St. Louis Cardinals: Six Baby birds heading to Minor League All-Star Game

Mar 4, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros outfielder Andrew Aplin (77) is safe at home as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Carson Kelly (82) drops the ball while trying to tag him during the fourth inning at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros outfielder Andrew Aplin (77) is safe at home as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Carson Kelly (82) drops the ball while trying to tag him during the fourth inning at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

The future is bright for one of the best organizations in baseball, as six members of the St. Louis Cardinals farm system will be playing in an all-star game on their own field.

It is only right for Springfield (one of the St. Louis Cardinals affiliates) to have so many all-stars as they finished in first place in the Texas League North division to secure a spot in the playoffs when September rolls around, finishing narrowly ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers.

Covering a variety of positions, the Cardinals are undoubtedly well represented as OF Harrison Bader, 1B/OF Luke Voit, 2B Bruce Caldwell, 3B Paul DeJong, catcher Carson Kelly, and starting pitcher Daniel Poncedelon have all made the all-star game. Poncedeleon made the team as a replacement for now AAA Memphis pitcher, Mike Mayers.

The Cardinals will have three of their six participants start in the all-star game Tuesday night, as Harrison Bader should be in either center or right field, Carson Kelly will catch, and Luke Voit will be at first.

Bader has burst onto the scene in the Cardinals farm system, completely skipping a level of High-A ball, and it has paid off for him thus far in Springfield. Bader started out the first couple of months on fire, hitting well over .330, but has cooled down since.  Nevertheless, he still leads not only the team but the entire Texas League in batting average at .308.

He has spent most of his time in the three hole, but has shown the capability to bat leadoff as he is a threat on the base-paths (eight stolen bases). Harrison has torched opposing pitchers this year with his power, ranking fifth in the Texas League in home runs at 13.

With a slugging percentage over .500, it is no wonder that many have been clamoring about his production and wondering about a possible move to Memphis later this season.

Carson Kelly will be the starting catcher, only a year removed from winning the gold glove for all of the minor leagues. Deemed as the future starting catcher of the St. Louis Cardinals, Kelly has handled this high praise well by proving he is willing to learn at any given time whether it be in Spring Training, or when big-leaguer Brayan Pena is on rehab in Springfield.

Kelly has caught opponents stealing 36% of the time, and sports a .996 fielding percentage so it is evident how he received the gold glove for his performance in 2015. His statistics at the plate have fluctuated this season, batting in the .230s in April, but skyrocketing that up to .333 in May. He currently sits at .294 with an on-base% of .333.

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At only 21 years old, the St. Louis Cardinals are sure happy to have struck gold in Carson Kelly.

The 22nd round steal of the 2013 MLB draft comes in Luke Voit, who has performed well over expectations in his first season with the AA ballclub. Currently, Voit has career highs in batting, OBP%, and SLG%. At the break he has ten home runs, which is impressive considering he only had 11 in all of 2015, where he took 60 more plate appearances than he has so far this season.

Voit has shown some versatility being able to play the outfield along with his main position of first base, and he was also a catcher in college at Missouri State University (located in Springfield).  Voit will be the lone Springfield Cardinals participant in the Texas League home run derby, which is an interesting choice considering he ranks third on the team in the statistic, behind Bader and Paul DeJong.

DeJong has had an interesting season to say the least, as he made the same jump Bader did skipping high-A Palm Beach. The Illinois State product was drafted in the fourth round of last year’s MLB Amateur draft, so it is nice to see him in the all-star game even if he has had his fair share of struggles this season, batting only .238.

If I had to pick one batter off of this Springfield team to come up to the plate with the game on the line, I would choose DeJong as he has shown tremendous ability to come through in clutch situations in the late innings tallying a couple of walk-off home runs to his resume.

Paul is one home run behind Bader for the team lead, sitting at 12, but does rank first on the team in RBIs, which is impressive considering how much time he has spent hitting near the bottom half of the lineup.

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The final position player to make the all-star team is left-handed hitting second basemen, Bruce Caldwell. He is a 24-year-old from South Carolina where he played both his high school and college ball before being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 15th round of the 2012 MLB draft.

Bruce is another one of the Springfield players that got off to a ridiculous start hitting nearly .300 in April with five home runs before leveling some since. He has proved to be a good run producer, usually batting second or third in the lineup, accumulating 35 RBI through the first half of the 2016 season.

Caldwell had a slugging percentage well over .500 in April, but since then it has rested in the .370-.390 range. For the season his slash line is .285/.358/.435 and has played second base for the most part.

The only pitcher from this team to make the all-star game is Daniel Poncedelon, who has been a bright spot among some inconsistent starting pitching from the AA affiliate. Poncedeleon (who has the best name of the all-star participants) was drafted in the ninth round of the 2014 draft, and is also only 24 coming out of the University of Houston.

He has been an innings-eater with an ERA below 3.00 and has a record of 4-4. A WHIP of 1.233 and a K/9 above eight is more than worthy of an all-star appearance for the California native. His best outing of the season was June 6th at Northwest Arkansas when he went 8.1 IP, striking out nine, only giving up five hits and no runs to add another win to his record.

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You can catch the Springfield Cardinals all-star game on Tuesday, June 28th at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri when the festivities will start at 5:45 p.m. with the home run derby. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.