Spring Training is beginning to heat up as the Cardinals are now six games into their Grapefruit League schedule. After losing their first two contests, the Cards have won their last four, each by six runs or more. Big leaguers and minor leaguers are co-existing, all trying to prove their worth, and some trying to just make the team. Some of these players will spend time in Memphis this season. With the February games now over, let’s take a look at some players who could wear a Redbirds uniform this season that are having success so far this Spring:
1B Matt Adams has started the spring on a tear, batting .500 (5-for-10) in the four games he has played. Adams, rated the #2 first base prospect by Baseball America, has knocked in six runs this spring, including a pinch-hit, two-run home run off of Boston’s Jose de la Torre in the Cards’ fourth spring contest on Tuesday. He is expected to begin the season as the Redbirds’ everyday first baseman.
2B Kolten Wong has appeared in all but one of the Cardinals Spring Training games thus far. He is batting .333 (3-for-9) with two doubles and an RBI. He doubled and stole a base in a 5-3 loss to Boston in the second game of the spring season on Sunday. With second base an unsure position in St. Louis, Wong could make his Major League debut in 2013. However, he is expected to begin the campaign as the starting second baseman in Memphis.
RHP Michael Wacha is the one player on this list who may not see any time in Memphis this year. He is 21 years old and slated for Double-A, but his success so far this Spring Training is giving Redbirds fans hope that they could see the young pitching prospect in 2013. In two games, Wacha has allowed one unearned run on two hits over 5.0 innings. He has struck out eight batters already, including five in 3.0 innings of work on Wednesday against the Mets. Both Manager Mike Matheny and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina have been cited as saying they are very impressed with Wacha’s performance so far.
OF Oscar Taveras, Baseball America’s #3 Prospect in all of baseball, is living up to the hype down in Jupiter, FL. He is batting .333 (5-for-15) in four Grapefruit League games, including blasting a grand slam in the first inning off of Marlin’s prospect Jacob Turner in yesterday’s contest. Although he is expected to anchor the lineup in Memphis at the start of the season, Taveras’ play has garnered cries from Cardinals fans and media for him make the jump to the big league squad.
RHP Eduardo Sanchez has thrown in two games, and has pitched almost as perfectly as can be asked for. He has not allowed a hit in 2.0 innings and has struck out four of the six batters he has faced in games against the Mets and the Red Sox. Sanchez split the 2012 campaign between Memphis and St. Louis, and could be seen wearing a Redbirds jersey throughout the season again in 2013.
SS Pete Kozma is out to prove that last season’s end-of-the-year success at the plate with St. Louis was no fluke, and is doing well so far. In four games, Kozma is batting .308 (4-for-13) with a double, a home run, and two RBIs. His long-ball came in the Cardinals third game, a solo shot off of Houston’s Paul Clemens on Monday.
OF Justin Christian is, at 32, one of the older players to receive a non-roster invite to Cardinals Spring Training. Christian has bounced around in his career, making brief Major League stops along the way, and is trying to come out of Spring Training this year with a spot on the St. Louis roster. If not, it’s possible Christian could end up in a Redbirds uniform. He has played in five Grapefruit League games so far and is hitting .364 (4-for-11) with a double and two RBIs, both coming on Tuesday against Boston.
RHP Seth Maness won St. Louis’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in 2012 while playing for Double-A Springfield. He has only pitched in one game so far this spring, but struck out three of the four Houston hitters he faced on Monday. With continued success this spring, a spot in the Redbirds’ rotation should be his.
In case you missed our ‘Twinterview’ with Cardinals minor league third baseman Jermaine Curtis on Friday, here is the conversation.
