Following the Memphis Redbirds 4-3 win over Albuquerque on Saturday, outfielder Ryan Ludwick was told the news he has been waiting for - he was called up to the Major Leagues when his contract was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals. The 28-year-old outfielder will be in the Cards' line-up for the final game of the reeling World Champions’ weekend series against the Houston Astros on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium.
Ludwick has been the Redbirds’ hottest hitter this season. On Saturday, the right-handed batter went 2-for-3 including a home run, his eighth of the season, tying Rick Ankiel for the club lead and four others for the Pacific Coast League lead. In the process, Ludwick raised his team-leading batting average to .340. He has collected a League-best 36 RBI in 29 games for the Redbirds, posting an impressive OPS of 1.022.
Ludwick has 334 career at-bats as a Major Leaguer, with a line of .237/.299/.426 (BA/OBP/SLG). He was originally signed as the second-round selection of the Oakland A’s in 1999. After putting up good power numbers in Single-A and Double-A in 2000 and 2001, he moved to Texas in the Carlos Pena trade in 2002. That year, Ludwick made his big-league debut for the Rangers and was the organization’s seventh-ranked prospect in 2003.
In July of 2003, after playing most of the season in Triple-A, Ludwick moved to the Cleveland Indians in another trade, this one for outfielder Shane Spencer. His 162 major league at-bats that season would be a career high.
The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder missed considerable time in 2004 and 2005 due to knee, shoulder and wrist woes, especially struggling the latter year after making the Indians out of Spring Training. Ludwick moved to the Detroit Tigers system in 2006 where he hit .266 with 26 home runs and 82 RBI for Triple-A Toledo. He joined the Cardinals organization in December as a minor league free agent.
Ludwick will be wearing uniform number 47 and starting Sunday in right field for the Cardinals, batting sixth.
Ludwick’s addition put the Cardinals’ 40-man roster at 38 players, 39 with the addition of reliever Brian Falkenborg. That includes four disabled players, several of whom could be moved from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day list to free up room if needed.
Pitcher Josh Kinney is out for the season and hurler Mark Mulder is not expected to return until after the All-Star break. They were recently joined by ace Chris Carpenter, who looks to be out until at least August, based on the need for elbow surgery, scheduled on Tuesday. The other currently-disabled Cardinals Major Leaguer is outfielder Juan Encarnacion, who is on a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Springfield.
Sunday morning update - Wilson to DL: Encarnacion and the others now have more company on the Cardinals’ disabled list. On Sunday morning, the club announced the corresponding move on their 25-man roster to make room for Ludwick.
Preston Wilson was placed on the team’s 15-day DL. The decision was made less than 24 hours after the outfielder led off for the Cardinals and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored on Friday night against Houston. On Saturday, he was hobbling through the clubhouse and though he did not play, his right knee was drained after the game.
On the season, Wilson has been one of the many Cardinals disappointments, hitting just .222 with 17 strikeouts in 67 at-bats while playing right field. He is batting just .200 (3-for-15) with runners in scoring position during 2007.
The 32-year-old re-signed with St. Louis for $1 million plus incentives in late January after initially joining the club following being cut by the Houston Astros last August.
On Sunday morning, manager Tony La Russa made a rough estimate of two to three weeks for Wilson to be out, but would depend on his response to treatment.
Wilson has a history of knee troubles over much of his ten-year Major League career. In fact, even when he was making $12.5 million in 2005 as his final season as a member of the Colorado Rockies, the club’s own media guide labeled Wilson’s knee problems as “chronic”.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Our Scout.com Memphis beat reporter, Brent Diederich, also contributed to this report.
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