Cards hitting prospect mo: Spring week 4

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.


The Cardinals logged a 4-4 record this period to go on top of their 6-7-2 start. After the offense cooled off to the tune of a .236 average last week, on the heels of their .280 mark during the prior period. The Cards averaged just under four runs per game.

The big picture

The Cardinals opened big-league camp with 60 players invited and had 47 players in camp to start this week. On Sunday, March 16, outfielder James Ramsey was reassigned and the next day, catcher Travis Tartamella joined him. Infielders Aledmys Diaz, Luis Mateo and Greg Garcia plus outfielder Joey Butler were optioned out on Sunday, March 23. Randal Grichuk followed the next day. Seven pitchers were also sent out and one was added.

Of the 34 currently in camp, 28 are on the 40-man roster and six are non-roster invitees. They are all vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.

Four of the 34 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2014 – two pitchers and two position players. Another three 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 seven we are now tracking here – four pitchers and three 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 Tuesday, March 25.

The results

Position Players Top  Ros Prediction AB BA Mo  
Majors camp 40         Last wk This wk
Kolten Wong #3 40m St. Louis 43 0.372 High High
Stephen Piscotty #4 NRI Memphis 36 0.333 High  
Xavier Scruggs NR NRI Memphis 31 0.194 High Low
Dropped off T40  Ros Prediction AB BA Mo  
this week           Last wk This wk
Greg Garcia #20 40m Memphis 17 0.294    
Joey Butler NR 40m Mem/limbo 19 0.211 Low  
Aledmys Diaz NR 40m Mem/Spr 5 0.600    
Randal Grichuk #10 40m Memphis 37 0.243 Low  
James Ramsey #8 NRI Springfield 16 0.063 Low  
Travis Tartamella NR NRI Mem/limbo 7 0.143 Low  
Luis Mateo NR NRI Springfield 14 0.286    


Not surprisingly, the only three position players to whom I gave high marks last week are the only three remaining in camp this week – Kolten Wong, Stephen Piscotty and Xavier Scruggs.

This past week, Wong continued his torrid hitting, going 7-for-16, including three doubles, with two RBI. Piscotty continues to receive starts in the outfield, and hit a more pedestrian 4-for-13 with an RBI. Scruggs' playing time is diminishing as Allen Craig and Matt Adams are playing more. Our projected first baseman for Memphis struggled, going 0-for-11 this period.

Among the 40-man roster position players sent down, Grichuk received more at-bats than Garcia and Butler combined. The former Angel showed his power, with a .432 SLG, but struck out 15 times in 37 at-bats. Garcia played well in limited action, but spent more time at second than short. Butler is going to find that getting consistent at-bats in the regular season may be as difficult as it was in spring training.

The other 40-man player, Aledmys Diaz, was given two games to strut his stuff, then smartly was sent to minor league camp to get his feet on the ground. Springfield seems his initial destination.

Luis Mateo started with a hot bat, then cooled. Travis Tartamella offered a reliable glove behind the plate. James Ramsey struggled mightily with the bat, fanning 11 times in 16 at-bats. All three NRIs may find trouble squeezing onto the Memphis roster.

Game highlights

Sunday, 3/16: Piscotty, Wong and Grichuk made the start.

In four plate appearances, Wong had an RBI single, a walk, a strikeout and a sacrifice. Grichuk went 2-for-3, including an infield single and a one-hopper off the left field wall, walked and scored. Piscotty walked twice, singled and came home in four plate appearances, but was out trying to tag up on a fly ball in the eighth.

Ramsey and Garcia entered the game in the top of the seventh. Garcia collected an RBI single in the eighth. Ramsey pinch hit in the same frame with two on and moved the runners up. Mateo and Scruggs were retired as pinch-hitters in the ninth.

Monday, 3/17: Scruggs was the lone prospect starter, going 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Garcia (2B) and Mateo (SS) made late-game defensive appearances, but did not have an at-bat.

Tommy Pham came in from minor league camp and fanned in a pinch-hitting appearance.

Tuesday, 3/18: The major league club had the day off.

Wednesday, 3/19: Wong and Piscotty were in the starting lineup, at second base and left field, respectively. The second baseman went 0-for 3 with a strikeout while the left fielder reached base twice in three plate appearances, with a single, walk and run scored, but was also caught stealing. The two are batting .361 and .357, respectively, this spring.

Four prospects appeared late in the game. Garcia fanned in his only plate appearance. Butler walked. Grichuk had an RBI double. Scruggs did not bat.

Thursday, 3/20: With a regular season-looking lineup, no prospects made the start. In lone at-bats, Wong doubled, Butler struck out and Scruggs was retired. Grichuk and Mateo appeared on defense, but did not hit.

Friday, 3/21: Diaz made his long-awaited debut, starting at shortstop and going 2-for-2, both singles. His keystone partner Wong doubled in three at-bats.

Pinch-hitters included Grichuk (strikeout) and Piscotty (out). Scruggs was a defensive sub but did not hit.

Saturday, 3/22: Grichuk and Piscotty started in the corners. Randal went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Stephen doubled in four at-bats with an RBI and run scored. Scruggs started at first and also had a hitless day in four at-bats. Diaz made his second start at short, with one hit and a strikeout in three at-bats.

In late-game appearances, Garcia went 0-for-2, Butler was 0-for-1 and Tommy Pham, over from minor league camp, fanned in his lone at-bat.

Sunday, 3/23: Wong started in the second spot in the order, going 1-for-3 with a strikeout and a run scored. Grichuk, Scruggs and Garcia all went 0-for-1, with the latter two striking out. Mateo was hit by a pitch in what may be his final spring plate appearance.

Monday, 3/24: Right-field starter Piscotty went 1-for-3 with a run scored. He was also hit by a pitch in the helmet. Fortunately, it was a slow curve. He also had a mixed day in the field, getting in the way of a catch by Peter Bourjos in center that led to a minor collision, and making a fielding error, but also with a nice running catch later in the game.

Pham, again over from minor league camp, again fanned in his only at-bat. So did Scruggs.

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 4
Cards hitting prospect momentum: Spring week 3
Cards pitching prospect momentum: Spring week 3
Cards pitching prospect momentum: Spring week 2
Cards prospect momentum: 2014 spring week 1

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

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

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories