With spring training just around the corner, St. Louis Cardinals players old and new are putting the finishing touches on the offseason as they prepare for 2013.
Some players are sure things to make the opening day roster, but the same can’t be said for everyone. With a handful of minor question marks regarding the starting rotation, bullpen, second base and a backup shortstop, some of the Cardinals young talent will have a shot to make the team.
With one of the strongest farm systems in the MLB, the Cardinals have plenty of options, but are they ready yet?
Last year several showed that they are, but just like everyone else, they will have to show it again in spring training.
Following are the chances of several top Cardinals prospects making the opening day roster. To be eligible for the list, a player must still have rookie eligibility. That means a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club during the 25-player limit period.
The prospect that everyone used to be excited about (prior to the Oscar Taveras explosion) ended the 2012 season by reminding Cardinals fans what they had to look forward to.
Despite command problems early in 2012, Shelby Miller turned his season around full circle and ended the season with his first big league win in dramatic fashion.
Short of a horrible performance in spring training, I can’t envision a scenario where he doesn’t make the opening day roster in one form or another.
Chance: 95 percent
While everyone was talking about Miller and Taveras, Trevor Rosenthal snuck up and put on a show in 2012.
A young pitcher with tremendous heat and a good handle on pressure situations, Rosenthal has an extremely high ceiling. Considering that he was one of the best arms in the bullpen down the stretch, there is little reason to not expect him to begin 2013 in St. Louis.
The question is whether it will be in the rotation or the bullpen. My hunch is that the Cardinals will be reluctant to throw off Miller’s mojo by a move to the bullpen, so I expect to see Rosenthal in the bullpen awaiting an injury.
Chance: 95 percent
Kolten Wong is viewed by the Cardinals as the future at second base.
At this point, however, he is just that: the future. It’s entirely possible he could see a call up at some point in 2013, but given that he finished the season at Double A Springfield I expect to see some time in Memphis to begin the year.
His day will come soon enough and there is no reason to rush his continued development. Don’t look for him on the opening day roster.
Chance: 40 percent
Many view Martinez as one of the best pitchers to come up through the Cardinals farm system in years, but he still has a bit of refining to do.
After spending some time at Double A Springfield in 2012, he made some progress and has shown that he has the stuff to make it in the big leagues.
In all likelihood, he will begin 2013 back in Springfield with a Memphis promotion in his near future. Martinez is another example of one not to rush since it would create a serious rotation logjam in St. Louis. With presumably Miller, Rosenthal and Lance Lynn all in the running for the fifth starter slot, there is really no reason to promote him at this point.
Chance: 15 percent
Matt Adams is an interesting situation. With Allen Craig at first base, there is likely no way to get him regular playing time in St. Louis at the beginning of the season.
It’s entirely possible this is a situation that will work itself out once the season begins, but short of a spring training injury, he probably won’t see St. Louis to start the season.
He could be a formidable bench bat given his ability to hit for average and power. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak showed reluctance in 2012 to use him in that role feeling that he needed to be playing every day regardless of whether it was in St. Louis or Memphis.
Chance: 50 percent
The man everyone is dying to see in St. Louis, Oscar Taveras, has a legitimate shot at starting the season in St. Louis if the pieces fall into place for him.
If he comes in and dazzles the Cardinals brass and for some reason Jon Jay doesn’t, it’s possible he could make the roster. Until everyone is in Florida, it will be hard to tell because many factors play into the Taveras equation.
Carlos Beltran ended the season with knee issues. How is he moving around and feeling? Is Jay ready to prove himself as an everyday center fielder once again?
If everyone else looks good, my assumption is that Taveras will start the season in Memphis and at the first sign of trouble make the short trip to St. Louis.
As mentioned previously, he needs to be ready to go when Beltran’s contract ends at the end of the coming season. There is no better way to do that then by giving him a short stay at Memphis and then having him spend some time with Beltran who would make a fantastic mentor for the young, slugging outfielder.
Regardless of how it comes, one thing is certain. His debut will be made soon.
Chance: 45 percent