More Than Just Throw-ins

Billy Beane said he wanted the equivalent of two-first round draft picks in order to trade Matt Holliday. Asking price paid. Not only did Oakland pry Brett Wallace away from St. Louis, but two other solid prospects in RHP Clayton Mortensen and OF Shane Peterson.

Drafted in the 2007 draft 36th overall as a senior out of Gonzaga, Mortensen came with more projectability and less polish than your typical college pitcher. Despite that, Mortensen found himself pitching in Triple-A just a year after he was drafted. Tall and gangly at 6-4, 180 pounds, the Cardinals loved his 90-93 MPH sinker. This past season 55% of the balls his opponents put in play were of the worm burning variety. Mortensen struggled with walks (4.73 BB/9) and homers (1.35 HR/9) but this year he’s improved his control (2.91 BB/9). Mortensen has two average secondary pitches that have shown above average potential at times – a slider that he throws to right-handers and a change-up to lefties. He looks more like a back-end starter right now, but as he tightens up his secondary offerings, he has #3 potential.

Shane Peterson was the 59th overall pick in the 2008 draft out of Long Beach State and it’s easy to see his appeal to results-oriented drafting teams like St. Louis and Oakland — amongst other things, he posted a .506 on-base percentage his junior year. Peterson has odd looking hitting mechanics. He’s a front foot hitter, but he has good bat speed and a high finish that helps him get a little bit of loft. He plays first base and can play any outfield position, but his lack of range makes him better suited for a corner spot. Peterson walked in 14.5% of his plate appearances for short-season Batavia, while also striking out nearly a third of them. This season he’s cut down on the K’s but also the walks that he was known for in college; his walk rate has hovered around the 6%-7% all season. Because of his funky hitting approach, he doesn’t hit for much power and he has the career.124 ISO in the minors to prove it. Scouts see him more as a 4th outfielder, but it looks like Oakland will try him in center. If he prove that he can stick there, his bat could have some value.

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

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Shane Peterson was a wasted pick. Take away a dozen of the walks his junior year and you’ve got a guy drafted after the 10th as organizational filler. I guess there are some scouts that liked his hitting mechanics more than I did, but I’m glad we found a taker because I don’t think he sniffs the big leagues.

I’m hesitant to read too much into a sinkerballer’s minor league numbers, but on the other hand our minor league defenses haven’t exactly made Brad Thompson look like a chump. I have a hard time seeing Mortensen sticking even as a back-end starter without improvement.