On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals made yet another switch with their fifth outfielder position, recalling rookie outfielder Randal Grichuk from Memphis while optioning outfielder Shane Robinson to the Triple-A club.
If that sounds familiar, it is. The exact same moves first occurred on April 29, with Grichuk replacing Robinson.
Then, on May 9, Grichuk was optioned back out to Memphis and Joey Butler was called up to be the fifth outfielder with St. Louis. That lasted until May 21, when Butler's contract was sold to a Japanese team and Robinson returned from Memphis to St. Louis.
Grichuk, 22, is an intriguing power bat, especially against left-handed pitching, who strikes out a bit too much. He is also an above-average outfielder.
The right-handed hitter blasted his team-leading 10th home run Thursday night for Memphis and is ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League in slugging percentage (.589), including an outstanding .941 mark versus left-handed pitching. Overall, Grichuk is batting .315 (53-for-168) with 32 RBI and is especially proficient against southpaws, against whom he is batting .451 (23-for-51). He fanned 36 times in 168 at-bats (21.4 percent) with the Redbirds.
Able to play all three outfield positions, Grichuk may most appeal to the Cardinals as an alternative in center field, where both Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos have had their ups and downs in 2014. With slugger Matt Adams in a day-to-day status due to a tight left calf, but not placed on the disabled list, if Grichuk can get untracked, he might also serve as designated hitter insurance when the Cardinals play on the road in Kansas City next week. The Cardinals regular corner outfield starters remain Matt Holliday and Allen Craig, with Craig also filling in for Adams at first base.
In his first time up with St. Louis, Grichuk appeared in nine games including four starts. He batted .143 (3-for-21) including a double, triple, walk but also struck out seven times.
Since his last recall from Memphis, Robinson went 3-for-13 (.231) including a double and two RBI. On the season, his St. Louis line is an anemic .152/.222/.182/.404. With the quantity of prospect outfielders at the upper levels of the system, Robinson has to be running out of chances with St. Louis.
Very Familiar Reinforcements for Chiefs
Previously, Robert Stock had to be close to setting a record for the most time spent in the Class-A Midwest League - and the 24-year-old is back once again – for the sixth consecutive season.
On Friday, the parent St. Louis Cardinals assigned the catcher-turned-right-handed reliever to the Peoria Chiefs from extended spring training camp. They also activated outfielder Ronald Castillo from the seven-day disabled list.
Stock first reached the MWL at the close of his rookie professional season, in 2009. The former second-round draft pick also spent all of 2010 and part of 2011 in the league as a catcher before being bumped up to A-Advanced Palm Beach.
Made a pitcher in 2012, Stock was sent down to the Midwest League once again to learn his new role. After pitching there the entire season, he was brought back in 2013, though the Cardinals' affiliation shifted from Quad Cities to Peoria. A July 2013 promotion to Palm Beach ensued, this time as a pitcher, before Stock began 2014 in the Florida State League again.
Though his 2014 numbers with Palm Beach may have looked ok on the surface – 2.31 ERA, .188 opponent batting average and 13 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings pitched – it masked a major problem. Stock was having big trouble throwing strikes, as indicated by a whopping 25 free passes issued. On May 12, the Cards re-assigned Stock to extended spring training.
Now the cycle begins on the fields of the Midwest League once again.
In what is truly a far more significant move, the Chiefs should really welcome their top run producer, Castillo, back into their lineup. At the time he was sidelined by an abdominal strain on May 21, the 21-year-old was leading Peoria in doubles (10), RBI (29) and slugging (.417).
To see the Cardinals' entire system by level and position, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
© 2014 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.