As the Cardinals’ “win-now” philosophy continues to take a turn in the wrong direction, the focus in St. Louis has quickly shifted to the future of this franchise. It’s no doubt a future filled with uncertainty, but more importantly it’s a future that will be defined by the ability to bounce back from two consecutive seasons of underachievement and disappointment. At this point, nothing seems like a sure thing. However, there is one fast-emerging player who figures to be very much on this team’s radar as the upcoming offseason approaches.
Meet 22-year-old St. Louis prospect Matt Adams. Adams was the Cardinals’ 23rd round draft selection in the 2009 Amateur Draft, but you wouldn’t know it based on his performance on the field. The Pennsylvania product and current Double-A Springfield Cardinals slugger was named Texas League Player of the Year last Friday. He celebrated the award with a three-run homer the very next day.
Adams, who was challenged by the Cards in spring training and skipped the high Class-A Florida State League entirely, has posted 31 home runs (2nd in TL), 98 RBIs (1st in TL), 79 runs (6th in TL), and a .313/.371/.589 batting line. Both the home run and RBI totals are Springfield records. The numbers have been impressive to say the least, and it should be noted that Adams missed 19 games with an oblique injury. He beat out Angels top prospect Mike Trout on his way to winning the award.
Adams has not necessarily gotten the attention he deserves because of the fact that he came 679 picks after the Cardinals chose pitcher Shelby Miller in the first round, who is currently St. Louis’ number one prospect. While Miller has had trouble carrying the burden of insanely high expectations, Adams has been the most pleasant of surprises.
The 6’3”, 230 pound Adams has proven many scouts wrong who doubted his potential as a Major League ballplayer. Many believed his completion in Division II wasn’t good enough to predict future success, but he has turned many heads within the organization. He has shown a rare approach at the plate for such a big-bodied player, striking that perfect balance of power and average.
As much as I hate the thought of Albert Pujols not being the first baseman of the St. Louis Cardinals for the foreseeable future, it is impossible to ignore the speculation about Matt Adams replacing Pujols should he move on to a different team in free agency.Here’s Adams’ take on the situation:
"It’s definitely a goal to reach the Majors as quick as possible, but I don’t wish for Albert to be gone. I met him in Spring Training this year and he is a great guy and a wonderful player. He helps the Cardinals chances of winning and that’s really what’s most important. I hope he comes back, but I can’t let things I can’t control like that affect how I go about my own business."
In no way am I saying that Adams is at all comparable to Mr. Pujols (Not many players are), but if he continues this impressive upward trend, it may not be long before he lands a spot on the big league roster.