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.
I was recently asked to give my opinion for players of the year in the Quad Cities. For me, that’s like asking who my favorite son is…. It’s a very difficult choice. Since I can’t take the easy way out and name everyone, I’ll at least say that I think at some level, each and every guy who played here this summer is deserving of recognition. But this is baseball and I’ve never been known for being overly politically correct and saying that everyone wins, so here are my choices.
Starting Pitcher of the Year – Brandon Dickson
It was a strange year for starting pitchers in the Quad Cities. With the first half of the season being given to the piggy back starter system, it was difficult to get a real feel of the strengths and weaknesses in the rotation. We looked at eight starters who were also mid-relievers until the All-Star break.
Tyler Herron started slowly but soon became a star on the mound. As the season progressed, he faded some. Shaun Garceau was also a big contributor early in the season, but he looked tired by mid-August. I wonder if that had anything to do with the lack of arm-building innings early in the season. Brad Furnish certainly deserves to be mentioned here, but he was promoted at mid-season, so I’ll leave his potential nomination to my colleague in Palm Beach.
My nomination for Starting Pitcher of the Year has to go to Brandon Dickson. It’s hard to talk about “Cotton” without using terms like ‘work horse’ and ‘level-headed.’ He would sometimes get himself into a hole, but he just kept chipping away at the opponent, controlling his pitches, and keeping his composure. Regular readers here know that I’m not a keeper of stats, and I honestly don’t remember his final numbers, but I know he was a team leader. He deserves the nod here.
Relief Pitcher of the Year – Kenny Maiques
Well, this one is a no-brainer so I’ll name my nominee and then follow up with a couple others. Kenny Maiques is hands down the most amazing pitcher I’ve ever gotten to watch at this level. From my seat in the stadium, I could see into the opponents’ dugout and I could see the other team slump every time Kenny took the mound.
Maiques consistently throws in the nineties and has incredible control with his pitch placement. He’s also one of the best that I’ve ever seen in choosing pitches. With more than 30 saves on the season, it’s easy to see that Kenny was the only pitcher on the staff this year who didn’t suffer diminished numbers in the piggy-back system. I’m curious to see if he tries to make the switch back to the starting rotation but I know he’ll be valuable as a closer.
Others who deserve mention here include Mike Schellinger and Kyle Sadlowski. Mike was recently released by the Cardinals. He told me that the release was given to him early this fall so that he would have a better chance at signing with another team before Spring Training. Schellinger was one of the “victims” of the piggy-back start. When they went back to the five-man rotation, he got bumped to the bullpen, but he made the adjustment well. Kyle was another of their “quiet giants” this summer. He’s not the flashiest pitcher I’ve ever seen, but he’s very consistent from the mound.
Position Player of the Year – Jared Schweitzer
Jim Rapoport is one of the fastest players I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching on the field. Mark Shorey has one of the biggest bats I’ve seen here. Luke Gorsett is also a very consistent, very strong presence on the field. Since they were all promoted fairly early in the season, I’ll reserve my tip of the hat for another fielder.
Although he wasn’t here long enough to merit a POY nomination, I was very impressed with Tyler Henley. I always want to see our players promoted, but a little part of me is hoping he will make a return trip here next summer. Daryl Jones played very well for about half of the summer; unfortunately, his hot streaks were spaced with some real slumps so he doesn’t get my nomination.
I’m nominating Jared Schweitzer for the position player of the year. Once again, I’m giving my vote to one of the quieter players on the team. Jared didn’t hit a lot of home runs, but he got a lot of hits. He didn’t make many brilliant plays on the field, but he made plays game after game. An injury in mid-August shortened his season which could be part of the reason the team skidded into the playoffs and made an early exit in the post season.
Fan of the Year – Jim Duggleby
Because of recent events, I have to add one category to my list. Jim Duggleby was the founder and president of the baseball fan club here for several years. He single-handedly built the club here into one of the finest fan clubs in minor league baseball.
He helped to find housing for players every year, including taking players into his own home. Whenever there was a holiday, Jim invited the team and all of the club members to his house for a big meal. Over the years I often found myself shaking my head wondering just how he accomplished all that he did for the team.
Jim had a sore back most of the summer and was treating it with a chiropractor but it just wasn’t getting better. Finally, after the season was over, Jim’s doctor insisted that he get an MRI on his back. The scan revealed the worst. Jim had cancer in his lower back, his spine, his lungs, and his liver. By the time the doctors found it, there was little that could be done.
Jim passed away last week at the age of 59, leaving his wife Wendy and his son Adam. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers and please join me in nominating Jim as the Fan of the Year. He has left a lot of work that will need to be done here. May he rest in peace.
|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: Memphis Redbirds of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.