The curious case of Luken Baker and Cardinals' prospects who never got a fair shake

The Cardinals have a track record of not giving much runway for high performing prospects
St. Louis Cardinals v Texas Rangers
St. Louis Cardinals v Texas Rangers / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages
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Past St. Louis Cardinal players

Randy Arozarena 

Letting Randy Arozarena get away still burns down deep in my core to this very day.

While Arozarena was still with the St. Louis Cardinal organization, it took a while for the phenom from Cuba to catch on to professional hitting.

But everybody knows the old saying, “Good things come to those who wait”. And the Cardinal’s front office was not willing to wait.

Arozarena’s first minor league season with the Cardinals was in 2017 when he was ranked as one of the Top 15 prospects in the Cardinals' minor league system. Arozarena produced but not at an impressive clip, adapting to hitting against better competition than what he was used to while playing down in Mexico where the now 2021 Major League Rookie of the Year resides.

The 2018 season brought even better results for Aroazarena, starting out at AA Springfield where he crushed Texas league pitching at a .396 clip in his first 91 ABs and smacked seven home runs while driving in 21 RBI. 

The start of the 2019 season for Arozarena was a strong one as the then 24-year-old started out the season at AA Springfield but soon made his way to Memphis, destroying pitching along the way with an eventual major league callup on August 14 against the Kansas City Royals. Arozarena played 19 games with St. Louis, hitting .300 with one home run, two RBIs, and two stolen bases.

The following off-season, Arozarena was traded to Tampa Bay which many Cardinal fans believe is one of the worst trades that VP of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak has ever completed.

Arozarena has become a perennial All-Star, fan-favorite, and ambassador for the game of baseball all over the world while his flair and his enthusiasm for the game makes all baseball fans love him.

Adolis Garcia

Our last player is yet another case of the “one that got away.”

Cuban-born Adolis Garcia was signed by the Cardinals in 2017 as a free agent and made his way to AA Springfield where the then 23-year-old hit .285 and recorded 12 home runs and 55 RBI before being promoted to AAA Memphis where he played in 40 games and hit .301 with three round-trippers and drove in 10 RBI and smashed 11 doubles to end his first season in the Cardinal organization hitting .290 to go with 15 home runs and 65 RBI.

Garcia continued his assault on minor league pitching in 2018 and 2019 with AAA Memphis, recording a .254 average while totaling 54 home runs and 167 RBI and was called up called up  St. Louis for one stint in 2018 where he seldom saw the field and was only given 17 AB’s.

Since being traded to the Texas Rangers in the 2020 off-season for cash considerations, Garcia has been arguably the most productive bat in the Rangers organization, hitting a cumulative .243 but has mashed 77 dingers to go with 255 RBI in three years. 

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Nobody likes to think about would've, should've could've but I for one think if we had Arozarena and Garcia back and seen more of them at the major league level, we would have one talented outfield. I just hope that if Herrera and Baker are dealt in trades, the front office gives them a good look before dealing them.

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