St. Louis Cardinals Prospects Who Will Shine in 2014
Once the 2013 baseball season is laid to rest for the St. Louis Cardinals, there will be some serious decisions to make.
Frankly, I wouldn't want to be in John Mozeliak's shoes as he wades through a mound of decisions when it comes to the 2014 personnel. That said, it would be very interesting to be a fly on the wall as he discusses the upcoming moves with his manager, scouts and ownership group.
The Cardinals are built the way a baseball team should be built. They draft well, develop talent and fill in any holes with mid-range salary players. It's a formula that has produced a playoff team in 10 of the last 14 seasons.
The 2013 version of the Cardinals was about as green as you'll ever see a team who is consistently in contention, and the farm system still has more fruit to bear.
Here is a list of three prospects that will shine in 2014 provided they get an opportunity to play.
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No surprise to see Taveras on this list.
The guy has hit at every level he's played at and was over .300 in his injury-riddled 2013 season. Taveras was hitting the ball well before an ankle injury cost him the rest of his 2013 campaign.
If you Google Taveras, you'll see he comes with pretty high marks and appears to be a guy who can make an immediate impact if given the opportunity to play.
There are a few factors that will determine Taveras' role in 2014. The first being whether or not the Cardinals sign Carlos Beltran to another deal. If the Cards let him walk, Taveras would be in the running for a starting spot.
Assuming Beltran does indeed go elsewhere, Taveras isn't guaranteed a starting spot. The Cardinals are going to have to figure out what to do with Matt Adams. He can only really play first base, and with the versatility that Allen Craig brings to the table, Adams may get more time at first base while Craig roams in right field.
So John Mozeliak has his hands full with what to do in the outfield.
I fully expect Taveras to make the team out of spring training next year and to be at least the fourth outfielder if not a starter.
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Kolten Wong could very well be the future at second base for the Cardinals for many years to come.
He proved he could hit in the minors by posting a career .301 average and also showed his baserunning skills by swiping 50 bags during the same period.
Wong hasn't had much of a chance to play every day since being called up, but once he gets his chance, it shouldn't be too long until he shows what the Cardinals saw in him when they made him a first round pick in 2009.
Wong also finds himself in the same spot of limbo that Taveras is in. The question is: What is going to happen with David Freese? If the Cardinals move him and put Matt Carpenter back to his natural spot of third base, it opens a spot for Wong to play every day at second.
So again, it comes down to Mozeliak and his band of advisers as to what Wong will be doing in 2014.
One last thought on how to get Wong on the field is to move him to shortstop and let Kozma go. It's probably a long shot at best, but Kozma can't hit a lick and the Cardinals wouldn't have a hard time finding someone to fill the hole at shortstop.
Very likely not to happen, but it would be an interesting fix to the infield if it was to be pursued.
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I still count Carlos Martinez as a prospect due to the fact he only pitched in 21 games and amassed 28.1 innings pitched in 2013.
Martinez has electric stuff when he can control it. He almost reminds of Ricky Vaughn from the movie Major League in that when he can control his heater, he is very hard to hit.
Martinez posted a 2.51 in his 13 starts for AAA Memphis and has shown he can be an effective starter. In 2014, barring an injury to another starter, Martinez will be coming out of the bullpen.
I see him being a very effective late-innings guy who can overpower hitters. Most likely, depending on how the closer situation works out with Rosenthal and Motte, Martinez will be a seventh-inning guy and on occasion an eighth-inning guy.
I loved his intensity in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the NLDS when he powered through the dangerous Dodger lineup.
Look for Martinez to have a big 2014 being a shutdown guy out of the bullpen.