St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill and others continue to dominate the Spring

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 26: Tyler O'Neill #41 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a sixth inning single against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 26, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players' Weekend. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 26: Tyler O'Neill #41 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a sixth inning single against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 26, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players' Weekend. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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After about two and half weeks of Spring Training, which players on the St. Louis Cardinals are standing out and who is flopping as we near Opening Day?

The second week of St. Louis Cardinals‘ Spring Training games is complete. After a week that included the team’s first off day as well as their first doubleheader, many players have continued to show themselves to the front office staff that will ultimately decide their future in the game of baseball.

The Cardinals have continued to play around .500 baseball this spring (not that it matters) and have at times shown very little life at the plate or in the bullpen arms. Since the last check-in, the team has gone 4-4 and had some huge flops against the Mets and the Braves.

While it is still too soon to make any concrete judgments, we can still take a look at who is performing and who is flopping over the week and a half’s games. Let’s dig in.

Standout: Tyler O’Neill

So far, 2019 has been the year of Tyler O’Neill. The shredded slugger has been showing off exactly what kind of player he can be if he is given an extended look in the Majors this year. So far, he has seven hits in 31 at-bats, which doesn’t sound great, but has taken six walks as well as hit four homers. Yes, O’Neill is gonna take a lot of strikeouts, and over the last couple days, O’Neill has taken his lumps in that area but still has shown off.

O’Neill has played in every single outfield spot this spring and has been very solid in the field. If he can finish the Spring strong, I think it will be hard for the team not to give him a bigger share of the outfield time.

Flop: Dexter Fowler

As hard as the management is trying to convince us otherwise, this has not been a great spring for Dexter Fowler. It almost seems like daily there is a quote from Shildt or Mozeliak about how great Dexter Fowler looks or how good of shape he is in, but if you look at the box score, there seems to be some dissonance.

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I don’t blame management for what they are saying publicly about Fowler. You know he has to see what they say, and they are still trying to protect their investment by buying in and showing some confidence in Dex regardless of his performance. He will still be the starting right fielder on Opening Day.

That being said, the box score isn’t looking great. While Fowler has shown off his arm in a couple of games, there have been some misplays by him in the field. At the plate, Fowler is hitting just .200 with zero homers and just one RBI. He’s got an OPS of just .440.

There is still time for him to turn his spring around, and at the end of the day, his regular season play will determine how long he stays in right field. It is not a great sign that he is not performing though. He’s not changing too many fans’ minds about his performance last season. All I’m saying…

Standout: Dakota Hudson

Dakota Hudson very well may be the 5th starter for your St. Louis Cardinals when they break camp. In the wake of a huge question mark being placed over Carlos Martinez‘ name, there is a starting pitching spot opened up. Now, according to most recent reports, the fifth spot in the rotation is all down to John Gant and Dakota Hudson.

Both of these options make sense as Gant is out of options and was actually surprisingly serviceable as a starter last year. On the other hand, the Cardinals have a top-100 prospect who is not gonna go quietly.

Dakota Hudson was a stud last year as a reliever for the Cardinals down the stretch and has continued performing this Spring. While his most recent performance was a little shaky in the walks department, Hudson has just a 2.35 ERA over 7.1 innings good for just a .783 WHIP. That’ll play.

Where the Cardinals go with this last spot is still up to chance, but if it was my money, Gant makes a great long-man in the bullpen and Hudson could be this years’ breakout rookie pitcher in the starting rotation.

Flop: Harrison Bader

The Cardinals made a big bet on Harrison Bader this offseason when they made him the center of multiple promotions and videos. I don’t blame them at all though. Last year, Bader came out of seemingly nowhere to provide a solid bat and stellar defense in center field and has the job locked up as of now for 2019.

So far this Spring, Bader has been pretty bad which has called some fans to question whether Bader has the offensive chops to make it in the Majors. Bader showed enough last year to convince me his bat can play in the majors, so don’t include me in the group questioning him, but again, you can never be happy with a starting player not performing, no matter how little the games count.

Bader has batted just .179 this Spring with no homers and just a .437 OPS. So yeah, for all the crap Dexter Fowler has been getting, Bader has been even worse with the bat.

Again, I think it’s too early to worry about both Fowler and Bader, but it’s just never good to see starting players not performing.

Next. Why I voted for Hernandez and Rolen for Cards HOF. dark

I want to reiterate that there is no reason to freak out about any performances this early in the Spring. Health is a different issue, but performances should be taken with a grain of salt; good or bad. Bader, Hudson, Fowler, and O’Neill all will start Opening Day with a clean slate so don’t freak out over box score numbers just yet.

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