Editor’s note: Check back here through November 25 as our local writers call out the top players – starter, reliever and position player - at each level of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. We’ll conclude the series with the top three players across the entire organization – our 2007 Scout.com Cardinals Players of the Year.
The Batavia Muckdogs’ 2007 season has to be considered a big disappointment with the team finishing 12 games below .500. Even so, the pitching, especially the relievers, did present some reason for excitement when looking at the St. Louis Cardinals’ short season Single-A team.
With good depth and some surprises, the Cardinals will have a solid core of pitchers with which to continue to build the system from within in 2008. In the final 14-team New York-Penn League results, the Muckdogs finished second in saves with 24, fifth in strikeouts, and tenth in ERA.
On the other hand, saying the offense struggled in 2007 is a huge understatement. To be fair, Batavia did have a few players that got off to hot starts but those players found themselves quickly on the move to the Quad Cities.
The players that did stay were for the most part under-whelming and the team leaders generally did not rank among New York-Penn League leaders. As a team, Batavia finished 13th in batting average, 12th in on base percentage, and last in slugging percentage.
With that said, let’s first take a look at the hitters.
Batavia Hitter of the Year - Steven Hill
A 13th-round pick out of Stephen F. Austin, Hill appeared in only 10 games and logged just 39 at-bats for the Muckdogs. But the results were so overwhelming that I could not go a different route. The fans of Batavia saw him produce a line of .436/.511/.692, so impressive that he was quickly promoted to the Quad Cities.
Hill continued his impressive showing with the Swing, hitting .303/.330/.487. I know the sample size is small but no one else stood out more than Hill that wore the Muckdog uniform in 2007.
Deserving mention for the Muckdogs are Andrew Brown and Daniel Descalso. Brown, an 18th-round pick out of the University of Nebraska, led the Muckdogs in home runs with seven, runs batted in at 40, doubles with 14, and triples at seven. Brown was rewarded by being selected as a New York-Penn League Midseason All-Star. Even though Descalso led in so many offensive categories, he still hit only .238/.330/.444, quite paltry considering his other numbers and a sign that offense was down in Batavia.
Daniel Descalso was selected in the third round out of the University of California-Davis. He showed very little power for a corner infielder and finished with a line of .268/.346/.336. The third baseman did finish strong, hitting .333/.379/.463 in August. Descalso’s 67 hits ranked first on the team but did not rank him in the Top 25 in the final New York-Penn League standings.
Starting Pitcher of the Year - Jess Todd
Jess Todd was a second-round pick out in the 2007 Draft of the University of Arkansas. He led the Muckdogs in wins with four, starter ERA at 1.76 in the games he started and 2.78 overall, and strikeouts with 69. Due to limited innings, Todd did not qualify for the ERA final standings but he did finish tenth in strikeouts. The right-hander was named the New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week for July 23 and a Midseason All-Star.
Supplemental first round pick Clayton Mortensen began his professional career at Batavia and showed why the Cardinals were so high on him. The Gonzaga product notched one win and one defeat with an ERA of 1.77. In 20 innings with the Muckdogs, Mortensen collected 23 strikeouts before heading to the Midwest League to join the Quad Cities.
Relief Pitcher of the Year - Josh Dew
Dew, a 14th-round pick out of Troy University, established himself as one of the Cardinals’ best second-day picks. He ranked second in the New York-Penn League with 15 saves. The 22-year-old finished with 32 strikeouts in 25 innings compared to only six walks. Also of note is that opponents hit a paltry .159 against him. The right-hander was named a Midseason All-Star.
Another worth mentioning here is J.D. Stambaugh. I include him under the relief section even though he tied for the Muckdogs lead in starts because he was so much more impressive in relief than when starting. In nine starts, the 25th-round pick was 0-2 with 3.76 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 38 innings. Out of the bullpen, Stambaugh notched three wins against no defeats with a 2.30 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 27 innings. The product of Brigham Young University finished eighth in the final NY-Penn ERA standings with a mark of 3.15.
Wayne Daman, signed as an undrafted free agent, made 25 appearances and posted an ERA of 3.12. The right-hander out of Washington State averaged a strikeout an inning and hitters batted only .211 against him.
Blake King was a 44th-round pick in the 2006 draft out of Eastern Oklahoma State. King, blessed with outstanding stuff but little command, started the year at the Quad Cities. When he struggled with control, King was demoted to Batavia. He continued to struggle in the starting rotation but was overpowering out of the pen. In 22 innings of relief, King notched 33 strikeouts compared to only 12 bases on balls. Opponents hit only .164 against him when he pitched out of the pen compared to a .283 average against when he got the start.
|of the Year
|Palm Beach (A+)
|Quad Cities (A)
|Johnson City (SS)
|Gulf Coast (SS)
(Click on the team name highlighted above to be taken to that detailed article.)
Next up: Swing of the Quad Cities of the Midwest League.
Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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