Shuffling the Cards

Yesterday’s action certainly focused on the Sunday Night Game, but there was also an important outing in Peoria for a rehabbing starter. The outing was a success for Jake Westbrook, who now looks to join St. Louis on the road this week. Early indications point to Friday’s opener in Miami and would signal a chain of moves for the Cardinals.

Before the emergence of Kevin Siegrist, who has struck out 8! batters in 3 1/3 innings, Tyler Lyons appeared to own the inside track on the second lefty spot for the bullpen. A return trip to Memphis is much more likely, however, even though Lyons held his own through four starts. Westbrook is an important part of the rotation as well as a welcome site to the bullpen when the sinker is working. It works to keep Lyons stretched out as well given the dog days are right around the corner.

With a starter heading back to join the Redbirds, the writing is on the wall for Scott McGregor to possibly be returned to Springfield. His window as a prospect is closing so the organization may also choose to cut ties with the 2008 draft pick, a hard truth for baseball’s top farm system. The Cardinals had to make an equally tough call recently with another SCards hurler, Scott Gorgen. This time of the season gets watched by the players too, as they know new draft picks will soon be looking to make an impact as well.

One of the big changes surrounding the draft that helps both St. Louis and the players will come a month from Wednesday. Instead of the draft-and-follow method or even the last minute August deals, the recent draftees have until July 12th to sign on the dotted line. That change gives the front office an adequate amount of time to move the pieces around, especially given the advanced college players that the Cardinals want to push.

Top pick Marco Gonzales and Mason Katz, the power hitter from LSU, are two who stand out right away. There are sure to be a few others who may even take the Michael Wacha route and end up in the bullpen during a playoff run. It has been typical in recent draft classes where a mass press release announces the signings in St. Louis, but this year may be a little different. The Birds on the Bat took a handful of high school players who very well may come down to the wire, but the first couple of announcements may show what the future holds.

As for the first official Cardinal from the 2013 class, right hander Blake Higgins gets the press:

Here is a video of his mechanics, and the Cardinals snatched away another Big Ten signee from the JC ranks. It took the max amount of dollars to get the deal done, as anything over $100k counts against the cap, but Higgins fits right in line with the power arm. If it is a feel good story you want for Monday night, look no farther than the 38th round. Check out Blake McKnight’s path to the draft and tell me that doesn’t make you smile. McKnight already sounds like a future St. Louis success story, and he will come much cheaper than all the rest.

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