Michael Siani is the player Cardinals' fans hoped Victor Scott II would be this year

He may not steal bases like Victor Scott II, but Michael Siani has been just as exciting as Cardinals' fans hoped the speedy prospect would be.
St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals
St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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I know, I know, Michael Siani does not steal bases like Victor Scott II does. But in every other aspect of the game, Siani has been everything the St. Louis Cardinals dreamed Scott would be for them this year.

I seriously do not mean that as a slight against Scott in any shape or form. I'm a huge fan of Scott's game and believe he's going to be a difference-maker at the MLB level someday. I know the bat was clearly not ready for the highest level this year, but he did show flashes of his elite tools and exciting brand of baseball.

And yet, as Scott struggled and was sent down to Triple-A, Michael Siani took the center field job and ran with it, putting up a Gold Glove-caliber season thus far and turning heads both within and outside the Cardinals' organization.

Siani was claimed by the Cardinals off of waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on September 2nd, 2023, and most fans and media (including myself) believed Siani would eventually be DFA'd by the Cardinals as well. Well, I think our suspicions were validated when John Mozeliak even forgot how to pronounce Siani's name when discussing center field options during Spring Training.

Things didn't get off to a great start for Siani this season. Victor Scott was named the starting center fielder to begin the year but was later optioned to Memphis after he couldn't get his bat going, and Siani wasn't all that much better offensively. Through the month of May, Siani was slashing .206/.264/.265 with just three extra-base hits and a 55 wRC+. While he's still not going to wow anyone with his bat, his slash line has looked much better as of late, hitting .264/.270/.368 since the beginning of June.

Offensively, there are three key areas Sinai could improve that would drastically help his bat perform at the big league level. First, Siaini's walk rate is just 3.8% on the season and has even gone down during his better offensive stretch the last month and a half. A guy with Siani's speed and lack of firepower needs to do a better job of drawing free bases.

Second, his 26% strikeout rate is not ideal, and again, for a contact-oriented guy like Siani, it would make sense for him to be putting the ball in play more often and using his speed to put pressure on defense or even potentially steal some hits. He does do a nice job of getting bunt singles, but that's not a reliable form of getting on base.

Lastly, his power is just non-existent, with only the likes of Dylan Carlson and Brandon Crawford slugging worse than Siani this year. If he can improve in one or more of these areas over the coming months, that would be very valuable for his offensive profile

Regardless, we all know why Siani is playing every day right now against right-handed pitching, and it is due to his game-breaking defense. It is pretty common for a team to deploy a player in their lineup who is really only playing because of how good their glove is. It can be frustrating for fans to experience on the offensive side of things, but when that defense is truly elite like Siani's, it's worth maximizing.

We throw around the word "elite" a lot. It means different things to different people. But so far this season, Siani is truly elite at what he does in center field. Call him world-class or the Gold Glove favorite, but having someone as good as Siani defensively is a major win with how the Cardinals' pitching staff is constructed this year. They need as good of defense as they can get, and they literally cannot ask for anything better from Michael Siani in center field this year.

Does Michael Siani's performance this year chance Victor Scott II's outlook?

I think the answer to that is yes and no. I'm not sure what Scott's timetable for another crack at the big leagues will be, and I do think Siani's glove complicates his future opportunities to an extent. But unless Siani takes steps forward with his bat or starts to steal bases at the level Scott does, I don't think the club is going to give up on the potential Scott has long-term.

If anything, I think Siani's rise just helps them to be even more patient with Scott, which is probably best for all parties involved. Long-term, especially because of Scott's presence in the organization, you probably expect Siani to be more of a fourth outfielder type in future years. It doesn't mean he won't be their starting center fielder, we've already seen why that is a good thing, but the potential Scott has to take that center field production to the next level cannot be ignored.

Scott does have Gold Glove-caliber upside as well, but he needs to continue to work on his feel for center field and how he reads flyballs and makes his reads. If he can get near where Siani is at with that, his 80-grade speed will make him an even more exciting defender. Offensively, could we see Scott be a league-average hitter at some point who is about to steal 60+ bases per year? I think so. Even if his defense is not quite as good as Siani's when he develops, that offensive production surely gives him the edge in player profile.

I really do think this could make Tommy Edman more available this offseason, but Edman's ability at the plate versus left-handed pitching, his own defensive prowess in center field, and his incredible versatility make him a hard piece to part with. But with his own free agency coming after the 2025 season, it's something to keep in mind.

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