Cardinals Farm Report

Pete Kozma
AA-Springfield Cardinals
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 170 lbs
Drafted by the Cardinals in the first round (18th pick) of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft
Just like every Saturday here on i70baseball, the Cardinal Farm Report spotlights one of the prized Cardinal minor leaguers. This week, it is Pete Kozma, the first round draft pick of 2007 who has yet to live up to the expectations.

When Kozma was drafted as the 18th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, there were certainly a handful of critics. It definitely was not a “sexy” pick by the Cardinals, but he did have the skill set. Coming out of high school, Kozma was compared to the Texas Rangers shortstop, Michael Young. He has always been scouted as doing everything well, but nothing incredibly well. He has all-around average MLB tools, but no standout tool.

Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals VP in Player Operations, says Pete Kozma has the potential to be a top 15 Major League shortstop. He fields his position well, he has decent power (10-15 HR in MLB), but has never finished a minor league season with a batting average over .300. That is odd because, when Pete was drafted out of high school, his best tool was hitting for contact. Ben Badler of Baseball America believes that Kozma could very well be a .270/.350/.430. If he can post those numbers on offense, and be a good defensive shortstop, that makes Koz a very valuable prospect.

I believe his bat is still there, he’s not a lost cause, but he has had his fair share of tough times at the dish. In May of this year, Cardinal fans got a taste of the type of hitter Kozma can be. In 26 games, the young shortstop batted .327 with three home runs and 20 RBI. To put that into perspective, if that was his April in the Majors, he’d be on pace to drive in 124 runs.

The problem is, his consistency at the plate is sub-par to say the least. While his power numbers have improved, Kozma’a ability to find the gap has been questionable at best. The kid has very good tools, even on the offensive end, but just hasn’t produced like the club thought he would. Some blame this on management. Kozma was promoted to Double A-Springfield in only his second full minor league season. He was 21-years-old at the time and, with only 165 minor league games under his belt (in which he only hit .252), that could have been a little premature.

So far this season, Kozma is batting .234/.305/.357 with 44 runs scored, eight home runs, 43 RBI, and 10 steals in 88 AA games.

The potential is still there. Some have given up on Kozma, but I actually think he has improved a ton this season. If he can develop a somewhat consistent bat, and still play good defense at a premium position, he may just pan out to be the player we thought he would be in 2007.

AAA-Memphis Redbirds
Record to date: 52-47, third place in the PCL American North, 2 games behind Iowa.

This past week: 3-3
Behind another great start by P.J. Walters last weekend, the Redbirds took game four before losing the final game to New Orleans. The team then traveled back home to take on Omaha starting on Monday. The ‘Birds lost game one, won games two and three, then dropped the final game of the four-game set for a series split. Last night’s game against Oklahoma City was postponed due to a power outage in downtown Memphis.

Transactions: P.J. Walters was promoted to St. Louis from Memphis (4-2, 2.79 ERA, 63 SO, 61 1/3 IP in AAA), Allen Craig was optioned to Memphis from St. Louis (.139, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 36 AB in MLB), Ryan Ludwick was assigned to Memphis for a rehab stint (.273, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 264 AB in MLB), Ryan Kulik was promoted to Memphis from Springfield (7-2, 3.08 ERA, 45 SO, 76 IP in AA), David Kopp was optioned to Springfield from Memphis (0-5, 8.62 ERA, 12 SO, 24 IP in AAA), Evan MacLane was optioned to Memphis from St. Louis (0-1, 9.00 ERA, 0 SO, 1 IP in MLB), Fernando Salas was promoted to St. Louis from Memphis (17 saves, 2.10 ERA, 35 SO, 30 IP in AAA), Mark Hamilton assigned to Memphis from the disabled list (.296, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 115 AB in AAA)

Coming up: The Redbirds will finish up their series against Oklahoma City this weekend. There will likely be a double-header thrown in somewhere (Sunday?) to make up for last night’s postponed game. They will then travel back down to New Orleans for another four-game series that will go through Friday.

AA-Springfield Cardinals
Record to date: 12-14 in the second half (50-46 overall), third place in the TEX North, 7 games behind NW Arkansas

This past week: 6-2
Springfield had the best week that any of the Cardinals minor league teams have had in a while. They started off last weekend finished up the NW Arkansas series with a double-header on Saturday, which was spilt, and game three on Sunday. The Cardinals then were the host to Tulsa for a five-game set. Springfield took four of the five games to inch a little closer to the league leader. Last night, the Cards began another series with Northwest Arkansas by taking game one 9-8 in extra innings.

Transactions: Ryan Kulik was promoted to Memphis from Springfield (7-2, 3.08 ERA, 45 SO, 76 IP in AA), Arquimedes Nieto was promoted to Springfield from Palm Beach (8-5, 3.36 ERA, 65 SO, 99 IP in A+), Gary Daley was released by Springfield (3-11, 6.70 ERA, 62 SO, 88 2/3 IP in AA)

Coming up: There won’t be much traveling this upcoming week thanks to the fine people that scheduled Springfield to play NW Arkansas, Arkansas, then NW again to wrap up the month of July. The Cards will continue with the NW Arkansas series tonight through Monday. They will then take on Arkansas for a three-game set before facing off with NW again starting Friday.

A-Palm Beach
Record to date: 15-14 in the second half (53-45 overall), third place in the FSL South, 2 games behind St. Lucie

This past week: 2-5
Palm Beach started the week with a loss to Lakeland and that theme stuck with them for most of the week. Thanks to a magnificant start by Nieto, the Cardinals took the first of four games against Brevard County. Palm Beach would then lose two before winning the fourth to earn a series split. The winning stopped there though as Tampa won Thursday and Friday night’s games.

Transactions: Deryk Hooker was promted to Palm Beach from Quad Cities (5-4, 2.83 ERA, 88 SO, 70 IP in A), Ryde Rodriguez was promoted to Palm Beach from Quad Cities (.274, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 274 AB in A), Ryan Jackson was promoted to Palm Beach from Quad Cities (.272, .366 OBP, 47 R, 302 AB in A), Ted Obregon optioned to Quad Cities from Palm Beach (.174, 11 R, 5 RBI, 69 AB in A+), Oliver Marmol was released by Palm Beach (.221, 19 R, 12 RBI, 104 AB in A+), Devin Shepherd was released by Palm Beach (.171, 3 R, 4 RBI, 35 AB in A+)

Coming up: The Cardinals will play the final two games of the Tampa series today and Sunday before heading to Daytona for a four-game set that will run all the way until Friday.

Alex Castellanos, RF, Palm Beach
.500 AVG (12-for-24), .583 OBP, three runs, two doubles, two home runs, five RBI, two walks
Castellanos is a part of that Palm Beach offense that often punishes the opposition. He was tearing the cover off the ball this week. On the year, Alex is hitting .269 with 36 runs scored, five triples, five home runs, 43 RBI, and 15 stolen bases.
Arquimedes Nieto, SP, Springfield
W, 8 2/3 innings pitched, 3 hits, 0 runs, seven strikeouts
It says Springfield next to his name because that is the team he is currently on. When he pitched his near-complete game, it was with Palm Beach. This is the second consecutive week that Nieto has been award PITCHER OF THE WEEK. This season, Nieto is 8-5 with a 3.36 ERA and 65 SO in 99 innings.

Justin Hulsey covers the Cardinals for and his blog, Cardinals Front Office, that is also dedicated to Cardinal baseball.You may follow him on Twitter @JayHulsey by clicking here.

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