Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Back in 2000, Reyes was a freshman at Southern California and looked every bit as dominant as teammate Mark Prior as the Trojans advanced to the College World Series. But while Prior got on the fast track to Chicago with the Cubs, Reyes faltered in his sophomore and junior seasons, thanks to a series of nagging elbow injuries. Once regarded as a cinch first-rounder, he fell to the 13th round of the 2002 draft and turned down the Tigers to return for his senior season. Elbow tendinitis limited him again and he slipped even further to the Cardinals in the 15th round in 2003. Now Reyes looks like he could be the steal of that draft. He missed six weeks early last season with shoulder inflammation, but after that he made every start and had no arm problems. More significant, he showed the same dominant stuff that once made him a premium prospect in college. After just six starts at high Class A Palm Beach he was promoted to Double-A Tennessee, where scouts and managers regarded him as the second-best pitching prospect in the Southern League, behind only Jose Capellan. The Cardinals didn't send Reyes anywhere to pitch over the winter, instead putting him on a workout program in an effort to make sure his arm remains sound. Reyes has everything teams look for in a front-of-the-rotation starter, from his body to his stuff. His fastball was up to 94-96 mph by the end of the 2004 season--after dipping into the high 80s during the worst stretches of his college career--and he generally worked anywhere from 90-95 with running life. His breaking ball and changeup also made significant progress. His 81-83 mph slider shows good, tight spin at times, and his changeup bottoms out late. Command may be Reyes' biggest strength, however. He works hitters effectively to all four quadrants and attacks their weaknesses. Even when he was battling arm problems, Reyes maintained his easy delivery. He also has a great work ethic and does the little things well. One manager said Reyes' inside pickoff move to second base was as good as any he'd seen. Until he gets a full, healthy season under his belt, Reyes' durability will continue to be a question. The Cardinals are handling him carefully, and he threw more than 100 pitches just once last year--108 in a start after he had an extra day of rest. His secondary pitches still need work. His slider can get slurvy at times, and he has limited experience throwing his changeup. Some scouts have questioned his arm action, but others who saw him last year said it wasn't a problem and St. Louis agrees. Though he has made just 18 pro starts, Reyes is an experienced pitcher who could move quickly provided he can keep taking the mound every fifth day. The Cardinals have no obvious pitching prospects ahead of him, so he could get to St. Louis as soon as the second half of the 2005 season. He'll be expected to win a spot in the Triple-A Memphis rotation out of spring training.
Wainwright was the Braves' best pitching prospect when they sent him to the Cardinals in the J.D. Drew deal in December 2003. He jumped to Triple-A but never showed his best stuff, trying to pitch through an elbow strain before getting shut down. He came back healthy, pitching 10 innings in the Arizona Fall League, and is expected to be at full strength for spring training. The Cardinals were impressed with Wainwright in spring training last year, the only time he really showed his full arsenal: a 92-93 mph fastball, a curveball with good rotation and a solid changeup. The curve may be his best pitch. He has a long, loose arm and great makeup, which may have worked against him as he tried to grind through his pain. Wainwright went on a strengthening program when he was hurt in an effort to make both his body and his arm stronger. In spite of his above-average stuff, he never has dominated hitters for long stretches. He needs to trust his stuff more. Wainwright's upside is nearly the equal of Anthony Reyes'. They should both be in the Triple-A rotation to start the season.
The Cardinals gave Hawksworth a $1.475 million bonus as a draft-and-follow right before the 2002 draft, making up for their lack of a first- or second-round pick that year. He missed time in 2003 because of bone spurs in his ankle, then pitched just 11 innings last year because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. Hawksworth offers a complete package if he's healthy. His best pitch is probably his changeup, but he also works with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and can touch 96 mph, as well as a good curveball. Injuries have kept Hawksworth from getting on the fast track as St. Louis had hoped. He had surgery to clean up his shoulder last May, though doctors found no structural damage. In addition to proving he's healthy, he needs to polish his breaking ball and improve his command. A year ago Hawksworth was the organization's top prospect. Now he's its most significant question mark. The Cardinals expect him to be at 100 percent in spring training and will send him back to high Class A.
