Cards Hitting Prospect Mo: Spring Week 1

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 2015, its first edition will not come out until real baseball begins – in April. In the meantime, I am going to step in with a weekly look at how the members of The Cardinal Nation’s 2015 top 40 prospect list and other minor leaguers are doing in Major League camp.

The good news-bad news story this year is that the Cardinals, continuing with one the more productive farm systems in baseball, have a quantity of prospects close to the majors. While there is not roster space for most of them, making a good impression now can pay off.

Before 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 team’s articles are included at the end.

I am using those predictions in the tables below, but we should all understand that the roster targets are constantly moving throughout camp based on injuries and performance as the Cardinals figure out who best fits where.

The start of real games offers a first 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-lukewarm-cold look from a seven-day period that could and likely will change substantially 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 4-3 record and apparent ERA disadvantage is misleading. The Cardinals seem to be in ok shape, though at this point, the pitching is ahead of the hitting. St. Louis’ staff has a cumulative ERA of 3.25 while the Cardinals’ opponents are at the exact same mark. The team batting average is .240, with their opponents at a collective .235.

St. Louis’ run differential advantage is a robust 31 to 23, however, almost a third of the Cardinals’ runs, nine, were unearned, hence the misleading equivalent ERA. After two initial wins, the Cards are 2-3 in their last five. Four of the seven games were held at familiar Roger Dean Stadium.


The players

The Cardinals opened big-league camp with 57 players invited, with 39 on the 40-man roster and 18 non-roster invitees. They are all vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.

15 of the 57 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2015 – five pitchers and ten position players. Another 15 minor leaguers in total are in Major League camp, either as members of the 40-man or as non-roster invitees, but did not place among our top 40.

This group of is those about whom I will be reporting. Of course, the list of 30 we are now tracking here – 11 pitchers and 19 position players - will further decline in count 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 as camp opened that the player will start in April. 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 Thursday, March 12.

The results

Hitters (19) Top  Ros Prediction AB BA Mo  
Majors camp 40         Last wk This wk
Stanley 26 40m Memphis 6 0.167   Low
Diaz 12 40m Memphis 5 0.200   Low
Garcia 21 40m Memphis 9 0.333   High
Scruggs 30 40m Memphis 13 0.231   Medium
Grichuk 4 40m St. Louis 9 0.333   High
Pham 13 40m Memphis 17 0.412   High
               
C Kelly 11 NRI Palm Beach 2 0.000   Low
Wilson 14 NRI Springfield 16 0.438   High
B Valera 15 NRI Springfield 2 0.000   Low
Piscotty 5 NRI Memphis 13 0.231   Medium
               
Easley NR 40m Memphis 4 0.000   Low
T Kelly NR 40m Memphis 13 0.231   Medium
Anna NR 40m Memphis 8 0.000   Low
Ohlman NR 40m Springfield 1 0.000   Low
               
Bean NR NRI Palm Beach 3 0.000   Low
Rosario NR NRI Springfield 0 0.000   Low
Tartamella NR NRI Spr/limbo 0 0.000   Low
Moore NR NRI Memphis 11 0.273   Medium
Ortega NR NRI Memphis 11 0.182   Low
               
Dropped off T40  Ros Prediction AB BA Mo  
this week           Last wk This wk
none              

Of the 19 position players we are tracking, the only four to register “hot” on the scale are also top 40 prospects. Four more are rated “lukewarm,” while the others are “cold.”

Outfielder Randal Grichuk leads the entire team, not just the prospects, with two home runs. Perhaps more impressively in the early going is that his strikeout and walk counts are equal at three.

With Jon Jay sidelined, outfielder Tommy Pham is clearly one of the beneficiaries. His 17 at-bats and four RBI are tops on the club. His .412 batting average is solid, too.

Infielder Jacob Wilson has shined when more highly-touted competitors Dean Anna and Ty Kelly have not. Not only is Wilson batting .438 with a team-leading three doubles, he played in right field on Wednesday.

Fighting for playing time with so many other middle infielders in camp, Greg Garcia has made the most of his limited opportunities with a .444 on-base mark that includes two singles, a double, two walks and a pair of RBI.

Stephen Piscotty leads the team with two stolen bases. Despite a .231 average, his rating is yellow since he was 2-for-3 with a steal on Wednesday and is trending up. Though he has been less productive, Xavier Scruggs has the exact same number of hits and at-bats. Same with Kelly, though he does have the team’s only triple. Scott Moore, at .273, is the fourth lukewarm-rated player.

In fairness to the “cold” players, only one has been given as many as 10 at-bats. Chances are good that most of them will soon be in minor league camp.

STEP campers to see MLB game action include C.J. McElroy (no plate appearances) and Charlie Tilson, 0-for-1.


Game highlights

Thursday, 3/5 at Miami: Three of the club’s four extra base hits came from Moore and Garcia (doubles) and Kelly (triple).

Friday, 3/6 at Miami: Pham was the hitting star, with four singles in four at-bats. He scored one and drove in another. Cody Stanley plated a pair with a double. Garcia had an RBI for the second consecutive day.

Saturday, 3/7 vs. Houston: Grichuk walked, homered and scored twice. Rafael Ortega had his only two hits of the spring to date, including a double, and an RBI.

Sunday, 3/8 at Washington: Pham and Grichuk each homered and drove in two. The latter’s was in a pinch-hitting role. Wilson doubled and crossed home plate once.

Monday, 3/9 vs. Boston: The offense had only six hits and was shut out, but Wilson and Scruggs doubled. Grichuk singled and walked.

Tuesday, 3/10 at Houston: Wilson was the team’s hitting standout. His 3-for-4 day included a double and home run. He scored twice.

Wednesday, 3/11 at Atlanta: Piscotty (2-for-3, run scored) and Wilson (1-for-4) each drove in a run and stole a base. Pham singled, plated one and scored another.

Link to Cardinals full spring training hitting stats



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

Prior articles in this series:
Cards Pitching Prospect Momentum: Spring Week 1

Join the prospect discussion with other Cardinals fans here



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.

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