St. Louis Cardinals: Yadier Molina and Puerto Rico out to a fast start

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 22: Seth Lugo /

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina made his managerial debut over the weekend with the U-23 Team Puerto Rico.

Yadier Molina and Team Puerto Rico opened group play in the U-23 championships this weekend with a convincing win over Columbia. Puerto Rico defeated Colombia 10-0 in seven inning. It was the first victory as a manager for the St. Louis Cardinals‘ catcher.

Unfortunately, Molina also suffered his first loss as a manager.

Molina and Team Puerto Rico followed their opening win with a hard-fought loss to Team Venezuela, in one of the more anticipated matchups in group play. The game finished 3-1, but Molina spoke after the game, showing why he was chosen as manager and why he would be good at it in the future.

“We played well. Obviously, the opportune hit we hoped for did not come. We did some good things, we bunted with runners on base, we moved. It is a loss, but tomorrow we will come back strong. We will be ready to beat Argentina.”

And beat Argentina, they did.

Team Puerto Rico beat Argentina 9-0 for its second shutout in three games. Yadier Molina once again shouted praise for his players and their effort. Molina praised their hitting, pitching, and defense as the team rolled through another game.

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Their next game is against Brazil in group play.

Yadier Molina isn’t the only St. Louis Cardinals’ player representing Puerto Rico in the U-23  championships. Young Delvin Perez, the St. Louis Cardinals first round pick (23rd overall) in 2016, also has enjoyed some success with the Puerto Rican team.

After an up and down 2017, the Cardinals are expecting big things out of their young short stop over the next couple of season as he continues to develop.

Of course, it helps that his manager also plays for the Cardinals. Perhaps the extra time with Molina is exactly what Perez needs as he matures into a full-time big leaguer.

If Perez continues to have a good tournament, look for the St. Louis Cardinals to accelerate his growth at a higher minor league level. However, after posting a .203 batting average between GCL Cardinals and Johnson City Cardinals, there is still much more to be desired.

Perez is still a young, maturing kid. His upside is his athletic ability and power. If he can put it together with a high average, the Cardinals are looking at the short stop of the future. I would like to see Perez make his way to double-A Springfield towards the end of this next season, but that all depends on him.

Perez must take accountability of his own growth and actions in order to make it to the big leagues. At one point, I thought the Cardinals might use him as a trade chip for a potential Giancarlo Stanton deal. While it still might be true, I don’t think the Cardinals want to give up on him now. It’s still too early to know what exactly his outlook will be.

However, if he is moved in a trade, the Cardinals will want something pretty big in return.

Next: Time for Stanton

My hope is Molina will continue to work with Perez throughout the tournament. His mentoring is exactly why he is the manager of Team Puerto Rico now, and why he could be a big league manager in the future.