Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
1. Josh Kinney, 27, RH Reliever
The independent league refugee conquered Triple-A in the spring and earned a deserved promotion in July. While he returned to the minors in August, his success down the stretch puts him on the short list for bullpen spots in 2006, especially with Adam Wainwright and possibly even Braden Looper reportedly moving to the rotation. Kinney's overall potential and limited downside easily warrants late-round consideration in standard leagues, and given Jason Isringhausen's always-questionable health, don't be surprised if he emerges as an option for saves sometime in 2007.
After shooting to the top of the Cardinals' long-term prospect lists a couple years ago, Hawksworth only regained that promise this summer after suffering through two injury-plagued campaigns in which he totaled twenty-six innings in nine games. However, after handling both the Florida State League and his first look at Double-A, Hawksworth once again ranks among the best young St. Louis pitchers. He even could crack the rotation next summer with any luck, making him a potential late-round reserve pick or at least an excellent mid-season FAAB target if he remains equally effective at Triple-A.
Drafted with the twenty-eighth pick in 2005 out of an Alabama high school, Rasmus demolished the Midwest League and then unexpectedly maintained almost all his offensive skills after a promotion to High-A. His lost power doesn't concern me given his overall success on both sides of the ball. Right now Rasmus ranks among the best outfield prospects in the game, along with looking like the only future All-Star in the Cardinals' system. The two-years extension awarded to Jim Edmonds gives Rasmus two more seasons to finish polishing his skills, and given the five-category upside he demonstrated this year, he appears well on his way to emerging as a capable replacement for the potential Hall of Famer. Despite that somewhat extended timeline, the potential demonstrated by Rasmus warrants a very high pick in any 2007 minor league draft.
I look at the 5'9" Hoffpauir and see someone with the potential to emerge as the new Joe McEwing in St. Louis given his plate discipline, moderate speed and power skills, and especially his respectable odds of emerging as a fan favorite. Promoting Hoffpauir also would give David Eckstein decent competition during spring training limbo contests, so despite his fairly mediocre stats to date, I suspect we'll see Hoffpauir on the Cardinals as soon as next summer if injuries strike someone like Adam Kennedy. Of course, Hoffpauir also doesn't look like a decent fantasy option for now, but I see sufficient upside here to recommend monitoring his progress if he receives a shot in Triple-A or even the majors.
Though Stavinoha couldn't replicate the .344/.398/.564 performance he posted in 250 at-bats in the Midwest League in 2005 after St. Louis selected him in the seventh round, he didn't far too badly at Double-A, maintaining decent overall averages despite a sharp reduction in his plate discipline. A solid start in 2007 just might push him onto the Cardinals' bench next summer, but due to his minimal quantitative upside, he probably won't merit any fantasy consideration until the following season.
A 2004 first rounder, Lambert's high ERA obscures his otherwise impressive improvement in his second tour of the Texas League. Yes, he still walks too many batters, but if his skills continue moving in the right direction, he could reach the majors as soon as next fall. Of course, I also suspect he'll eventually move to the bullpen given his seemingly limited stamina, so Lambert really won't belong on any fantasy roster until the Cardinals offer some indication of his anticipated role in St. Louis.
A year ago Haerther appeared on track to claim a starting outfield job in 2007. Instead he watched his averages plummet from 2005 and likely will return for a third tour of the Texas League with only a bench job in St. Louis likely awaiting him. Of course, he at least demonstrated improved plate discipline, so if his BA and power rebound, Haerther still owns the skills necessary to reach double-digit value in the majors. He just needs to reach the Cardinals before higher-upside prospects like Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay, and even Rick Ankiel stake their claims on big league jobs.
While Schumaker opened the season as the Cardinals' fifth outfielder, he only lasted a few weeks in the majors before heading to Memphis for the next four months, only returning after roster expansion. Schumaker needs a high BA to possess any value at all given his minimal power and unimpressive speed, skills that appear quite superfluous on a bench that already features So Taguchi. Despite the fact Schumaker remains on the club's 40-man roster, he looks like no more than a fantasy afterthought unless he begins echoing his Triple-A stats in the majors.
While Gorecki seems to stumble each time he reaches a new level, his past performance suggests he'll rebound during his second tour of the PCL in 2007. He still doesn't look like much more than a decent reserve, but given the number of outfielders rotated through St. Louis in recent years, he appears on track at least to receive a cup-of-coffee by 2008.
All of Parisi's skills declined after leaving A-ball, effectively dropping him far down the Cardinals' depth chart considering that scouts questioned his upside even when he otherwise moved through the lower levels of the system without difficulty. Unless Parisi nicely rebounds during an anticipated second tour of the Texas League, he almost certainly will need a move to the bullpen to resume his march to the majors. Nothing here indicates that he belongs on any fantasy roster in 2007.
