The St. Louis Cardinals 2013 All-Star Futures Game representatives of outfielder Oscar Taveras (World squad) and second baseman Kolten Wong (USA) should seem familiar. That is because both Memphis Redbirds also played in the 2012 Futures Game, then as Springfield Cardinals.
I have no issue with the selections – after all, the two are the highest-ranked position player prospects in the Cardinals system. Yet one has to wonder why with so many other prospects in the organization, especially pitchers, why one or two of them were not chosen instead.
I have no idea why not, but here is a theory. The two top pitching prospects in the system coming into the season, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal, are now well-established major leaguers. As current members of the 25-man roster, they would be ineligible to play.
Martinez has already pitched in the Futures Game, back in 2011. Further, he is coming off his best start of the year for Memphis and perhaps the organization does not want to disrupt the routine of the possible unofficial sixth starter for St. Louis.
Wacha already has a very high profile, both from spring training camp and his MLB debut. The Cardinals are managing his first full season as a professional carefully and there seems little benefit in sending Wacha to New York (again). The right-hander made his most recent St. Louis start in the Big Apple against the Mets on June 11.
In addition to their obvious talents, there are motivational reasons to choose Wong and Taveras again.
Wong has played well with Memphis, but has also seen Matt Carpenter take advantage of a half-season head start to seize the second base job in St. Louis. That happens to be the only position Wong plays. Giving Wong some repeated exposure in the Futures Game is a nice perk – short of the call to St. Louis that could still be months away.
Taveras has been slowed for weeks with a high ankle sprain – long before Futures rosters were set. Though he made it back onto Memphis’ active roster for about two weeks, he returned to the DL by the time the Futures announcement was made. Perhaps there is hope that the outfielder will be 100 percent healed by the July 14 game.
In fact, maybe the worldwide spotlight is being used as a carrot. Could those who may be concerned about the slowness of Taveras’ recovery use the Futures invitation as an additional incentive for the just-turned 21-year-old to get back onto the field?