In summary, the two players that made the group’s Top 40 but were ranked lower on my list are Andy Cavazos and Skip Schumaker.
||Group Top 40
By the time I got to the rankings from 30-40 there were several players that I could’ve justified ranking there to include, Adam Daniels, Brad Furnish, Trey Hearne, Juan Lucena, Matt Lane, Mark Michael, Matt Scherer and Joshua Wilson.
Two former St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Players of the Year, Travis Hanson (2005) and Reid Gorecki (2004) made my Top 40 list at #35 and #36 respectively, but both failed to make the cut on the this year’s Birdhouse countdown.
Travis Hanson debuted on my Top Prospect list in 2003 at #4, after coming off a solid rookie season, where he hit .294 for New Jersey (A) of the NY-Penn League and earning a spot on the All-Star Team. In 2003 Hanson jumped to the Midwest League and had another All-Star campaign, racking up 146 hits, second most among Cardinals minor leaguers and he appeared well on his way to the majors.
Things turned for the worse in 2004 when Hanson suffered a broken ankle while sliding into a base in a game in June against the St. Lucie Mets. The injury limited Hanson to just 57 games that season, but he still managed to being named to the Florida State League All-Star team.
The lost year of development of course didn’t help Hanson’s chances of making it to the majors and he needed a solid 2005 campaign to move back into the upper-tier of St. Louis Cardinals position prospects.
In 2005 Hanson put together one of the better minor league seasons in St. Louis Cardinals organizational history. He topped the Texas League third basemen in putouts (95), assists (264) and a stat that surprised many of us, the kid who was once considered the Cardinals best defensive player in the system led Texas League third basemen with 36 errors.
He played for the Arizona Fall League in 2005 and was one of 24 players chosen to represent the U.S. at the CONCEBE Regional Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Phoenix. The Cardinals named him the Minor League Player of the Year, as he fought back from his ankle injury, to cap off what seem to be an almost perfect season for the talented young prospect.
Then last season it appeared that everything fell apart for the promising infielder. His defense was often suspect. He would look like Scott Rolen making what looked like an impossible play on one play, only to fumble the next routine grounder.
At the plate, it was a total nightmare. He started the season at Triple-A Memphis hitting .220 with only one home run in 223 plate appearances, before being sent down to Double-A Springfield. There his struggles at the plate continued, as he hit just .228 with just two home runs in 258 at bats.
It is hard to put your finger on what has happened to Travis. One has to wonder if he’s been coached too much and is trying too hard and just needs to relax and play the game that once made him one of the Cardinals’ higher-rated prospects.
I hate to say it, but it’s a make or break season for Travis and having that additional pressure isn’t likely going to help him.
Reid Gorecki finished at #36 on my Top 40 Prospect list this year. In afterthought, I may have been a little generous on my part even ranking him that high.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2004, Gorecki was added to the Cardinals 40- man roster at the end of the season. We all thought Reid was on his way to the major leagues. Invited to Spring Training the following season, the young outfielder was slated to start the season at Double-A Springfield and the future looked very bright for the 13th round pick of the June, 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
Gorecki had a disastrous start to the year in 2005 at Double-A Springfield, hitting .182 in 159 at-bats before being sent down to Single-A Palm Beach to finish the season, where he hit a respectable .288 over 64 games.
He appeared to turn things around last season at Springfield. He found a little pop to his bat, hitting 16 home runs in 327 at-bats, in 85 games before getting the call up to Triple-A Memphis, where played in 21 games for the Redbirds, hitting just .162 in 74 at-bats.
Recently removed from the Cardinals’ 40 man roster, Gorecki turned 26 in December and barring a miracle, his odds of ever playing for the St. Louis Cardinals in the Major Leagues are about the same as the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series, slim.
Two former St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year award winners, both facing a make or break season in 2007. I have a little more faith in them than some others but barring “Comeback Player of the Year” type seasons, their professional baseball careers may be nearing the end.