Cards hitting prospect mo: Spring week 3

Which hitting prospects performed well in St. Louis Cardinals major league spring training camp last week?

While our popular St. Louis Cardinals Monthly Prospect Rankings will be back for 2014, its first edition will not come out until real baseball begins – in April. In the meantime, I provide a weekly look at how the members of The Cardinal Nation's 2014 top 40 prospect list are doing in major league camp.

As camp opened, I went on record with my predictions of which players I thought would make the major league roster out of spring training. I did the same for all four of the full-season minor league clubs. Click here to be taken to the Peoria article, as links to the other four articles are included at the end.

I am using those predictions in the tables below despite the reality that since then, on-going injuries to Jaime Garcia and Oscar Taveras may have changed the picture. That is expected, as the roster targets are constantly moving throughout camp. That is why they have it – figure out who best fits where.

The start of real games offers a great opportunity to regularly check in on how the youngsters are doing. Of course, the usual small sample size warnings are relevant. Think of this as a hot-warm-cold look from a seven-day period that could change entirely from one week to next.

This is the second part of this week's report, focusing on position players. Pitchers were highlighted in part one.

Overall

The Cardinals had a much-improved 4-2 record this past week to go on top of their 2-5-2 start. After the offense dropped to a .255 average last week, they rebounded to .280 during this period. St. Louis' opponents blasted six long balls, an average of one per game to just three for the Cards. Pinch-hitters, often the role of these youngsters, had a good week, going 5-for-10 with three RBI.

Perez
The big picture

The Cardinals opened big-league camp with 60 players invited and had 49 players in camp to start this week. Cuts on Thursday, March 13 included catcher Audry Perez and outfielder Oscar Taveras. Two pitchers were also sent out and one was added.

Of the 46 currently in camp, 34 are on the 40-man roster and 12 are non-roster invitees. They are all vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.

11 of the 46 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2014 – six pitchers and five position players. Another eight prospects in total are in camp, either as members of the 40-man or as NRIs, but did not place among our top 40.

This group of is those about whom I will be reporting. Of course, the list of 19 we are now tracking here – nine pitchers and 10 position players - will further decline each week as camp continues and cuts are made.

I rank each player based on his momentum this past week – high/medium/low. I want to be clear that is NOT how I assess their chances of making the team – see the column I call "Prediction" for where I thought the player will start in April as camp opened. Players will remain "medium" unless I see as a clear reason to shift them.

At-bats (AB) and batting average (AVG) are for the spring coming into Sunday, March 16.

The results

Position Players Top  Ros Prediction AB BA Mo  
Majors camp 40         Last wk This wk
Kolten Wong #3 40m St. Louis 27 0.333   High
Greg Garcia #20 40m Memphis 12 0.333 High  
Randal Grichuk #10 40m Memphis 27 0.222   Low
Joey Butler NR 40m Mem/limbo 17 0.235   Low
Aledmys Diaz NR 40m Mem/Spr 0   Low  
               
Stephen Piscotty #4 NRI Memphis 23 0.348   High
Xavier Scruggs NR NRI Memphis 20 0.300   High
Luis Mateo NR NRI Springfield 13 0.308 High  
James Ramsey #8 NRI Springfield 16 0.063 Low Low
Travis Tartamella NR NRI Mem/limbo 7 0.143 Low Low
               
Dropped off T40  Ros Prediction AB BA Mo  
this week           Last wk This wk
Oscar Taveras #1 40m St. Louis 6 0.167 Low  
Audry Perez #40 40m Memphis 7 0.143 Low  

Scruggs

I only gave three players high marks this week – second baseman Kolten Wong, first baseman Xavier Scruggs and outfielder Stephen Piscotty.

A few backflips were representative of a looser, more effective Wong, as he went 6-for-12, including a double, triple, two home runs and four RBI. Scruggs may be the surprise of camp. The big first sacker had a 3-for-9 week and his five RBI vaulted him into the team lead with eight.

Piscotty made good and bad plays in the field, but continued to hit. Getting many of the at-bats expected to be taken by Oscar Taveras, Piscotty has capitalized. He had a 5-for-10 week that included two doubles, a home run and five RBI.

Randal Grichuk has also seen extended time. Though he clearly has power, his .222 batting average indicates he has more work to do. Batting .235, Joey Butler may get squeezed out of action now that the designated hitter will be infrequently used.

James Ramsey continues to struggle. Now 1-for-16 on the spring, the outfielder struck out three times in an 0-for-5 week. Catcher Travis Tartamella went 0-for-4.

Though they were hot in week two, infielders Greg Garcia (four at-bats for this period) and Luis Mateo (three ABs) did not see enough action to be a factor this time. Aledmys Diaz remains officially in MLB camp, but is precluded from playing there. Maybe he will see time in a big league game later this spring and maybe not.

