2007 Cardinals organizational flashback
2007 Cardinals statistical overview
2007 Cardinals photo gallery
Before the 2007 season began, MLB.com took an in-depth look at every big league team's Minor League system. Now, it's time to recap all 30 organizations, from top prospects to the recent draft class.
If there appeared to be something strange this postseason, St. Louis fans could probably identify what it was -- the Cardinals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003. In fact, the Cards had won three straight division titles and had participated in the postseason every year but that one since 2000. St. Louis had been in the NLCS the last three years before 2007 and made it to two World Series.
You get the idea. The 2007 season was a down one as a result. There were a number of mitigating factors, none of which matter right now. The important thing is to figure out what direction to head. The transition will probably be easier with Walt Jocketty's right-hand man, John Mozeliak, taking over full-time. St. Louis has never hestitated to play the market to improve quickly, but the Cards also should be getting some big-time help from their system.
They got some assistance during the season, with guys like Brendan Ryan coming up to be a nice role player and Rick Ankiel providing quite a thrill. It's been some time since a true impact player has come down the pike, but that should change soon. Colby Ramsus spent the year at Double-A and handled it with aplomb at age 20. He could be ready to make the leap soon.
And he's not alone. While the overall organization finished with an under-.500 record, three full-season affiliates from Class A to Double-A had winning records and two of them -- Quad Cities and Springfield -- saw playoff action. The system has been fortified somewhat recently via the draft and international signings. Sure, the Cardinals will probably be active this offseason in righting the ship immediately, but it should be comforting to know that some help is on the way from within for the long-term future.
Organizational Players of the Year
Colby Rasmus, OF: This was a pick of the no-brainer variety and while there were other worthy candidates, Rasmus indeed was the best player in the organization by our estimation. We predicted he would go 20-20 while playing most of the year at age 20 in Double-A, and he only fell two steals short. He finished with 29 homers and 37 doubles for a .551 slugging percentage, good for second in the Texas League. He also showed amazing plate discipline for a hitter his age, drawing 70 walks en route to a .381 OBP to give him the second-highest OPS (.932) in the league. Might the Cards hand center field over to a 21-year-old in 2008?
Jaime Garcia, LHP: It's not that Garcia had an awful year -- he finished with a 3.75 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings pitching in the Texas League, mostly at age 20 -- but it wasn't quite the followup to his bust-out 2006 season we predicted. He couldn't quite stay healthy and an elbow injury ended his season in July. It didn't require surgery, so there's hope he'll be ready to get back at it next spring.
Colby Rasmus, OF: See Preseason Predictions.
P.J. Walters, RHP: Not too familar with Walters? Don't feel bad, but you might want to get to know him. An 11th-round pick in the 2006 draft, he had pitched in relief during his debut last summer with State College, saving eight games. Moved back into the rotation (he did a little of both at the start of the year in the Midwest League) in his first full season, Walters ended up pitching at three levels, finishing all the way up at Double-A. At season's end he had nearly won the organizational pitching triple crown, finishing first in ERA (2.55) and strikeouts (147) while tying for second in wins (12) over 151 2/3 innings. Opponents at all three levels hit just .228 against him, and he didn't hurt himself with only 33 walks.
Climbed the Ladder
Rick Ankiel, OF: Controversy aside, it's hard not to marvel at what Ankiel accomplished in 2007. The fireballer-turned-slugger finished fourth in the Minors -- and first in the organization -- with 32 home runs and he likely would have added to that total had he not been called up in early August to St. Louis (where he added 11 homers to give him 43 on the year). He drove in 89 runs and slugged .568 before giving Cardinal fans a thrill in St. Louis.
Allen Craig, 3B: An eighth-round pick in the 2006 draft, Craig was a New York-Penn League All-Star in his pro debut. He jumped up to Class A Advanced Palm Beach this past season, making the Florida State League All-Star team and being named the game's Top Star. He wasn't done, earning a late promotion to Double-A, where he was Springfield's third baseman during its Texas League playoff run. For the year, Craig's .311 average ranked third in the organization, his 24 homers placed him fourth, as did his 80 RBIs. He slugged .541 and his name is all over the FSL's leaderboard. Perhaps the Cards have found an heir apparent to Scott Rolen.
Chris Perez, RHP: When the Cardinals took Perez out of the University of Miami in the supplemental first round of the 2006 draft, the hope was that he'd move quickly as a college closer. The plan seems to be working as the right-hander reached Triple-A in his first full season. He did most of his damage with Springfield, although he also saved eight games for Memphis. Combined, he recorded 35 saves to lead the organization and tied for second in all of the Minors. He had a 2.96 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings, though his walk total of 41 was too high. The best indication of how nasty he was lies in his opponents' .130 batting average.
