Cards hitting prospect mo: Spring week 2

Greg Garcia hit well in limited action

Which hitting prospects performed well in St. Louis Cardinals major league spring training camp last week?

While our popular St. Louis Cardinals Monthly Prospect Rankings will be back for 2014, its first edition will not come out until real baseball begins – in April. In the meantime, I provide a weekly look at how the members of The Cardinal Nation's 2014 top 40 prospect list are doing in major league camp.

As camp opened, I went on record with my predictions of which players I thought would make the major league roster out of spring training. I did the same for all four of the full-season minor league clubs. Click here to be taken to the Peoria article, as links to the other four articles are included at the end.

I am using those predictions in the tables below despite the reality that since then, on-going injuries to Jaime Garcia and Oscar Taveras may have changed the picture. That is expected, as the roster targets are constantly moving throughout camp. That is why they have it – figure out who best fits where.

The start of real games offers a great opportunity to regularly check in on how the youngsters are doing. Of course, the usual small sample size warnings are relevant. Think of this as a hot-warm-cold look from a seven-day period that could change entirely from one week to next.

This is the second part of this week's report, focusing on position players. Pitchers were highlighted in part one.

Overall

The Cardinals had a 1-3-2 record plus a rainout this past week to go on top of a 1-2 first week record for an overall mark of 2-5-2. After a decent first week, batting .288, the offense dropped to .255 during this period. St. Louis' opponents blasted seven long balls to just four for them. Pinch-hitters, often the role of these youngsters, were 0-for-8.

New addition Diaz will not play until a visa issue is resolved
The players

The Cardinals opened big-league camp with 60 players invited and had 58 players prior to Monday's cut of nine players. Of the 49 currently in camp, 37 are on the 40-man roster and 12 are non-roster invitees. They are all vying for one of the 25-man roster spots to open the season.

The major changes began with the reassignment of Marco Gonzales to minor league camp, slowed by forearm tightness. The Sunday addition is infielder Aledmys Diaz, the Cuban signee who received a major league contract.

Six of the nine Monday cuts were position players. Two are 40-man outfielders, Mike O'Neill and Rafael Ortega. They had just 11 at-bats between them.

The four NRIs are made up of a third baseman and three catchers. The former, Patrick Wisdom, homered and doubled, but otherwise was 0-for-10. The three backstops – Casey Rasmus, Cody Stanley and Carson Kelly – each had two at-bats. They went a total of 0-for-6 including four strikeouts, two by Kelly.

15 of the 49 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 for 2014 – eight pitchers and seven position players. Another seven prospects in total are in camp, either as members of the 40-man or as NRIs, but did not place among our top 40.

This group of is those about whom I will be reporting. Of course, the list of 22 will decline each week as camp continues and cuts are made.

I rank each player based on his momentum this past week – high/medium/low. I want to be clear that is NOT how I assess their chances of making the team – see the column I call "Prediction" for where I thought the player will start in April as camp opened. Players will remain "medium" unless I see as a clear reason to shift them.

At-bats (AB) and batting average (AVG) are for the spring coming into Monday, March 10.

The hitters

Position Players Top  Ros Prediction AB BA Mo  
Majors camp 40         Last wk This wk
Greg Garcia #20 40m Memphis 8 0.375   High
Randal Grichuk #10 40m Memphis 14 0.214 High  
Joey Butler NR 40m Mem/limbo 9 0.222    
Kolten Wong #3 40m St. Louis 15 0.200 Low  
Oscar Taveras #1 40m St. Louis 6 0.167 Low Low
Audry Perez #40 40m Memphis 5 0.000   Low
               
Luis Mateo NR NRI Springfield 10 0.400 High High
Xavier Scruggs NR NRI Memphis 11 0.273    
Stephen Piscotty #4 NRI Memphis 13 0.231    
James Ramsey #8 NRI Springfield 11 0.091   Low
Travis Tartamella NR NRI Mem/limbo 3 0.333   Low
               
Added this week T40  Ros Prediction AB BA Mo  
Aledmys Diaz NR 40m Mem/Spr 0     Low
               
Dropped off T40  Ros Prediction AB BA Mo  
this week           Last wk This wk
Rafael Ortega NR 40m Springfield 6 0.167   Low
Mike O'Neill #24 40m Memphis 5 0.000   Low
               
Patrick Wisdom #15 NRI Springfield 12 0.167   Low
Carson Kelly #9 NRI Peoria 2 0.000   Low
Casey Rasmus NR NRI Springfield 2 0.000   Low
Cody Stanley NR NRI Springfield 2 0.000   Low

Mateo
I gave only two position players "high" marks this week, infielders Greg Garcia and Luis Mateo. Mateo continues to perform well in limited at-bats while Garcia's results have improved as his at-bats have increased.

