Though expected, it was still great to see. I say "expected" not just because of the former Nebraskan's play, but also because a series of chain-reaction moves in the organization over the last few days made this move a foregone conclusion.
For those of us who can still recall our physics lessons from school, Newton's Third Law also applies to baseball: "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction".
It all started with Jim Edmonds. When the long-time Cardinals centerfielder went onto the disabled list earlier this week due to pain in his lower back, it set off a series of roster chain reactions from Tennessee to Missouri to Florida to Iowa.
It is good to see the Cardinals aggressively promoting their young players. Each was deserving in his own light and the mid-season point seems an ideal time for the organization to act.
Skip Schumaker returned to St. Louis from Memphis to give the big club needed depth in the outfield behind So Taguchi, who is Edmonds' primary backup. Though Juan Encarnacion can also play center, he is much better suited for regular duty in right field.
The 27-year-old left-handed hitter can play all three outfield positions and posted a tidy .314/.379/500 (BA/OBP/SLG) line in 118 at-bats with the Triple-A Redbirds in 2007. Schumaker is hitting .222 in 45 at-bats with St. Louis this season.
Joe Mather, this year's surprise of the Cardinals minor league system, received his first-ever call to Triple-A, taking Schumaker's spot. In his seventh year in the organization, the first baseman/outfielder really came into his own this season with Double-A Springfield.
At the time of his promotion, the 24-year-old Mather was leading the Texas League in home runs (18) and RBIs (46) and had the tenth best average in the league at .303. He was named to the Texas League All-Star team.
Mark Hamilton received his call this week, too, for his first career Double-A action, moving up from Palm Beach to Springfield. The 22-year-old was selected in the supplemental second round (76th overall) of the June, 2006 First-Year Player Draft and played for State College and Quad Cities in 2006.
This season, Hamilton ranked second in the Florida State League with 13 home runs, third in RBI (49), sixth in slugging (.520) and ninth in OPS (.861). Hamilton was hitting .290 with a .348 OBP. He was selected to the FSL All-Star team.
Next was Buckman. The 23-year-old was taken by the Cardinals in the 19th round (586th overall) of the June, 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Upon signing, the left-handed hitter put up a .300/.367/.478 line (BA/OBP/SLG) with eight home runs and 34 RBI in 62 games for Rookie-level Johnson City.
It only got better here in 2007. His line with Quad Cities is .341/.384/.590. Buckman slammed 14 home runs and drove in 52 runs in 261 at-bats and was justifiably selected to start in the Midwest League All-Star Game, where he went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
In terms of MWL rankings, Buckman is third in batting average, tied for first in home runs, second in RBI, first in slugging and total bases and fifth in doubles.
Who will be joining the Swing to replace Buckman? Perhaps we should ask Sir Isaac.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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