As though I needed another reason to be excited for the Memphis Redbirds season, the top-ranking St. Louis Cardinals prospects who will appear in the Redbirds roster should spur even greater interest.
The AAA-affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Memphis Redbirds, have released what is assumed to be their opening day roster. The term “assumed” is used here to indicate that a few days remains before first-pitch and no one can tell if the Cardinals might or might not need to call any of these names as support for injury.
That said, the Memphis Redbirds have much to celebrate as three of the top-seven St. Louis Cardinals prospects are slated to appear on the Redbirds roster. Moreover, these three are joined by two others who crack the top-30 MLB prospects list for the Cardinals as released by Baseball America.
Let’s take a look at these attractive prospects as a way to encourage full stands in Memphis.
First up is Breyvic Valera. Ranked as number twenty-nine on the top-30 list, Valera will return for his second season in Memphis in 2017. In 2016, he posted a slash line of .341/.417/.415 in 217 at-bats for Memphis. His promising 2016 did not show up as strongly in Spring Training in 2017 where he posted a slash of .304/.333/.391.
I look for Brevic to raise his value in his second season in Memphis and have been fairly high on him already (see evidence here).
Second up is Paul DeJong. Ranks as number fourteen on the top-30 list, DeJong will report to his first AAA appearance of his young career. DeJong was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2015 draft showing an accelerated ascension within the organization.
To date, DeJong has climbed as high as AA where he posted a slash line of .260/.324/.460 in 552 at-bats. He really showed his prowess this spring in several at-bats. He ended the spring with a slash of .216/.268/.392 across fifty-one at-bats.
I look for DeJong to have a great season in Memphis guarding the left side of the diamond at either short stop or third base. I look for 2017 to be a season of growth wherein Paul can show that he is likely the backup-du-jour to Aledmys Diaz.
Next up, ranked at number seven, Harrison Bader is set to patrol the outfield grass at AutoZone Park in 2017. This will be his second season patrolling the green grass after he appeared in 147 at-bats in Memphis in 2016 posting a slash of .231/.298/.354.
Harrison continued to impress this spring when he took a slash of .346/.404/.538 in fifty-two at-bats. This promising showing should guarantee that he is set to improve in Memphis in 2017 and can well become a strong contender to backup the outfield or find a new home elsewhere.
A quick note: stay with us here as we have a report or two coming about Stephen Piscotty‘s extension and its affect on Bader.
Ranked at number-four, Carson Kelly, is the second-to-last prospect to appear on the top-30 Cardinals prospect in Memphis in 2017. Kelly has a great deal of attention surrounding his name following the announcement by the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday of Yadier Molina‘s extension. Will he stay or will he go?
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Kelly, to his credit, appeared in both Memphis and St. Louis in 2016. In St. Louis (in thirteen at-bats), Kelly posted a slash of .154/.214/.231. His numbers were better in Memphis where he appeared in 113 at-bats and posted a slash of .292/.352/.381. 2016 was his first season in AAA so appearing in Memphis in 2017 makes a great deal of sense.
I look for Kelly to serve as the everyday catcher for Memphis which was another reason for the organization decision to send him to Memphis rather than breaking camp with the big club out of spring training. Should Kelly remain with the Cardinals beyond the trade deadline, I look for this name to rise in 2018.
The final of the top-30 to appear on the Memphis Redbirds roster is hurler Luke Weaver. Weaver earned the number-two spot in the top-30 behind only Alex Reyes who is now recovering from Tommy John surgery (and looking bad*ss with his “bionic” arm as witnessed during the opening day ceremonies).
Weaver, like Kelly before him, appeared in both Memphis and St. Louis in 2016. In St. Louis, Weaver pitched 36.1 innings in which he allowed forty-six hits, twenty-three earned runs, all while striking out forty-five batters earning a 5.70 ERA. In Memphis, he appeared in only six innings and earned an ERA of 0.00.
2016 was actually Weaver’s season in AA where he appeared in seventy-seven innings. In these he allowed sixty-three hits and only twelve earned runs all while striking out eighty-eight batters. His AA ERA was an amazing 1.40.
I look for 2017 to be a season wherein he learns and masters his control– something that proved lacking in the Bigs. I look for Weaver to be immensely valuable to the St. Louis Cardinals but I do predict that he is likely to be on the move come the deadline (should the Cardinals become buyers).
All of these amazing names should make any Cardinals fan eager to journey to Memphis to catch these rising stars. In addition, these names and their talents could well spell a PCL Championship returning to the Bluff City.