Cards projected 2012 minors rosters: hitters

Matt Adams: Projected starting 1B at Memphis

Our camp-opening prediction of the season-opening position players on each of the St. Louis Cardinals' four full-season minor league clubs – Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach and Quad Cities.

Welcome to the conclusion of this three-part series consisting of my predictions of what the initial full-season rosters may look like coming out of spring training as well as my thinking as to why.

Part one focused on the pitching staffs and part two set up this report by identifying the position players that I think will make the season-opening roster with St. Louis. This article completes the series with the minor league catchers, infielders and outfielders that I project will begin the season with Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach and Quad Cities.

For this exercise, we assume no injuries. That is not totally realistic but probably more realistic than trying to predict a specific number of injuries. It should be noted that both Triple-A and Double-A have 24-man rosters. With 12 pitchers assumed on each, that leaves just 12 position players as well.

MEMPHIS (12)

Outfielders (4)

Shane Robinson – Right-handed hitting centerfield skills combined with speed continue to keep him around.
Chris Swauger – A slow, steady climber in the Cardinals system.
Aaron Luna – Never seems to get much prospect mention but continues to combine high OBP with flashes of power.
Amaury Cazana – If Adron Chambers makes the major league roster as I predict, Cazana could actually start the year in the US.

Infielders (6)

Zack Cox – If Matt Carpenter is in St. Louis, Cox can play 3B every day, and if not, I'm not sure what the plan is.
Ryan Jackson – If he can hit like last year, the Cards will probably have their shortstop of the future.
Pete Kozma – Unless he can figure out how to hit better, his upside is probably as a middle infield utility guy.
Mark Hamilton – Look for him to split time with Matt Adams at first base as well as get some outfield and DH at-bats.
Jose Garcia – An unheralded middle infielder who put up good numbers last year.
Matt Adams – Should receive most of the at-bats at first base.

Catchers (2)

Bryan Anderson/Tony Cruz – I think Cruz goes to Memphis to play every day and Anderson sits in St. Louis, but it is really too early to call.
Steven Hill - I think he beats out the other Hill, Koyie.

Outside looking in (3)

Eugenio Velez – No room for the MLB veterans.
Alex Cora – I think the Cardinals will go young.
Koyie Hill – Ditto.

Summary

See Springfield section.

SPRINGFIELD (12)

Outfielders (4)

Tommy Pham – Probably ready for Triple-A but numbers crunch above may keep him in Double-A.
Kyle Conley – Could make himself a prospect with solid year.
Raniel Rosario – I think he will hit for good power in the Texas League.
Adam Melker – May not be ready for Double-A, but there is a shortage of bodies.

Infielders (6)

Niko Vasquez – Can this one-time fast-riser regain his prospect status?
Alan Ahmady – Can play 1B/3B/2B, OF and even catch.
Xavier Scruggs – If he shows the power he did in his brief Springfield stint in 2010, he could end up with 40 HR and 100 RBI.
Jermaine Curtis – Should be in Triple-A based on 2011, but they need him in Double-A.
Kolten Wong/Starlin Rodriguez – One of these second basemen should be in Springfield with the other in Palm Beach. Double-A will be a large step up for either of them.
Greg Garcia – Probably could use more time in Palm Beach, but the cupboard is bare at shortstop in Double-A.

Catchers (2)

Audry Perez – Should be the primary catcher at Double-A and could move up to Triple-A before the year is out.
Luis De La Cruz – Has shined at times and at other times been really weak. The potential is there.

Outside looking in (2)

Nick Derba - One of these two guys could get stashed in extended spring training if the Cards want to keep a defensive minded catcher around, otherwise I think their time has come and gone.
Travis Tartamella – In other words, the loser of this mini-competition likely looks for work.

Summary

Unlike pitchers, there is no excess among the position players. There is modest depth in the outfield and with some infield positions, but overall the lack of depth is almost depressing. Where there is depth at all, some players possibly will be needed to play below their ready level just to fill gaps.