Brendan Ryan, INF: Ryan is a bundle of energy who had some trouble staying healthy in the past. He managed to do so in 2007 and, as a result, saw extended time in the big leagues, particularly over the final two months. In the Minors, Ryan hit .272 at Memphis with 16 steals in 81 games. He actually was more effective with the bat in the bigs, hitting .289 while going a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts. Perhaps more importantly, he played three infield positions, setting him up as a future super-utilityman for the Cards.
Kept Their Footing
Bryan Anderson, C: Hey, kid, you had a good year in the Midwest League, so we want you to jump a level to Double-A. What's that? You're a catcher and only 20? No problem, you can handle it. Anderson did just that, spending the season in Springfield and hitting .298, the fifth best average among full-season players in the system. That actually brought his career average down to .305. The only thing that kept him from the "Climbed the Ladder" list, perhaps unfairly considering his age and the level, is that he slowed considerably in the second half. Anderson hit .328 in the first half, making the Texas League All-Star team as well as the Futures Game. He hit just .267 post-break and watched his OPS drop by more than 200 points. Still, he'll be 21 and catching in Triple-A next year after spending this fall with Team USA. Let the Anderson-Molina debates begin.
Brad Furnish, LHP: A southpaw taken in the second round of the 2006 draft out of TCU, Furnish did a nice job at Quad Cities (2.42 ERA in 81 2/3 IP), spending time in the rotation and coming out of the 'pen and holding Midwest League hitters to a .191 batting average. The Florida State League proved a bit tougher after he got promoted. Furnish posted a 5.68 ERA in five starts right off the bat, then finished with three more solid relief outings for a 4.91 ERA in 36 2/3 IP. Still, he finished with a 3.19 combined ERA and .206 opponents' batting average. Whether he ends up starting or relieving, it seems that Furnish and his left arm have a future.
Mark Hamilton, 1B: You can't complain when your second-round pick from the previous year makes it to Double-A in his first full season. Hamilton began the year in Palm Beach and was a Florida State League All-Star, hitting .290 and slugging .520 in 60 games. The Cards bumped him up to Springfield, which proved a little tougher. Hamilton hit .250 and slugged just .383 in 68 games there. He did finish with 19 homers and an organization-leading 90 RBIs before being invited to play in the Arizona Fall League.
Adam Ottavino, RHP: The Cards' first-round pick in 2006, Ottavino had a solid first full year. He finished second in the organization among full-season pitchers with a 3.08 ERA, second with 12 wins and fourth with 128 strikeouts in 143 1/3 innings. For his efforts, he made the FSL All-Star team. He was even better in the second half, going 9-3 with a 2.73 ERA in 14 starts. The only question was why he wasn't bumped up to Springfield, something that obviously will happen in 2008.
Slipped a Rung
Cody Haerther, OF: Haerther came into the year with a .304 career average and even though he hit just .277 for Springfield in 2006, there was reason for optimism stemming from a tremendous second half. The hope was that Hearther, who turned 24 in July, would continue to improve at Memphis and perhaps even be ready to help out the big club this year. While he hit .292, it was in only 154 total at-bats, most of them back in Springfield. He missed the first month or so of the season with a sore wrist, played 10 games in May, then missed two months with a broken hamate, returning at the very end of July to pick up 27 more games of action. He'll give Memphis a try in 2008.
Blake Hawksworth, RHP: Seriously considered as a Pitcher of the Year candidate in our preview, Hawksworth had some difficulty adjusting to life at Triple-A. Health has been an issue in the past, but he had put it all together in 2006. He was in the Memphis rotation pretty much all year, save for May, when he had a 1.70 ERA in six starts, but couldn't get in any kind of groove. Hawksworth finished the year 4-13 with a 5.28 ERA in 129 2/3 IP and the PCL hit .295 against him. He also finished the year on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, a little worrisome since he missed large portions of two seasons due to a torn labrum.
Jon Jay, OF The 2006 second-rounder had a stirring pro debut, going right to full-season Quad Cities and hitting .342 with a .416 on-base percentage. The Cardinals challenged the Miami product by sending him to Double-A to start the 2007 season, but it didn't work out so well. Jay hit .235 in 26 games there, missed a month, then came back down a level with Palm Beach. He was a little better there, batting .286 in 32 games to finish the year with a .265 average and .328 OBP in 59 games, a far cry from that debut.
Daryl Jones, OF: The Cardinals were hoping that performance would start to slowly catch up with the raw tools for Jones in 2007, his first prolonged taste of full-season ball. He showed some glimpses, with 22 steals and a not-too-shabby 41 walks, skills that could serve him well as a future leadoff type. Overall, though, Jones hit only .217 with a .600 OPS for Quad Cities. Two bits of good news: He was better in the second half, hitting .243 after a .189 average in the first half. And he won't turn 21 until June, so even if he goes back to Quad Cities, he's still be plenty young to get going.