Lambert looked like a better hockey prospect coming out of high school in New Hampshire, but he showed a low-90s fastball at a Perfect Game showcase the summer after he graduated and earned a scholarship to Boston College. He was the Big East Conference pitcher and rookie of the year in 2002, but an inconsistent junior season had some wondering if he would go in the first round until the Cardinals took him 19th overall. He signed for $1.525 million. Lambert has a strong frame and quick arm that produce fastballs in the 90-96 mph range with explosive life. He also throws a promising changeup and a slider that can freeze righthanders when he throws it for strikes. Lambert's command was an issue during college and remains one because there's a lot of effort in his delivery. He'll have to smooth out his mechanics, and he needs to add sharpness and depth to his slider. He looked tired in his pro debut, pitching at 88-93 mph. Lambert has limited baseball experience and might not move as quickly as the average first-round college pitcher. He'll begin his first full season in high Class A.
Pomeranz was a High School All-American in 2003, after a 13-1, 0.52 season his high school coach said was the most dominant he had ever seen. The Cardinals kept him in extended spring training to open the 2004 season, but he still led the system in wins despite making just 17 starts. Pomeranz throws an 88-92 mph fastball that showed good sink and more life last year than it had in 2003. He throws a knuckle-curve that's becoming more consistent, as well as an average changeup. He has a loose arm and a nice feel for pitching. His command is good for his stage of development. The Cardinals will take it slow with Pomeranz, as he's still learning how to handle a pro workload and needs to improve his conditioning. His offspeed pitches also need refinement and consistency. It's too early to know exactly what Pomeranz' ceiling might be, but his big frame and mound presence suggest he could pitch in the middle of a big league rotation someday. He'll move up to high Class A to start 2005.
Thompson drew national notice at Tennessee, opening with 49 straight scoreless innings to set a Southern League record. The streak seemed to take a toll on him, however, as he lost strength in his shoulder and had to be shut down for two months. He came back at the end of the season and pitched well in limited Arizona Fall League duty. Command and approach are Thompson's best attributes. He works hitters inside and outside, and changes speeds and elevations. His best pitch is an 89-91 mph sinker, and he complements it with a sharp slider. Thompson doesn't overpower hitters, so he has to be sharp. His changeup needs more work if he's to get big league lefthanders out. His shoulder problems raised questions about whether he can handle a starter's workload. While Thompson's performance means he'll get the opportunity to pitch in the Triple-A rotation, he might be more useful as a middle reliever down the road. In that role, he could move quickly, as St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan loves groundball pitchers.
Ryan won a national championship with NAIA power Lewis-Clark State and the National Baseball Congress World Series with the Alaska Goldpanners in 2002, but he was dismissed from the Warriors program before they repeated in 2003. His first full season started late after he sprained his wrist in spring training, but he came back to lead the low Class A Midwest League in batting. None of Ryan's tools is overwhelming, but he's the best all-around athlete in the system, swings the bat well and plays a premium position. He plays with energy and a good understanding of the game. He should be an above-average hitter who uses the whole park, and also a plus runner. The Cardinals say Ryan should have enough arm and quickness to stay at shortstop, but he committed 31 errors in 2004. He should get stronger as he matures, but he'll never be a power hitter. Ryan will be the starting shortstop in high Class A this year, and he's athletic enough to play other positions. His bat will determine if he's an everyday player or a utilityman.
Duncan, whose father Dave is the Cardinals' pitching coach, was a supplemental first-round pick in 1999 but had just 25 at-bats above Class A by the end of 2003. He broke out last year in a pivotal season in Double-A, showing power, plate discipline and improved defense. Duncan entered 2004 with a .255 career average but finally made some adjustments at the plate, harnessing his power and hitting to all fields. He got shorter and quicker with the bat, hitting balls harder and more consistently. His speed and quickness drills also paid off with improved defense at first base. While Duncan has worked hard on quickening his feet and improving his hands, he'll be an average defender at best. He'll still have to show more over-the-fence power at higher levels to be an everyday first baseman in the majors. Though Duncan will be entering his seventh season in the organization, he'll still open the season at 23 in Triple-A. With Albert Pujols around, there's no obvious opening in St. Louis, so Duncan could become trade bait.
The Cardinals gave Haerther $250,000, the largest bonus in the sixth round in 2002, to sway him from a commitment to UC Irvine. He followed up a strong debut in 2003 with a good performance in low Class A, but his season ended early because of a hairline fracture of the tibia in his left leg. Haerther is one of the best young hitters in the organization. He has a smooth, short stroke and makes good contact. He has an advanced approach at the plate, showing good patience for a young hitter and not swinging at many bad pitches. He doesn't have a lot of raw power but gets the most out of what he does have. He's an average runner. St. Louis drafted Haerther as a third baseman but has played him in left field because he's more comfortable there and has a better chance of helping the big league club there down the road. His arm is playable but he needs to work on his left-field defense. Despite his injury, Haerther showed St. Louis he's ready to move up to high Class A. He could progress quickly if he continues hitting because there are few legitimate prospects in his way.
