Cheap Seats

August 19, 2014

Which St. Louis farmhands could get the call in September?

Cheap Seats

Looking at the Cards from a fan's perspective

It doesn't seem likely that the Cardinals are going to make a post trade deadline deal, although reports indicate that Texas Rangers slugging third baseman Adrian Beltre has cleared waivers and, theoretically, could be had.

Beltre, 35, is inked to a contract that will pay him $18 million in 2015 with a vesting option that would pay him $16 million in 2016. He's a .314 who averages 32 homers a season over the last four seasons. Those numbers and a relatively favorable contract situation would make Beltre a perfect fit for the power-starved St. Louis batting order. But he's surely come at a huge price.

Instead, the Cardinals will likely call up several players from Class AAA Memphis to try to generate some runs. They have several who could make a contribution as a role player -- although the Redbirds are currently in first place in their division and could need to keep their players for a post season run.

Randal Grichuk was tearing up the Pacific Coast League before he was called up to St. Louis. But riding the pine in the big leagues seemed to cool him off and he never fully regained his consistent stroke. That's not a big deal because Grichuk has more than held his own in his first season at the highest level of the St. Louis farm system. He's hitting .265 with 23 homers and 68 RBIs. On one hand, he could be a decent contributor if he had a chance for consistent playing time. But, on the other, he's probably not going to get it. At this point of his career, he's a guy who could be a reserve outfielder in September with limited opportunities to pinch hit because of his right-handed power bat. Grichuk, who turned 23 this month, might be tabbed for another season at Memphis in 2015 to make up for lost at bats previously in his minor league career due to injuries. So it's unlikely, with the Birds' outfield glut including rookie Oscar Taveras and Class AAA teammate Stephen Piscotty, the Cardinals will feel a need to get him a lot of MLB exposure.

Infielder Greg Garcia is a likely call up for some bench insurance. But the .273 hitter this season with eight homers is limited in the offense he can provide in that he's ANOTHER lefty hitter. Garcia, who is primarily a second baseman, is blocked by Kolten Wong at the big league level. But he might have a chance to prove that he is the utility player of the future on the big league club. Especially if he can show his bat is more potent than Descalso's. 

Pete Kozma will probably be called up because of his slick glove. He's a righty hitter with some MLB experience in big games, collecting the winning hit in the epic playoff series against the Nationals in 2012. But he's managed only a .236 batting average in the minors this season after losing his big league starting job to Jhonny Peralta.

The previously mentioned Piscotty is batting a strong .294 with 8 homers and 63 batted in for Memphis this season. At 23, he's half a year older than Grichuk and could be ready to graduate to the major leagues -- but it's important to remember that he's logged less than 1,100 professional at bats and 2014 is the only season he's played higher than Advanced Class A ball in Palm Beach. Still, Piscotty has met every challenge placed in front of him -- and he's a righty hitter as opposed to Taveras, Garcia and established Cardinals Wong, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay, AJ Pierzynski and Descalso. So he may have some value despite the jammed roster of outfielders in St. Louis.

Tommy Pham, 26, is having a monster season with Memphis, hitting .339 with nine homers. That's 86 points higher than his career batting average in the minors. Pham, a righty, doesn't provide much power. But he's been in the St. Louis system since 2006 and could get a look as the Cardinals decide if there is a place for him in the organization in 2015. A lot of folks seem to think Pham's stellar minor league numbers will translate into an instant offensive infusion at the big league level and, while stranger things have happened, it's tough to imagine that he's going to succeed beyond the level that Holliday, Taveras and Jay have performed as a pair of seasoned MLB vets and an elite prospect.

Xavier Scruggs is another longtime Cardinals farmhand who could merit a September look. He's hitting .282 with power for the Redbirds -- 18 homers, 81 RBIs -- but he'll be 27 at the end of next month and doesn't seem to be in the organization's long term plans. I don't know if the team will sacrifice plate appearances for Piscotty and Grichuk for the sake of Scruggs. But he plays first base and could theoretically be a pinch hitter for Adams against lefties. But, if it was my choice, I think I'd let my established lefty slugger bat against a southpaw late in a game before I pulled him for a career minor leaguer.

A guy who likely got the short straw for September is catcher Audry Perez who may have been called up as a third receiver -- had Yadier Molina not been injured and replaced on the roster by Pierzynski. Molina seems like he'll be ready on or before the start of September, so, if I was in charge, I would keep Pierzynski's veteran bat around and make Tony Perez the third catcher for the rest of the season. Otherwise, if Molina suffers an aggravation of his injury, the Birds would be left very shorthanded down the stretch and potentially in the post season.

 

 

 

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About Cheap Seats

Scott Wuerz has reported for the Belleville News-Democrat since 1998​. He writes about the St. Louis Cardinals from a fan's perspective in his Cheap Seats blog.

Contact him at swuerz@bnd.com.

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