The future is now for the St. Louis Cardinals who have announced that they have promoted one of their top prospects, Kolten Wong, to the major league roster effective Friday.
Wong, a second baseman, has a .306 batting average with the Class AAA Memphis Redbirds. He's collected 39 extra base hits this year with 10 homers, eight triples and 21 doubles.
Rated as the Cardinals' second-best position playing prospect behind injured outfielder Oscar Taveras, Wong certainly has earned a chance to compete at the major league level. But the question remains: Where will he find playing time with Matt Carpenter firmly entrenched at second base?
Carpenter is batting .315 and he ranks first in the major leagues in runs scored (90) and doubles (40.) The 2013 National League All-Star was slumping for a while. But he collected four hits in the Cardinals' Thursday win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, a pretty good sign that his bat is back in business.
Some people seem to think Carpenter should move back to his natural position, third base, to make room for Wong. That spot is currently occupied by David Freese. But the 2011 World Series hero is having an inconsistent season with a surprising loss of power at the plate. Still, Carpenter has done an excellent job at second and deserves to be a full time player with a regular starting position, not a utility player shuffled around to make room for someone else.
Putting Carpenter at third base also poses a problem for the Redbirds against lefty pitchers. If he and Wong are both in the lineup at the same time, that adds one more left handed bat while removing Freese's right handed stick. Already vulnerable to southpaws, the Cardinals, when they don't see a lefty starting pitcher, can count on a steady diet of lefties out of the bullpen.
There has been talk about Wong learning to play the outfield to try to find time in centerfield. But he has only been a second baseman and a designated hitter in his three minor league seasons. If he was going to learn to play a new spot, it would have been nice if the experiment was conducted in the minors instead of in prime time.