Are you an optimist or a
The optimist would observe that
the increasing depth of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system was
reinforced on Thursday during Major League Baseball’s 2008 Rule 5 Draft, held in
conjunction with the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
After not losing any players in
the three-phase draft in recent years, the Cards had two players plucked this
year, reliever Luis Perdomo, selected sixth overall by the Giants, and
outfielder Cody Haerther, taken in the minor league phase. Neither had been
protected by the Cardinals by being placed on the team’s 40-man roster.
The pessimist might wonder why,
with three open roster spots and several marginal prospects remaining on their
roster, did the club not take a shot at improving themselves this year or at
least protect Perdomo.
This time around, the Cardinals
sat out the Major League phase of the draft after having taken outfielder Brian Barton last year. St. Louis did select one player
in the minor league phase, reliever Russ Haltiwanger, from Kansas
Team selections in the draft were
made in inverse order of their number of wins in the 2008 season, putting the
Cardinals in draft position number 18. However, teams must have open spots on
their 40-man roster to participate in the draft.
While the Cardinals came into the
day with 37 players on their roster, they chose not to make a
pick after nine players had been selected and eight organizations passed.
Gain – Major League
Loss – Major League
Luis Perdomo. The final tie to the
Anthony Reyes era in St.
Louis is officially gone. Sadly, it came down to $50,000,
the amount the Cardinals will receive in turn for the right-handed reliever.
They chose not to put the
24-year-old Dominican Republic native on their 40-man roster after his up and
down partial season with Springfield following his coming over from Cleveland on
July 26. Instead, the Cardinals placed Perdomo on their Triple-A roster for
purposes of the draft.
That means San Francisco, Perdomo’s
new club, must keep him on their major league 25-man active roster for the
entire 2009 season or put him on waivers. In that case, any other club could
claim him if they see him as an immediate major leaguer or he returns to the
Cardinals for half the $50,000 draft price. If the Cards do not want to take him
back, he remains with his selecting organization.
Perdomo’s low 90s sinking
fastball has always been his calling card, but he struggled against better
competition in winter ball, as he allowed seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings
with Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican League before ending play a month
Gain – Minor League
The Cardinals selected Haltiwanger
in the first round of the Triple-A portion of the draft and ended their day
right there, passing in subsequent rounds as well as in the Double-A
The 24-year-old righty was
acquired by the Royals from the Cincinnati Reds in a trade for infielder Jeff Keppinger almost two years ago, in January, 2007. Haltiwanger was originally
taken by the Reds in the 29th round of the 2005 First-Year Player
Pitching in the A-Advanced
Carolina League for the second full season, Haltiwanger posted a 3.83 ERA with
40 strikeouts, but also 29 walks in 56 1/3 innings in 2008. That translates into
a too-high WHIP of 1.58. He held opposing batters to a .276 average, but his
ground out to fly out rate was just 1.05.
Over his four-year minor league
career, Haltiwanger has a 3.70 ERA with 128 walks and 198 strikeouts in 248 2/3
innings. He has also finished 29 games over the last two seasons, collecting six
It is difficult to see this pick
as being anything more than the addition of some organizational relief depth. It
seems likely Haltiwanger will figure into the relief mix for Springfield in the
Loss – Minor League
The odd tale of Cody Haerther as a
member of the Cardinals organization came to a quiet end on Thursday as the
25-year-old outfielder was selected in the Triple-A phase of the draft by
Toronto Blue Jays with the 19th pick in the first
Just over one year ago, the
Cardinals removed their 2002 sixth-round pick from their 40-man roster. He was
claimed by Toronto, but just a few days later,
the Jays tried the same tactic, only for Haerther to be re-claimed by St.
Louis. He was subsequently outrighted in July, but went unclaimed that time.
With a group of strong outfield
competitors rising through the system, Haerther split his time between Springfield and Memphis in 2008. Not surprisingly, his Double-A
OPS of .845 overshadowed his meager .658 mark in Triple-A.
As a result, the Cardinals left
Haerther on their Double-A roster for Rule 5 purposes, effectively offering to
part ways with him for just $12,000. His new club has no restrictions where
Haerther may be assigned in 2009.
After not participating in the
Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft in 2006, the Cardinals got back into the
action one year ago as they selected Barton from the Cleveland Indians with the
tenth pick in the first round.
Other than some time on the
disabled list and a rehab stint with Memphis, Barton remained in the majors all
year, so he is now Cardinals propertly, free and clear. The 26-year-old is
expected to start the 2009 season in Triple-A.
Cardinals neither selected any players nor lost any in the minor league phases,
Triple-A and Double-A, of last year’s draft. Each of the previous two years,
they took a catcher and middle infielder, but none of the four are still in the
Brian Walton can be reached via
email at email@example.com.
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