08/22/2002 6:34 pm ET
Cardinals minor league report
By Matthew Leach/MLB.com / MLB.com
Memphis Redbirds (AAA) Pacific Coast League
(65-64 record, fourth place in PCL East Division)
Memphis, which has served primarily as a holding tank for veterans who might help the Major League squad, will probably add some actual prospects next season. But in the meantime, the Redbirds will settle for a couple of actual Major Leaguers. Garrett Stephenson (Thursday and perhaps Monday) and Woody Williams (Saturday) are scheduled to make rehab starts this week.
The Redbirds dropped three of four to first-place New Orleans this week, dealing them a significant blow in their run at the PCL East championship. Still, the race remains tight. Fourth-place Memphis is just 2 1/2 games out of first.
One key part of that push is right-hander Jimmy Journell, who on Friday had his best and longest start since returning from the disabled list. Journell gave up two runs on six hits, struck out six and walked one.
Keep an eye on: Catcher Keith McDonald. If you remember McDonald, it's probably from his spectacular big-league debut two years ago, when he hit three homers in seven at-bats. He's having a nice year with the bat, hitting .290 with power. The Cardinals have three catchers at the big-league level, and at 28 McDonald isn't really a prospect. But he could play in the Major Leagues now.
Noteworthy: Right-hander Steve Stemle is the only Memphis player who will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this year.
New Haven Ravens (AA) Eastern League
(69-61 record, second place in EL Northern Division)
New Haven remains just a game behind first-place Norwich, one of the prime examples of the organization's plan to have winning teams throughout the system. "Our goal going in was to have August count," said John Mozeliak, director of baseball operations. "And I think right now, (for) five out of the six clubs, it matters. Which has been pretty impressive."
John Gall and Dee Haynes continue to push the Ravens, providing serious pop in the middle of the order. So Taguchi has kept it up with the bat as well, taking over for Covelli Crisp since "CoCo" headed for the Indians organization. Another key Raven this season, Matt Duff, has returned after a trip to the Majors and a brief stop in Memphis.
Keep an eye on: Right-hander Cristobal Correa. In addition to having a great name, Correa has fine stuff. "His fastball is a plus fastball now," Mozeliak said. "Breaking ball's a plus pitch now. If he can get a grasp of his command... he can be the real deal."
Noteworthy: Haynes and Taguchi are the Ravens headed to the Arizona Fall League.
Potomac Cannons (A) Carolina League
(33-25 second-half record, second place in CL Northern Division)
After a terrible first half, Potomac has remained in the hunt for a second-half title. There's still a shortage of offensive prospects on the roster, but a couple of pitchers have really pleased the organization -- particularly Dan Haren and closer John Novinsky. Another pitcher who figures in the Cardinals' plans, right-hander Nick Stocks, just got the call up from Peoria.
Keep an eye on: Novinsky. Minor-league closers tend to be incredibly long shots, but the Cardinals like the 23-year-old right-hander. Novinsky made seven starts this season but now pitches out of the bullpen.
Noteworthy: Stocks is the only Cannon who will participate in this year's AFL.
Peoria Chiefs (A) Midwest League
(33-25 second-half record, third place in MWL Western Division; won first-half title)
The Chiefs are back on track after a bit of a slide, and as has been the case all year, they're doing it with pitching. Lefty Tyler Johnson, righty Justin Pope and righty Mike Wodnicki are all enjoying splendid years. Success for this team was a high priority for the organization, and it has been achieved.
Keep an eye on: Wodnicki. He's piled up nearly a 4:1 K:BB ratio, and, well, that's good. He hasn't been as dominant as Johnson, and he wasn't drafted as high as Pope, but he's on the Cardinals' radar nonetheless.
Noteworthy: Pope and right-hander Chance Caple are the Chiefs who will play in Arizona this fall.
Matthew Leach covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.