St. Louis Cardinals: Cards lose opener, Jack Flaherty impresses

JUPITER, FL - MARCH 11: An announced crowd of over 6,000 fans watch the Atlanta Braves play the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium on March 11, 2017 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - MARCH 11: An announced crowd of over 6,000 fans watch the Atlanta Braves play the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium on March 11, 2017 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Cardinals returned to action Friday against the Miami Marlins in their first Spring Training game.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins matched up yesterday for their first Spring Training game. It was a first for many new Cardinals, but also a chance for young pitchers to show what they could against big league hitters. We also got a chance to see our hitters for the first time this spring and see how they are progressing.

Let’s take a look at how the day unfolded.

Game Recap

The St. Louis Cardinals featured as the away team in the ballgame and didn’t get going until midway through the game. In the fourth inning, Luke Voit drew a walk. Tyler O’Neill, making his Cardinals’ Spring Training debut, followed the walk with a sharp single to left field. After a pass ball allowing Voit and O’Neill to advance to third and second respectively, Greg Garcia grounded out to score Voit and make it 1-0 in favor of the Cardinals.

In the fifth inning, the St. Louis Cardinals tacked on a couple more runs. After singles by Oscar Mercado and Wilfredo Tovar, replacement catcher Francisco Pena singled up the middle to score Mercado. In stepped Marcell Ozuna, the Cardinals prize of the off-season, with a chance to tack on some more runs. Ozuna lifted a ball to deep left field for the sacrifice fly and the Cardinals took the lead 3-0 after five.

Scott Van Slyke opened the scoring for the Marlins in the sixth, greeting St. Louis Cardinals rookie Conner Greene with a towering home run to left field. It wasn’t the start Greene hoped for, but he settled in nicely and struck out two batters in the sixth.

The Cardinals answered with a single run in their top half of the seventh to push the game to 4-1, but the Marlins took control of the game. After cutting the lead to 4-2, Van Slyke delivered the knock out blow. This time he took a Jordan Schaffer fastball for a grand slam to put the Marlins on top 6-4 for good.


I think we should take Spring Training win and losses with a grain of salt. Yes, it is nice to win, but they don’t count towards the regular season. What’s more important is in the individual performances throughout Spring to help us figure out who is going to make the big league team come Opening Day.

More from Redbird Rants

Jack Flaherty pitched a perfect two innings on Friday and looked every bit of the number three prospect in the system. He struck out two batters en route to his perfect afternoon.

If he is able to continue to work efficiently, the St. Louis Cardinals may have a tough choice on their hands with what to do with Flaherty.

He doesn’t slot in the rotation at the moment, but if one of Luke Weaver, Adam Wainwright, or Miles Mikolas struggle, then Flaherty might reap the benefits of a good Spring Training.

The other thought would be to include him the bullpen with his great stuff. Lastly, and probably unlikely, if Flaherty pitches this way, the St. Louis Cardinals could use it as auditioning tape for a trade.

However, one start isn’t enough to go on. While it was very impressive, I want to see more consistency from him.

Marcell Ozuna’s debut was also a productive one. He was able to drive in a run with a sacrifice fly, and of course got a standing ovation for the St. Louis faithful in his first at bat. It will be much of the same when he plays in his first game for the St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium. Mike Matheny said he would like to ease Ozuna in to left field over the next couple of weeks, but wants to make sure he gets at bats as well.

Outside of pitching, Ozuna may be the Cardinals most important player this season. The team is counting on Ozuna to hit like he did in 2017. If he can do that, the Cardinals will be in great shape heading into the regular season. Can we expect some regression? I think so, but Ozuna is out to prove last year was no fluke. A chip on his shoulder could be dangerous for other teams.

Lastly, I think the youth movement in yesterday’s game is something worth mentioning. The St. Louis Cardinals offered plenty of youth in yesterday’s game, including some highly rated prospects like Oscar Mercado, Yairo Munoz, Tyler O’Neill, Conner Greene, and Jordan Hicks.

The lack of moves towards the end of the off-season by the St. Louis Cardinals left many wondering, including myself, what direction this team was going. We can question John Mozeliak and Co. all we want, but it’s clear the Cardinals do have some good prospects in the waiting for opportunities.

The battle for the fourth outfield spot has some of the best talent in the organization in the mix. There is talk of Hicks potentially being a closer should Luke Gregerson not pan out as well. But seeing all the young players make their debuts and contributing right away is what any Cardinal fan should want to see.

The question then becomes, what do you do with that youth? Only Mo knows that answer, but for now, the future looks even brighter than I thought.

Next: What to watch for in Spring Training part one

What were some of your takeaways from yesterday’s game? Let me know in the comments below.