The Graduate: Chris Perez | Born: July 1985 | Right-Handed Pitcher
The former supplemental first-round pick made his highly-anticipated MLB debut in 2008 and held his own. In 41.2 innings, Chris Perez allowed 34 hits and posted rates of 4.75 BB/9 and 9.07 K/9. He gave up his fair share of fly balls, with a GB% of just 38.7. His fastball averaged out at 95.2 mph during his stay in the Majors. He relied on it a little too much though – three-quarters of the time, with his slider coming in next at 24.6%. Perez is considered the Cardinals’ closer of the future.
The Riser: Jess Todd | Born: April 1986 | Right-Handed Pitcher
Jess Todd has done nothing but post solid pro numbers. The former college reliever has acclimatized well to the rigors of starting in pro ball. In less than two full seasons, Todd made it to Triple-A and held his own in four starts. He spent the majority of the year in Double-A where he allowed 79 hits in 103 innings. Todd posted rates of 2.10 BB/9 and 7.08 K/9. He has a solid fastball in the low-90s, a slider and a developing change-up.
The Tumbler: Colby Rasmus | Born: August 1986 | Outfielder
It’s not completely fair to list Colby Rasmus in this category. Yes, he had a disappointing season, but the outfielder was playing at Triple-A at the age of 21. He also struggled with injuries that should be fully cleared up by the start of 2009 with no residual affect. Rasmus hit .251/.347/.396 with an ISO of .145 in 331 at-bats. His batting average has dropped each of the last three seasons – from .310 to .275 to .251, which is cause for concern. On the plus side, his rates of 12.9 BB% and 21.8 K% are on par with those during his breakout 2007 campaign – which suggests he was not completely over-matched.
The ’08 Draft Pick: Niko Vasquez | Born: February 1989 | Shortstop
Niko Vasquez was select out of a Nevada high school in the third round of the 2008 amateur draft. He slipped a bit in the draft after an inconsistent prep season that left a lot of scouts wondering if he could play shortstop in pro ball. Defensively in pro ball, he was steady with 11 errors made in 63 games and average range. Vasquez had no issues with his bat in his pro debut. At Rookie Ball, he hit .317/.401/.462 with a .144 ISO in 208 at-bats. Vasquez posted rates of 12.2 BB% and 25 K%. He was promoted to A-ball for a late-season, 11-game stint and struggled with a line of .128/.209/.154.
The ’09 Sleeper: Nick Additon | Born: December 1987 | Left-Handed Pitcher
Nick Additon was no where near the prospect radar coming into the 2008 season, despite solid debut numbers in 2007. He was originally signed by the Cardinals as a 47th round selection out of a community college. Additon has a below-average fastball, but the southpaw has a plus-change-up and excellent control. In A-ball in 2008, he allowed 92 hits in 119 innings of work. He posted rates of 2.65 BB% and 8.17 K/9. He also received a late-season promotion to High-A where he posted a 0.50 ERA in three starts. Double-A will be the true test for Additon.
Up Next: The New York Yankees