During the recent Winter Warm-Up, I was able to sit in on the interview sessions of five of the six vying for spots in the everyday lineup. The common theme is that Edmonds will be missed.
Brian Barton was recently acquired from the Cleveland Indians during the Rule 5 Draft. Barton went undrafted out of the University of Miami because teams thought he was not serious about baseball and he wanted to purse a job in the field in which he is close to earning his degree, aerospace engineering. In 354 career Minor League games, Barton hit .316/.416/.473. This past season, Barton batted .305/.402/.420 with 10 home runs and 66 RBIs during stops at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Buffalo.
Skip Schumaker split time between St. Louis and Triple-A Memphis in 2007. In 59 games at Memphis, Schumaker hit .306/.382/.466 with 37 strikeouts compared to 27 walks. In 88 games for the Cardinals, the 27-year-old batted .333/.358/.458 while striking out only 20 times in 232 at bats.
In the second audio file, Skip discusses his goals for Spring Training.
Last off-season, Ryan Ludwick was picked up by the Cardinals as a Minor League free agent. He had a smoking start at Triple-A Memphis, batting .340/.380/.642 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in only 29 games. The senior statesman of this group, Ludwick overcame a slow start in the majors to finish with a line of .267/.339/.479 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs. The 29-year-old goes to spring camp as the primary right-handed outfield bat.
Ludwick next discusses his expectations for the upcoming year and holding babies.
What hasn't been said about Colby Rasmus? The Cardinals' top prospect and one of the top prospects in all of baseball goes to Spring Training with a shot at making the big league club. Playing as a 20-year-old for most of the season, he led all of Double A in home runs and extra base hits. The heir apparent to Jim Edmonds in center, Rasmus admits the Edmonds trade surprised him.
Chris Duncan did not match his home run total from 2006 but he was hampered by a sports hernia injury down the stretch. The 26-year-old now owns 44 career big league home runs and seems to be getting a little more comfortable in left field. With the loss of Edmonds and Rolen, Duncan will be counted on even more in 2008 to bring power to the middle of the Cardinal lineup.
In the next audio file, Duncan discusses his place in the lineup as well as Colby Rasmus.
The last man on this list is Rick Ankiel. The 28-year-old put on an awesome power display at Memphis during 2007. Ankiel hit 32 home runs in 389 at bats for the Redbirds. The former pitcher made his return to the big leagues and homered in his first game back. For the big league club, Ankiel hit 11 home runs in 172 at bats playing primarily right field. For 2008, he has a chance to be the everyday starting centerfielder.
Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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