On the Radar
Mitch Boggs, RHP: Boggs' place here doesn't mean he was completely off the radar, only that he's pitched better than the attention he's gotten would indicate. It's time everyone start focusing on the right-hander out of Georgia. A Texas League All-Star this year, he finished ninth in the circuit with a 3.84 ERA. He also got better as the season wore on, lowering his ERA by three-quarters of a run in the second half. With nearly 300 IP over the past two seasons, he could evolve into a fine innings-eater for St. Louis. We're not the only ones who have noticed: He was invited to play in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Showcase in October.
Brandon Buckman, 1B: No one expects too much from a 19th-round draft pick. And when you're one from the college ranks (Nebraska) who's at a level (Midwest League) some might think a bit low for your age (23), you're going to have to prove yourself repeatedly. Buckman hit .341 in 67 games for Quad Cities and was named to the Midwest League All-Star team, earning a bump up to the FSL and Palm Beach. He hit just .268 there but finished with a .306 average in 14 games in August before hitting the DL with a broken finger. He finished with a .310 combined average, 19 home runs and 79 RBIs, not bad for a guy from whom no one expected anything.
Jose Martinez, SS/2B: Martinez was on our "Under the Radar" section in the preview, described as a guy who didn't get the respect he deserved, who had excellent baseball instincts and would quietly move up the Cardinals ladder and be a big leaguer someday. He began the year in the Florida State League, playing mostly shortstop. He hit just .248 through 62 games, though he showed a decent glove. When the Cardinals decided to move him up to Springfield, that's when things got interesting. The 21-year-old hit .300 with 10 homers over 250 at-bats in 66 games. Mature beyond his years, he's been getting regular playing time -- and excelling -- with Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Joe Mather, OF: Mather spent six summers in some version of Rookie-level or Class A, much of it looking up and feeling he could handle the challenge of Double-A. His best year prior to 2007 had been the previous one, when he hit .269 with 16 homers for Palm Beach in his third stint in the FSL. Finally given the chance to try out the Texas League, Mather exploded by hitting .303 with 18 homers and a .607 SLG in 64 games for Springfield. While he batted just .241 after a callup to Triple-A, he added 13 home runs to give him 31 for the year along with a .271 average. A minor arm injury cut short his stint in the Arizona Fall League, but that didn't keep the Cards from re-signing the potential six-year free agent and protecting him from the Rule 5 draft by putting him on their 40-man roster.
2007 Draft Recap
1. Pete Kozma, SS: The Cardinals' first pick, a bit of a surprise because of the organization's reputation for college-heavy drafting, went from an Oklahoma high school to getting a taste at three different levels: the Gulf Coast, Appy and New York-Penn Leagues. His overall numbers weren't impressive -- .248 average in 146 combined at-bats, but the experience should have him prepared for his first full season as a shortstop who can do just about everything well. It also showed the Cards weren't afraid to go the prep route, and they did so with several other successful draft picks.
2. Clayton Mortensen, RHP: It's not often that a college senior is thought of as a legitimate prospect, but Mortensen is just that, with a heavy fastball, slider and changeup. The supplemental first-round pick pitched in the New York-Penn and full-season Midwest Leagues and handled both well, finishing with a 2.67 ERA and 68 Ks in 60 2/3 IP. He'll play next year at age 23 and could hop right on the fast track.
3. David Kopp, RHP: The Cards went right back to college pitching with their first second-round pick. While first-rounder Daniel Moskos got most of the attention at Clemson, Kopp isn't without skills. He barely got his feet wet as a pro, throwing a total of four innings for Batavia. Look for him to join a full-season roster near you in 2008, following in the footsteps of the Adam Ottavinos and Brad Furnishes of the world.
Others of note: RHP Jess Todd (2nd round) was a New York-Penn League All-Star, posting a 2.78 ERA, .223 opponents batting average and 69 Ks in 58 1/3 innings, both as a starter and reliever for Batavia. ... RHP Deryk Hooker (7th round) had a 2.32 ERA in 31 Gulf Coast League innings, walking 11 and striking out 47. He fanned 11 over four innings in his last outing of the season. ... OF Beau Riportella (10th) hit .315 and stole 10 bases in 48 games for Johnson City, good for the fifth best average in the Appy League. ... Steve Hill (12th) caught, played first and the outfield in his pro debut for Batavia and Quad Cities. He hit .320 with 12 homers and a .513 SLG in 300 combined at-bats. ... Josh Dew (14th) came out of Troy University and was an All-Star closer for Batavia. The right-hander saved 15 games and finished with a 1.80 ERA and .159 opponents batting average while striking out 32 in 25 IP. He didn't allow a run in his last 14 outings, yielding only five hits in that span. ... RHP Chuck Fick (15) had a 1.85 ERA in 17 relief outings (39 IP) for Johnson City and Quad Cities. ... LHP Jonathan Stambaugh's (25) 3.15 ERA was good for eighth in the New York-Penn League. He walked eight and struck out 53 in 65 1/3 IP. ... 3B Arnoldo Cruz (26) played at four levels, finishing in Quad Cities, and hit a combined .299 in 66 games.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.