@memphisredbirds: Here we go! @JermaineCurtis are you ready to get started? #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis : Ready as I will ever be! Let’s go Cardinal Nation!!! #twinterview
@memphisredbirds: Where do you live in the offseason and where do you call home? #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: Great question. I feel like I live out of a luggage since I play with the Cardinals and then play in mexico after for 4 months. This is the time in which I am home. Rancho Cucamongo, CA, is where my family lives. #twinterview
@memphisredbirds: Describe the experience playing in the Mexican Pacific League this past winter #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: The competition and overall experience is great. I play with guys who have played in the MLB and they help me in my game. The best part about it is that I continue to play baseball year round. It’s a blessing #twinterview
@memphisredbirds: You played baseball at UCLA for 3 years. Was it a difficult decision to leave before your senior season? #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: Yes it was a difficult decision to leave. UCLA is a huge family and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and time. But, it was the next chapter in my life that I had to get on to #uclabruins #twinterview
@memphisredbirds: Everyone here boasts about SEC baseball. How does the PAC 12 stack up, being that you’re a bruins guy? # Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: Hahaha we debate about this every year in our clubhouse. Everyone knows the PAC 12 has the best pitching and prospects. Check the last 5 years #PAC12domination #twinterview
@memphisredbirds: You were an All-Star and won the TL championship with @Sgf_Cardinals last year. What are your goals for 2013? #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: To continue to improve, have fun, win, win, and win for the Cardinals. My question to you guys-Are you guys excited for this year? What are your guys goals for 2013? #Twinterview ha
@JermaineCurtis: I also want to help promote @base and #UpcomingPros.com #twinterview
@memphisredbirds: Where was your favorite place to eat while in Memphis last year? #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: My favorite place to eat was BB Kings Blues. So delicious. I hope to try other places this year. Any recommendations? #twinterview
@memphisredbirds: @MajesticGrille, @HueysRestaurant, @Rendevous_Ribs, @kookycanuck are good places #Twinterview
@memphisredbirds: Which #Cardinals player doyou model your game after? #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: Great question-I model my game after every Cardinals player. Having heart, toughness, drive, hardworking, etc. The Cardinals teach us the Cardinal Way and that is why we are winners #cardinalnation #cardinals #babybirds #twinterview
@memphisredbirds: Who was your favorite MLB player growing up and why? #twinterview
@JermaineCurti : KEN GRIFFEY JR. He was very cool and talented. He had a presence about him that you couldn’t ignore. He inspired many people to play the game #twinterview
@memphisredbirds: The Oscars (@TheAcademy) are this weekend. Can you give a brief review of a movie you have seen lately? #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: Hahaha the last movie I saw was #WarmBodies and I didn’t like it much #twinterview
@memphisredbirds : Which actor would portray you in a movie about your life? #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: #WillSmith because he is driven and passionate as I am. He and I want to take over the world. #legend #twinterview #Business
@memphisredbirds: Good answer. One last Question: Tell us something about you that the fans don’t already know. #Twinterview
@JermaineCurtis: I own a business where I put breathalyzer machines in bars in LA to help save lives against drinking and driving. In addition, it has a 12 inch screen on it where I sell avertisements. The name of that site is called Afflotech.com #Twinterview #entrepenuers #MADD #Upcomingpros.com
The official World Baseball Classic rosters have been officially announced, and the Memphis Redbirds are well represented. Eight former Redbirds players will participate in the Classic, two as coaches and six as players. The United States and Italy both have two former Redbirds on their roster, while Canada, China, Mexico, and Puerto Rico will also have Memphis ties. Here are the eight former Memphis Redbirds who will represent their country in the World Baseball Classic beginning on March 1 in Taichung, Taiwan.
Stubby Clapp, Coach, Canada: Clapp played for the Redbirds from 1999-2002, batting .269 with 22 home runs and 167 RBIs over that span. He appeared in 26 games for the Cardinals in 2001. His #10 jersey is the first and only jersey retired by the Redbirds. Clapp is currently the hitting coach for the Dunedin Blue Jays, Single-A affiliate of Toronto.
Steve Ontiveros, Coach, China: Ontiveros made three starts for the Redbirds in 1998, the first year the team was in existence, and went 0-1 with an 8.38 ERA. He played in major league games for the Oakland A’s (1985-88), Philadelphia Phillies (1989-90), Seattle Mariners (1993) and Boston Red Sox (2010). Ontiveros was named an American League All-Star in 2005 while with Oakland and led the American League in ERA (2.65) and WHIP (1.03) at the end of the strike-shortened 1994 season. He pitched for the Chinese National team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Nick Punto, INF, Italy: Punto played five games for the Redbirds in 2011 and went 3-for-15 at the plate. He is currently on the Los Angeles Dodgers roster, and has appeared in the big leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies (2001-03), Minnesota Twins (2004-10), St. Louis Cardinals (2011), Boston Red Sox (2012), and the Dodgers (2012). Punto batted .219 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 87 games between the Red Sox and Dodgers in 2012.
Dan Serafini, LHP, Italy: Serafini pitched in three games (two starts) for the Redbirds in 2003, going 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA. He played in the MLB for the Minnesota Twins (1996-98), Chicago Cubs (1999), San Diego Padres (2000), Pittsburgh Pirates (2000), Cincinnatti Reds (2003), and Colorado Rockies (2007). In 2012, Serafini split time between Bridgeport of the Independent League, and Monterrey and Aquascalientes of the Mexican League. He went a combined 9-6 with a 5.46 ERA in 28 games (22 starts) in 2012.
Fernando Salas, RHP, Mexico: Salas made appearances in Memphis every year from 2009-12, combining to go 5-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 65 games in relief. He was named a Pacific Coast League Mid-Season All-Star in 2010. Salas also pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2010-12 and was a member of the 2011 World Series Champion Cardinals. In 2012, Salas went 1-4 with a 4.30 ERA for the Cards. He also pitched in four games for the Redbirds, going 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA.
Yadier Molina, C, Puerto Rico: Molina played for the Redbirds in 2004, when he batted .302 with one home run and 14 RBIs in 37 games. He has been the catcher for the Cardinals ever since and was also a member of both the 2006 and 2011 World Series Champion teams. Molina is a five-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time All-Star with the Cardinals. He played 138 games behind the dish for the Cards in 2012, batting .315 with 22 home runs and 76 RBIs.
