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Cardinals Prospects

Moderator: Will Lingo compiled the Cardinals top 10 prospects list and will discuss the organization at 3 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Corey Carter from Mississppi asks:
Where do you think Rick Ankiel will end up this year and do you think his pitching troubles are over?

Will Lingo: Welcome everyone. Pitchers and catchers report starting today with the Mariners, so the winter of our discontent is almost over. One side note before we talk about the Cardinals: How bad do you think baseball would have been ripped if it changed its playoff format AT MIDSEASON, as the NBA just did? Just wondering. Haven't seen any columnists criticize David Stern in a while, but this would be a good opportunity. Anyway, let's get to the Cardinals.

Will Lingo: You can't talk about the Cardinals without talking about Ankiel. I think any statement about Ankiel at this point is just a guess, so here's mine: I hope he'll end up in the Cardinals' bullpen and get used in spot duty as he works his way back to form. The thing is, the track record for somone actually doing this is not good. So the main word in all this is "hope."

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester N.Y. asks:
The Cardinals obviously have one of the poorest, if not the absolute worst farm systems in MLB, but how weak is Haren as a #1 prospect? Will he even make the top 100? Has a team ever been shut out of the top 100 before with absolutly no prospects worthy?

Will Lingo: I find the Cardinals system very interesting. They clearly have less talent than most, but when you look at the big picture, they are producing a winning big league team, and that's the ultimate purpose of all this anyway. They've done a good job of trading prospects for quality veterans, like Mark McGwire and Scott Rolen. I also do the prospects list for the Orioles, and though both systems will rank near the bottom of our minor league talent ratings, there's really no comparison between the two organizations. The Cardinals have a winning system in place and the Orioles are in disarray, with some hope provided by their winter housecleaning.

Will Lingo: As for Dan Haren, he's an OK top prospect. Probably wouldn't be No. 1 in a lot of organizations, but there's nothing wrong with him. He just doesn't have the big upside you might look for in a premium No. 1 guy. I don't think he'll make the top 100, but that's not rare. We often have one or two teams each year that don't put anyone in the top 100.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
Where do rank you Scotty Layfield in the Cardinals organization? He made last year's top 10 and pitched well in 2002.

Will Lingo: He barely missed the top 10, so I wouldn't say his stock has slipped appreciably. He just has some guys who would be big league starters who moved ahead of him. Layfield has been a reliever almost exclusively in the minors and projects as a middle reliever in the big leagues, so that's why he's not rated higher. He has been effective throughout his career, though, so he's a good bet if you're looking for a guy who is going to make it to the majors.

 Q:  Eric R. from Livingston, NJ asks:
Why hasn't Jimmy Journell's age and injury history knocked him down on your prospect list? I understand his ability, but BA has dropped others such as Ryan Anderson and JM Gold down because of injuries. That and the fact that he is 25, to me, doesn't make an organizations 1 or 2, based on the type of prospects typical to BA's other organization lists.

Will Lingo: Journell has performed exceptionally well when he's been healthy, especially in 2001. Anderson has had one good season (1998) and his injury history is much worse after missing two straight seasons with shoulder problems. And J.M. Gold doesn't even merit inclusion in this debate. Journell's Tommy John surgery is well behind him now, and last year's injuries (bone chips and weakness in the back of his shoulder) were relatively minor. The organization he's in is also a factor. Journell might rate lower in a system that had more guys without questions. But his upside is clear.

 Q:  James from The Great Southwest asks:
Hello Will. Please tell me the Cards system is not as devoid of talent as it looks! Also what are your thoughts on Tim Lemon and John Santor, what are their ceilings?

Will Lingo: The Cardinals actually have a lot of intriguing arms, and a few guys from that group will emerge as good big leaguers, I think. It takes depth to produce pitching. What they need to bring in are more impact position players. John Santor will be in the teens among the Cardinals' top 30 (buy the Prospect Handbook to find out exactly where). Maybe he can emerge as a premium bat. Right now his best case would be something like Sean Casey: good on defense at first base and a good hitting approach, with power a question (though he did have 13 homers in New Jersey last year).

Will Lingo: As for Tim Lemon, he still has a high ceiling, but you really have no evidence to suggest that he'll reach it. He completed his third season at low Class A Peoria last year and hit .236--a career high! His on-base improved to a robust .315, but he struck out 165 times, the same number as the year before. Tools don't mean much if you can't hit.

 Q:  Tim Walker from Greenwich, CT asks:
What happened to the trio of pitchers from the 1999 draft? (Chance Caple, Nick Stocks, and Josh Pearce). I haven't heard much about them since 2001. Do any of these three pitchers have a chance of resurfacing as prospects?

Will Lingo: Hurt, hurt and hurt. They're all still in the Cardinals top 30 because of their potential and because it's a thin organization, but they all have major questions. Pearce had surgery for a torn labrum last May and projects as a back-end starter or long reliever if he returns to health. Stocks had Tommy John surgery in college at Florida State and has had a series of back and shoulder problems since signing. He did tell people in the organization he feels great heading into spring training this year, so we'll see if his velocity returns. Caple had TJ in April 2001, then his comeback was interrupted last year when a line drive sailed into the dugout and broke a finger on his pitching hand. He too is expected to be healthy for spring training.

 Q:  Shad from Frostburg St. University asks:
I was wondering your thoughts on Shaun Boyd. Is he going to start the season in AA? What do you project for him this season and when is his ETA to the majors. THanks

Will Lingo: Boyd really got his career in gear last year at Peoria. I mentioned the organization's lack of impact position players earlier, but Boyd could be an exception. He has an exciting bat and projects as a No. 2 or possible No. 3 hitter if his power develops. He needs a lot of work on his defense at second base, though. For that reason, I would be surprised if he jumps to Double-A. I think the Cardinals will move him up to high Class A Palm Beach and be patient with him. So don't look for him in St. Louis for at least a couple more years.

 Q:  Bill Champion from Medford, MA asks:
What is the release date for the top 100 issue?

Will Lingo: Not Cardinals-related, but always interesting to BA fans. We haven't settled on the exact date, but I would say March 3 looks like the best bet right now. We're hammering out who goes in and who just misses right now.

 Q:  Sparkles Peterson from NE Missouri asks:
How's Tyler Adamczyk coming along? Any truth to the rumor that he's been clocked into the mid 90s?

Will Lingo: Adamczyk is an interesting case. The Cardinals signed him for $700,000 as a seventh-round pick in 2001, swaying him from attending the University of California. He did throw in the mid-90s as an amateur, but he was at 88-90 mph for the most part last year. Right now that's just attributed to growing pains and sloppy mechanics. He's 6-foot-6 and was in his first professional season, so it is somewhat understandable. He'll be a player to watch this season, to see which direction he goes in. I would expect him to go to low Class A Peoria.

 Q:  Greg Good from Orlando asks:
What is your thoughts on the future of Justin Pope. He is come back strong after his arm surgery and i was just wondering what his future holds

Will Lingo: We've had a couple of Justin Pope questions, so we'll let Greg ask for the group. Pope is your typical solid but not spectacular pitching prospect. Assuming he stays healthy, he's a good bet to pitch in the big leagues, but you don't see him as a front-of-the-rotation starter. He missed two months last season after having a bone spur removed from his elbow, but that's not expected to cause any more trouble. He'll throw around 90 mph with a good slider and changeup, and get hitters out with command and a bulldog approach. There's a lot to like about him.

 Q:  Derik from Raleigh asks:
Where does Rhett Parrott fit into the Cards prospects? It seemed like he had a pretty good year last year, especially after he got moved up to AA.

Will Lingo: Parrott was mentioned to me as a darkhorse prospect after his 2001 professional debut, and he made that Cardinals official look mighty smart last season. He pitched well in high A and Double-A and moved into the Cards' top 10. Like Pope, he has an aggressive approach. His fastball is a tick better, but his mechanics are not as polished and he needs to work on his command. He'll probably go back to Double-A to start the season, but if the Cardinals have their annual injuries in the big leagues and he pitches well, you could see him move up quickly.

