The signal has finally been lit—spring training is once again under way! Non-roster invites and familiar faces alike return from their hibernation to engage in exhibitions to hone their skills for a grueling 162-game season. It is clear that in some cases, rust has to be shaken off. For others though, it is as if the season never ended. The somewhat concrete (hence spring training) evidence will now begin to show what everyone has to offer as we move closer to opening day. Keep in mind that this is just to feature some faces that are doing well. In no way does this mean that they instantly deserve a spot on the active roster.
Zach Petrick, RHP, AAA Memphis
2 Games, 4IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 SO, .25 WHIP
Petrick, 25, is a Northwestern Ohio University product and he has spent three years in the Cardinals minor league system. An undrafted free agent, Zach has assumed a starting role at AAA Memphis and was named the Cardinals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013 for AA Springfield. In his two games pitched, he has performed shown a knack for finding the strike zone and excellent control (only walked 1 batter.) Petrick doesn’t figure to be in the mix for the opening day roster, but a bullpen injury call-up or spot start will definitely be in the cards.
Randal Grichuk, OF, AAA Memphis
3 Games, 3 for 5, 1 SO, 2 BB, .600 AVG, 2 HR, 2.514 OPS
Not really a surprise here. Grichuk has dominated minor league level pitching in the past and continues to do so now. Granted, not all of it was minor league level but it is only spring. The thing that intrigues the most about Randal’s stats is the fact that he has two walks. It’s an extremely small sample size, but this could mean that he has worked on his approach and is trying to see more pitches. The one big downfall to Grichuk that is known by many is that he strikes out a ton. We will have to see as time roles on; but for now, keep it up, Grichuk!
Jacob Wilson, 2B, AA Springfield
5 Games, 6 for 12, 3 2B, .375 AVG, 2 2B, 1.000 OPS
Wilson is a second base prospect out of Memphis University drafted in the 10th round of the 2012 MLB draft. At age 24, he has fairly good numbers as a hitter with at .266 career AVG in the minors. His best batting average (.305) came after his move up to AA which implies that he doesn’t necessarily have an issue with an escalation in competition. After watching highlights of Wilson, you can tell that he has good plate discipline—only striking out 17% of the time—to go along with a propensity to double often (25% of his hits are doubles.) Wilson looks to be a couple years away from the pros and does have a pretty good player blocking his position in Kolten Wong. Jacob is a good player though and might be a valuable call-up to get some utility work here and there.
Tommy Pham, OF, AAA Memphis
4 Games, 6 for 14, .429 AVG, 1 HR, 1.364 OPS
Drafted out of Durango HS in Las Vegas, Nevada, Pham has had a slow assent to prominence in the minor leagues. The rise to AAA has taken nearly a decade and a few seasons have been cut short by injury. Things look to be on the rebound, however, based on him playing his most games last year. Pham is no stranger to the base paths though, using his speed to swipe 20 bags and only be caught stealing twice. He isn’t much of a power guy, but he does rack up the hits with 114 (32 XBH) in 107 games last year. Now the starting center fielder at AAA Memphis, we could see him within the next year or two depending on how well Jon Jay pans out.
Matt Belisle, RHP, AAA Memphis
2 Games, 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 SO, 1 BB
With the possibility of being the next Pat Neshek; Matt Belisle comes in on a minor league deal to try and give his career some life. Belisle was a part of the Colorado Rockies bullpen and had success at times in a situation where he was ultimately doomed to fail. Over his last three seasons with the Rox, the numbers were far from solid: 4.26 ERA, 16 HR, 103 Earned runs in 217 innings. A closer look at some of the sabermetrics tell a different story. Both Belisle’s ERA+ at 105 (number adjusted to types of ballparks) and FIP at 3.22 (ERA without fielding figured in) were above average. Many of his stats can be attributed to Coors field and when digging further into his stats, he looks solid. On top of everything he even has some postseason experience to go along with his 11-year Major League career.
Jason Heyward, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
4 Games, 4 for 9, .444 AVG, 1 SB, 2 RBI, .889 OPS
Last but certainly not least is the biggest addition of the offseason in the form of the 25 year old Jason Heyward. The former phenom has burst onto the scene in his Cardinal debut. He hasn’t shown much for pop yet but that will come as the rust shakes off. The biggest thing moving forward is for the Cardinals to get a full dose of what Heyward can do and gauge whether or not they want an extension. The time is rapidly approaching for the departure of Matt Holliday and there needs to be another player to step in and fill his shoes. Heyward is still young enough to tap into unknown potential and become a power guy. In 2012, he showed that he could produce 27 long balls when he didn’t have the pressure to bat lead off. On top of that, Heyward can make a difference on the base paths by stealing 20 bags. He’s off to a good start as a Cardinal and I’d hate to see him be a rental. Get on it, Mo!
Other Notable Top Performers:
Tony Cruz: 3 for 6, .500 AVG, 1 2B, 1.238 OPS
Matt “No Surprise” Holliday: 4 for 7, .571 AVG, 2 2B, 2 BB, 1.524 OPS
Matt Adams: 3 for 9, .333, 1 2B, .778 OPS
Tim Cooney: 4 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1 SO
Carlos Martinez: 4.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 6 SO, 0 BB
Michael Wacha: 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4 SO, 0 BB
Still Shaking Off Rust:
Carlos Villanueva: 3.2 IP, 12.27 ERA, 5 ER
Trevor Rosenthal: 2 IP, 9.00 ERA, 2 ER
Kolten Wong: 0 for 9, 3 SO, 1 BB
Stephen Piscotty: 1 for 10, .100 AVG, 2 SO
Yadier Molina: 1 for 7, .143 AVG