On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals made a change among their right-handed hitting outfield reserves. The contract of Joey Butler was purchased from Triple-A Memphis while Randal Grichuk was optioned to Memphis.
It has marked a major turn-around for Butler, 28, who hit just .211 in his first spring training camp with the Cardinals and was removed from the 40-man roster. To his credit, the 28-year-old took it out on Pacific Coast League pitchers, against whom he batted .360 (31-for-86), fifth-best in the Pacific Coast League and was second in on-base percentage (.481). Used as both a left fielder and designated hitter, Butler had four home runs and 20 RBI while batting .458 (11-for-24) with runners in scoring position. Over his last 10 games, Butler has seven RBI, but just a .219 batting average.
Claimed from the Texas Rangers off waivers last October, Butler was a Pacific Coast League All-Star in 2012 for Round Rock while batting .290 with 20 home runs and 78 RBI. He followed that up with a.291 batting mark and a team-high .395 OBP in 2013, earning a pair of promotions to the majors where he appeared in a combined eight games (4-for-12, .333) for Texas.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is a native of Pascagoula, Miss. Butler was the Rangers' 15th round draft selection (453rd player overall) in 2008 from the University of New Orleans and owns a .304 (435-for-1,431) career batting mark in 400 games played at the Triple-A level.
With St. Louis, Butler is expected to get an occasional start in the outfield and serve as a pinch-hitter.
Prior to this move, the Cardinals had one opening on the 40-man roster. Ironically, it was created on March 28 when Butler was dropped. If a second removal from the 40-man would occur down the road, Butler would have the option to declare free agency.
Grichuk, 22, had joined St. Louis for the first time on April 28, replacing Shane Robinson. With good defense and a power bat, it was hoped that the former Angels prospect would help ignite the Cardinals offense. It did not happen, as Grichuk went 3-for-21 (.143), including a single, double and triple. He drew one walk, had one RBI and scored twice. The Texan also struck out seven times and grounded into one double play.
Grichuk, a top 10 prospect in the Cardinals system, has just 21 games of experience at the Triple-A level and it is expected that he will return to every-day play at Memphis. His struggles in St. Louis may have been foreshadowed by him striking out 15 times in 37 spring at-bats while with the big-league club.
The Cardinals' top prospect is also a Memphis outfielder, left-handed hitting Oscar Taveras. At this point, the organization remains steadfast in their desire for the 21-year-old to continue to work on his game in the minors by playing every day. If a regular outfielder or first baseman in St. Louis is injured, that situation could change quickly.
To see the Cardinals' entire system by level and position, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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