 Q:  Dave Regan from Ventura, CA asks:
Will - Thanks for the chat. Having attended Moorpark J.C., Tyler Johnson is from my neck of the woods. What do you see as his upside? His numbers at Peoria were very impressive but is he a future big league reliever or a top of the rotation starter? Somewhere in between?

Will Lingo: Johnson is another arm worth watching in this organization. He followed a winding path to the Cardinals, starting at Washington State and ending up at Moorpark. Academic issues kept him off the field at both schools, but Cardinals scouts continued to follow him and even worked with him when he was ineligible. It paid off last year as he won 15 games for a strong Peoria team that featured a lot of the Cardinals' top prospects. He's a lefty who can touch 91 mph, so he'll get a chance to pitch in a rotation. At worst, though, I think he'll become an effective lefty out of the bullpen.

 Q:  Matthias from Franklin and Marshall College asks:
do the cards have the ammunition in their farm system without completely leaving it barren to improve themselves at the july 31 trading deadline?

Will Lingo: It seems like every year people discount the Cardinals because they don't think the team has prospects to trade, but every year Walt Jocketty swings the deal he needs to make. It has left the farm system picked over, but how can you argue with the results? Would you rather have Bud Smith or Scott Rolen?

 Q:  Johnny from Malibu, California asks:
I was wondering what you thought of recent draft and follow, Blake Hawksworth. Do you think he has a high enough ceiling to become a solid arm in the bigs?

Will Lingo: Hawksworth jumped to No. 5 in the organization after 76 professional innings, so I would say he's pretty highly regarded. His fastball is 90-92 mph and he has a potentially plus curveball. His changeup is so good that he actually uses it too much, pitching "backward" to hitters instead of working off his fastball. He might have the highest ceiling of any of the organization's pitching prospects.

 Q:  James McMahan from Denton, Texas asks:
What do you think about John Nelson, and what do you think his future is with the Cardinals?

Will Lingo: Another guy with a lot to like. He was pressed into shortstop duty last spring because several Latin American players had visa problems and were late getting to spring training. He ended up as the Midwest League's all-star shortstop. His arm is his best tool, but his approach and makeup are his best attributes. The Cardinals will probably jump him to Double-A to start the season and see how he responds.

 Q:  Andy from Chicago asks:
Will, your thoughts on the way the Cards handle their young pitchers, it seems they are not put off by letting them trot up an excessive amount innings, Haren's 194 IP seem to me a bit much for a guy in his first full year of pro-ball an its not as if they havent been burnt before, Journall and Narveson have noth missed alot of time with arm problems. Teams like the Indians limit their young pitchers to 85 pitches per start isnt that a more desirable way to develop pitchers? Thanks

Will Lingo: With the number of injuries the organization has seen, the workloads of players like Dan Haren and Josh Pearce certainly raise eyebrows. But then players like Journell (and Nick Stocks, to name a couple) had Tommy John surgery before they ever pitched professionally. And Narveson certainly didn't have a heavy workload before his TJ. The Cardinals say their goal is to protect arms but also to get players to the big leagues, so they don't want to apply a preconceived limit to every pitcher's workload. They take it case by case, so a player like Haren with a good frame and clean mechanics can handle more innings. We'll see how that works out over the long haul.

 Q:  T.C. from Memphis asks:
What is the future of OF Dee Haynes? He is one of the few "power" bats in the organization, and appears to be a solid offensive player. Aside from his low on base percentage, which scares me, are there any other holes in his game? Thanks.

Will Lingo: His biggest weakness is defense, though moving from right field to left helped him last year. He also has trouble handling breaking stuff, and that's what pitchers attacked him with after he got off to a scorching start last season. His slugging and on-base have improved each of his three pro seasons, so let's see what he does at Triple-A in your city this year.

 Q:  Rico Petrocelli from the beach asks:
I know it's a little early to ask, but some of us have rapidly approaching fantasy drafts where minor leaguers are available . . . so on what date can we expect the Top 100 list? Thanks! And these team-based chats rule!

