The 2017 St. Louis Cardinals spring training is drawing to a conclusion and with it the roster has been trimmed. While Cardinals Nation now knows who will be the supposed starters in St. Louis, who will be the supposed starters in Memphis at the start of the campaign?
The St. Louis Cardinals trimmed a few additional players from the major league roster on Monday. Among these were Carson Kelly. With Kelly’s addition, the Memphis Redbirds- the AAA-affiliate of the Cardinals- now has a full slate of names from which to build a roster.
Let us take a look at these names, where I assume their will start, and how well they have performed in 2016 and in 2017 Spring Training. From these numbers, I will take a stab at how we might expect them to perform. This roster prediction will become solidified (or assumed-to-be-solidified) as of Thursday at the annual “Battle of the Birds” in Memphis.
Let’s first look at the starting pitchers. Memphis’ roster contains names such as Marco Gonzales and Mike Mayers who are no stranger to the confines of AutoZone Park. Luke Weaver also joins them and he too is familiar with the Bluff City park. Arturo Reyes returns for another year to climb the mound, as does supposed-starter Thomas Lee.
Marco Gonzales did not pitch in 2016 due to injury and did not appear in any spring training games this season. His return from Tommy John surgery should be an interesting one to watch.
Mayers is famous for the one MLB start against the Dodgers wherein he was absolutely shelled and left on the mound to take the beating. Mayers currently owns an MLB ERA of 27.00 for allowing sixteen earned runs in the 5.1 innings pitched in that single game.
This spring, however, Mayers has appeared in eleven innings and has earned an ERA of 1.64. I look for him to turn things around in 2017 and be a supporter when need in St. Louis.
Weaver was often debated as a potential roster spot in St. Louis but I was never really high on this idea. I believe that Memphis is the best spot for Weaver this season so he can continue to develop. In his 36.1 innings in the MLB in 2016, Weaver posted an ERA of 5.70. This spring, he has appeared in five innings and has posted an ERA of 12.60. I look for him to work on his command this season.
Arturo (not the Reyes pitcher whose season was ended with Tommy John surgery) started nineteen games in Memphis in 2016 and earned a 4.17 ERA. He earned a non-roster invitation to spring training this year and appeared in 10.1 innings posting a 4.35 ERA.
His performances were not bad but not strong enough to earn him a spot on the major league roster. I look for him to prove his abilities this season (2016 was his first season at AAA).
Thomas Less started nineteen games for Memphis in 2016 and posted a 6.11 ERA across fifty-six innings. Lee did not receive an invitation to spring training but I look to him to continue to serve as a starter in Memphis. 2016 was his first season in AAA and this year looks to be one in which he can prove his stuff or not.
Martini has shown some great numbers in the past and I look for him to continue his work in 2017. Pham needs to show that he can repeatedly hit so this will be his focus. Garcia has appeared in AAA in 2015 and 2016 but I look for this season to be a full AAA season for him.
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To the numbers… Martini posted a slash of .273/.354/.367 in 256 at-bats in Memphis in 2016. He did not appear this spring. Pham posted a slash of .226/.324/.440 in 159 at-bats in St. Louis in 2016. This spring, Pham has appeared in forty-three at-bats and owns a .209/.320/.279 slash. Garcia posted a .229/.296/.394 slash across 218 Memphis at-bats in 2016. He appeared in twenty-four spring training at-bats this year posting a .250/.280/.500 slash.
Moving to the infield, I predict that we will see these names moving left-to-right around the horn: Patrick Wisdom, Paul DeJong, Breyvic Valera, and Chad Huffman. In addition to these, we should see Carson Kelly behind the plate full-time.
To the numbers… Wisdom posted a slash of .233/.303/.374 in 262 at-bats in Memphis in 2016. These numbers earned him an invitation to spring training wherein he posted a .300/.405/.667 slash in thirty at-bats. I look for Wisdom to prove that the power displayed in spring was not a fluke.
DeJong is a name that I am uber excited to watch. 2017 will be his first season in AAA. This hasn’t yet been announced but I look for this to be the case for 2017 with DeJong playing at both positions on the left side of second. DeJong has appeared in forty-seven at-bats this spring and has posted a .234/.288/.426 slash. Look for him to spend this season in Memphis and rise as needed.
Valera is a guy on whom I dump loads of praise. In 2016, in Memphis, he appeared in 217 at-bats posting a slash of .341/.417/.415. This spring, he earned an invitation to training and posted a slash of .304/.333/.391 in twenty-three at-bats. “Look out, Kolten Wong” is all I can say!
Chad Huffman is a wild-card name not know to too many. Huffman can play both first base and in the outfield. He last appeared with the Memphis Redbirds in 2013 before becoming a free agent and joining the Tigers organization. After a stint internationally in 2016, Huffman returns to the Cardinals.
Internationally in 2016, Huffman posted a slash of .286/.387/.505 in 430 at-bats. In 2017 spring, he has appeared in thirty-three at-bats posting a slash line of .182/.325/.182. I look for Huffman to work hard to solidify his spot at first base and to show that his international plate number can become USA plate numbers.
Kelly, as we all know, is the heir apparent to the Yadier Molina throne. His placement in Memphis is less about ability (albeit he is still developing) but more about him getting everyday play. For his career, Kelly posted a slash of .292/.352/.381 in 113 at-bats in 2016 in Memphis and a .154/.214/.231 in his thirteen at-bats when called up to St. Louis.
In his thirty-three spring training at-bats this spring, Kelly has posted a .182/.300/.182 showing that his bat (albeit a small sample size) still has needed growth. Defensively, we all know that Kelly is great so I look for him to focus on his offense in 2017 while in Memphis.
There are other interesting names on the Memphis roster in the way of Mitch Harris, Corey Litrell, Zach Phillips, Sam Tuivailala, potentially Corey Baker, Wilfredo Tovar, and especially Jose Adolis Garcia. Stay with me as I will dig into each of these in the coming days. Thanks for reading and look for my upcoming “Battle of the Birds” reaction post after Thursday!