I want you all to know that I’m thrilled to have AZ back in the saddle again. He’s been knocking it out of the park the last couple of days, the Arizona Fall League started yesterday and the Caribbean winter leagues will be starting very soon. I feel like we are getting our mojo back. The DFR, oh, how have I missed thee. I’m still not sure if I’m going to do a daily report or some sort of weekly update on the winter leagues, we’ll just have to play it by ear, depending on how much action there is to report.
First and foremost, goodbye Mr. Kissell. He will certainly be missed but his influence on Cardinal baseball will live on for decades.
Kevin Goldstein has a nice preview the AFL.
J.J. Cooper talked a little about Bird in a chat.
Q: Sean from St. Louis asks:
With the numbers Ryan Bird put up and as the best Indy League SP it is quite a surprise that he didn’t make the prospect list. What does he throw?
A: J.J. Cooper: The reports I got is that Bird is a very good pitcher whose velocity is the only thing that holds him back. He’s got an 84-89 mph fastball (some say they’ve seen 90, but he definitely doesn’t sit around there). He has a very solid curveball and a decent changeup. The big concerns that kept him off the prospect list were his below-average velocity, especially for a righthander, and his small frame—he’s 5-foot-10. He will get a chance to show the Cardinals what he can do, now that they have signed him. He’ll be looking for follow in fellow Frontier Leaguer Josh Kinney‘s footsteps.
He also gives us a sobering reminder not to get too worked up over any indy leaguer, no matter how successful they’ve been.
Q: Mitchell from NYC asks:
Are their any of the Independent Leagues TOP prospects who are still not signed by an organized team that could be a very good or a Top 20 prospect on a organized team’s chart??
A: J.J. Cooper: Oh no. The best guys on this list would be lucky to make depth chart on our organization top 30s in the prospect handbook. The one player I can remember who went from an indy team to a prospect list was Bobby Madritsch when he signed with the Mariners. Now other players have obviously made it (Chris Coste, Justin Christian and George Sherrill are three obvious examples), but usually the players who sign with affiliated teams then have a long climb to continue proving themselves.
- Shane Robinson went 2-for-5 with a stolen base. While he lit up Double A for a good while earlier in the season, injuries and struggles at Triple A mucked up a pretty nice story for Sugar Shane. This is a good start on ending 2008 on a high note for Robinson.
- Tyler Norrick threw a perfect inning, striking out RHB Jamie Romak and getting a couple of fly outs. He needed only 9 pitches in the inning, seven of which were thrown for strikes. The Cardinals sent a trio of lefties in the AFL, it will be interesting to see if any of them distinguishes themself.
- No Wallace, no Tyler Greene or any other Cardinals played. Game 2 starts at 1:35, you can follow it on Gameday.
- James Rapoport went 1-for-3. He’s batting .423 so far.
- No other Cardinals played, but here’s a quick update on how the other players are faring: Arnoldi Cruz is 6-for-13 with three doubles. Blake King still is struggling with control, with seven walks in 6.2 innings with six strikeouts. Tyler Herron has yet to throw a pitch.