High school catchers don't often achieve this level of success in their first full professional seasons, but Anderson already ranks among the minors' best hitting catching prospects. Of course, he possesses neither much power nor speed, so despite his pedigree as a fourth round pick in 2005, he likely won't advance too quickly in the Cardinals' system. Couple all that with the fact that Yadier Molina appears firmly entrenched in St. Louis due to his superb defensive skills, and I see little reason to roster Anderson in any fantasy league in 2007. He could merit a very high pick in a year if he continues developing, but given his limited quantitative upside and heavily blocked path to the majors, Anderson doesn't belong on your draft list at this time.
A second round pick in 2000 and one of the Cardinals' best prospects through 2003, Narveson headed to Colorado in the Larry Walker deal, moved to Boston in the Byung-Hyung Kim trade, and then returned to St. Louis off waivers in 2005. Despite fairly mediocre numbers, he received a surprise spot start in September and then remained in the big league bullpen for the rest of the season. Narveson certainly could emerge as a decent major leaguer if given the opportunity, however due to his questionable command and significant platoon split, I envision him shifting to the bullpen in the near future. Don't expect him to stick with the Cardinals until he makes that switch.
On the edge of earning a regular job with the Padres until rupturing a tendon while celebrating a homer in 2004, Bozied finally departed San Diego at the end of camp for a job with the Mets. Of course, he failed to earn regular playing time with Norfolk, so he really needs to take advantage of this opportunity with the Cardinals or else risk gaining permanent AAA status. Unfortunately, I don't see much upside here regardless of his performance with Albert Pujols secure at first base and Chris Duncan the obvious alternative, meaning that Bozied basically will spend this season auditioning for a better NRI in 2008.
Nelson owns decent power, patience, speed, and defensive skills, but due to nearly overwhelming strikeout totals, appears unlikely to see much time in the majors. He needs to find a way to boost his BA over .250 in 2007 if he wants to enjoy any future with the Cardinals.
Drafted in the second round out of the University of Miami this June, Jay simply excelled after signing, posting one of the highest averages of any 2006 draftee. The problem with Jay is that other than possessing decent plate discipline to support his high BA, he lacks any other distinct tool. Perhaps his baserunning skills will continue to develop, but due to his lack of power and the presence of Colby Rasmus in the centerfield pipeline, Jay appears headed for no more than a bench job with the Cardinals. I see nothing here that demands consideration in any 2007 minor league draft.
A fifth round pick out of the University of Georgia in 2005, Boggs pitched just fine in an obviously comfortable environment this summer. Yet he struggled on the road and appears to lack the dominance necessary to remain equally effective at higher levels. Double-A should prove a significant test for the youngster if he hopes to reach the majors as a starter any time in the foreseeable future.
After failing to impress in stints with St. Louis in 2004 and 2005, Cali regressed all the way to Double-A due to the complete failure of his command, prompting the Cardinals to release him in November. While he landed with the Twins earlier this month on a minor league deal, nothing here suggests that he can contribute above the Triple-A level at this time.
His third time with Springfield proved the charm for Cavazos as he sailed to Memphis and surprisingly posted some of the best skill rates of his career. St. Louis wisely protected him on the 40-man roster, and though he doesn't enter camp with a particularly good shot to win a big league job, he appears in the first tier of candidates when injuries inevitably strike the Cardinals' relief corps. Cavazos could emerge as respectable roster filler as soon as next summer.
Despite pitching quite well at Double-A this summer, Doyne actually regressed from a far more impressive performance at Springfield a year ago. Yet the Orioles still quickly signed him when he entered minor league free agency, and if he impresses in camp, Doyne just might receive a shot at the majors in 2007. Unfortunately, I just don't believe he possesses the command necessary to take advantage of that opportunity at this time.
Despite spending extended parts of our seasons whomping the ball at Memphis, Gall fell behind guys like John Rodriguez and Chris Duncan, and never received much more than a cup-of-coffee before requesting his release in July. He spent the rest of the summer in Korea, though the minor league deal he signed with the Marlins hopefully will provide him a long-overdue chance to receive regular at-bats in the majors. Gall still possesses strong plate discipline and decent power potential, so while he shouldn't claim an everyday job at this point, he seems as safe a bet for a big league bench job as almost anyone in the minors.
Drafted in the twenty-second round of the 2005 draft, Garcia only debuted this summer yet quickly emerged as perhaps the most promising long-term starting prospect in the Cardinals' system. He dominated the Midwest League and remained similarly effective against older competition in High-A, demonstrating solid strikeout and walk rates highlighted by an outstanding groundball rate. However, Garcia also didn't completely dominate hitters, so until he repeats this performance in the upper minors, I don't consider him a logical option even in the deepest NL leagues.
The 2005 first rounder from Georgia Tech simply flailed at the plate in the first half, a mid-season demotion to A-ball unbecoming of someone with his pedigree. While he at least rebounded with the Swing and also demonstrated impressive speed skills throughout 2006, Greene needs to conquer the Florida State League next year to maintain his status as a decent prospect. Unfortunately, that success seems far from assured due to his contact problem, effectively leaving him with little shot of seeing St. Louis sooner than 2009. I see no reason to select him in any spring draft.