Cali established himself as a durable but erratic reliever in his first four years in the organization, and he hadn't made it past Class A. He came to spring training in great shape in 2004, however, and after opening the season at Tennessee made his big league debut in September. He always had arm strength, but conditioning and a lack of focus held Cali back until the end of the 2003 season, when he started to put it together and throw the ball over the plate. Now he consistently shows his good fastball, which sits at 90- 91 mph and peaks at 94-95, as well as a slider and curveball. His arm is resilient and well suited for the bullpen. Cali made a breakthrough last year, but he's still learning how to pitch. He needs to repeat his delivery and show consistent command of all his pitches. He has a tendency to overthrow. With the departure of Steve Kline, the Cardinals could have an opening for a lefthander in their bullpen. Cali will compete for a job and head back to Triple-A to hone his pitches if he doesn't win it.
Gorecki, an unheralded 13th-round pick after an all-Colonial Athletic Association junior season at Delaware, has put up consistently solid numbers since signing, earning a spot in the Arizona Fall League after the 2004 season. He batted .363 with a .449 on-base percentage in the AFL and was added to the 40-man roster. Gorecki is the best outfielder in the organization, a legitimate major league center fielder with speed and instincts as well as a good arm. He's a line-drive hitter with quick hands and the willingness to take a walk. He has a great work ethic. While he's a good athlete, Gorecki needs to get stronger to give him more pop. He strikes out too much for his offensive profile, and he needs to improve his baserunning. The Cardinals sent Gorecki to Double-A at the end of last season, and he'll return there to continue his steady progression through the organization. If his bat develops, he will be an everyday center fielder in the big leagues.
Ferris wasn't drafted coming out of high school in Cincinnati, and he hit .226 at Kentucky as a freshman before transferring to Miami (Ohio). He hit .360 with five homers as a sophomore, then added 20 pounds of muscle and batted .361-21-62 to earn first-team All- America honors as a junior last spring. Like several other clubs, the Cardinals considered him a possible first-round talent, but they got him in the second and landed him for $600,000. Ferris signed about a month after the draft, and the rust was evident in his swing during his lackluster pro debut. In college, he consistently drove the ball to all fields with a quick, powerful stroke that drew him comparisons to Sean Casey and Rafael Palmeiro. Ferris also showed a good eye in college, laying off pitches until he found one he could handle. He's a below-average runner, but his defense at first base was better than St. Louis expected. Ferris has as much raw power as anyone in the organization, and he'll start with a clean slate in low Class A this spring.
Yarbrough barely played after signing late in 2003, so he returned to the Appalachian League in 2004 and finished two hits shy of wresting the batting title from Johnson City teammate Juan Lucena. The Cardinals love Yarbrough's lefthanded bat and think he'll be an above-average hitter who could add power as he gets stronger. He has a short, quick and balanced swing. Yarbrough uses the whole field and has a willingness to take the ball back up the middle. While he draws walks, he'll need to make more consistent contact. Though he threw out 32 percent of basestealers last summer, it's not clear yet that he'll be able to stay behind the plate. Yarbrough has an average arm but his footwork and blocking must get better. As a high school catcher he'll require patience, and some think he would be better off moving to left field or first base. That way he wouldn't have to worry as much about defense and his bat could flourish. For now, though, the Cardinals see Yarbrough as a catcher, and they'll send him to low Class A to open 2005.
It's hard to believe a college staff with two arms the quality of Justin Verlander (the No. 2 overall pick by Detroit last year) and Smith could have a losing record, but that's what happened to 26-28 Old Dominion in 2004. Smith led the Colonial Athletic Association with a 2.29 ERA and had been the top prospect in the Atlantic Collegiate League the previous summer, but he really got scouts' attention when he started hitting 93 mph and showing a nasty slider. It was tough to get a good read on him, though, because he alternated between starting and relieving with little rhyme or reason. Smith had a tired arm after signing for $235,000, so the Cardinals used him on long rest and in short outings until the end of the summer. While his numbers weren't great, he got into a rotation and routine, which was important because he's raw. His fastball could be a plus pitch but needs more movement. He also throws a changeup with room for improvement. He's a strike-throwing bulldog with strong makeup. How he looks in the spring will determine which Class A stop Smith will begin his first full season at.
