The St. Louis Cardinals made some additional roster cuts this past weekend sending their promising catching prospect and promising starting pitcher to minor league camp leaving an interesting name behind the dish still in contention.
The St. Louis Cardinals almost always have a difficult task finding backup options for their venerable, perennial catcher, Yadier Molina. Things are made difficult- a good problem to have- because Yadi seldom misses and when asked to rest is one to argue against it.
With the recent relocations of Jack Flaherty and Carson Kelly to minor league camp, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves focusing attention on the backup catcher option. Kelly was the assumed backup for Molina for 2018 as he is the assumed heir to the throne. But this seems to have tarnished a bit.
In the wake of Kelly’s departure, the St. Louis Cardinals are carrying Francisco Pena and Steven Baron forward in action. Are these two competing against each other for the backup role? It certainly seems that way. Knowing this, we should take a deeper look at each.
In today’s installment, let’s dig into the character known as Steven Baron.
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Baron was drafted and signed by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 2009 Amateur Draft. He was selected in the number-33 slot. He entered the draft out of John. A. Ferguson High School in Miami, Florida. He stayed in the Mariners organization and made his MLB debut on September 9, 2015 facing the Texas Rangers. He went 0-for-4 in that appearance.
In all of 2015 following his debut, Baron appeared in only four games and 11 at-bats. He managed a miserable 0-for-11 in that season and then faded into the minor league system of the Mariners until he was released in November of 2016 but then re-signed in that same month under a different Seattle contract.
This didn’t last, however, as he was granted free agency following the 2017 season. This is when the St. Louis Cardinals took the bait.
Before getting into his current showing, let’s take a quick view of his past:
|2009||18||SEA-min||Rk||30||116||106||12||19||6||0||2||13||0||0||7||38||.179||.241||.292||.534||31||1||2||0||1||1||PUL · APPY|
|2010||19||SEA-min||A-,A||98||376||352||28||78||15||2||4||36||2||1||16||107||.222||.258||.310||.568||109||5||2||4||2||0||EVR,CLI · NORW,MIDW|
|2011||20||SEA-min||A,A+||62||238||214||20||42||14||0||4||21||6||3||18||55||.196||.263||.318||.580||68||6||2||2||2||0||CLI,HDS · MIDW,CALL|
|2012||21||SEA-min||A||64||271||249||29||60||18||2||4||30||10||1||13||49||.241||.280||.378||.657||94||5||2||3||4||1||CLI · MIDW|
|2013||22||SEA-min||A+||86||353||331||31||69||18||5||5||47||7||0||18||93||.208||.247||.338||.586||112||9||0||1||3||0||HDS · CALL|
|2014||23||SEA-min||A+,AA||60||235||211||23||55||14||2||1||29||4||2||17||39||.261||.319||.360||.679||76||4||3||0||4||0||HDS,WTN · CALL,SOUL|
|2015||24||SEA-min||AAA,AA||88||325||291||44||77||17||1||3||33||7||1||30||65||.265||.334||.361||.695||105||12||1||2||1||1||TAC,WTN · PCL,SOUL|
|2016||25||SEA-min||AA,AAA||67||269||232||35||65||7||1||3||22||3||1||34||54||.280||.377||.358||.735||83||6||2||1||0||0||WTN,TAC · SOUL,PCL|
|2017||26||SEA-min||AAA,AA||70||244||215||18||52||7||0||3||22||0||0||24||54||.242||.325||.316||.641||68||9||3||1||1||0||TAC,ARK · PCL,TL|
|162 Game Avg.||162||446||446||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||81||.000||.000||.000||.000||-100||0||81||0||0||0||0|
Notice that Baron presented promising material in the minor leagues in recent years. In fact, Baron received many accolades in his minor league days; just look at those awards! And yet, the Mariners released him.
Enter the St. Louis Cardinals and a non-roster invitation to Spring Training. This invitation has panned out in Baron’s favor as he is now one of the remaining names to serve as backup to Molina.
Here’s a look at his spring numbers:
What’s more, Baron is predicted to be a very strong backup option according to Baseball Reference. Have a look at what they think Baron can produce in 2018:
Noting the two graphs above, it is certainly wise for the St. Louis Cardinals to keep a close eye on Baron. A solid backup who can produce a slash of .246/.317/.425 could compliment the squad adn spell rest for Yadi when needed. And keeping an on him is just what the organization is doing.
To that end, Baron and Pena will now split time as they compete to lock-in the backup role. Should be an exciting time to close out the St. Louis Cardinals’ spring.
Would you prefer to have Baron or Pena serve as backup to Yadi? Or did the St. Louis Cardinals make a mistake by sending Kelly to minor league camp?