St. Louis Cardinals: Five Winners from 2017 Spring Training
St. Louis Cardinals winner number two: Harrison Bader.
A third-round draft pick from 2015, Harrison Bader placed second on the St. Louis Cardinals with eighteen hits this spring. But it’s more than his bat that made the Florida alum stand out over the past month’s worth of games. Bader showed great discipline on the base paths with eight runs scored, while gaining experience in right and center field this spring.
Bader is likely to begin the season in Memphis, but more due to the Cardinals strong outfield depth rather than his performance. If outfield regulars like Fowler, Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty are expected to miss significant playing time, Bader could be among one of the team’s first call-ups.
For now, gaining more at-bats and starting time in the minors is crucial for his overall development as a ballplayer. Bader is expected to start the year in Memphis, but if he continues to deliver, there’s little reason his stay there should be very long.
Who this affects most?
Since the Cardinals’ starting outfield for the foreseeable future is already set in stone, Bader’s hot spring particularly affects others who may earn professional playing time as an outfielder long-term.
Jose Martinez, who was the only teammate with more Spring Training hits, will likely be held to higher expectations to produce off the bench. Meanwhile, an outfielder like Tommy Pham may have a shrinking window for how much longer he can contribute with the club.
Regular season goal
At the big-league level it’s difficult to temper statistical expectations for Bader until he receives the opportunity to debut. However, if he spends most of the season in Memphis, a 20-20 season and .300 batting average are not out of question.