St. Louis Cardinals: Harrison Bader’s Spring Training Surge
The young St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bade has continued to build his stock with a hot start to Spring Training. A start in Memphis is likely, but what does the future hold for Bader in the Cardinals organization?
Last season the St. Louis Cardinals prospect, Harrison Bader, and former Florida Gator burst onto the scene in AA with an All-Star worthy first half of the season. As the year went on, Harrison Bader’s numbers dipped. This was especially true in his time at AAA Memphis.
For the entire season, at both levels, he sported a slash line of .267/.335/.452 to go along with 19 home runs and 58 RBI. Bader also showcased his speed on the base paths, stealing 13 bases but was also caught stealing 13 times.
Twenty-two year old Bader bounced back from the second half slump as a member of the Arizona Fall League team, Glendale Desert Dogs. He was third on the team in RBI (29), fifth in batting average (.307) and tied third in home runs (4). The time in Arizona was beneficial for Bader to showcase his offensive talents, and even showing his ability to slide over and play the corner outfield positions.
Carrying over the great Fall League performance, Bader has excelled thus far in his opportunities in Spring Training. In his 26 at-bats, Bader is hitting .346 and has showcased a knack for extra base hits. Four of his nine hits have been for extra bases, two of those being home runs. From watching him in Springfield last season, one skill that Bader could afford to improve upon was his plate discipline.
In the minors last year, his strike out percentage hovered around twenty-eight percent. In Spring Training so far, this number is a little over fifteen percent. Yes, it is a small sample size, but there is a case that he is improving. There is reason to be excited as St. Louis Cardinals fans, but what does the future in the organization hold for a guy like Harrison Bader.
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The St. Louis Cardinals signed former Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year deal this off-season, resulting in many questioning whether Bader could be dealt in a trade. This is a likely scenario for the upcoming season’s trade deadline.
Due to the starting outfield basically being solidified with Fowler, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk for the future, there are questions.
Also, the Cardinals organizational depth in the outfield with the likes of Magneuris Sierra waiting in the wings also.
As a result, where does this put Harrison Bader?
It certainly gives the St. Louis Cardinals some flexibility to work with, that is for sure. The surging bats of Bader, Sierra and Jose Martinez in Spring Training give the Cardinals plenty of options. Martinez, Bader and Sierra all have seen their fair share of playing time in Florida and all have a BA of at least .340 and 26 at-bats.
Martinez is in a battle for a MLB roster spot with Tommy Pham while Sierra is still only 20-years-old so there is still some grooming to be done with him. Bader is stuck in the middle here.
Seems like he is not in the major league roster picture as of now with the Fowler, Piscotty, Grichuk, Martinez and Pham ahead of him. What should the St. Louis Cardinals do?
They can certainly give him the at-bats he needs at Memphis for a year or two with brief stints in St. Louis if injury occurs or to give a sneak peek of what his future at “The Show” looks like. With the starting outfield of Fowler, Piscotty and Grichuk locked up until 2021, the idea of a trade could be in play for John Mozeliak.
If the Cardinals find themselves competing for a playoff spot, guys like Bader or Pham can be expendable pieces. Bader has much more value than the 29-year-old Pham at this point as the Vegas native is hitting below the Mendoza line in Spring Training so far. Both are likely looking at starting the season in Memphis.
In my opinion, Bader has the makeup of a future star in this league. He is a potential five-tool player that could be of great use to the St. Louis Cardinals future, but there is a log-jam situation that may need dealt with. There is no telling how Grichuk will perform. He has been a roller coaster ride thus far in his Cardinal career. If this continues, a Grichuk trade could open the door for Bader to slide in as a starter when ready.
Next: Opening Day Roster Prediction: Brendan's Edition
In conclusion, it is a great problem to have multiple options for the outfield and gives St. Louis Cardinals fans plenty of optimism for the future. John Mozeliak has been excellent in his time as the Cardinals general manager. All we can do is hope is that he will make the right moves when the time comes.