It’s well known how the Cardinals farm system has been the key to the incredible success of the Big League Cardinals. Home grown minor league talent has provided a large majority of players now on the St. Louis roster. Now, we are seeing some very good talent that is seemingly locked into the minor league system, with no roster spots available. It’s so heavy at some positions (mainly outfield and pitcher), there are many possible major league ready players playing their games in Memphis and Springfield.
From an organizational standpoint, it’s a great problem to have. From a fan’s perspective, it turns into a what-if game. From the minor league player’s perspective, it’s another torturous year of bus rides and terrible clubhouse food.
Where is the light at the end of the tunnel for these minor leaguers? Where are the next possible openings? How does contract status come into play? The right side of the infield will be looked at first.
First base: Matt Adams is a fan favorite, a nice bat, and a good fielder. He seems to be locked into first for at least several more years, barring injuries or forgetting how to hit.
At Springfield, Jonathan Rodriguez has been mashing the ball. With an OPS of 1.100, he is on pace to top any of his prior seasons in the minor leagues. His age, 24, is similar to others now in AA, and has opened some eyes this season. His solid early BB/KO ratio is another good sign. He has to jump Xavier Scruggs at Memphis, who is struggling. Scruggs was an all or nothing type player at Springfield the prior two years, racking up an impressive 51 home runs over the two years……with 327 strikeouts. At 26 years old, I don’t see him making a major league roster, at least with St. Louis.
Second Base: Kolten Wong/Mark Ellis is the one spot where there could be some movement in the future. Wong, at 24, has yet to provide the offense the Cardinals thought he would. There is still time, but it’s apparent the Cardinals are losing some patience with him. Mark Ellis was signed simply as the back-up plan for Wong. He will most likely not be on the roster next season.
At Springfield and Memphis, there are no standouts playing second base. Jermaine Curtis has had his cup of coffee with St. Louis at 3rd, and now is playing some at 2nd. But he’s 26 and not a long-term option. Greg Garcia has also seen solid time there, after playing a majority of his minor league games at shortstop. Garcia has a typical middle-infielders bat, with a little pop. He’s only 24, and I expect him on St. Louis’ roster when it expands in September. At Springfield, Greg Miclat is 26, but holds a career .256 average with five home runs in over 1,700 career at-bats.
But that’s only the beginning of the story. Freshly signed Aledmys Diaz is currently playing shortstop, but seems to be struggling with some routine plays at that position. Jhonny Peralta is currently signed until 2017, and will be the Cardinals shortstop for the foreseeable future. Diaz is an outstanding athlete who could make the transition to second base quite easily. His bat is AAA ready, and even possibly major league ready, although his base running, fielding, and general baseball fundamentals are not. Could a switch to second base happen at some point this season?