St. Louis Cardinals: Kelly headed to DL, Steven Baron called up from Springfield
Carson Kelly suffered a right hamstring strain, presumably before he was pinch hit for by Greg Garcia on Tuesday. Catcher Steven Baron is getting the call up for the St. Louis Cardinals, and is presumably a brief fill-in considering his long and unspectacular minor league history.
Steven Baron was actually a first-round pick (33rd overall) by the Seattle Mariners way back in 2009 as an 18-year-old catcher prospect out of John A. Ferguson High School in Miami, and was just the second player drafted out of the school, and first to be signed to a minor league contract. Then not much (that we would care about) until the St. Louis Cardinals picked him up this past offseason.
Baron would struggle out of the gate, slashing just .179/.241/.292 over 30 games with the Mariners’ Rookie-class affiliate. Despite these struggles, he was promoted to Single-A the following year.
He didn’t fair much better in Single-A, slashing .182/.229/.221 and lasting just 45 games before being sent down to Single-A Short Season, where he made a gradual improvement to .253/.282/.379 over 53 games, but managed just three home runs and 22 RBI’s in that span.
This performance in Single-A Short was apparently enough for the Mariners to move Baron to Advanced-A to start the 2011 season, but lasted just 5 games before being sent back down to Single-A, where he continued to show an inability to hit.
2012 was the year where he began to show some progress. He hit .241 in Single A, and added 10 SB’s to just one time caught stealing. He somewhat regressed back towards his mean in 2013 when sent to Advanced-A.
He had another epiphany in 2014, where he hit .275/.342/.352 in Double-A, and was called up for his first major league appearance in 2015, which lasted just 5 games. He rode the confidence into Triple-A, where he put up his most impressive minor league slash line at .277/.316/.391 in 53 games. He was soon sent to Double-A, and his confidence and performance plummeted.
He hasn’t yet returned to that 2015 Triple-A level, and is currently hitting a miserable .153 there this season.
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This questionable history leaves Cardinals fans wondering why young prospect Andrew Knizner, who was promoted to Triple-A, is not the one replacing Kelly. At 23 years of age, he has a much better potential to grow with a major league stint than the 27-year-old Baron. That isn’t even considering the fact that Knizner is hitting .333/.412/.467 over 100+ AB’s in Double-A this season, far better than anything Baron has put up since 2015.
The presumable answer is that either way, this call-up is a short term deal, and the organization doesn’t find it worth it to move Knizner around and place him on different teams with different teammates, schedules, and routines constantly. Not to mention the actual moving of ones living space from Springfield to St. Louis to presumably Memphis in an relatively short period of time.
I’m sure Girsch, Mozeliak, and the rest of the front office wants to keep Knizner fresh and in rhythm, and want to bring him up when the time is right to maximize his chances for success. They don’t want to be forced to bring him up due to injury as a warm body when there are less valuable players in the organization whose rhythm you don’t necessarily care about as much.
That makes Baron the perfect candidate for this kind of call-up. Don’t expect to see him with the St. Louis Cardinals much longer than Kelly or Molina are out for.
Next: Who should be moved and to where
Do you think Knizner should have gotten a chance, or is letting him settle and calling up Baron the right move? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.