St. Louis hasn't gotten much production from Latin America, but Lucena could prove to be an exception. After spending a season each in the Rookie-level Venezuelan and Dominican Summer leagues, he led the Appalachian League in batting in his U.S. debut last year. He topped that off by getting significant time at shortstop for the Aragua Tigers in his native Venezuela over the winter, hitting .346 as a 20-year-old facing older veterans. Lucena is a line-drive hitter who has a knack for making contact, though he could stand to draw more walks. He led Appy shortstops with a .965 fielding percentage and has an average arm. His speed is a tick below average, but it hasn't held him back at shortstop yet because he has good instincts. While he doesn't need to be a power hitter, he'll need to get stronger to maintain his offensive production at higher levels. After his promising winter performance, Lucena should be the starting shortstop at St. Louis' new low Class A Quad Cities affiliate.
Michael was a two-way player both in high school--at Gloucester (N.J.) Catholic High, which won the national high school championship in 2000--and college, playing his freshman year at Old Dominion before transferring to Delaware for two seasons. The Cardinals selected him in the fourth round solely for his mound prowess even though he went 3-4, 6.96 in his draft year of 2003. The early returns were promising--until Michael came down with shoulder problems in his first full season. Doctors initially thought he had tendinitis, but he had surgery after an MRI revealed a frayed rotator cuff and a small ligament tear. He would have been ready for instructional league had the Cardinals' camp not been canceled because of hurricane damage. When healthy, Michael shows an 89-93 mph fastball that's a plus pitch because of its movement. His curveball and changeup should become average. He likes to work inside and tied for the Midwest League lead by hitting 19 batters last year. He's still learning how to pitch and needs to show better control (he also led the MWL with 23 wild pitches) as well as the confidence to make quality pitches when he's behind in the count. He sometimes rushes his delivery, which causes his arm to drop from its usual three-quarters slot. Michael showed enough before his injury that the Cardinals will move him up to high Class A if he's healthy in spring training.
Parisi was a strikeout machine at Manhattan, setting the school record for strikeouts in a season as a sophomore (87 in 77 innings) before breaking it as a junior (104 in 81 innings) and adding the career standard (272 in 244 innings) for good measure. He moved quickly after signing for $60,000, reaching low Class A after seven starts and taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his first start there. Parisi shows a good feel for pitching along with three quality pitches: a fastball that sits in the low 90s, peaks at 94 mph and shows good life; a downer curveball; and a developing changeup. He's a competitor who works hard and is focused on the mound. He has to refine his command as well as his delivery, which has some effort to it. But he has upside and should open 2005 in the high Class A rotation.
On June 3, Cardinals farm director Bruce Manno got a call early in the evening to inform him that Double-A shortstop John Nelson had torn ligaments in his ankle. Shortly after he hung up, Manno's telephone rang again with the news that Hanson had broken his ankle in two places sliding into second base. St. Louis tried to find him a new defensive home in 2004. He played shortstop in college before moving to third base as a pro, but Scott Rolen is entrenched at the hot corner for the Cardinals. Hanson's offensive profile fits second base better anyway, so he moved there in spring training last year. With his arm, hands and work ethic, Hanson immediately took to the change and was improving rapidly when he got hurt. He has a good approach at the plate and is able to make adjustments, but he hasn't delivered much offense as a pro. He lacks home run power and doesn't draw many walks. The best defensive infielder in the system, he might not be more than a line-drive hitting utilityman. St. Louis will give Hanson time to ease back into action at its new Double-A Springfield affiliate, probably putting him at third base to start the season before moving him back to second.
Gall keeps hitting but still hasn't made it up to the big leagues yet. After a record-setting college career at Stanford, Gall batted .300 in his first three full pro seasons before falling just short last year. He battled a shoulder problem in the second half of the season, which led to him hitting .252 with two homers over the final two months. Because he wasn't swinging the bat well and was unlikely to get much playing time in St. Louis, he didn't get called up. Gall is the system's most polished hitter but he has been held back by his lack of power and athleticism. He did show more pop than ever in 2004, with 22 homers and a system- high 34 doubles in Triple-A. Limited on the bases and in the field, he's adequate at best in left field and has a below-average arm. He has an outside chance of winning a bench job in St. Louis, but more likely will spend a third season in Memphis.
