The St. Louis Cardinals don’t have a player who has locked down the utility middle infielder role. Don’t count out Jose Rondon.
The group will likely include Matt Carpenter, an outfielder or two, a catcher, and then a utility infielder. The first player in the conversation for that last role is Edmundo Sosa.
Sosa, soon to be 24, debuted in three games back in 2018, but hasn’t seen the majors since eight games in 2019. He is very strong defensively, but before his .801 OPS over 118 games in AAA in 2019, the question was in his bat. He is 0-2 so far this spring, but he isn’t doesn’t have the utility role locked down just yet.
After losing Max Schrock this winter, the Cardinals were looking pretty thin at middle infield depth. Sure, Tommy Edman can fill in at shortstop and Carpenter can still play second base, but the depth wasn’t there.
Because of this, they signed Max Moroff and Jose Rondon to minor league deals with invites to spring training. Both of these players have more than three MLB seasons under their belts and both can play either shortstop or second base.
When people have spoken about the middle infield utility role, these two often get forgotten. On Wednesday, the more interesting of the two (Rondon) showed us why he shouldn’t be left out of the conversation.
Finally, the Cardinals were able to notch a spring win after two straight ties and did so on the backs of mainly minor league players. At the end of the day, the Cardinals fended of the Mets, winning 14-9. Of those 14 runs, Rondon drove in three.
Entering the game at second base replacing Tommy Edman, Rondon went 2-3 on the day, hitting a triple and a homer. These were his first two hits of the spring, but he is now 2-4 in three games played.
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Obviously, the spring is still young and this was just one good game from Rondon. However, Rondon’s performance on Wednesday is at least a simple reminder not to forget that he is there and that he can contribute.
Sosa and Rondon are cut from a very similar cloth as players, both being defense-first middle infielders. The only big difference is that Rondon is three years older and has a bit more MLB experience.
Moroff is another name to watch this spring too, but he’s the least likely out of the three to win the utility spot. In all likelihood, there is only one spot open as carrying two light-hitting middle infielders on the 26-man roster doesn’t make sense for the Cardinals.
This is why it is called competition. John Mozeliak has made it clear that whoever hits will play, so watching the battle between Sosa, Rondon, and Moroff this spring will be fun.