The St. Louis Cardinals 2017 Spring Training is well underway and the club has had a pretty successful start to camp. The club’s minor leaguers who weren’t part of the S.T.E.P (Spring Training Early Program) have now reported to minor league camp. The Memphis Redbirds and the other full-season clubs will begin spring games in the next week or so. The Redbird Daily will be bringing you highlights from minor league camp every day.
With minor league camp starting, I thought it would be a good time to start looking at the full-season clubs — Memphis Redbirds, Springfield Cardinals, Palm Beach Cardinals, and Peoria Chiefs — and what their rosters might look like. Near the end of camp, I will be bringing you roster predictions for all four clubs.
Today, I am going to look at the possible starting infield for Memphis.
There are a couple of options to man first base in Memphis. The Cardinals signed veteran minor leaguer Chad Huffman this off-season to probably get a good look there. Huffman was previously with the Cardinals minor league system in 2013 and does have 21 major league plate appearances to his name. Huffman also has experience in the outfield, so I would guess the majority of his starts would be at a different position other than first.
I believe the primary first baseman for Memphis will be Luke Voit. Voit was the Cardinals’ 22nd round pick in the 2013 Draft out of Missouri State. Through his four years in the system, Voit has worked his way up to the top minor league level. He has had success at every step, with his lowest wRC+ (115) coming his first season. Voit is a fringy prospect who could make a name for himself with another strong season. Voit’s main problem is he doesn’t play any other positions.
There appears to be only one real possibility to get the majority of the second base playing time and that is the 40-man rostered Breyvic Valera. Valera is a big “on-base guy” who can play several positions on the infield and outfield. While he will likely see the majority of the time at second, he will get starts at other positions as well. His future as a MLB utility player looks pretty good.
Backing up Valera could be Jacob Wilson, who has had two unsuccessful Triple-A stints in 2015 and 2016. At 26-years old, Wilson is nearing elderly status and could be in his last season in the Cardinals organization. Mason Katz and Bruce Caldwell could also be possibilities at second base for Memphis.
Again, like second base, there is a clear front-runner and that’s Paul DeJong (pronounced DeYoung). DeJong is a top 15 prospect for the Cardinals, however he is a rookie at shortstop. The Cardinals moved him there last fall during the Arizona Fall League and things went so well they pretty much all but cemented him there in Memphis for 2017. DeJong had a strong 2016 with Springfield, but needs to work on cutting down the strikeouts.
Backing up DeJong will likely be newby Wilfredo Tovar, whom the Cardinals signed this past off-season. Like Chad Huffman, Tovar brings major league experience with him as he made 22 MLB at-bats with the Mets in 2013 and 2014. Alex Mejia, who has nearly 100 Triple-A AB’s, will also likely see time at Memphis.
One of the hottest names this spring is Patrick Wisdom. He has made quite the impression in major league camp thus far. I have seen many fans wondering if he has a chance to make the major leageu roster. The answer is no, and it’s not even close. Wisdom struggled big time with Memphis last year, slashing .233/.303/.374 and a 79 wRC+. Wisdom needs to sustain is success at Memphis to start the 2017 season to be in the major league mix for later this year. His defense is above average, but he has never been able to hit consistently.
I think you might see some of the other names I have mentioned, Caldwell, Mejia, and Katz fill in as reserve third baseman. I don’t see another player in the organization fitting in on the Memphis roster.
To recap, I see the starting Memphis infield as Voit at first, Valera at second, DeJong at short, and Wisdom at third. This is a pretty solid Triple-A infield. I would not be surprised to see at least two of these players in the major leagues at some point.
Check back in a few days for another look at a minor league position group.
Thanks for reading!