By next week, the 25-man roster will be officially set and camp will be over. Next Thursday, April 4 - in fact, on opening morning of the minor league season – CariocaCardinal's first Monthly Cardinals prospect rankings will be posted.
Coming off a very rough week offensively last time, the Cardinals won three and lost four this past week. Through Monday, their Florida record sat at 13-14-1.
The pitching held its own during the week as the team spring ERA improved ever so slightly from 4.39 to 4.35. The Cardinals opponents improved from 4.71 to 4.51. The offense had a slightly better week with the team batting average ticking up from .269 to .273. Their opponents dropped from .280 to .272. St. Louis' once-large spring run differential advantage was down to five – 140 to 135.
Of the 57 players originally invited to camp, the total is down to 31. Entering this last week, the count was 40.
Of the nine players sent down or disabled during this period, five are top organizational prospects, noted in the table below.
With Matt Carpenter learning second base, Kolten Wong received just 28 at-bats, hitting .250 before being sent down. Catcher Audry Perez went hitless in eight at-bats over nine games. Wong is ticketed for starting in Memphis, with Perez likely heading back to Springfield.
Among the reassigned pitchers is Seth Maness, who allowed three runs in seven innings (3.86 ERA) and had a 7:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Sam Freeman appeared in just two games after missing a month with a sore shoulder. Another lefty, Tyler Lyons, yielded four runs in nine St. Louis innings. Maness and Lyons should be in Memphis' rotation with Freeman in the pen.
Among those who previously dropped off, Michael Wacha continues to stand out. The big righty has yet to allow an earned run this spring in any camp and has moved up to my projected Memphis rotation. With a strong beginning in Triple-A, Wacha could thrust himself into the middle of the unofficial St. Louis sixth starter derby - an amazing accomplishment for a player drafted just nine months ago.
In some very good news, Carlos Martinez' US visa has finally been approved. The right-hander will begin his 2013 preparation in extended spring training camp.
|this week||Top 40||Roster||Camp||Projection|
Of the 31 still in camp, 28 are on the 40-man roster and three are non-roster invitees. They are all vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.
Nine of the 31 remaining are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2013 – three pitchers and six position players. This is the group about which I will be reporting.
They are split by pitchers and position players. Within those groups, I rank each player based on his hype factor this past week – high/medium/low. I also note the change in position from last week to this.
I want to be clear that is NOT how I assess their chances of making the team – see the column I call "Projection" for where I think the player will start in April.
Currently, I have five of the nine penciled in to make the opening day roster. Trevor Rosenthal, Pete Kozma, Matt Adams and Shelby Miller should be considered locks. Back from the minors due to David Freese's injury is Ryan Jackson. The infielder seems to be in the driver's seat, but hasn't quite crossed the finish line yet, in my view.
|Pitchers||Top 40||Roster||Camp||Projection||Hype meter|
|Shelby Miller||#2||40-man||Majors||St. Louis||High - flat|
|Trevor Rosenthal||#3||40-man||Majors||St. Louis||Low - flat|
|Maikel Cleto||#28||40-man||Majors||Memphis||Low - flat|
The rotation battle between Miller and Kelly remained in the headlines much of the week, but following their final joint spring appearance on Monday, the nod was given to Miller. Rosenthal continues to settle into his relief role while Maikel Cleto deserves note as the last pitcher in camp not expected to open the season with St. Louis.
Cleto threw just 1 2/3 innings last week, but they were scoreless. The right-hander is holding spring hitters to a collective .200 batting average. Rosenthal fanned three in three scoreless relief innings during this period.
The position players
|Position Players||Top 40||Roster||Camp||Projection||Hype meter|
|Oscar Taveras||#1||NRI||Majors||Memphis||High - flat|
|Matt Adams||#7||40-man||Majors||St.Louis||High - flat|
|Ryan Jackson||#15||40-man||Minors||St. Louis||Med - up|
|Greg Garcia||#16||NRI||Majors||Memphis||Med - flat|
|Pete Kozma||#29||40-man||Majors||St. Louis||Med - flat|
|Adron Chambers||#23||40-man||Majors||Memphis||Low - down|
Since last week, the hype status of top hitting prospects Adams and Taveras remains high. The difference is that Adams was told he has made the team while Taveras remains slated for Memphis.
Taveras has been a beneficiary of Carlos Beltran's sore tore as the left-handed hitter went 8-for-22 with an RBI for the week. Oscar also swiped his first two bases of the spring. Adams went 5-for-15 (.333) during the period with two doubles and three walks. The big first baseman plated six runs, increasing his team spring leading total to 17. (Shane Robinson is next with 12.)
Taveras and shortstop Greg Garcia remain the last two non-roster invitee top prospects remaining in camp. Freese's injury has allowed Garcia to stay longer perhaps as well as to re-open the door to the majors for Ryan Jackson. The latter had been optioned out on March 17, only to be recalled on the 25th.
Garcia had a quiet week at the plate, going 0-for-7 to drop his spring average to .167. A strong performance might have earned him the chance to replace Freese. Jackson, already on the 40-man roster, was on fire in minor league camp, batting .536 prior to being summoned back.
Shortstop Pete Kozma has been comfortably settling into his new starting job. A week after he batted just .100, the right-handed hitter went 5-for-14 (.357) during this period. He hit two doubles, scored three times and drove in three. Though not officially during this week, Kozma's Tuesday grand slam against the Mets cannot go unnoticed.
Adron Chambers, coming off a 1-for-13 week, did only slightly better at .200 (2-for-10) this time. Barring further injuries to others, Chambers will likely join Taveras, Cleto and Garcia among the final cuts from big league camp.
Among the minor leaguers not invited to camp that made first-time appearances with St. Louis this past week are Mitch Harris, Nick Greenwood, Tommy Pham, Jake Lemmerman, Ildemaro Vargas, Jermaine Curtis, Leandro Mateo, Adam Melker and Tyler Rahmatulla.
To see the Cardinals entire 40-man roster, the non-roster spring training invitees in camp and all the transactions to date, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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