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In this post, I am going to look at the first base position throughout the Cardinals minor league system. This position has had a couple of consistent players near the top in Scruggs and Rodriguez, while Scruggs finally got a shot at the MLB level in 2014. There appears to be a lot of depth at the first base position, but not much in the way of future MLB prospects. Scruggs should see some time in the big leagues in 2015 and a couple of others could get a cup of coffee, but it’s hard to imagine any of them playing a significant role in the future.
Below is the player who had the most games at first base for each team and their slash lines with OPS included at the end. I have also included a sabermetric stat, wRC+, on the stat line. Scruggs and Rodriguez have the benefit of a huge plate appearance advantage over the rest of the group. Voit and Ringo did not take over their respective starting spots until mid-season, thus limiting their starts.
Memphis: Xavier Scruggs – 538 plate appearances – .286/.370/.494/.864, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 125 wRC+
Springfield: Jonathan Rodriguez – 469 plate appearances – .266/.358/.404/.762, 11 HR, 51 RBI, 121 wRC+
Palm Beach: Luke Voit – 390 plate appearances – .276/.342/.442/.783, 9 HR, 51 RBI, 124 wRC+
Peoria: Justin Ringo – 323 plate appearances – .294/.365/.439/.805, 9 HR, 46 RBI, 132 wRC+
State College: Jake Stone – 234 plate appearances – .256/.355/.382/.737, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 120 wRC+
Johnson City: Casey Grayson – 269 plate appearances – .283/.379/.434/.813, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 133 wRC+
GCL Cards: Elier Rodriguez – 195 plate appearances – .239/.308/.313/.621, 0 HR, 18 RBI, 84 wRC+
DSL Cards: Carlos Rodriguez – 193 plate appearances – .181/.316/.200/.516, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 69 wRC+
Going into this post, I had Xavier Scruggs picked out as my winner, but after looking at the results, there are several strong candidates for the spot on the All-Organization Team. Scruggs had the best offensive numbers, but Grayson’s 133 wRC+ is pretty impressive, but I have to dock him for just having under 300 plate appearances. Ringo also gets docked for his lower amount of at-bats. It would have been interesting to see how those two, Grayson and Ringo, would have fared with 400-500 plate appearances.
My gut instinct was correct as Xavier Scruggs is your All-Organization First Baseman. Scruggs had, in my opinion, his best professional season in 2014. He has historically had extremely high strike out rates and cut his from 32.4% in 2013 to 21.2% in 2014. I believe this is what allowed him to be added to the 40-man roster and avoid minor league free agency. For 2015, it looks like Scruggs will begin the season back at Triple-A Memphis as the big club signed Mark Reynolds to back up Matt Adams at first. Scruggs will be ready if an injury or poor performance were to happen.
Take a look at the last slash column, OPS, and you will find some pretty strong numbers, thanks in large part to some nice on base numbers. The top 6 players had above average OBP’s. Something else I noticed was impressive power numbers. Look for there to be not much movement at first base in 2015, unless a player or two from this list gets released or a couple change positions. I will be interested to watch Voit, Ringo, and Grayson develop in 2015 and hopefully see more playing time.