After three mediocre seasons, Schumaker finally began to show why the Cardinals made him an outfielder rather than a pitcher after he played both ways at UC Santa Barbara, where he flashed a 92-mph fastball. In 2004, he led the Southern League in hits, finished fourth in the batting race and made the postseason all-star team. He worked with a personal trainer to get into better shape and avoid injuries--a stress fracture in his right leg and a hand ailment cost him playing tim in 2003--and Tennessee hitting coach Steve Balboni helped him change his hands and his whole approach to hitting. Schumaker carried his momentum into a strong winter in Venezuela, where he batted .350 in 103 at-bats before sustaining a minor knee injury. While he can hit for average and draw his share of walks, he offers very little power at the plate. He runs well but isn't a good basestealer. Yet one Southern League scout graded Schumaker as a potential big leaguer based solely on his defense in center field. He has the best outfield arm in the organization. If he can repeat his 2004 production in Triple-A, he'll get an opportunity in the major leagues, albeit as a reserve.
Haberer was slated to be a closer at Southern Illinois in 2004, but he moved into the rotation after the Salukis lost their first nine games and quickly established himself as the best draft prospect in the state. He didn't put up great numbers after signing for $422,500, but his arm strength impressed the Cardinals and earned him a promotion to short-season New Jersey so he could face more advanced hitters. He threw consistently at 92 mph with good life on his fastball and good command. He uses both a slider and curveball at this point, and St. Louis will try to get him to settle on one breaking ball this season. He shows feel for a changeup, leading the Cardinals to believe he can make it as a starter. Haberer earned comparisons to Mike Stanton in college, but he'll get every opportunity to stay in the rotation. He'll open his first full season in low Class A but could move quickly.
Nelson never has been able to return to the heights he reached in 2002, when he moved from outfield to shortstop and showed promise with the glove and bat. He has battled poor performance and injuries since then, and his 2004 season got derailed by torn ligaments in his ankle. Nelson was showing more of his old form while repeating Double-A and would have been promoted to Triple-A at midseason if he hadn't gotten hurt. He tried to return too quickly and was ineffective late in the season. Nelson's only truly plus tool is his arm, which is so strong that one Southern League scout suggested he might have more promise as a pitcher. He's a tease with the bat. When Nelson is on pitches, he can drive them out of the park. But he's not on pitches enough, and he hasn't made adjustments to shorten his swing and make better contact. At 26, he's starting to run out of time to do so. He runs well but isn't a big basestealing threat. Nelson began his pro career as a center fielder, and his best future role might be as a utilityman who can offer occasional righthanded pop. He'll try to win the Triple-A shortstop job this year.
Add Parrott to the Cardinals' long list of pitching wounded in 2004. His shoulder bothered him almost from the outset of the season, and he made just seven Triple-A starts before he was shut down. He had arthroscopic surgery to clean out the shoulder and is expected to be ready for spring training. Parrott usually features an 89-91 mph fastball and an average changeup, but he didn't show his good stuff at all last year. He still hasn't settled on a breaking pitch, throwing both a slider and curveball that are consistent. The best part of Parrott's package is his approach and mental toughness, and St. Louis believes that will allow him to come back from his injury relatively quickly. He'll need to refine his command, and will probably open the season in the Triple-A rotation to prove he's healthy. He's almost ready for a spot on the big league staff.
Worrell pitched for the U.S. junior team and showed a 92-94 mph fastball as a high schooler, but concerns about his size and unorthodox delivery dropped him to the 11th round of the 2001 draft. After declining to sign with the Devil Rays, he spent one season each at Indian River (Fla.) CC, Arizona and Florida International before the Cardinals took him in the 12th round last June. Worrell still has a heavy fastball and he backs it up with a tight 12-6 curveball. He'll even show a decent changeup on occasion, but he won't need it much because St. Louis plans on channeling his aggressiveness by making him a reliever. His mechanics still aren't pretty, as he uses no windup, has a short arm action and works from a high three-quarters slot. While there's some effort in his delivery, Worrell somehow is able to repeat it and throws consistent strikes. After blowing through two minor league stops with ease in his pro debut, Worrell is ready for high Class A.
