First let me say congratulations.
You have had a very underrated career and also it could be said an overlooked
one at that. But, now you have
become the seventh member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization to make their
major league debut this season.
Next, let me say I am sorry. In The Birdhouse’s 40 Days, 40 Nights,
40 Prospects, I was the only staff member that did not rate you. You ranked number 33 overall, but I
guess I like many, underrated you as well.
But this season, you have gone out and done what you have accomplished
throughout your minor league career - get people out.
In 21 appearances in 2008, you
have posted a record of 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA over 24 innings of work. To say you have been dominant is an
understatement, as you have racked up 38 strikeouts compared to 11 walks. Always thought as a right-handed
specialist, right-handed hitters are hitting just .216 against you while lefties
are batting only a comparable .233.
When you make your major league
debut, you will have appeared in 208 career minor league games spanning 244
innings and posting a 3.02 ERA.
With 78 career saves and 285 strikeouts, there is really nothing else to
prove at the minor league level.
I am sure that every one of your
family and friends back in your home of Lake
Worth, Florida will cheer your debut
as they celebrated when you were selected by Tampa Bay in
the 11th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft out of John Leonard High
As the 2001 Palm Beach County Player of the Year and being
a two-time first team all-state honoree (2001 and 2000) and second team once
(1999). The Rays liked what
they saw after you averaged 1.76 strikeouts per inning during your senior
season. In 11 starts that season,
eight were shutouts. You also
pitched for the 2001 USA Junior National Team.
Instead of opting to sign
with the Rays, you instead went to Indian River Community
College, where you went
4-6 in 14 starts with the Pioneers.
Before you stepped on the college mound, you were named the No. 1
preseason junior college pitcher in the country by Baseball America.
After leaving Indian
River, next was a stop in 2003 at the University of Arizona. Results were mixed as you finished with
a record of 2-4 with a 6.75 ERA. You had trouble with getting people out,
averaging 11 hits/9 IP and a WHIP of almost two.
The desert sun must have
not suited you as you transferred closer to home - Florida International – where
you went 2-9, over 19 games, 12 starts, and logging 107 Ks in 84.2 innings. St. Louis must have seen a diamond in the rough
because in the 12th round of the 2004 draft, you became a
In 2004, at Johnson City you posted a
1.21 ERA in 17 games including 6 saves while averaging 14.1 K/9. Next on to Peoria with six more saves
in 17 games and improving the K/9 to 12.27.
The first full professional season
of 2005 saw you record a minor league high 35 games for Palm Beach. Up next was Springfield in 2006 with
27 more saves.
The organization began to stretch
you out in 2007 at Triple-A Memphis and you proved ready with a career high 67
innings and an ERA just over three while averaging almost a strikeout an
Now, at the age of 25, you will
make your major league debut and become the second member of the 2004 draft
class to make it to the big leagues.
Let me once again say I am sorry for underestimating and underrating
you. And even though I may already
have egg on my face, the next time I go out to dinner, I will eat
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