That seems especially appropriate. As this last week went on, a series of roster cuts cleaned out a number of these youngsters, sending them to the proverbial showers – at least for now. In fact, over the least seven days, seven promising players were cut – six pitchers and one position player.
This is the third of my weekly reports on how St. Louis Cardinals prospects are doing in major league camp, covering spring games 15 through 21. What follows is as much about the buzz surrounding players as their stats, though the numbers will be mentioned, too.
While CariocaCardinal's popular St. Louis Cardinals Monthly Prospect Rankings will be back for 2013, its first edition will not come out until real baseball begins – in April. In the meantime, I am going to step in with a weekly look at how the members of our 2013 top 40 prospect list are doing in major league camp.
I could have chosen a more mundane title for these articles, but to be honest, I am playing off a segment of people who have become over-heated about prospects such as Oscar Taveras and Michael Wacha based on a few spring games. I sense they didn't know about these guys before and are star-struck upon discovering them.
The good news-bad news story this year is that the Cardinals, with the top-ranked farm system in baseball, have a batch of prospects close to the majors. Some who are overly zealous are calling out for these players to be put onto the major league roster before it may make good sense for the prospect or the team.
I have already gone on record taking exception to this approach and further, have not given any of the Cardinals non-roster invitees greater than a 10 percent chance of making the major league roster out of spring training. So I hope it is clear where I am coming from.
Still, that doesn't mean we can't regularly check in on how the youngsters are doing. Of course, the usual small sample size warnings are relevant. Think of this as a hot-warm-cold look from a seven-day period that could change entirely from one week to next.
Without injured David Freese (back) and WBC Team Puerto Rico's Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran, the offense has struggled. The Cardinals were shut out four times in these seven games, winning just twice. Their Florida record sits at 10-10-1.
The pitching held its own during the week as the team ERA increased ever so slightly from 4.34 to 4.39. The Cardinals opponents improved to 4.71. The offense had a very rough week with the team batting average plummeting from .301 to .269, with their opponents dropping just three points to .280. St. Louis' once-large run differential advantage has melted down to eight – 112 to 104.
Of the 57 players originally invited to camp, the total is down to 40. That includes Rafael Furcal, who isn't really there, but also has not yet been placed on the disabled list. Entering this last week, the total was 52.
Of the 12 players sent down during this period, seven are top organizational prospects, noted in the table below.
In terms of impact this spring, Michael Wacha is head and shoulders above the other cuts – both literally and figuratively. As I noted previously, the lanky right-hander's chances of joining St. Louis this season – whether from Memphis or Springfield seem to rest in his hands – or should I say, his right arm.
|this week||Top 40||Roster||Camp||Projection|
Of the 40 still in camp, 31 are on the 40-man roster and nine are non-roster invitees. They are all vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.
13 of the 40 remaining are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2013 – six pitchers and seven position players. This is the group about which I will be reporting.
They are split by pitchers and position players. Within those groups, I rank each player based on his hype factor this past week – high/medium/low. I also note the change in position from last week to this.
I want to be clear that is NOT how I assess their chances of making the team – see the column I call "Projection" for where I think the player will start in April.
Currently, I have three of the 13 penciled in to make the opening day roster. Trevor Rosenthal and Pete Kozma are virtual locks, in my opinion. Matt Adams would have to play his way off the team and Shelby Miller is very close, but hasn't quite crossed the line yet, in my view.
|Pitchers||Top 40||Roster||Camp||Projection||Hype meter|
|Shelby Miller||#2||40-man||Majors||Memphis||High - up|
|Trevor Rosenthal||#3||40-man||Majors||St. Louis||Low - flat|
|Seth Maness||#14||NRI||Majors||Memphis||Low - down|
|Sam Freeman||#24||40-man||Majors||Memphis||Low - flat|
|Maikel Cleto||#28||40-man||Majors||Memphis||Low - flat|
|Tyler Lyons||#35||NRI||Majors||Memphis||Low - down|
The peek-a-boo rotation battle between relative newcomer Miller and incumbent Joe Kelly is being escalated in the view of some with Miller having been slated to start ahead of Kelly this coming Tuesday. That helps return Miller to the highest level of hype designation here.
Along with removal of cut players, I downgraded the hype ratings of two from last week from medium to low - Seth Maness and Tyler Lyons. The two have pitched a total of 10 spring innings with ERAs of 4.76 and 4.00, respectively. The pair of non-roster invitees will be sent to minor league camp before too much more time passes. Sam Freeman's continuing shoulder soreness bought Lyons a few more appearances.
Maikel Cleto is an interesting name here. Though he was called upon just once this past week and four times this spring in total, the hard-throwing righty has yielded just one run in 4 1/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a collective .200 average. Cleto has five strikeouts, but the four walks are a bit concerning. The fact that Cleto remains in camp may signal his place near the top of the reliever-ready list in Memphis.
The position players
|Position Players||Top 40||Roster||Camp||Projection||Hype meter|
|Oscar Taveras||#1||NRI||Majors||Memphis||High - flat|
|Matt Adams||#7||40-man||Majors||St.Louis||High - flat|
|Greg Garcia||#16||NRI||Majors||Memphis||Med - down|
|Adron Chambers||#23||40-man||Majors||Memphis||Med - flat|
|Pete Kozma||#29||40-man||Majors||St. Louis||Med - down|
|Kolten Wong||#6||NRI||Majors||Memphis||Low - flat|
|Audry Perez||#38||NRI||Majors||Memphis||Low - flat|
Since last week, the hype status of middle infielders Kozma and Greg Garcia dropping from high to medium are the only non-camp cut changes this past week. The two did not do anything great or bad, but rumors persist that the organization is looking outside for shortstop help. Kozma went 1-for-10 and Garcia went 2-for-11 with an error during the week.
Taveras continues to be Taveras. Just a few moments after not running down a catchable but difficult pop foul, the right-fielder made an impressive running-diving catch to his right to save Thursday's game. His average is holding nicely at .303 and his nine RBI are third on the team behind Shane Robinson and Adams. The strong play of the latter two are making it easier for the organization to give Taveras some needed time in Triple-A.
Adams is seeing increased playing time, with 19 at-bats over all seven games last week. With only three hits, the first baseman's average is down to a more-reasonable .310. Adams added a home run and four RBI in the period, with the big blow a three-run shot against former Cardinal Danny Haren on Friday.
Adron Chambers had a rough week, going 1-for-13. With a .244 average this spring, any possibility of him beating out Robinson is diminishing daily. Chambers was caught in his only stolen base attempt of the week.
Kolten Wong had seven at-bats for the second consecutive week and collected two hits, including a triple. Audry Perez appeared in three games with two hitless at-bats. I expect these two to be among the next position player cuts.
Among the minor leaguers not invited to camp who made appearances with St. Louis this past week are Anthony Garcia, Carson Kelly, C.J. McElroy, Stephen Piscotty, James Ramsey, Charlie Tilson and Patrick Wisdom. The latter was given a St. Patrick's Day start. Check back here for more on that coming on Tuesday.
To see the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and the nine non-roster spring training invitees in camp, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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