The Cardinals gave up their first two picks in the 2002 draft as free-compensation for Tino Martinez and Jason Isringhausen, and many clubs felt they reached when they spent their top choice on Hayes in the third round. He has struggled to get on the field since signing for $400,000, missing time in 2003 with a strained wrist and spending most of 2004 bothered by a hamstring injury. The Cardinals have moved Hayes to second base after giving him a chance to play shortstop in his first season, and they envision him as an offensive second baseman in the mold of Ray Durham. Hayes will need a lot of work to approach that comparison, though, because his approach at the plate is rough. He's too aggressive and needs to play more like a tablesetter. He's a dynamic athlete with above-average speed and the ability to put a charge in the ball. But from basestealing to defense, he needs to refine his game. More than anything else, he needs to stay healthy and pile up at-bats, because he has just 283 so far in his pro career. He'll probably go back to low Class A to start the year.
While people may have been ready to write off Johnson, he decided he was ready to get his career going. Johnson hadn't made it past Class A and had a .217 average to show for six years of pro ball before 2004. He finally got to Double-A last year and had his best offensive season by far, another reclamation project credited to Tennessee hitting coach Steve Balboni. Johnson's swing didn't change much, but his approach improved significantly and he started using the whole field. He stopped focusing on power, concentrating instead on making quality contact and pulling balls only when he was pitched inside. He's adequate on defense, but he's so slow that one scout said, "He couldn't catch a dead man in a funeral home." Johnson played 16 games at catcher last year, showing enough arm and aptitude for the position that the Cardinals think he could be a big league utility player if he keeps hitting. He'll try to continue his progress in Triple-A.
The Cardinals drafted Texas Tech's double-play combination in 2004, failing to land shortstop Cameron Blair as an 18th-rounder but signing Delgado as a 24th-rounder. He led the Appalachian League in on-base percentage during his debut, and he projects as a top-of-the- order hitter if he refines his game. Delgado needs to make better contact. He chases too many balls off the plate now, has a long swing and must learn the nuances of situational hitting. He's a plus runner but needs to get better leads. Delgado is an average defender whose arm is slightly below average, but he makes up for it with accuracy and a quick release. He's perfectly suited for second base. The Cardinals will give him a chance to win a job in low Class A, and because he's a college player the organization would like to see him move on a fast track.
DeJaynes hurt his arm early in his career at Quincy (Ill.) University and spent two years as a full-time outfielder before returning to the mound. He was the NCAA Division II pitcher of the year in 2003, when he led that level in ERA (10-1, 0.71) and finished second in strikeouts per nine innings (12.8). Because he was a fifth-year senior, the Cardinals were able to sign him as a free agent before the draft. DeJaynes' combination of a nasty curveball and deceptive arm action has made him nearly impossible to hit at the lower levels of the minors. In 2004, he ranked third among minor league relievers in opponent batting average (.156) and fourth in strikeouts per nine (13.4). DeJaynes doesn't have a whole lot else going for him, as his fastball sits in the high 80s and his control is shaky. At 23, he was much older than most of the low Class A hitters he dominated last year. But with his curve, he'll keep getting chances until he stops getting outs. Because of his age, St. Louis will try to get him to Double-A at some point this year.
Just when it looked like Journell had found a role that suited him mentally and physically, he encountered another major setback. He pitched just three innings in Triple-A last year before getting shut down with a sore shoulder that required season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum. He ranked No. 1 on this list three years ago as a starter but showed better stuff when he moved back to the bullpen in 2003. He pitched in relief in college at Illinois and likes that role. When he's healthy, Journell can show electric stuff--a mid-90s fastball and a sharp slider. His mechanics are inconsistent, however, affecting his control and limiting his durability as a starter. The Cardinals hoped he would be in their big league bullpen last year, but his shoulder short-circuited that plan. He's supposed to be at 100 percent in spring training and should open the season in Triple-A. He needs to show he's sound because time is running out for him at age 27.
Schutzenhofer grew up as a Cardinals fan, which is natural because his father Dennis pitches batting practice for the team, in addition to coaching baseball at suburban Belleville East High across the Illinois border. Andy went to the University of Illinois out of high school, playing in all 225 games of his four-year college career and starting the last 224. A four-time all-Big Ten Conference selection, Schutzenhofer didn't get drafted because he offers limited power at first base. Since St. Louis signed him as a nondrafted free agent, he has batted .301, albeit still with little pop. He has a knack for putting the bat on the ball and controls the strike zone well. He makes good adjustments at the plate, too. Though he's a below-average runner, Schutzenhofer should be at least an average defender. But if he doesn't show more power this season in Double-A, he'll be hard-pressed to continue moving up in the organization.