For the last few years the St. Louis Cardinals have been banking on Carson Kelly as the replacement for Yadier Molina. Slowly, that seems to be becoming less and less true.
As it turns out, there is another option to take the catching reigns. That is becoming clearer and clearer by the game. He won’t allow us to believe it, but Yadier Molina is not going to play forever. While there will be no envying the guy who follows the great St. Louis Cardinals backstop, that does not mean he won’t live up to the standard.
Carson Kelly is great, but there is another option to be the heir-apparent. There are similarities between the two, but there is solid reason to think that Andrew Kninzer will come out on top. That, however, is more likely to be because Kelly provides trade value.
Cut From The Same Cloth
Both of these catchers are 23 years old. So either way, their age will be the same when the time comes to be a full time player. Kelly was introduced to the system first, drafted as a third baseman in 2012. It was not until four years later, in 2016, when Knizner was added to the mix. Though the second backstop was drafted as a catcher, he started his collegiate career as a third baseman.
Give or take an inch off their height, or a few pounds, they are very similar as far as build. While Knizner is playing for Double A, and Kelly for Triple A, it is safe to say that the St. Louis Cardinals have a lot of talent at the catcher position.
Why Knizner Over Kelly?
This is simple, Carson Kelly is worth more on the trade market. If Knizner can keep up his production at the plate, then he can follow up the great Yadier Molina. One of the minor league catchers has a career .312 batting average in the minors, and hit .333 in 14 games with Memphis. Yes, that was Andrew Knizner.
The good news is that there is not a wrong choice. If Knizner keeps up the work he is doing, then he will develop into the majors. And Kelly can do the same thing. But when you are trying to right the ship during a season that has seen struggles, Kelly is more valuable on the trade market. He is MLB ready, with MLB experience, and that will speak to teams more.
If I were in the GM chair, Kelly is out and Knizner becomes the heir-apparent. It is important to enjoy Molina while we have him, but once he is gone Kelly or Knizner will be waiting in the wings to take the reins. With the way Knizner is playing, do not be surprised if he is the guy called upon when all is said and done.