5 St. Louis Cardinal Prospects That Will Surprise This Spring Training
Every spring there is a fresh eagerness in the game of baseball. Young players are hoping to make the big league roster in the upcoming season and fans are excited and curious about the new editions to their team that will try to capture a World Series title. Furthermore, with pitchers and catchers soon to report, baseball season is fast approaching, and the discussion of who the surprises will be coming out of spring training are already heating up.
The St. Louis Cardinals are no slouch when it comes to young talent, and there are plenty of guys just biting for a chance to shine.
Shelby Miller is a top pitching prospect, not only for the Cardinals, but for all of Major League Baseball. In many franchises he would already be racking up innings at the major league level for a losing team. Fortunately, the Cardinals are not in that situation.
Miller, is nearly a finished product already in the minors, and just needs to refine his game a little before he can make it to the big time. Miller has a live fastball, and this spring he will make a strong case to be added to the rotation.
I anticipate that fans will see Shelby Miller this season, whether it be from a lack of competitiveness, or an implosion of one of the Cardinals' starters (my money is on Jake Westbrook).
The St. Louis Cardinals were criticized when they drafted Kolten Wong in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, but after his first season in the minors, the Hawaii grad may have vindicated the Cardinals of all criticism.
Wong showed surprising power and defensive abilities in his first season in the minors, and I believe he will continue to show promise this spring. I think his performance in the spring will earn him a quick promotion to Double-A going into the regular season.
Matt Adams is possibly the deadliest hitter in the Cardinals' farm system, and could contribute, relatively soon to the big league club. Adams has produced at a consistent level during his time in the minors, and a big spring training could earn him a promotion to AAA Memphis. However, if Lance Berkman suffers an injury Adams could see playing time with the Cardinals.
This spring, Adams will earn his promotion to AAA Memphis, and will be talked about for a call-up to St. Louis at some point in the season. Adams does have to show progress with his game at the plate; he does struggle, at times with the inside half of the plate, and for him to be successful at the highest level he needs to continue improving his game.
Oscar Taveras, at only 19, is probably not going to contribute in St. Louis for a couple of years, however, he has been more than impressive so far. Taveras, in his third year in the minors, hit for an average of .386 in 2011, and his average has only trended upwards since his first year.
Taveras could eventually be that elusive leadoff hitter the Cardinals have desperately needed in recent years, and a big spring will surely help him on that path. But don't expect to see Taveras in St. Louis this year. A good spring will earn him a promotion, but that's it.
Zack Cox, the former third baseman for the University of Arkansas, has been an often talked about prospect for the St. Louis Cardinals. Cox needs to improve defensively at the hot corner to get a chance at the major league level, and with David Freese's emergence, he might have to switch to 2B to reach St. Louis sooner.
Cox was touted as one of the best hitters in the 2010 draft, and has been an intriguing prospect in the farm. He will likely show exceptional skill at the plate this spring along with improved defense. However, his big spring will only earn him a promotion at this point. Unless Freese goes down, do not expect him to be called up to play third base in 2012.