Rising: Alec Burleson, OF
Alec Burleson has been the Cardinals' No. 2 hitter in most games this season. Originally projected as a fringe roster contender and fifth outfielder if he made it onto the roster, Burleson has raced up the ladder to claim a regular corner outfield or designated hitter role. While Lars Nootbaar's return from the injured list could cut into Burleson's playing time a bit, Burleson deserves to remain in the lineup on a near-daily basis.
Burleson has a .279 batting average and a .814 OPS. He is in the 86th percentile of hitters in average exit velocity and 81st percentile in hard-hit percentage. He has been stinging the ball, but a high chase rate of 35.3% leaves room for improvement. His defense is less than spectacular, which leads him to be a designated hitter more often than not.
After Burleson hit only .188 in his small sample last season, the Cardinals are undoubtedly relieved and encouraged by his turnaround. If the Cardinals want to thin out their outfield a bit, Burleson might net a decent return in a trade if he continues producing.