Piscotty
Game highlights

Monday, 3/10: On a day when the pitching was atrocious, Piscotty finally put the first Cardinals runs on the board. His three-run shot to left-center in the bottom of the seventh brought the Cards to within 17-3. Piscotty drew a walk his other time up.

Garcia walked, singled and scored in his two plate appearances. Scruggs walked once in two times up. The rest of the prospect hitters joined the pitchers in having a day to forget.

Grichuk's troubles continued as the outfielder went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, the last one looking to end the game. Mateo and Tartamella went 0-for-2 with a strikeout each while both stranding a pair of runners. Ramsey struck out both times up.

Tuesday, 3/11: In a very encouraging sign, Wong responded to a brushback pitch with a two-run home run vs. Mets lefty Jon Niese in the second. In the fifth, he doubled down the left field line. In the ninth, he failed to get a bunt down in two attempts and in his third try, bunted it to the pitcher for an appealed force out at third base.

Far from a finished product defensively, Wong made a running diving catch near the first base line in the seventh, but made a weak relay throw home in the eighth. In between, after having reached on a fielders' choice, Wong was thrown out trying to steal second base.

In five plate appearances, Scruggs singled, walked twice, scored and fanned twice. Garcia drew a walk, stole a base and scored in his only plate appearance. Piscotty drove him in with a game-tying double off the wall in right-center in his lone at-bat.

Perez threw out a runner trying to advance on a wild pitch and collected his first hit of the spring, a single, in his sixth at-bat. He grounded out with the lead run in scoring position in the eighth, however. Butler went 0-for-2 and Grichuk walked in his only time up.

Wednesday, 3/12: Piscotty and Wong got the start at Port St. Lucie and continued their good play. The outfielder began with a leadoff double and run scored in the top of the second. In the seventh, Piscotty tripled off the wall in left and came home on a Wong home run that went most of the way up the grass berm in right. Piscotty then drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth. Earlier, in the second, Wong had reached on an infield single.

In four plate appearances, Grichuk reached on an error, then doubled down the left field line (but was later thrown out at the plate). Scruggs drew a free pass in his only time up.

Grichuk
Thursday, 3/13: The offense came to life, putting 11 runs on the board against the Braves.

Scruggs had the big hit of the day, a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double down the left-field line in the seven-run sixth inning. He later flied out.

Piscotty was given the start in right and made a nice diving catch in the first. He later scored after reaching on an error in an 0-for-3 day.

Grichuk collected a pinch hit single, struck out and made a twisting catch on the track in the ninth. Ramsey collected an RBI on a pinch-hit ground out.

Garcia was 0-for-1, but made a nice throw from the hole in short. Joey Butler walked in two plate appearances. Tartamella went 0-for-1.

Friday, 3/14: Familiar names once again led the prospect contingent of the offense in Wong, Piscotty and Scruggs.

The second baseman went 2-for-3, including a second-inning bunt single, and scored twice. He also paired up with the first baseman on a nice 4-3 in the fifth inning. Scruggs drew a bases-loaded walk in the second and later singled and scored in a 1-for-2 day.

Piscotty showed us why he is still a prospect instead of a major leaguer. In the seventh, he committed two errors on the same play – one fielding and one throwing. In the ninth, he helped Kevin Siegrist with a nice diving catch in right. At the plate, Piscotty singled in two at-bats.

Grichuk played the entire game in right and went 1-for-3 with a double that was a one-bouncer off the centerfield wall. He was also hit by a pitch. Grichuk missed out on a sac fly situation in the second, stranding four runners on the day.

Butler shot an RBI double down the right field line in his two at-bats. Struggling James Ramsey went 0-for-2 with a strikeout on three pitches in the ninth. Garcia fanned in his only time up. Mateo and Tartamella were 0-for-1.

Over from minor league camp was first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez. He grounded out to third with two runners on base in his lone plate appearance.

Saturday, 3/15: With the pitchers hitting, no prospects were in the lineup. Four came in for the top of the seventh – Grichuk, Garcia, Piscotty and Scruggs. Each had one plate appearance. Grichuk and Garcia fanned, Piscotty walked and Scruggs grounded into a double play.

Pinch-hitting with two men on, Butler fanned.

Update: Following Sunday's game, Ramsey was reassigned to minor league camp.



To see the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and non-roster spring training invitees, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Prior articles in this series
Cards pitching prospect momentum: Spring week 3
Cards hitting prospect momentum: Spring week 2
Cards pitching prospect momentum: Spring week 2
Cards prospect momentum: 2014 spring week 1



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.

© 2014 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories