The Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, welcomed fans to its' home opener by rolling out the red carpet while the team's front office staff were dressed in tuxedos and cocktail dresses. The staff may have looked sharp, but the play on the field was far from it.
This was a very different visit than my last to Memphis, at the end of the 2007 season. The team was so far back in the standings last September, not much seriousness seemed to be put into batting practice. This time around, high expectations abound, as this is the most talented team Memphis has put on the field at Autozone Park in quite some time. The team seemed to be all business and serious about the job at hand. Unfortunately on this night, that did not translate on to the field.
My observations from opening night at Memphis:
Five tool player with sensational skills. Rasmus is known to be a streaky player and right now he finds himself in a funk. At the plate, his hands seem busy before the plate and seem to be drifting in the zone. Looked overmatched against off-speed pitches. The 21 year old seems to be pull happy as well. Has electric speed that puts pressure on the defense. Even the most routine can be close with Rasmus running down the line. Played a shallow centerfield; got beat on a ball over his head that he drifted back on instead of going full speed after. (pictured right)
The Memphis coaching staff is stressing to him to go the other way. Not upset that he didn't make the team as he knows there is still a lot he needs to learn.
New! Video of Rasmus in batting practice and at the plate during the game.
Easy inside out stroke with good bat speed and fantastic bat control. Understand the strike zone well and has a good idea of what he wants to do with the ball. Underrated as a second baseman, no Roberto Alomar but he won't hurt you in the field. On occasion he will make the dazzling play. Very good on the double-play pivot. Bo Hart body, Average to below average speed but won't clog the bases. You can't tell me he can't help a big league team.
Barden is more upright in his stance than last season. Also noticeable is his hands cocked at his ears. Average runner at best. Good infield arm with limited range at shortstop. I really like his defense at third but I really don't like him playing regularly at shortstop.
Provides a veteran presence in the middle of the Redbird lineup. Has good power generated by above average bat speed. Pitchers at the upper levels have surely exposed his long swing. Average speed on the bases. Below average fielder best described as an iron glove.
A lot bigger; came to camp at 243 after dropping to 207 by the end of the 2007 season. The reason for the weight loss seems to be an adverse reaction to a medication he was taking. The former Bayou Bengal seems to be seeing the ball well. Possess a strong, powerful stroke but swing can get long at times. Speed is average at best. In the field he has limited range with an average arm. (pictured right)
Found out he is having a girl after his wife Casey had it announced on the New Orleans video board Wednesday night: "Attention Nick Stavinoha . . . Congratulations. It's A Girl".
Has Cazana on the back of his jersey. Tremendous power with well above average bat speed. The sound of the ball coming of his bat is impressive, like a garbage truck hitting a brick wall. Marti is still raw even at his advanced age. Much better fielder than he gets credit for, well above average arm. Possess good speed on the bases as well.
Nice easy swing, drops down in the hitter's plane ever so slightly, could have trouble catching up to a good fastball, especially inside. Good idea of what to do at the plate with a powerful opposite field stroke. Freese has slightly better than average speed, appears faster than Brian Barden. Early scouting reports said that Freese was a liability as a fielder. I came away encouraged with his work in the field. He has good range to his right and an average to slightly above average arm. (pictured left)
Haerther has good bat speed that generates good power. On Friday night he looked to opening his hips early and was really off balance. Possess below average speed on the bases. After enduring a roller coaster off-season, he really seems to be lacking confidence at this time.
Offensive first catcher, the definition of a professional hitter. The left-handed hitter has a short compact stroke with good gap power. Johnson has surprising speed on the bases, not fast but slightly above average. Very mediocre behind the plate, he doesn't block the ball very well and has a below average, inaccurate arm.
Veteran hurler that gets the most out of what he has left. Pretty good breaking stuff, fastball sat 87-88. Fields his position well. Won't hurt you but won't necessarily help you. (pictured right)
Flores worked off his breaking stuff. Deceitful as he does hide the ball well but he was hit hard on this night. A catcher's nightmare, he doesn't hold runners on very well and is very slow to the plate.
The newly converted reliever showed good arm speed enabling him to sit in the low nineties. Breaking ball needs work but the Cardinals could have another intriguing arm in the bullpen.
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