We’re moving to the left side of the infield. Like first base, the hot corner is generally a source of offensive power, but obviously defense carries a little more weight. The Cardinals have a good third baseman in the reigning World Series MVP David Freese, but we shouldn’t forget that he not only has injury issues, but also barely beat out Matt Carpenter for the starting gig last season. Presumably Freese will return to the starting role for the Cardinals but if he suffers an injury or is slow out of the gates, we could see a newcomer take the job in 2012.
Matt Carpenter – As stated in the lead, Carpenter almost won the job with a hot spring training last season. He was rewarded with a promotion to AAA and put up very solid numbers. He is similar to Freese in that he hits for a good average and has a little pop. It stands to reason that either Freese or Carpenter will have to get moved soon as Carpenter is ready for the big leagues but is blocked. Last season he got a September call-up; this year he or Freese could be an interesting piece at the trade deadline.
Zack Cox – Cox was drafted in 2010 and performed very well at Rookie league and high A. He was promoted to AA during the 2011 season. He saw a decline in his peripherals, but his rate stats improved. He also started to show a bit of power in his bat. There has been talk of moving Cox to second since his range and throwing strength are not good enough to stick at third. Regardless of where he ends up playing on the field, Cox has a bat that can get him to the majors.
Roberto De La Cruz – Cruz has only spent time in the Rookie League, but he is only 20. He made great strides this past season as he finally started to show power in the bat. He won’t get a lot of mention in prospect lists until he makes his way through the organization, but if his 2011 improvements continue then he should ascend at a more rapid pace.
Third isn’t a stacked position for the Cardinals. There are two strong prospects in Carpenter and Cox, but the rest of the Cardinals third basemen profile more as depth guys. Players like De La Cruz, Greg Garcia, Ronnierd Garcia, and Jeremy Patton may not see time at the major league level as starters, but could one day crack the bench for the big league club.
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