St. Louis Cardinals: Is It Still Too Early to Buy into Matt Carpenter?

Evan BruschiniCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2011

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 03: Third baseman Matt Carpenter #32 of the St. Louis Cardinals plays the field against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park on March 3, 2011 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

When camp broke, St. Louis Cardinals prospect Matt Carpenter seemed destined to start the 2011 season as the third baseman for Triple-A Memphis.

After putting up a .458./.552/.708 line in 24 spring at-bats, he may have thrust himself into a possible bench role in the major leauges.'s B.J. Rains reported yesterday that Carpenter, as well as middle infielders Ramon Vazquez and Daniel Descalso, has entered a competition for the final spot on the Cardinals' roster.

Carpenter, the 2010 Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year, is looking to follow a slightly similar career path (albiet delayed) to that of the last third baseman to win MLPotY for St. Louis - Albert Pujols.

Both players played third through the minor leagues, and in their first full big league spring, tore up Jupiter with hitting ability that has to be seen to believed.

Today, manager Tony LaRussa decided to test Carpenter by
hitting him second today against Twins ace Carl Pavano in a star-studded lineup that included every projected Opening Day starter - except third baseman David Freese.

LaRussa, who has publicly advocated for Carpenter