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.