As tradition shows this time of year, every team is destined for the playoffs. That thought process is only higher as the Minor League clubs can benefit from stacking all the best prospects on one roster for a couple of reasons. Luckily for fans of the St. Louis style of baseball, every franchise up and down the ladder gets attention.
This formula aids all prospects who are brought up hungry to win and know a solid summer can mean a September appearance under the Arch. Will that continue in 2015 or have the Cardinals decided it is time for a change? This will be a very interesting Spring as Memphis started the manager shuffle and has a stacked roster on both the mound and at the plate.
Without a doubt the strongest part of the Redbirds last season will also be the strength early in the upcoming campaign. Memphis dominated the Pacific Coast League for long stretches due to a starting staff that was deep and healthy. They were led by a pair of lefties who have little left to prove at the AAA level and will be looking for an opportunity this Spring.
Tyler Lyons could be considered the sixth starter for St. Louis and would be in many big league rotations. His stats for Memphis were more impressive over the 2012-2013 seasons but the priorities have changed now that he is the veteran of the group. Lyons helped groom the other southpaw who will be looking to make his way to the Majors in one way or another.
If Lyons is the ace of the staff, Tim Cooney won’t stop until he is considered right up there with him. Cooney had some issues with homers his first go around in the PCL but was also very young for the league. How he responds after knowing the hitters is a main key for the Redbirds, but it is far from the only question.
Outside of a few players that can be written in ink such as Stephen Piscotty and Thomas Pham, the offense does have plenty to figure out before April. New blood with Jacob Wilson and a slew of middle infielders complicate the equation, but that may end up a positive.
Playing time will be at a premium early, and that is the second biggest thing to watch early in the year. Power potential is still present, but Memphis must rely on winning the low-scoring games in order to return to the playoffs. And that puts the biggest question mark on display right out of the gate.
Virtually losing the entire right side of the bullpen, the Redbirds won’t have the luxury of bringing much help from inside the organization. Enter into the equation flame-thrower Sam Tuivailala, and that helps lessen the blow. Outside help bridges the gap to the rising star, and new manager Mike Shildt is sure to have a few tricks up his sleeve.
This will also be the first year with the renovated stadium under control from the Cardinals, and all eyes will be on Memphis for two reasons. There are sure to be plenty of trips to St. Louis in store from the pitching staff as well as the Piscotty watch that will influence the squad. Even more important than that though will be the progression of the rotation.
2015 is shaping up to be another roller coaster, and your Prospect Preacher will be here every mid-week to get you to the weekend!