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St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Prospects

By Will Lingo

1. Jimmy Journell, rhp

Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Illinois, 1999 (4th round). Signed by: Scott Melvin.

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Cardinals Top Prospects

1992 Donovan Osborne, lhp
1993 Allen Watson, lhp
1994 Brian Barber, rhp
1995 Alan Benes, rhp
1996 Alan Benes, rhp
1997 Matt Morris, rhp
1998 Rick Ankiel, lhp
1999 J.D. Drew, of
2000 Rick Ankiel, lhp
2001 Bud Smith, lhp

Background: Like a lot of organizations before the 1999 draft, the Cardinals loved Journell’s arm but didn’t know what to make of the Tommy John surgery he had a week before the draft. Before that, he had been a dominant closer at Illinois. They took him in the fourth round, signed him for $250,000 and tried to be patient. He didn’t pitch at all in 1999 and worked out of the bullpen in 2000, in what has become an organization practice for pitchers in Tommy John recovery. His breakout came in 2001, as his stuff was back and he lit up the high Class A Carolina League before earning a promotion to Double-A New Haven, where he threw a seven-inning no-hitter in his only start. He ended up as the CL player of the year, the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year, and Baseball America’s Class A Player of the Year.

Strengths: Journell has everything you could ask for in a big league pitcher. He throws an electric fastball that can touch 97 mph and sits at 93-94. He has good command of it and works it inside and out on hitters. He has a hard slider that’s sharp when he stays on top of it, and he made great strides with his changeup in 2001. His arm problems actually helped his development of those two pitches and helped him become more of a pitcher, rather than just trying to blow hitters away with his fastball. Journell has big league makeup, and he’s not afraid to go after hitters.

Weaknesses: The Cardinals raised Journell’s arm slot from low three-quarters to keep him on top of his breaking ball and reduce the stress on his elbow. He went back to a lower slot, where he’s more comfortable, during the season. The hope is that Journell and the Cardinals have found a happy medium. Beyond that, he needs to continue his evolution from thrower to pitcher. He can be stubborn at times.

The Future: It’s possible Journell could show up in St. Louis in 2002, but the organization really just wants to see another healthy, successful year. The larger question is whether he’s a starter or closer. He has the mentality to close, but he was so successful starting in 2001 the Cardinals will leave him in the role for now. The bet here is he’ll end up in the bullpen eventually.

2001 Club (Class)WLERAGGSCGSVIPHBBSO
Potomac (A)1462.5026260015112142156
New Haven (AA)100.0011107036

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