By: Jim Tsapelas
Unofficially, there has been much in the way of activity at the Cardinals’ Spring Training Complex in Jupiter, Florida for the past several weeks. We have received news of Matt Holliday working-out, trying to develop a skill set at first base. Additionally, we have seen pictures and read reports of Adam Wainwright impressing teammates with his curveball. Yes, unofficially, there is plenty of baseball activity in Jupiter; as a year round base.
February 17th is the “Official MLB Reporting Date” for pitchers and catchers. The first “Official Workout” for battery players is on the 18th. The “Official Reporting Date for MLB Position Players” is on the 22nd; with their first “Official MLB Workout”, scheduled on the 23rd.
Despite multiple rumors, officially the Cardinals have no interest at this time in trying to experiment with Matt Holliday at first base. Coming out of Jupiter, the starting first baseman’s job is Brandon Moss’ to lose. Holliday was choosing to workout at first as a part of his personal conditioning program. Moss and Matt Adams, who is rebounding from an injury plagued 2015 season, shall most likely split time at first.
With the Cardinals’ Number One Prospect, Alex Reyes, sitting out a fifty game suspension for violating Minor League Baseball’s Substance Use Policy, there are four individuals among the sixty-two invitees to Spring Training who, like Reyes, shall make an impact with the Major League club at some point in time during the 2016 Season. Reyes, although delayed by his suspension, shall see time with the St. Louis Cardinals this season. Reyes is a 6’3” RHP with a three year minor league record of 18-20; and an ERA of 3.15. Reyes possesses a solid delivery, an effortless fastball that sits in the 92-95 mph range and occasionally hits 100 mph. Reyes also has in his pitch arsenal a quite impressive curveball. He is often compared, within the Minor League system, to former Cardinal Shelby Miller.
Alemdmys Diaz defected from Cuba in 2012 while playing for the Cuban National Baseball Team in a tournament in the Netherlands. Diaz represented the team Naranjas de Villa Clara, in the Cuban National Series. From 2008-2012, playing in Cuba, Diaz batted .308 with a .401 OBP and a .444 slugging percentage. Due to his age, Diaz was declared ineligible by MLB to sign with any MLB team until February 19, 2014. On March 9, 2014, Diaz signed a four-year contract with the Redbirds worth eight million dollars. The 6’1” Diaz weighs 195 pounds. He bats and throws right-handed. In two MiLB seasons, his batting average is .276 in one hundred and sixty-three games. Diaz is the heir apparent to Cardinal shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Charlie Tilson is a twenty-three year old left-handed outfielder. The 5’11” Tilson has a four season MiLB batting average of .296. As a minor leaguer, he has seventy-four career stolen bases; having stolen forty-six in 2015 at AA-Springfield of the Texas League.
Another outfielder who should see action with the big club in 2016 is Anthony Garcia. The right-handed twenty-four year old six foot Garcia has won numerous awards and honors on the MiLB level with numerous teams; within the Cardinals’ organization. In seven MiLB seasons, Garcia is a lifetime .260 hitter.
Left-handed reliever Dean Kiekhefer was selected by the Cardinals in the thirty-sixth round of the 2010 Amateur Draft. In six MiLB seasons, Kiekhefer recorded forty saves in fifty-three opportunities. His career MiLB record is 14-15-with an ERA of 2.73 with a WHIP of 1.11.
Who really knows who will ultimately break out during the Cardinals’ 2016 Spring Training? I am fairly certain Reyes, Diaz, Tilson, Anthony Garcia, and Kiekhefer, will all see action with the big league club in 2016. Here’s to a great 2016 Season!
Thanks for reading!