Will Lingo: Time to start the lightning round. And yes, these team-based chats do rule. Just one way we're always trying to better serve you, the Baseball America reader.

Will Lingo: Again, look for the Top 100 Prospects on March 3, though that's not written in stone.

 Q:  Mark R. from Arlington, MA asks:
You talked in your writeup a lot about how the Cardinals like to trade their prospects to acquire major league talent. What guys on your top 10 list do you expect to see St. Louis trade this year to help them try to win the division?

Will Lingo: I have no idea. How about Rhett Parrott?

 Q:  Mark L. Peel from Arlington Heights, IL asks:
One problem for the Cards system is that some of the really good prospects they've produced have kind of flown under the radar scope: in particular, J. D. Drew was drafted in June of '98 and up for good by June of '99, Albert Pujols was the MVP of the Midwest League one year and an NL MVP candidate the following year. These guys spent so little time in the minors that they didn't have much impact on the Cards' ranking. I'm sure BA has thought about how to address this, to distinguish between a St. Louis system that annually *looks* as though it's unproductive compared to some of the systems that really are having trouble developing players; care to share any of the solutions you've toyed with?

Will Lingo: We just have to assume fans like you are smart enough to realize this. As I've said in several different ways in this chat, just because they rank near the bottom of our minor league talent list doesn't mean they aren't doing a good job. That's just one measure.

 Q:  Mario from CT asks:
Hi Will. Any sleepers in the Cards system that we may not have heard of, or heard little of, that could make an impact in the next few years?

Will Lingo: How about Shane Reedy, a reliever out of Utah Valley State who signed as a draft-and-follow in May and had a 2.16 ERA at Johnson City. He already has the best fastball in the organization, touching 96-97 mph.

 Q:  Daniel McCrosky from Washington DC asks:
Considering he made a whopping 40 errors last season at second base, do the Cards have any plans on moving Shaun Boyd to another position?

Will Lingo: The outfield would be a fallback, but both he and the organization want him to make it at second. He profiles as a premium offensive player if he can stay there.

 Q:  JasonHart from 4th Grade asks:
Call me crazy, but I think Dan Haren will be as good as Mark Prior. What do you think?

Will Lingo: You're crazy.

 Q:  Troy from Illinios asks:
How about catching prospects for the Cardinals?

Will Lingo: Yadier Molina is clearly the best. If he hits, he'll be a standout big leaguer. Next-best would by Tyler Parker, but he's pretty far behind and it's a thin position for the organization.

 Q:  Jimmy B from Goleta asks:
So you think Journell and Haren get left out of the top 100.I think Journell has tons of upside and if you look at Harens numbers....they are top 100 worthy. Journell can be unhittable at times(healthy) and Haren probably has the best command in the minors. What do you think?

Will Lingo: I like them both, but there are more voices than mine that go into the top 100. They're both close if they're not on, so that should be some consolation to you.

 Q:  Will from Dallas asks:
What do you think of John Nelson, how close is he to the majors?

Will Lingo: Like him a lot, but we'll see how close to the majors he is this year as the Cardinals jump him to Double-A.

 Q:  Eric R. from Livingston, NJ asks:
You say JM Gold does not deserve merit in a debate over pitchers with tons of talent but dropped on the prospect list because of injuries. Your peer, Drew Olson, discusses how anybody who has seen his free and easy motion can envision him moving up. Does that not merit inclusion? He was a top 10 pick who has been included in past lists prior to injury?

Will Lingo: I didn't think he merited inclusion in that discussion because he hasn't had any sustained success in the minors. He's had almost nothing but injuries. Clearly if he stays healthy he could move up.

 Q:  Charles Allen from geneva switzerland asks:
What do you think of Japenese import So Taguchi, does he have what it takes to play for the cardinals? If not will he get traded?

Will Lingo: I'm afraid Taguchi is overmatched here and figures to be a bench player at best. I would think he has little trade value.

Moderator: Well that's it for today. Thanks for stopping by and join us Wednesday as Josh Boyd talks about Reds prospects.

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