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 will continue 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.
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.
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.
The Cardinals had a strong 4-2-1 week, improving on their 3-3 start. Five of the seven games were held at familiar Roger Dean Stadium.
St. Louis’ staff continues to lead the way. The pitchers lowered their cumulative ERA to 3.32, fifth in the National League. Their opponent batting average of .225 is second lowest.
The team batting average has improved substantially to .271, also fifth-best in the NL, but the power questions continue. The Cardinals’ slugging of .381 is 11th of 15.
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.
In two cuts during the week, nine players were sent to minor league camp. Of the 48 remaining 36 are from the 40-man roster and 12 are NRIs.
11 of the 48 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2015 – four pitchers and seven position players. Another 11 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 22 is those about whom I will be reporting below. Of course, the list of 22 we are now tracking here – nine pitchers and 13 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.
Innings pitched (IP) and earned run average (ERA) are for first 13 games of the spring, coming into play on Thursday, March 19.
The nine cuts this past week are as follows. All except pitcher Tyler Lyons are considered prospects.
|Majors camp||40||Last wk||This wk|
|this week (6)||Last wk||This wk|
|C Kelly||11||NRI||Palm Beach||3||0.000||Low|
Roughly one-third of the 19 position players we were tracking, six, were sent down last week and several more look to be following behind soon. Only one is rated “lukewarm,” while eight are “cold.”
For the second consecutive week, four hitters register “hot” on the scale, though only two are repeaters. Three are also top 40 prospects.
Outfielder Randal Grichuk leads the entire team, not just the prospects, with three home runs, and has a 1.112 OPS. The other repeater is Jacob Wilson, who continues to be the surprise of camp. The infielder has received the most at-bats on the team with 26. Still, it seems highly unlikely that Wilson will break with St. Louis, but he is putting on a major push for Memphis.
Stephen Piscotty remains hot, with six hits in his last 13 at-bats plus a sacrifice fly. Just one extra base hit so far this spring, though. The other red player is Ty Kelly, who in my opinion is competing with Grichuk for a roster spot. (a href=http://thecardinalnationblog.com/2015/03/16/grichuk-vs-pham-vs-kelly-for-cardinals-final-bench-spot/>(More details here.) Always with a good eye at the plate, the infielder has more walks, seven, than hits, six, this spring.
In the neutral category is Cody Stanley. The catcher has performed well when called upon, but just nine at-bats in two weeks is too little to get excited about. He will certainly be one to monitor this season in Memphis as a potential Tony Cruz replacement in 2016.
Tommy Pham headlines the “no momentum” players. With Jon Jay sidelined, Pham had been one of the beneficiaries before suffering a quad injury. Unless he can get back into action soon, his chances of making the team ahead of Grichuk or Kelly are greatly diminished. Jay is almost back, too, and will need his plate appearances to get ready for Opening Day.
Xavier Scruggs, Scott Moore and Rafael Ortega have received ample at-bats, but haven’t done much with them. They should be starters at Memphis this season. For those who thought Dean Anna was in competition with Pete Kozma for the reserve shortstop spot, forget about it.
STEP camp hitters to see MLB game action are all outfielders - C.J. McElroy (no plate appearances, three pinch-running outings), Charlie Tilson, 0-for-1 and two PR spots with a run scored and Magneuris Sierra (0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a fielding error).
Thursday, 3/12 vs. Baltimore: Kelly was on base three times with a single and two walks. Piscotty had an RBI double. Moore, Grichuk and Ortega all went 0-for-3, though the latter stole a base and scored.
Friday, 3/13 at Miami: In three plate appearances, Wilson walked, doubled, plated one and scored another. In two plate appearances, Stanley drew a free pass, singled and came home once. Kelly walked, singled and scored in four plate appearances. Moore went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
Saturday, 3/14 vs. Minnesota: Grichuk homered and singled as part of a 2-for-5 day. In two PAs, Stanley walked, doubled and scored a run. Kelly tripled and walked in two PAs. Wilson went 0-for-4, including a strikeout.
Sunday, 3/15 at Minnesota: Grichuk plated two with a double. Stanley had another perfect day with a solo homer and a walk. Moore and Piscotty went 0-for-3, but the latter had a sac fly.
Monday, 3/16 vs. Detroit: No prospect had more than one at-bat, with Piscotty collecting the only hit from among them, a single.
Tuesday, 3/17 at Miami: Moore went 1-for-2 with a stolen base and RBI. Piscotty, Kelly, Ortega and Wilson were each hitless in two at-bats, though the latter scored a run after having entered the game as a pinch-runner.
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 article in this series
Cards Pitching Prospect Momentum: Spring Week 2
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