Prior to Sunday’s series finale against the San Diego Padres, the St. Louis Cardinals recalled infielder Greg Garcia from Triple-A Memphis.
As we’ve seen all season long, the Cardinals have not shied away from relying on minor league talent to fill gaps on the big league roster.
Part of this has been out of necessity; the club has lost major pieces on the roster to injury at varying points of the season – but a big piece of it is simple: this is the St. Louis recipe for success in recent years.
Youngsters such as Stephen Piscotty, Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras have been major contributors to the Cardinals’ success in the past few seasons – and this year is no different. Despite the injuries, St. Louis topped the Padres Sunday for their league-leading 78th win of the season.
Now to lump a player like Garcia in with the likes of that trio is probably a tad unfair. You cannot and should not expect production from the 26-year-old. It’s just unrealistic.
That being said, he will bring value to a roster that is heading into the dog days of summer with half of a starting lineup – they’re now missing Adam Wainwright, Jason Heyward, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk, to name the biggest pieces.
Garcia has been impressive in a very limited sample size with St. Louis throughout the 2015 season, collecting seven hits in 20 at-bats – good for a 1.050 OPS. He’s drawn three walks to four strikeouts and even delivered a game-tying home run against the Chicago Cubs in late June.
Given how small of a sample size this is, it’s probably more prudent to look at his numbers with Triple-A Memphis, where he’s been incredibly effective, despite his lack of power.
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Garcia has swiped 19 bases this year for the Redbirds, smacking 19 doubles and posting an impressive .294/.391/.364 slash-line in 94 games. In his minor league career, the former seventh-round pick has a .775 OPS – so he can hold his own at the dish.
Defensively, he brings value to the team, as well. This season with Memphis, he’s played three different infield positions, as well as serving as the team’s designated hitter. For a Cardinals team that’s pockmarked with holes, the importance of defensive versatility cannot be overstated.
So while he may lack the star power of names like Piscotty and Wong, make no mistake. Greg Garcia could be a game-changer for Cardinals manager Mike Matheny down the stretch.