Returning to Palm Beach for a second season resulted in little change in Haberer's performance, a mildly troublesome development significantly compounded by his awful stats at Double-A following his mid-season promotion. The one bright spot is that he remains a consistent groundball pitcher, but given existing concerns regarding his secondary pitches, I see no reason for him to continue starting. Haberer also therefore no longer will possess any fantasy value until he begins contributing in the emerges.
After entering 2006 as one of the top infield prospects in the system with a chance to win a big league bench job in the near future, Hanson instead slumped all the way back to Double-A as both his power and patience simply vanished. Considering he already possesses questionable defense at best, he appears a long way from earning more than a cup-of-coffee in St. Louis. Until he proves this performance a fluke, he longer belongs on any fantasy roster.
Unexpectedly kept on the Cardinals' 40-man roster all season despite never reaching the majors, he continues to occupy a roster slot likely better spent on someone with a chance of seeing St. Louis. Of course, Hernandez also owns better plate discipline than almost every other minor league catcher, so I can't really fault the Cardinals for keeping him on call in case of emergency. He ranks as a solid short-term option for both St. Louis and fantasy teams, albeit not one with the capability to earn more than a minimal positive value under any circumstances.
Just drafted in June out of Northeastern with the Cardinals' first round pick, Ottavino nicely handled hitters at both his stops after signing. He should begin 2007 in the Florida State League, and though he doesn't belong on any fantasy draft boards right now, echoing these numbers next summer could result in him shooting up prospect lists for 2008.
Despite possessing as much long-term potential as any pitcher in the system, Pomeranz basically bombed this summer, virtually repeating his 2005 Double-A stats in the first half before an oblique injury sidelined him for most of the second half. He likely will return for a third summer at Springfield in 2007, which means he really needs to excel in the near future to remain in the Cardinals' plans. Perhaps a move to the bullpen would boost his dominance, but if Pomeranz can't increase his overall effectiveness through some skill improvement, he may slip into Quadruple-A status far sooner than expected.
Freed from the Phillies after seven increasingly unproductive years, Richardson posted the best offensive stats of his career this summer. While he obviously benefited from the hitter-friendly Texas League parks, Richardson definitely deserves a Triple-A berth somewhere in 2007, though he'll need to echo these stats without any extended slumps to receive any significant consideration for a promotion to the majors.
An intriguing prospect since he toasted in the Sally League back in 1999, Washington can handle almost every position, including catcher, and really hasn't deserved to spend almost all of the past seven seasons at Double-A. I realize he hasn't exactly excelled when given chances at Triple-A, but with developing power now augmenting his impressive plate discipline, Washington almost certainly deserves no less than a cup-of-coffee in the near future. Hopefully his decision to re-up with the Cardinals will result in that opportunity.
A year after leaving the minors in saves with A+ Palm Beach Worrell progressed to Double-A, displaying even better overall skills despite the fact his ERA doubled. Aside from a mildly high homer rate, he fairly dominated many of his opponents, suggesting he could earn a bullpen job in St. Louis as soon as next summer. I certainly don't expect him to defy percentages by developing into a big league closer, but Worrell's skill set at least will merit some consideration as roster filler if he can carry this performance into the majors.
No system features less impact talent ready to hit the majors than the Cardinals' collection of minor league talent, but after a couple of very solid drafts, St. Louis at least possesses several intriguing long-term prospects, led by Colby Rasmus and Bryan Anderson. Of course, considering the fact that the Cardinals just won their first championship in twenty-four years and still own one of the best big league rosters in baseball, their lack of 2007 rookie help isn't a major concern. Signing Adam Kennedy filled the only real hole in the lineup while retaining Scott Spiezio insured that Tony LaRussa retained an amazingly flexible bench. With Albert Pujols just truly entering his prime, St. Louis won't need to worry about adding another new position player for a couple more years, by which point Rasmus should arrive to replace Jim Edmonds.
The pitching staff appears in far worse shape after losing four free agent starters. Giving Chris Carpenter a completely unnecessary three-year extension also concerns me given his injury issues, but if healthy, he gives the club an ace to front a likely rotation that also should include Anthony Reyes, the newly-signed Kip Wells, and Adam Wainwright, who returns from his amazingly successful run in the bullpen to his old role as a starter. Walt Jocketty almost certainly will add one more veteran starter, most likely playoff hero Jeff Weaver unless another club overpays for the intriguing albeit inconsistent journeyman. Even if Jason Isringhausen can't stay healthy, the loss of Wainwright from the pen similarly doesn't concern me given the emergence of Brad Thompson, Josh Hanock, Tyler Johnson, and Josh Hancock this summer. While the 2007 Cardinals certainly won't offer many chances for any rookies to emerge and similarly lacks much trade bait, the club otherwise appears prepared for less than a strong defense of their division title for the third straight year, along with retaining at least a chance to see hoist their third pennant in four seasons.
Current ranking of potentially helpful fantasy depth for teams discussed thus far in 2006, based on both the quality and quantity of players ready to contribute in the majors, as well as consideration of the trade value of low-level minor leaguers from each system:
1. Arizona Diamondbacks(C.Young, M.Montero, Callaspo, C.Gonzalez, J.Upton)
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