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2012 Fish Watch: St. Louis Cardinals Final Update

The first thing you need to know about The Fish Watch is that it’s not a list of sleepers. It is instead a list of players at various points in their respective minor league journeys that for one reason or another have piqued my interest enough that I am watching their development more closely than the bulk of prospects out there. To read more about this project, check out the introduction and master list.

Obviously since the season is over and some teams have had two updates, some have only had one and the NL West teams have had zero coverage thus far, this project did not work out as I had planned on many levels. Undeterred I’m going to sally forth and finish off this round of updates and call it good. Next season if I attempt this again I’m going to have to make some major changes to the structure, plan and concept of this series.

Feel free to check out the category archive to read previous installments of the series.

St. Louis Cardinals (S2S 2012 Cardinals Team Prospect List)

LHP – Hector Hernandez (21) – Cardinals 2009 10th Round Pick

2011 – Batavia/Quad Cities: 2.57 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 49 H, 18 BB and 52 SO in 56.0 IP
2012 – Quad Cities: 4.43 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 141 H, 54 BB and 94 SO in 126.0 IP

This performance was not what I was hoping for or expecting from the Cardinals young lefty. Of course with 2012 in the books we can now see a trend developing after four seasons and it appears he is alternating between strong and poor performances. In 2009 and 2011 combined Hernandez has a 2.42 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 3.15 SO/BB. By contrast, he has a 5.06 ERA, 1.54 WHIP and 2.09 SO/BB in even years (2010 and 2012).

Of course to be fair, 2012 was quite a bit different than his previous three seasons. One his workload increased dramatically as his 126.0 innings was more than double his previous season high of 56.0 in 2011. Two, it was his first year of full season ball and, aside from 3.0 innings last year, his first taste of the Midwest League. Putting those two things together you’d reasonably expect that he’d struggle early as he tried to adapt to the level of competition and then struggle late as he tired down the stretch and the innings piled up. Aside from four starts in April (2.01 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 15-5 SO-to-BB in 22.1 IP) that’s what we saw from him as his month by month ERA was between 4.34 and 4.91 with the notable exception of August when it ballooned to 6.04 in 22.1 IP.

Based on his pattern, we can expect him to have a solid season in 2013.

RHP – Boone Whiting (23) – Cardinals 2010 18th Round Pick

2011 – Quad Cities (A): 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 82 H, 24 BB and 122 SO in 119.2 IP
2012 – GCL Cardinals (Rk): 7.71 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 10 H, 1 BB and 11 SO in 7.0 IP
2012 – Quad Cities: 0.56 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 7 H, 1 BB and 14 SO in 16.0 IP
2012 – Springfield (AA): 1.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 11 H, 3 BB and 9 SO in 12.0 IP

Whiting opened the season on the 7-day disabled list and didn’t take the mound in game action until July 24th. His results in the GCL were clearly a case of knocking off the rust as he had no problems getting batters out in either Quad Cities or Springfield.

He’s not going to light up any radar guns with a fastball that just scrapes 90 mph, but he easily offsets that with a slider and changeup that are both well above average pitches. The former he can use to get the swing and miss when he needs it and with the latter he has little trouble keeping hitters off balance. With all three pitches he has superb, pinpoint control and after 208.2 minor league innings he has a stellar 1.5 BB/9. The only disappointing thing about his 2012 season is that he was only able to log 35.0 innings of work. Despite the injury and the small sample size, however, there is plenty of reason to be excited about his performance this summer.

Plenty of control artists put up exciting numbers in the lower levels only to hit a brick wall in Double-A, but Whiting’s control is so advanced and his off-speed pitches are so strong that I have every bit of confidence that he will be one of the few that carry their success all the way to the majors. Best of all he understands the “art” of pitching with an innate sense of how to set hitters up and is able to exploit opposing hitters tendencies.

2B – Breyvic Valera (20) – Signed out of Venezuela as a NDFA on May 16th, 2010

2011 – GCL Cardinals/Johnson City: 0.311/.368/.410, 13 XBH, 14 SB, 15 BB and 26 SO in 204 PA
2012 – Springfield: 1-5 in 3 games
2012 – Batavia (A-): 0.316/.359/.418, 18 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 10 SB, 18 BB and 27 SO in 305 PA

Breyvic appeared in three June games with Springfield as a tune up a week before the New York-Penn League kicked off their season. With the Muckdogs he finished 2012 with slash stats strikingly similar to his 2011 campaign. Clearly a contact first hitter, he doesn’t go to the plate looking to draw walks and his BB% actually dropped from 7.4% to 5.9% but the big gains were in his K rate. Already exceptional at just 12.7% in 2011, Valera took things to a new, far more impressive, level by kicking it down to just 8.8% while playing against more advanced competition.

That’s the kind of thing that should make more people stand up and take notice. He’s a career 0.317/.374/.431 hitter now after three minor league seasons and just turned 20-years old on August 1st. The consistent performance as he’s advanced should finally push him on to most Cardinals prospect lists that go 20, maybe 15 players deep. He was in my Cardinals top-25 heading into the 2012 season and he will definitely be moving up when tackle the 2013 version of the team’s list.

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For more on the St. Louis Cardinals, check out Redbird Rants!

Tags: Batavia Muckdogs Boone Whiting Breyvic Valera Hector Hernandez Quad Cities River Bandits Springfield Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals

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