With the lack of depth at the Double-A level, some of the Cards' off season moves are puzzling. D'Marcus Ingram (released) would have added depth to the outfield as possibly would Rule 5 loss Charlie Cutler (a catcher who played there some last year). The Cards could really use Domnit Bolivar (also departed via Rule 5) for infield depth. Those three players were all cut or basically just let go. If the Cards have injuries at this level, it seems inevitable some guys will have to get pushed up before they are ready.

PALM BEACH (13)

Outfielders (5)

Oscar Taveras - Could compete for a job with Springfield but unless there is an injury, I think he will start in Palm Beach.
Mike O'Neill – Continues to hit but always seems on the outside.
Nick Longmire – Struggled last year but still received an early camp invite.
Michael Swinson – Needs to stay healthy this year.
David Medina – A minor league free agent after the season needs to produce and produce fast.

Infielders (6)

Colin Walsh – Versatility and high OBP make him a valuable organizational guy.
Ronny Gil – Glove still plays well. Will the bat develop?
Starlin Rodriguez/Kolten Wong – Whoever doesn't go to Springfield is in Palm Beach.
Packy Elkins/Joey Bergman - Cards likely keep only one of these two.
Jonathan Rodriguez – Needs to answer defensive questions as well as reduce his K rate.
Luis Mateo – Struggled in 2011 in injury-filled year.

Catchers (2)

Cody Stanley – Received big-league camp invite.
Geoff Klein – The conversion of Robert Stock to pitching removed the potential logjam here.

Outside looking in (3)

Ted Obregon – Still only 21. Has struggled at High-A, and could be on the bubble without a strong spring.
Chris Edmondson – Unless his power returns, I am not sure he can compete successfully.
Bergman/Elkins – The loser of this competition will likely be looking for work.

Summary

A solid group but thin on depth and experience. Almost everyone on the roster ended last season at Quad Cities.

QUAD CITIES (13)

Outfielders (4+1)

Virgil Hill – 2012 needs to be his year.
Nick Martini – Disappointing first year.
Anthony Garcia – One of my favorites.
Gary Apelian - .845 rookie league OPS is unnoticed by most but earns him a jump to full-season squad.
Reggie Williams – Does not count against the total as he begins the season serving a 50-game suspension.

Infielders (7)

Breyvic Valera – Probably passes the other shortstop Valera (Cesar) in the system this year.
Tyler Rahmatulla – Were his inflated stats simply the result of starting too low?
Jeremy Patton - .825 OPS from a 38th round pick is not bad.
Garrett Wittels/Vance Albitz – One of these FA signings likely gets a second year.
David Washington – A lot of potential in his bat.
Roberto De La Cruz – Still just 20 years old, but with three years of short season ball, it is time to move up.
Matt Williams – Speedy infielder is ready for full-season ball.

Catchers (2)

Casey Rasmus – Curious to see if off-season work on his hitting brings results.
Juan Castillo - If he is out of the dog house, he could move quickly or even start at a higher level.

Outside looking in (7)

Romulo Ruiz – A minor league free agent at the end of the year anyway.
Roberto Reyes – Still young but has four years of short season ball already and no room on the full-season teams.
Wittels/Albitz - The loser of the position spot competition for Quad Cities likely goes home.
Phil Cerreto – Thanks for a memorable first year.
Roberto Espinoza - Good defense behind the plate is not enough.
Kleininger Teran – Never found a position home.
Jonathan Keener – Might get to stay in extended spring training camp but it seems doubtful.

Summary

Not a huge amount of depth at this level either but lots of guys from Johnson City who could fill in.

The roster consists of a good mix of players from short-season Batavia and rookie level Johnson City.

There are a lot of players in this group I really like.

Repeating Batavia (2)

Cesar Valera
Danny Stienstra

I have not addressed the players that finished the year at Johnson City or in the Gulf Coast League unless I saw them making a full-season roster.

Earlier articles in this series:
"Cards 2012 projected minors rosters: pitchers"
"Cards 2012 projected roster: position players"



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