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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

The Cardinals Need More Baders and DeJongs This June

As much as the starting pitching has been a disappointment to date for the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals, the power hitting output from the offense has been as pleasant as it was generally unexpected.

The most recent display of game-altering slugging came Monday night at Busch Stadium, as Matt Adams’ two-run pinch-hit blast in the seventh set up Randal Grichuk’s walkoff solo shot to power the Cardinals over the visiting first-place Cubs, 4-3.

With 61 home runs through 45 games, St. Louis is a surprising second in the National League in long balls, just two behind the Mets, and ranked fourth among all 30 clubs in Major League Baseball.

That is not the same story in the Cardinals minor league system, however, as indicated in the table below.

Level League Team Record Division
Homers Lg rank #1 team Lg average
Triple-A Pacific Coast Memphis 17-24 4 of 4 23 14 of 16 45 33
Double-A Texas Springfield 24-20 1 of 4 43 2 of 8 55 38
High-A Florida State Palm Beach 20-25 6 of 6 10 12 of 12 39 23
A Midwest Peoria 21-22 5 of 8 10 14 of 16 23 15

In fact, the lack of homers is fairly alarming. At three of the four full-season levels in the organization, the Cardinals are among the bottom dwellers in long balls. Perhaps not surprisingly, the three are all second-division clubs in the standings, including two last-place squads.

In the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and Class-A Midwest League, the top teams have roughly double the number of home runs as the Cardinals affiliates. In the Class-A Advanced Florida State League, the league leader has almost four times the quantity of long balls as the Palm Beach team in aggregate.

Of course, there are other ways to win games than to out-homer the opposition, but getting runs in bunches can be very beneficial. Without dependable power, however, the Cardinals are generally more likely left to scratch out runs where they can.

The lone exception is the Springfield Cardinals. The Double-A club is holding down first place in its division while ranking second in the Texas League in home runs. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but those long balls are clearly not hurting.

One does not have to dig deeply to determine one key reason why Springfield is among its league leaders in home runs.

Imagine how much worse this story would be had the Cardinals not added a pair of polished college hitters in the early rounds of the 2015 draft.

The two – outfielder Harrison Bader (eight) and third baseman Paul DeJong (seven) – have 15 of the S-Cards’ homers between them. They rank second and tied for third, respectively, among all home run hitters in the Cardinals system to date in 2016.

The 15 from the two is 150 percent of the team totals for Palm Beach and Peoria and represents over 17 percent of all homers in the system this season.

Last year at this time, they were still playing collegiate ball at Florida and Illinois State, respectively, but are now raking at Double-A, a possible phone call away from St. Louis.

The continuing long ball gap across the system suggests a potential focus for the organization in the upcoming 2016 draft. Finding more Baders and DeJongs could provide additional instant offense for a Cardinals system clearly in need.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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21 Responses to “The Cardinals Need More Baders and DeJongs This June”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    This is a topic I have been mulling over. I started out in favor of more Baders and Dejongs, though I can see other outlooks too.

    Historically, the cards were bad at drafting and developing starting pitchers. They seem to have improved a lot at this. We need talent via the draft and if we are now better at finding and creating pitchers, it makes some sense to do what you do well.
    More later

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    the cards have moved away from Investing high picks in slugging firstbasemen like Brett Wallace, mark Hamilton, and Mike ferris. They were pretty dismal. We instead favor pitchers and up the middle defenders.

    I am not bothered by the few home runs at the a level. Palm beach is inhospitable for slugging. The Peoria team is young and nimble, not knuckled draggers.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    On the eve of the draft in 2009, the cards had Mike trout, Grichuk, and Notre dames pollock to Busch for batting practice. It was talent rich year. I was elated we landed Shelby miller, though had we instead selected Trout, this would now be celebrated.
    High up in the draft, it seems apt to grab the best available. Individuals matter. If the best available is a high schooler, like Trout or Rolen or Giovanni Stanton, then we should select him. It’s also nice to land a promising collegiate hitter like piscotty or Bader.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    Further complicating the picture, DeJong was a 38th rounder of the Pirates as a junior. His ops the following year was about the same. The cards lifted the same guy 34 rounds last June.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    The birds seem interested to add sluggers. They took non high round flyers on Wilson in 2011, bellinger in 2014, and Kep brown in 2015. These men preferred to go to Stanford, duke, and Miami. Something to watch in 2015 will be whether we take a break from up the middle light hitters like Tilson and Mercado, and invest high picks in lads who can drive the ball.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    The birds seem interested to add sluggers. They took non high round flyers on Wilson in 2011, bellinger in 2014, and Kep brown in 2015. These men preferred to go to Stanford, duke, and Miami. Something to watch in 2015 will be whether we take a break from up the middle light hitters like Tilson and Mercado, and invest high picks in lads who can drive the ball.

  7. Bw52 says:

    The Cards still are pitching heavy prospect wise IMHO.After Bader and DeJong who else is close to being a reliable big league hitter? Patrick Wisdom is uneven at Memphis and DeJong could pass him up this season.Tilson is a banjo bat with some speed.Most hitters at Memphis this season would be decent bench guys for a stretch until overexposure catches up with you.The pitching pipeline seems in better shape than the htting pipeline for the Cards.I hope more offense is the focus this draft but I expect a lot of BPA.

  8. JumboShrimp says:

    We know they can invest in hitters, if they choose to put their minds to it. In 2009, for instance, they selected David Washington, Jon Rodriguez, Anthony Garcia, and Matt Adams within rounds 15 to 23. It can be done.

  9. crdswmn says:

    I’d like to take a moment away from Jumbo conversing with himself and ask Brian a question.

    What do you think (know) about Bader’s defense? Can he stick in CF?

    • Brian Walton says:

      A timely question. I have only seen Bader play in a few games so far, but Derek Shore has watched him a lot and spoke with scouts about the defense question specifically. In fact, he covers it in the Springfield report on the main site posted just this morning.

      • crdswmn says:

        Thanks, I’ll go read it.

        • crdswmn says:

          Well, it was minimal, but helpful.

          At some point (perhaps when he has progressed farther in the system) I would be interested in more detail. Is he Jon Jay with a better arm? Is he Grichuk/Pham? How is his range/speed, etc?

          I could watch him myself on Milb.TV, but I don’t particularly trust my eye test.

          • Brian Walton says:

            Derek is in Jupiter now, but I will ask him to stop by when he has a chance to comment further.

          • D_Shore23 says:

            The scout gave me a little tidbit on his defense. Told me he’s good enough to stick in center and has the arm strength preferred to play the corners. However, his bat ultimately plays best in center like a Grichuk. From my personal view, he’s a fearless defender which could hurt him in the long-term, but that’s just his style and he’s got great closing speed to the ball.

            I got a great view of Bader’s arm strength from right when Tommy Pham was on his rehab at Springfield. Bader caught a fly ball about medium deep and uncorked a throw to home plate on a one-hop rope. Unfortunately, he didn’t throw out the runner, but he demonstrated a cannon. I’m no scout, but I would say it plays above-average in center.

            Bader’s not the pure defensive outfielder that Pham is, but he’s probably in center than Grichuk while at the same level at the corners. Granted, Grichuk has primarily been a RF in his career.

            Hope this helps!

  10. JumboShrimp says:

    Thanks Derek, Crdswmn, and Brian. Now, back to regularly scheduled programming.

    The birds need to adjust their weighting of what they need out of the U.S. draft. Right now, there is a premium on pitchers, especially lefties; and up the middle position players. If they looked to Latin America for middle infielders, they could pick a few more corner outfielder types in the US draft to add some punch

  11. Bw52 says:

    A question for Crdswmn;
    What`s your thinking on Wainwright? Has he lost his number 1 starter status and is this the AW we will see from now on in your opinion? Anyone else feel free to offer opinions.I think he is still Cards top guy because Martinez,Wacha,Garcia and Leake all have been inconsistent.Cards starters have been wildly inconsistent all season.Nobody has stepped up on a regular basis.Nobody jumped out at AAA either to step in.

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