With the 2017 minor league season a little more than a week away, it is that time of the year for me to make my annual roster predictions for the St. Louis Cardinals minor league affiliates. These roster predictions are just that, predictions. I don’t have any inside information and I am just using my best judgement to make these calls. Today’ I will tackle the Memphis Redbirds.
The 2017 Memphis Redbirds are probably the easiest group of the four full-season clubs to predict. Barring an injury, I think I will get close to 25-for-25 on this prediction. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out. With that said, the team should fare pretty well in the Pacific Coast League. They are experienced at every position and have several players who would be on other team’s major league club.
Here is my predicted roster with thoughts below:
The rotation appears to be set, however John Gant left his last appearance with groin discomfort. I am going to keep Gant in there for now as the Memphis Redbirds don’t begin playing games until April 6th. If Gant can’t go, I would expect either Trey Nielsen, Daniel Poncedeleon, or maybe Kurt Heyer to get a look on the Memphis pitching staff.
The bullpen looks really solid with Sam Tuivailala and Rowan Wick closing things out. Zach Phillips joins Tuivailala and Josh Zeid as three pitchers with MLB experience. Zeid was recently signed after his strong performance in the World Baseball Classic with Team Israel. Ryan Sherriff, who decided to stay in camp rather than join Zeid in the WBC, is on the verge of his first major league call-up, I would expect to see Sherriff at the MLB level at some point this season.
Carson Kelly will be getting the bulk of the work behind the plate, just to get him at bats. He is major league ready right now, but with Yadier Molina at the highest level, Kelly has nowhere to go. Alberto Rosario also brings major league experience to the table. The Redbirds’ pitching staff will be well taken care of.
This is lining up to be a very impressive infield. My starting infield would be Luke Voit at first, Breyvic Valera at second, Paul DeJong at short, and Patrick Wisdom at third. Without looking at the rest of the PCL, this has to be one of the best infields in the league. According to Mike Matheny (through Jen Langosch), Patrick Wisdom has really impressed the Cardinals this spring. If he is a “completely different player” as Matheny said, the Cardinals hope he could be the 3rd baseman of the future.
The only really dilemma for the outfield was solved a few days ago when the Cardinals optioned Tommy Pham to Memphis. This cleared the way for Jose Martinez to make the big club. The rest of the outfield will consist of Harrison Bader, Anthony Garcia, and Todd Cunningham. This leaves Adolis Garcia starting the season at Double-A Springfield.
Opening Day Lineup
Here would be my Opening Day lineup if I were Memphis manager Stubby Clapp
Breyvic Valera, 2B
Tommy Pham, CF
Harrison Bader, LF
Paul DeJong, SS
Patrick Wisdom, 3B
Luke Voit, 1B
Carson Kelly, C
Anthony Garcia, RF
Luke Weaver, P
Pretty impressive lineup.
Check back on Wednesday as I will try to predict the Springfield Cardinals roster.