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Over the next couple of weeks, I will be selecting the Cardinals organizational All-Star team. The team will be structured like a 25-man roster. For each position, I will isolate the player who made the most starts for each team at that position and will select the one winner. Fans will get a say as well later in the post.
For the three outfield positions on our team, I am going to continue the practice of identifying the player that played the most games at that position for all 8 of the Cardinals’ minor league teams. In some cases, these players may be playing “out of position” as the outfield positions can be pretty flexible. When I review the depth in the outfield later this offseason, I will do it as a whole, not position by position. In terms of left field, we see a couple of players with big time power. Grichuk, Garcia, and Raffield all would be considered to have plus power at the time. We will talk more about that later.
Below is the player who had the most games at shortstop 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. wRC+ has a baseline of 100, thus if a player has a 125 wRC+ it means they produced 25% more runs than a league average hitter. Obviously these are limited stats and you can click on their names for a better stat picture including stolen bases, strike outs, etc.
Memphis: Randal Grichuk – 472 plate appearances – .259/.311/.493/.805, 25 HR, 71 RBI, 102 wRC+
Springfield: Mike O’Neill – 408 plate appearances – .269/.343/.347/.690, 1 HR, 26 RBI, 101 wRC+
Palm Beach: Anthony Garcia – 391 plate appearances – .227/.320/.385/.705, 10 HR, 44 RBI, 103 wRC+
Peoria: Kenny Peoples-Walls – 304 plate appearances – .234/.254/.299/.553, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 57 wRC+
State College: Chase Raffield – 165 plate appearances – .199/.280/.342/.623, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 85 wRC+
Johnson City: Anthony Ray – 159 plate appearances – .238/.282/.293/.575, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 68 wRC+
GCL Cards: Michael Pritchard – 216 plate appearances – .330/.409/.379/.788, 0 HR, 22 RBI, 134 wRC+
DSL Cards: Wadye Ynfante – 176 plate appearances – .200/.306/.313/.620, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 87 wRC+
As you can see, the left field position has that power we have been looking for, but seems to be lacking the ability to get on base. Beyond Pritchard, the players with the two biggest wRC+ scores are big power guys but struggle to get on base as shown by Grichuk’s .311 OBP and Garcia’s .320 OBP. The disappointment in the group has to be Peoples-Walls, who entered 2014 as a top 20 prospect in our book, but he clearly struggled at the Low-A level and eventually saw a demotion to State College.
Michael Pritchard will be an interesting player to watch in 2015 as he had a strong rookie season last year. The undrafted free agent from Nebraska had the highest wRC+ of the group, thanks in large part to his nice on base percent and his 2.5:1 walk:strikeout ratio. Problem is, Pritchard had less than half the at-bats that Grichuk had and the 23-year old was playing against much younger competition, in fact, he struggled against older pitchers, hitting just .278 with a 595 OPS. If the Cardinals believe in Pritchard, he will likely begin 2015 with the Palm Beach Cardinals.
For left field, it came down to Randal Grichuk and Anthony Garcia, who had almost identical wRC+ scores. If you look at the numbers, you see that Grichuk’s OPS is exactly 100 points higher than Garcia’s, but his wRC+ is one point lower. I believe this difference comes in when you factor in league averages. Garcia played in a bigger pitcher’s league in the Florida State League, while Grichuk was in an extreme hitters league, the Pacific Coast League. We will not use the park or league factor that much and name Grichuk our starting left fielder on our All-Organization Team. As it is now, Grichuk would join Xavier Scruggs as our big power guys in the All-Org lineup. We have written about Grichuk many times, but I would really like him to start 2015 back with the Memphis Redbirds in hopes he could work on his plate discipline to raise that OBP. That being said, if he does begin in St. Louis he will be a nice bat and glove off of the bench.
It’s hard to predict the left field position in 2015 as so many outfielders can change position. If he is in St. Louis, Grichuk would probably see more time in right and Anthony Garcia should probably eventually be a right fielder as well due to his strong throwing arm.
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