Mitchell Boggs, RHP, United States: Boggs pitched for Memphis in 2008-09 and again in 2011, a total of 39 games started. He went 15-9 with a 3.87 ERA as a Redbird and was named a Triple-A All-Star by Baseball America in 2008. Boggs has played for the Cardinals since 2008, mostly coming out of the bullpen. In 214 games (15 starts) for the Cards, Boggs has gone 13-12 with a 3.80 ERA. He had his best major league season in 2012, when he went 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 78 games out of the bullpen.
Chris Perez, RHP, United States: (removed due to shoulder injury) Now the closer for the Cleveland Indians, Perez pitched for the Redbirds from 2007-2009. He went 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA and 21 saves while in Memphis. Perez pitched for the Cardinals during the 2008-09 seasons and has pitched in Cleveland ever since, being named to the American League All-Star team in 2011 and 2012. Last season, Perez went 0-4 with a 3.59 ERA and 39 saves in 61 games for the Indians.
Earlier today, Baseball America released its list of the Top 100 Prospects throughout baseball, two weeks after ESPN and three weeks after MLB.com released their rankings. The Cardinals again had six players on this Top 100 List, although the rankings differed between the publications. Baseball America is a well-respected magazine/website that goes in-depth about all aspects of the game, particularly prospects. Here are some notes about the Baseball America Top 100 prospects:
-Cardinals Top Prospect OF Oscar Taveras was again found in the #3 slot in Baseball America’s Top 100 List, as he was on MLB.com, behind Texas INF Jurickson Profar and Baltimore RHP Dyaln Bundy. ESPN rated him at #2, above Bundy.
-The greatest difference between the Baseball America rankings and the others came for RHP Shelby Miller. Today, Baseball America rated him as the #6 Prospect in all of baseball, while ESPN had ranked him #21 and MLB.com had previously rated him as low as #25.
-Two Cardinals farmhands ranked in consecutive slots, with RHP Carlos Martinez at #38 and RHP Trevor Rosenthal at #39 in Baseball America’s ratings. Martinez was rated at #33 by MLB.com and #39 by ESPN. MLB.com rated Rosenthal #43, while ESPN had him all the way down at #57.
-RHP Michael Wacha was ranked the # 76 Prospect in baseball by Baseball America and the #83 Prospect by MLB.com. He was left completly off the Top 100 list by ESPN.
-2B Kolten Wong got the most wide variety of reviews. Baseball America ranked him in the middle of the three at #84. MLB.com had Wong as high as #79, while ESPN dropped him all the way down to #96 overall.
No matter who is ranking the Top Prospects for this upcoming season, it is clear that these six belong in the Top 100. Taveras and Wong are expected to be in the starting lineup for the Redbirds this season, and 2-3 of the pitchers could see some innings in Memphis as well.
It should be an exciting season at AutoZone Park in 2013!
The St. Louis Cardinals signed outfielder Chad Huffman to a minor league contract on Monday morning, with no invite to Spring Training. The 27 year-old Huffman was immediately assigned to Triple-A Memphis. He batted .282 with six home runs and 33 RBIs in 67 games last season for Triple-A Columbus in the Cleveland Indians’ system. Huffman has not appeared in the Major Leagues since 2010, when he made his debut on the big stage with the New York Yankees.
Huffman was originally selected by San Diego in the 2nd round of the 2006 June draft and was the Padres’ #7 prospect entering the 2007 season. He also won the 2009 Triple-A Home Run Derby at Portland’s PGE Park while playing for the hometown Beavers.
As we get closer to Opening Night, we wanted to release a few pictures of some giveaway items at AutoZone Park during the 2013 season. Redbirds fans can come home with a giveaway at every Friday home game as well as other select dates in 2013, totaling 18 in all.
Click here to read additional details on our expanded giveaway schedule. Opening Night is only 54 days away!
Friday, May 10 vs. Sacramento at 7:05pm: Charlie Lea Memphis Chicks Hat, presented by Victory University (3,000 fans)
Saturday, May 25 vs. Round Rock at 6:05 pm: Memphis Belle 70th Anniversary t-shirt (2,000 fans)
Friday, May 31 vs. Albuquerque at 7:05pm: Redbirds Piggy Bank (2,000 fans)
Thank you to Redbirds season ticket holder Janice Williams for donating a box of gloves for Cardinals minor leaguer Vance Albitz and his Gloves4Troops initiative.
Vance’s Gloves4Troops campaign has received a lot of coverage on the national level and can be read at the following links:
The Memphis Redbirds front office showed our support for good heart health today by wearing red to work in support of American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day. Also in preparation for the Super Bowl, the staff enjoyed a special pot-luck lunch on the club level.
Thanks to our friendly How You Doin’ Committee!