Cardinals Draft Preview

With the 19th pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, however, St. Louis may turn back to pitching. One element the club feels is in very short supply in its farm system is left-handed pitching, and a few first-round-caliber lefties are available. The Cardinals intend to draft for quality, rather than need, at No. 19. With that said, a left-hander such as Mike Minor or Rex Brothers would likely be hard to pass up. St. Louis is more open to drafting younger players this year thanks to an increase in the talent level in the high Minors. “One of the themes that sort of emerged from a lot of the thinking we’ve been doing for the last couple weeks is that we can probably afford to be patient with some of our top picks. Maybe get a younger player that requires more development time because our upper Minors are pretty jam-packed with quality players that we need to give more time and development to.” — Jeff Luhnow, vice president of scouting and player development

Multiple projections have connected the Cardinals to left-handed pitchers, notably Minor and Brothers, with their first pick. Luhnow says that he has a pretty good idea of whom the club will take, down to a pool of four or five players, and also that the Cardinals will not be limited to (or eliminated from) any one subset of the Draft class — including high-school pitchers. But even with recent trends, a college pitcher is rarely a bad bet when you’re trying to figure out what the Cardinals will do on Draft day. The Cardinals are deep in outfielders, and they have a good number of pitchers in the high Minors who can confidently be predicted to pitch in the Majors. What they could use are high-upside arms and lefties. The middle-infield crop looks better than it did a year ago, thanks to the emergence of 2005 first-rounder Tyler Greene, but the club could always use middle infielders. There’s also somewhat of a dearth of right-handed hitters.
Early in the Draft, the Cardinals may keep up their recent pattern of a decent mix of high school and college players, hitters and pitchers. But as the Draft goes on, they likely will tilt toward college players in an effort to fill out the rosters at the lower levels of the Minors.

Mike Minor

Hometown: Chapel Hill, Tenn
High School: Forrest
Height: 6’4
Weight: 195
Position: LHP
Bats/Throws: R/L

High School: A two-year letterwinner at Forrest High … Three time all-state selection, including first-team designation as a junior and senior … Won 13 games, 12 via shutout in 2006 with a 0.08 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 86 innings … Drafted in the 13th round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after his senior year in June 2006 … Went 10-2 with a 0.81 ERA with 180 strikeouts in 86.0 innings in 2005 … Led team to state runner-up finish in 2006 … Helped lead team to regional championship as a junior and senior and to district championship as a sophomore … Also played basketball for four years … Graduated with high honors. 2008: 7-3 record with a 4.28 ERA in 15 starts…Led the team in strikeouts (101), innings pitched (103.0), complete games (2) and tied for lead in wins…Opening day starter for Vanderbilt against Oregon State (2/22). Picked up the win allowing only one run on five hits in six innings pitched…Named to the All-Tournament Team of the Music City Classic after striking out nine and allowing one run on three hits in 6.2 innings in win over Kansas (2/29

Rex Brothers
Hometown: Shelbyville, Tenn
High School: Shelbyville High School
Height: 6’1
Weight: 205
Position: LHP
Bats/Throws: L/R

High School: Third Team All-State by The Tennessean (2006). …Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class AAA All-State (2006). …All Mid-State… All-State… All-District… All-Region

2008: NCAA Athens Regional All-Tournament Team. …Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team. …Pitched in two games in the A-Sun Tournament, starting against Campbell anf earning win in 14-0 opening round game May 21 in DeLand, Fla., striking out five and allowing one hit in 6.1 innings. …Threw five innings in relief, giving up three hits, two runs (both earned) and two strikeouts in 10-9, 15-inning championship game against Gardner-Webb May 25. …Picked up the first ever and only NCAA win for the Bisons, with 5.1 innings in 10-7 win over host Georgia May 30 in the Athens Regional, allowing nine hits, six runs (two earned), and striking out three. …Beat LSU 10-7 March 3 in Baton Rouge, La. , allowing five hits and five runs, four earned, while striking out six in six innings. …Led A-Sun overall in innings pitched (97), strikeouts (96), strikeouts looking (26) and tied for first in games started (15) with teammate Michael Dunn. ..Led in strikeouts in A-Sun games only (74). …Tied for sixth in A-Sun games only in strikeouts looking (18). …In A-Sun games only ranked 10th in innings pitched (66.1).

Cards Collapsing?………….Need to Make a Trade

The Cardinals are expecting to assign Kyle Lohse to the DL soon. Lohse had aggravated his right forearm during his start on Wednesday. Today the Cardinals had designated Blaine Boyer for assignment, this means the Cards have 10 days to trade, release him or designate him to the minors. To take Boyer’s spot is Jess Todd. He was purchased from the triple A team to fill in. Todd will be helping out with the relief help. Here is some info on Jess Todd:

Started the season 3-0 with one save and a 1.65 ERA in seven appearances — four starts — with Class Advanced Palm Beach of the Florida State League … didn’t allow a run in four straight outings, spanning 17 2/3 innings, from April 10-24 … won three straight appearances from April 16-24 … went 4-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 17 outings — 16 starts — after being promoted Double-A Springfield of the Texas League on May 7 … struck out a season-high 10 in eight scoreless innings on June 29 … finished the season 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in four starts with Triple-A Memphis of the Pacific Coast League … finished first among Texas League starters with a .218 average against and 10.25 runners/9 IP and fourth with 1.98 BB/9 IP.

On Thursday, manager Tony La Russa made it sound like the Cardinals are trawling for a bigger fish than that.

“The No. 1 thing we can get is a guy to hit behind Albert [Pujols],” La Russa said. “That’s the No. 1 thing.”

And whereas in past years, such comments have sounded like an attempt to prod the Cardinals’ front office, on Thursday they had a different tone. La Russa spoke like a man who has expectations, rather than hopes. La Russa indicated that the club has some financial flexibility, and it’s clear that St. Louis has some young pitching to deal — especially relief pitching.

That doesn’t mean a deal is going to get done. But things have changed from a year ago, when the Cardinals may have overachieved. The club sees itself in a different place on the success cycle, and is likely more willing to part with a piece of its future in order to solidify itself in the present.

“It’s really hard to make a significant move,” La Russa said. “There aren’t many guys that fit what you’re looking for. I felt like last year they made an attempt. And since Day 1, we came into this year knowing we were a better ballclub than we thought last year at this time, and we’ve gotten off to a good start, but we know we’re thin.”

The middle of the Cardinals order has battled injuries and ineffectiveness since the start of May. Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel both went on the disabled list, and neither has found his form since returning. Usual No. 6 hitter Yadier Molina is also slumping. That has led to a significant uptick in the intentional walks to Pujols, and magnified La Russa’s longstanding desire to add a feared cleanup hitter.

“You don’t want to disrespect the guys that are hitting around him now,” La Russa said. “All I’ve said is that 500 or 1,000 at-bats from now, any of these guys could be that guy. They’re building a career, and they’ve got some experience. But what you try to do is have guys not be unfairly pressured, and that’s the position we’re putting guys into. But they tried to make the Matt Holliday deal during the winter.

“If that guy over there is unreasonable, [then you can’t do it]. … Trying is very important. Doing something stupid is very low on the priority list. I don’t want us to do something stupid.”

La Russa mentioned Holliday, and he’s certainly an intriguing name. Mozeliak recently allowed that the Cardinals would be open to an outfield addition, even though the most obvious need is at third base. And Holliday said this week that he is open to a potential deal from Oakland.

What will it take for the Cardinals to grab this slugger. Insider reports any combination of Chris Duncan, Chris Perez or Jason Motte.