Although it's extremely early, one exciting take away so far from spring training is the competition between Randal Grichuk and Tommy Pham for a spot as an extra outfielder.
Both players have been spectacular is early Grapefruit League games. Grichuk has already launched two home runs and has three RBIs in only three at bats. He's also turned in a very nice catch. Pham has six hits including a home run and is slugging 2.667 in 11 at bats.
Not to be outdone, expected starting right field Jason Heyward is batting .429 after playing in parts of three games.
No, we can't make any conclusions about how these players' spring will turn out after a handful of plate appearances. But it's great to see them get out of the gate quickly. And it's also awesome to see Grichuk and Pham show determination to make manager Mike Matheny and General Manager John Mozeliak have the toughest decision possible over who will make the final roster.
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While the Redbirds don't have a lot of turnover for the upcoming season compared to the playoff roster from 2014, it's important to keep a sense of urgency. Keeping the competition for roster spots cranked up to high is the best way to keep players sharp. Not only the ones competing for a job, but the ones around them who feel naturally compelled to keep up with the guys who are giving 110 percent.
I'm especially glad to see Grichuk starting off well. There seems to be a contingent of Cardinals Nation that believes players from the minor leagues ought to play at a Hall of Fame level immediately after cracking the major league lineup. Although Grichuk struck out too often last year after taking over the starting right field job from Oscar Taveras, he competed hard and had some very important hits and defensive plays. I think there were a lot of positives to be taken from his trial by fire.
I love Grichuk's potential. I think, from what I have seen of his play, that he can be a plus defender and that he's extremely capable of handing centerfield on a regular basis, if necessary. He's got to eliminate some of the holes in his swing -- and I think that's very possible. If so, he has a lot of power potential and could be a very important righty bat on a team with too many lefties in the starting lineup.
Let's not forget that Grichuk has less than a season under his belt as high as the Class AAA level of the minors. There's still some polishing to be done. But I'm hopeful it can be done at the big league level and I'm confident that he could be a star in the coming seasons.