Spring Training has begun and the games are under way. For the St. Louis Cardinals, there are only a couple of position battles that will happen this spring. The second base spot in the lineup and the fifth starter spot will be the biggest battles. There will be minor ones for a bench spot and possibly a bullpen spot as well. These battles have been highlighted several times throughout the blogosphere.
Here are three players, who may not be battling for a spot on the big club, to keep your eye on this spring.
In 2012, Butler was the closer for the Texas League Champions, the Springfield Cardinals. The hard throwing righty was the Cardinals’ 24th round pick in 2009 out of Wabash Valley College in Illinois. Since joining the Cardinals, Butler has a strikeout rate of 11.3 batters per nine innings. Butler turned 24 in January and could become a sleeper prospect late this season or next season.
Butler needs to bring down his walk numbers (3.9 per nine innings) and I would like to see him face batters above Class-AA Springfield. He could become the full-time closer for AAA Memphis at some point this season with possibly a MLB debut next season.
With the Cardinals’ shortstop situation a mess, Garcia has an opportunity to step up and get some key at bats for the Cardinals this year which may not necessarily be a good thing for the Cardinals. Greg Garcia should not be getting key at bats for the Cards, not to take anything away from him. Garcia had a very solid AA season in 2012 hitting 10 home runs and batting .284. Garcia’s HR rate went from nearly a HR per 100 AB’s in 2011 to a HR every 40 AB’s in 2012.
I have Garcia in competition with Ryan Jackson as the starting shortstop for the Memphis Redbirds to begin 2013.
The Cardinals organization’s top pitcher in 2012, Maness looks to continue his rise through the organization. In 2012, Maness pitched some with Palm Beach and mostly with Springfield. His combined stats were very impressive with a 14-4 record, 2.97 ERA, and only 10 walks in 169 innings. Maness’ strikeout numbers are low, but his walk rate makes up for that.
Maness’ path to the majors may be a rough one with so many pitchers in front of him, but he should get a look. Could Maness be a trade target? I would like to see him starting in Memphis this season.