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 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.
With two days off and the Monday, March 23rd rainout, which washed away almost five innings of stats, the timing of this report slid a bit to the right. In other words, I waited for a week of baseball to be played. In fact, with split squad contests on Friday, March 27, we actually get eight games in this report.
Six Grapefruit League games plus the Memphis exhibition remain to be played.
This time around, the Cardinals were just over .500, with a 4-3-1 week. That is slightly down from their 7-5-1 start. Six of the eight games were held at familiar Roger Dean Stadium.
St. Louis’ staff continues to lead the way. The pitchers lowered their cumulative ERA to 3.26, third in all of MLB. Their opponent batting average of .235 is lowest of all 30 squads.
The team batting average has sunk to .260, 18th in MLB, as the power questions continue. The Cardinals’ slugging of .378 is 27th of 30.
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, 10 players were sent to minor league camp. Of the 38 remaining, 32 are from the 40-man roster and six are NRIs.
Six of the 38 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2015 – one pitcher and five position players. Another six 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 rapidly-dwindling group of 12 is those about whom I will be reporting below. Of course, the list of 12 we are now tracking here – three pitchers and nine 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 21 games of the spring, coming into play on Saturday, March 28.
The ten cuts this past week are as follows. The pitchers are Sam Tuivailala, Tim Cooney, Zach Petrick, Nick Greenwood, Dean Kiekhefer and Miguel Socolovich. Position players included catchers Cody Stanley and Travis Tartamella, shortstop Aledmys Diaz and outfielder Rafael Ortega.
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This week, my scoring was pretty easy. Two of three prospect pitchers who remain in camp received high marks, which explains why they have survived the cuts to date. One received a medium score due to one bad pitch.
Marco Gonzales continues to make the fifth starter competition difficult and a legitimate three-man race. He has allowed just one run this spring with seven strikeouts against four walks in 12 1/3 innings pitched.
Newcomer Marcus Hatley has not been used often, having thrown just five innings, but he doubled his workload last week and has yet to yield a run. He has seen just one baserunner and fanned five. It looks like the free agent signee can help the Memphis pen this season.
Mitch Harris continues to be almost unhittable, with just two hits allowed in 6 2/3 innings. He has just three strikeouts and five walks. Unfortunately, his hit yielded this week was a three-run home run.
Wednesday, 3/18: Off day
Thursday, 3/19 vs. Mets: Greenwood was charged with an unearned run in the fifth on a walk, an error and a single. Hatley tossed a 1-2-3 sixth, including a strikeout. Socolovich could only get two outs in the eighth before Dean Kiekhefer secured the final four outs. The two runs scored against Socolovich were unearned after an error, two walks and a single.
Friday, 3/20 at Mets: Pitching the sixth, Tuivailala took the loss after yielding a single, followed by a two-run blast by Michael Cuddyer.
Saturday, 3/21 vs. Braves: No prospect pitchers appeared.
Sunday, 3/22 at Orioles: A one-run Cardinals lead turned into a two-run deficit when Harris, who relieved starter John Lackey in the fifth with two runners on base, served up a three-run home run pitch to Adam Jones. Piggyback starter Gonzales tossed two scoreless frames.
Monday, 3/23 at Red Sox: In the rained out game, only veteran Lance Lynn pitched for the Cardinals.
Tuesday, 3/24: Off day
Wednesday, 3/25: vs. Nationals: Hatley relieved Michael Wacha with two out in the sixth and struck out his lone hitter.
Thursday, 3/26: vs. Marlins: Harris allowed one hit and one walk in two scoreless innings.
Friday, 3/27: vs. Mets (split squad): No prospect pitchers appeared.
Friday, 3/27: at Nationals (split squad): Hatley pitched the ninth of a tie game on the road and retired all three batters, including one strikeout.
What is next
Look for the companion article to this one, covering the Cardinals prospect hitters during week three of the 2015 Major League spring training camp.
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.
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