Results tagged ‘ st. louis ’

Summertime in November

First off, I have to apologize. It has been too long. I have been a bad blogger… and by that I mean I haven’t been doing much blogging at all.

So I’m back! Here we are in November, and it’s like 60 degrees outside. I’m pretty sure the Quad Cities didn’t get the memo saying it’s supposed to be snowing by now. I say we all help keep the secret and see how long it lasts…

But while the baseball season we are all familiar with is in hibernation, there is a lot of good ball being played in winter leagues right now. For those of you who are as nerdy as I am when it comes to the minor leagues, I highly recommend following Jeff Luhnow on Twitter. I don’t think there are too many big league farm directors out there tweeting from the stands, but Jeff has got some great real-time scouting updates from wherever he may be at the moment.

Most recently, that was at the Arizona Fall League, where eight of his Cardinals farmhands (six of which are former QC’ers) are playing for the Surprise Rafters. OF Tyler Henley is leading the way with a .310 average and a .524 slugging percentage through 12 games, following up a great season in Double-A with a strong fall league. C Bryan Anderson (.265) and RHP Mike Parisi (2-1, 3.50) are both making up for lost time after their 2009 regular seasons were primarily lost to injury. For those two, just having them on the field and staying healthy is the important thing. OF Daryl Jones is also out there doing his thing, although the exciting prospect is off to a bit of a slow start.

But the AFL is as loaded this season as it has been in recent memory. The top two picks in the 2009 draft – RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-1, 5.28) and OF Dustin Ackley (.295) – are both making their pro debuts in Arizona this fall. They are joined by four other college picks from the Top 15 of the June draft, including No. 7 LHP Mike Minor (1-0, 2.31), No. 8 RHP Mike Leake (0-2, 2.31), No. 10 RHP Drew Storen (2-0, 0.93, 2 sv) and No. 12 RHP Aaron Crow (0-2, 7.94).

Former Peoria Chiefs lefty Donald Veal may be offering the most surprise, shaking off a reputation of wildness and leading the league with a 0.54 ERA to go along with a 3-0 record and more than a strikeout per inning. OF Grant Desme was a Kane County Cougar this past season, but is leading the AFL with 10 homers – double his closest challenger – and hitting .370 in the prospect-laden league.

No doubt, the Arizona Fall League is a great test to see where prospects stack up to the best in the game. Many of these names will be coming to a big league ballpark near you in 2010 and 2011. And it’s always a blast to see these guys working their way up!

A New Generation of Cardinals

One of those funny little things about working in Minor League Baseball is that, for the most part, you really don’t get much of a chance to watch a whole lot of Major League Baseball.

I’ve always found this to be a bit ironic. Many people get into the business of baseball in large part because they love the sport and want to be close to it. I’m one of the fortunate ones whose job is to actually watch all of the River Bandits games, but most baseball professionals in non-broadcast positions really don’t get to watch much of their team’s games either.

So, we all have this time of year. September. One month of regular season major league baseball to enjoy before the playoffs hit.

This year, I have really enjoyed watching the Cardinals charge towards the playoffs. Please don’t share this information with anybody that I grew up with in the northern suburbs of Chicago. While I grew up a die-hard Cubs fan – and still am – the opportunity to work with players, coaches and front office staffers from the St. Louis organization has made it impossible not to root for their success.

And at this point, the Cardinals are riddled with former QC’ers at the big league level and throughout the organization.

On Saturday, their 6-3 win in Colorado officially clinched the NL-Central title. Five members of their roster played in the Quad Cities, including outfielders Colby Rasmus (’06) and Rick Ankiel (’05), relievers Kyle McClellan (’05) and Jason Motte (’06), and infielder Tyler Greene (’06).

Rasmus, Ankiel, McClellan and Motte have been on the big league roster all season and have played crucial roles to help the Cards’ to a division title. Greene has been up and down between Triple-A and the majors, and is not the only former QC’er to contribute in St. Louis without an everyday role. Others include infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir (’05), outfielders Shane Robinson (’06) and Nick Stavinoha (’05), pitcher P.J. Walters (’07), and since-traded hurlers Clayton Mortensen (’07) and Chris Perez (’06).

That’s 11 former Quad Cities players that have contributed to the Cardinals’ 2009 NL-Central title, or more than a quarter (28%) of the 40 players that have suited up for the Redbirds in all. Rasmus, who was a Midwest League All-Star in 2006, is in the conversation for National League Rookie of the Year. McClellan, who suffered a Tommy John-inducing injury with Quad Cities in 2005, has been lights out in the bullpen.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly enjoy watching these guys make it to the bigs. And I look forward to watching how far this group of Cardinals can go in the playoffs.