The Phillies infield seems to be set for the foreseeable future with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins already established and Mike Costanzo coming along at third base. That didn't stop the Phillies from drafting Adrian Cardenas as a sandwich pick in last June's draft. The young shortstop prospect didn't disappoint in his first pro season and hit .318 in the Gulf Coast League and looked every bit of a true prospect. So, where will Cardenas fit in? That's going to be the toughest question down the road, but for now, the Phillies aren't going to worry that much about the future. After all, worst case scenario is that Cardenas - or one of the established infielders - could become trade bait.
Cardenas is just 19 and has some things to learn, but the Phillies believe that he's going to learn quickly and move even quicker through the minor league system. That moving begins this season with the Phillies ticketing him for a jump to Lakewood rather than a smaller move up to Williamsport for another season in a short-season league.
Adrian Cardenas' career stats
|'06 Gulf Coast||2||21||.318||41||154||22||49||5||4||13||17||28||.384|
Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies as a sandwich pick (37th overall) in the 2006 Draft. Cardenas played high school ball at Monsignor Pace High School in Florida and had signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Florida.
Batting and Power: Cardenas' offensive prowess put him in some pretty lofty company. He became the first Dade County high school player since Alex Rodriguez to win the Gatorade Player of the Year award. In his senior season he hit 18 home runs, just one shy of the state record, but good enough to set the single season record for Dade County. Scouts believe that Cardenas can develop into a quality number three hitter with the ability to hit for both power and average.
Baserunning and Speed: While he's still filling out, Cardenas doesn't seem to be losing any speed as he gets bigger. He's been impressive in camp this spring and has reportedly been one of the faster players in minor league camp. He's got good, basic baserunning skills and doesn't get himself into much trouble on the bases.
Defense: Some scouts believe that Cardenas has all the skills to stay at shortstop. Others believe that moving him to second base is a good idea. His arm is strong enough to play at short, but his range isn't quite as good as it would need to be for him to stay there. The consensus is that Cardenas could probably stay at short, but with the Phillies also having drafted Jason Donald last June, they're going to have to move somebody. Donald fits better as a shortstop and with some questions about Cardenas, he's the obvious choice to move. In a horrible scenario, if Costanzo wasn't to pan out, the Phillies could experiment with moving Cardenas to third, but then they would have to find a spot for C.J. Henry.
Projection: As long as the Phillies see enough good stuff from Cardenas this spring, he will in fact get to start the season at Lakewood. Most believe that Cardenas can handle the assignment after a nice season in the Gulf Coast League last season. Cardenas will certainly settle into a position and his bat is going to be good enough for him to play at the major league level. It's very likely that even if he doesn't start the year at Lakewood, Cardenas is going to move quickly through the system.
ETA: Since he's just out of high school, it's tough to gauge just how fast Cardenas could move. He could be in Philly by 2011 if all goes well. And if he's not in Philly, he could be in some other major league city. The good news is that at that start of the 2011 season, Cardenas would be just 23 years old. And in case you're wondering, the Phillies have an $8.5 million option on Rollins for 2011 and Utley is signed through the 2013 season.
Comparison: Funny we should mention Chase Utley because scouts believe Cardenas will put up similar type numbers and be a very similar player. The other comparison that comes up many times in connection with Cardenas is Jose Vidro.