State of the Cardinals farm system: John Vuch

State of the Cardinals farm system: John Vuch

Brian Walton's one-on-one interview with the leader of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system plus bonus Winter Warm-Up presentation highlights.

This past weekend during Winter Warm-Up, the head of the St. Louis Cardinals farm system was kind enough to sit down in a one-on-one session to answer a number of questions about 2013 plans and players. Several of these questions were posed by readers on our Insiders message board. If you haven't already checked out our subscriber-only forum, please do.

Among the topics Vuch discussed are:
• Expansion of the strength and conditioning program during the off-season
• New coaching and developmental assignments
• New minor league affiliates
• Strategy in terms of budget and playing time for minor league free agent signees
• Return of instructional league
• Continuation of early camp for selected minor leaguers
• Winter ball recap, specifically Oscar Taveras
• Position changes and deployment plans
• Key position backlogs in the infield: Matt Adams, Colin Walsh, Starlin Rodriguez, Breyvic Valera, Greg Garcia, Stephen Piscotty
• Injury status of a number of players, including several already in Jupiter rehabbing: Sam Tuivailala, Sam Freeman, Tommy Pham, Alex Mejia, Charlie Tilson, Jordan Swagerty, Tyrell Jenkins, Cory Jones
• Impact of player movement due to increased competition
• Rotation structure plans for 2013 – five- and six-man rotations

(36:45)

Extra points: As part of Winter Warm-Up, Vuch also hosted a one-hour session for the general public. Because of the length and potential for some duplication, I am not posting the audio from the public session here. Instead, I will single out additional comments. They come from my notes so are not exact quotes.

Player-specific comments
Robert Stock: 2013 is his big year. First off-season to prepare as pitcher.
Adam Ehrlich: Offensive-oriented catcher. Had back issue two years ago. Improving defensively. Despite not playing full-season ball, he is under consideration for one of six catching NRI spots in spring camp.
Jay Voss: On Memphis roster. Rehabbing elbow after Tommy John. ETA is May.
Justin Christian: Could compete for a job with St. Louis.
John Gast: Of left-handed starters close to MLB, he projects most as a starting pitcher. Change-up is very good. Breaking pitch not as strong.
Tyler Lyons: Has a better breaking pitch. Could be reliever.
Kevin Siegrist: Has ¾ delivery, tough on left-handed hitters. Could be reliever.
Tim Cooney: 2012 draftee going to Peoria or maybe even Palm Beach. Like Gast, projects as starter.
Vance Albitz: Outstanding defensively so could play at any level. Likely in Springfield mix.
Mike O'Neill: Sleeper prospect last year. Working on his speed in off-season. Average MLB runner now. Probably starts at Springfield.

General comments
• Early MLB call-ups: You have to consider the player's age as well as his point in the development process. Would you rather have a player's age 21 season now or age 28 season later, when he is at the peak of his career?
• Player progress: Coaches write player progress reports and share them with players. Organization scouts its own players.
• Timing of releases: Doing releases more at end of season. Don't bring players to spring camp if not competitive. Give player more time to find new job elsewhere.
• 2013 sleepers: Won't name them as every player has a chance or he would not be there.
• Rule 5: Only protect those that they do not think would be retained if selected.
• Peoria roster: Infield competition strong so there is no need to push players. Outfield not as strong, so 2013 draftees can better compete for jobs there.
• Winter ball: Rarely discourage position players from participating. Winter crowds more robust than some minor league locales.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2013 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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