Any batter in the .200's, I graciously left in the "medium" category. Kolten Wong's 3-for-9 week elevated him from "low" last period. After a fast start, Randal Grichuk had a 1-for-8 week. In their first camps, Xavier Scruggs has been steady at the plate and in the field with Stephen Piscotty also there, but a half-step behind. Joey Butler collected his first two Cardinals hits, both singles.

Those under the Mendoza line or with six or fewer at-bats are in "low." The latter category includes Taveras, again sidelined, this time due to a hamstring. James Ramsey has just one single, but two RBI. Audry Perez hasn't seen much time, but remains the only hitless position player in camp.

The games

Monday, 3/3: Last Monday at Lakeland vs. Detroit, the Wong suicide watch (just kidding, but not about overreactions) was still on after the second baseman went 0-for-3 with a GIDP.

Ortega, Perez and Wisdom went 0-for-2 with a strikeout each. Piscotty pinch ran and was caught on the bases in a mistake, then fanned in his only plate appearance. Scruggs walked and fanned in his two plate appearances.

Butler and Garcia singled in two at-bats. Ramsey singled in two at-bats, plated two and scored. Mateo singled and doubled in two at-bats, plating one.

Scruggs, Wisdom and Garcia each made plus defensive plays.

Wednesday, 3/5: After an open date on Tuesday, the Cards took on the Red Sox. Scruggs pulled the Cards ahead with a two-run home run to left field in the second inning and later walked. He also threw out a runner at second base in the third.

In the fifth, pinch-runner Ramsey was thrown out at third after trying to tag up on a fly out. He turned it around in the ninth, starting the same play on defense as Wong's relay nailed a Sox runner at third. Wong walked and scored twice on the day.

In the sixth, Piscotty singled up the middle after just missing a double down the right field line. He then grounded into a double play in the eighth.

Butler went 1-for-2 with an RBI. Wisdom fanned in his only at-bat.

Friday, 3/7, game one: Following the Thursday cancellation versus the Twins, the Cards played a pair on Friday. One part of the split-squad roster stayed home against Miami.

The kids didn't hit much - in fact, almost not at all. Piscotty's single was the only prospect safety.

Wisdom grounded into a double play in his only appearance. Mateo made a fielding error at second base and struck out in his lone at-bat. Ramsey went 0-for-4 and Butler went 0-for-3, all strikeouts. Rasmus fanned looking.

Over from minor league camp, C.J. McElroy flied out to left and Jonathan Rodriguez struck out. Greg Miclat played the final two innings at short, but did not hit.

Wong
Friday, 3/7, game two: In the other Friday split-squad contest, a group took the bus to Port St. Lucie. Not surprisingly, more youngsters played.

Wong doubled to left-center in the second on his way to his best day of the spring. The second baseman went 3-for-4 with a run scored and run driven in.

Taveras made his first and yet only appearance in the field. At the plate, the right-fielder doubled and scored on his way to a 1-for-3 debut.

Grichuk continued his slide, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He did add a sac fly to deep left in the third, but one of his strikeouts was with two on base in the seventh. Scruggs repeated the latter in his only at-bat.

O'Neill walked but was out stealing on a replay challenge in the eighth. Kelly played several innings behind the plate and looked at home. He fanned in his only plate appearance.

Garcia walked in his two plate appearances. Ortega pinch ran and scored, then struck out.

Breyvic Valera, called over from minors camp, pinch-hit in the ninth. He grounded out 4-3.

Saturday, 3/8: The Nationals arrived in Jupiter on Saturday.

Wisdom doubled in his two at-bats. Grichuk went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a strikeout. Scruggs doubled with an RBI and run scored in two at-bats. Garcia had a two-run single in his only plate appearance.

Piscotty was hitless in two at-bats, including a strikeout. Taveras went 0-for-3. Mateo went 0-for-2 with a run scored. Perez, O'Neill and Rasmus (strikeout) were all 0-for-1.

Sunday, 3/9: The club managed just one run on Sunday at Viera with no hits after the second inning. Butler had the only prospect hit, a single in two at-bats. Wong walked in two plate appearances.

A long march of 0-for-1 hitters included Ortega, Mateo (strikeout), Rasmus, O'Neill, Scruggs, Piscotty, Wisdom, Ramsey (strikeout) and Garcia (strikeout).



To see the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and non-roster spring training invitees, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Prior articles in this series
Cards pitching prospect momentum: Spring week 2
Cards prospect momentum: 2014 spring week 1



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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