs well.

 Q:  Brian from Muncie, IN asks:
In your opinion, was Haren, Barton and Calero too much to give up for Mulder?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Assuming Mulder is healthy, no.

 Q:  mr. abe froman from chicago asks:
do you think the cardinals recent changes in drafting and scouting have resulted in better drafts? in which direction do you see the cards farm system headed?
 A: 

Will Lingo: The Sausage King of Chicago is in the house! It's too early to tell if the changes have had a positive effect yet, but the thing that impresses you about the Cardinals organization is that they have a plan and everyone in the front office buys in and knows the goal is winning in the big leagues. So their minor league talent is weak right now, but they don't mind as long as they are going to the playoffs. They do need to build the talent back up, and I think the college-heavy draft approach is designed to do that. And as long as Walt Jocketty can keep making deals for players like Renteria (I know he's gone now), Edmonds and Mulder, the Cardinals should be OK.

 Q:  Bill from Illinois asks:
What do you think about some of last year's draft players in their debut? Jarret Hoffpauir showed great contact ability and some pop. Mike Parisi was impressive after a promotion to Peoria. Donnie Smith showed an outstanding K:BB ratio. But Mike Ferris was very disappointing. Where do you see some of these guys starting next season, and what type of prospects are they?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Chris Lambert is the only 2004 draftee to make the top 10, but several of the guys you mention will be in the top 30. We've already touched on Ferris. As for the others, I think Donnie Smith might be the most interesting. He was used in a strange role at Old Dominion, alternating between starting and relieving, but he has a 93 mph fastball and good slider. The Cardinals will try him as a starter first. Parisi was a strikeout machine at Manhattan College and throws about as hard as Smith, and he bears watching as well. Hoffpauir had a good debut but has a low ceiling; I see him as more of an organizational player.

 Q:  J Deloney from Dayton, OH asks:
Brandon DeJaynes put up impressive numbers and also looked good in person. What does the future hold for him?
 A: 

Will Lingo: We're going to have to wrap this up soon if you guys want to get your Prospect Handbooks before spring training starts. So I'll whip through a few more questions...

Will Lingo: The Cardinals signed DeJaynes as a nondrafted free agent in 2003, and he has performed well in the lower levels of their system. He's strictly a reliever, but if he overmatches hitters the way he has so far he could move quickly.

 Q:  Marty from STL asks:
We here about the health of the bigger prospects like Wainwright, Hawksworth, and Thompson after they missed time last year, but what about guys like Michael and Parrott? What is there status heading into next season?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Michael would have pitched in instructional league last fall if the Cardinals' program hadn't been canceled due to hurricanes. Parrott had arthroscopic surgery last year and should be healthy for spring training.

 Q:  Tom from Hawaii asks:
Will Mike Ferris and Billy Becher add much needed power and hitting to the cardinals system?
 A: 

Will Lingo: Yes and no.

 Q:  Dave from GA asks:
Is this the worst farm in the league? Without Barton, this group looks beyond pitiful...please tell me they'll draft a HS player or two next year!?! St Louis brass are worse than Billy Beane...
 A: 

Will Lingo: Cardinals said they did not purposely ignore high school players early in the draft; they just had college players higher on the board when their pick came around. But I would expect the college-centric approach to continue. I wouldn't rank the Cardinals as the worst, but they are certainly in the bottom group.

 Q:  Tom from Hawaii asks:
What did Chris Duncan do that caused him to hit better this season. he had struggled previously. Was it plate displine, a shorter swing, pitch recognization or simple maturity.
 A: 

Will Lingo: Probably a combination of all of those, but improved plate discipline was probably the biggest thing.

 Q:  Felipe from Jersey City asks:
How high are the Cardinals on Juan Lucena? After a great season at Johnson City, he put up fabulous numbers this winter as the starting shortstop on what may be the best team in all of the winter leagues.
 A: 

Will Lingo: People always ask for sleepers, and this would be a guy to keep an eye on. He did have a good winter for the Aragua Tigers, batting .346, and he's solid on defense. If he can get stronger, he could move up the Cardinals list.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
Should the Cardinals trade Scott Rolen now and hand the job over to Gabe Johnson? He can crush the ball...
 A: 

Will Lingo: Uh, no.

 Q:  The gooch from somewhere in goonie land asks:
Will, when does my prospect handbook arrive. Also, when will my new baseball america magazine come in? Don't make me give you guys wedges!!
 A: 

Will Lingo: The Prospect Handbook is on its way out the door and should be in your hands in about a month. If you didn't get your NL Central Top 10 Prospects issue this week, you'll get it soon.

Will Lingo: And on that note, I have to head out. Thanks for all the questions; sorry I couldn't get to more of them. I'm sure we'll be chatting again soon.

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