On Tuesday, St. Louis Cardinals second base prospect Jarrett Hoffpauir became a member of the Toronto Blue Jays when he was claimed off waivers. The Cardinals were attempting to remove the 26-year-old from their 40-man roster.
The right-handed hitter was the Cardinals’ sixth-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and was added to the 40-man roster in November 2007.
In 2007, between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, Hoffpauir's .323 batting average and .407 OBP led the organization (minimum 250 at-bats), causing him to be assigned to the Arizona Fall League. We ranked him #14 in our Scout.com/The Cardinal Nation top prospect list the following winter.
His stock dropped substantially after a quiet 2008 campaign with Memphis in which he batted .273, to the point he fell off our prospect list last off-season.
Hoffpauir spent a majority of the 2009 season with Triple-A Memphis. There his line was .291/.357/.486 in 358 at-bats over 108 games. Though younger prospect Daniel Descalso was called up from Double-A as Hoffpauir was two years prior, Jarrett held onto his starting role for the most part.
Hoffpauir was called up to make his Major League debut on July 3 and batted .250 (3-for-12) with a pair of doubles and two RBI plus four walks in his brief, two-week introduction to the bigs. He was returned to Triple-A Memphis on July 17 as the Cardinals activated Mark DeRosa from the disabled list.
Hoffpauir was the 15th rookie of 16 and the ninth of ten to make his MLB debut with the 2009 Cardinals. He was the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Month for June, both for Scout.com/The Cardinal Nation and the Cardinals organization.
Hoffpauir’s biggest plus may be his on-base skills – his career minor league OBP is .365 - while his most limiting factor may be his defense. The latter may be a concern both in terms of his skills at second base and that he seems to lack the versatility that is required to break into a Tony La Russa club and is a trait that several of his direct competitors possess.
If Hoffpauir is a student of history, he shouldn’t necessarily go out and buy a set of Toronto gear, though. The organization has a habit of claiming players they don’t plan on keeping on their 40-man roster.
Though long-time Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi was fired following the season, the Jays’ claim of Hoffpauir continues the ongoing trend.
Former Cardinals outfielder Cody Haerther was claimed by Toronto off waivers two years ago, only to have the Cardinals take him back when Toronto tried to clear him the next week. Last winter, Haerther was left exposed to the Rule 5 draft, where he was claimed by – you guessed it – the Jays. At that point, he was not required to be placed onto the 40-man roster and remained in Toronto’s system.
In addition, exactly one year ago today, the Cardinals lost reliever Kelvin Jimenez to Toronto on another waiver claim. This time, the Jays waited two weeks to try to slip Jimenez through waivers, but the Chicago White Sox nabbed him.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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