Editor’s note: As those who followed our Top 40 Prospects countdown over the last month and a half know, the selection of the master list was a melding of the individual views from four of us here at The Birdhouse, stlcardinals.scout.com.
As a result, a handful of deserving players on each of our personal lists did not make the consolidated Top 40. This is the third of four articles where each of us will highlight those prospects – our “Best of the Rest”.
Here is the overall Top 40, with my list next to it. Highlighted are the names unique to each list.
This year only two players in my Top 40 prospect rankings failed to make the final cut. It doesn’t come as a big surprise because I had them both on the bubble with RHP Eddie Degerman at #40 and third baseman Tony Cruz at #39 in my rankings.
The Cardinals selected Eddie Degerman in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, out of Rice University. Degerman was ranked at #32 in our rankings in 2006. He can throw three pitches consistently for strikes. His best pitch is his plus curveball, but he keeps his low 90s fastball low in the strike zone, and changes speeds well.
Degerman split playing time this past season between Quad Cities and Palm Beach, finishing with a combined record of 5-5 with one save and a 4.31 ERA. He struggled down the stretch finishing with a 4-4 with a 6.04 ERA in his last 10 games of the season. There has to be some concern about his higher-than-ideal walk rate. In 11 games for the High-A Cardinals, Degerman walked 36 batters in 54.7 innings, ending up with a WHIP of 1.573.
The 24-year-old right hander should start the 2008 season with Palm Beach and he’ll have to cut down his free passes to opposing batters if he’s going to see playing time in Springfield next season.
Tony Cruz, the 21-year-old third baseman, played 49 games for Quad-Cities, his fourth stop since signing with the St. Louis organization that selected him in the 26th round of the draft in June. A professional hitter, Cruz has been a very pleasant surprise. He burst on the scene in July for Quad Cities. He recorded at least one hit in eight of his first nine games with the team, along with at least one RBI in eight of nine. In his first six games he hit .417 with ten hits and seven RBI.
It seemed like I was writing about Cruz in the daily post game summaries last year almost every day. He appeared to always come up with a key hit, hitting .330 with runners in scoring positions. He slumped down the stretch somewhat, (hitting .222 in August) but managed to rebound and finish the season with a respectable .282/.338/.421 line with Quad Cities, with five home runs and 34 RBI in 195 at-bats.
There is a lot of excitement among some fans about the success of Cruz in his first season of professional ball. Looking for someone to fill the hole at third base when Scott Rolen’s career in St. Louis is over, Cruz could improve his stock value significantly by avoiding the sophomore jinx in 2008.
Cruz will likely start the 2008 campaign with the Quad Cities River Bandits. If he can continue to hit as he did throughout most of the 2007 season he could be in Springfield by the All-Star break.
Tomorrow, look for the final companion article to this one coming from Brian Walton. We really enjoyed bringing our top prospects list to you again this off-season and hope you found our reports informative, too.
To reference our entire list of top 40 Cardinals prospects for 2008 and read about each individual player, click here. You can also learn more about each of the voters’ philosophies in making their selections and much more.
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