Cards Take One, Lose Two in 2008 Rule 5 Draft

Effectively, the St. Louis Cardinals end up with $50,000 for Anthony Reyes as his trade partner Luis Perdomo heads to San Francisco in the Rule 5 Draft. The Cardinals also lost Cody Haerther as expected and picked up a minor league reliever, Russ Haltiwanger.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

 

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 City.

 

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 Phase

 

None

 

Loss – Major League Phase

 

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 ago.

 

Gain – Minor League Phase

 

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 draft.

 

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 Draft.

 

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 saves.

 

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 spring.

 

Loss – Minor League Phase

 

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 round.

 

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.

 

Recent History

 

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.

 

The 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 organization today.

 

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

 

© 2008 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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