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Bold Prediction: Hazelbaker Makes Cardinals Roster

Jeremy Hazelbaker has been a lifer in the Minor Leagues, but that could change in 2016

Jeremy Hazelbaker was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 draft by the Boston Red Sox. Since then he has yet to reach the Major League level and given that he will be turning 29 during the 2016 season, this is probably his last opportunity.

Hazelbaker has always been overlooked by top prospects preventing him from reaching his full potential. Hazelbaker is exactly what the Cardinals need on their roster. He is a speedy outfielder who can hit for average and has shown potential to hit double digits homeruns. He has the ability to play all three outfield positions making him a perfect candidate for the Cardinals’ outfield that already has many questions marks.

The Cardinal’s outfield right now consist of 3 players who have yet to play a full MLB season and an aging Matt Holliday. This is Hazelbaker’s perfect opportunity to make the team. There are no other major candidates for a 5th outfield spot and with the pitching as strong as it is, Manager Mike Matheny will probably be willing to give up a bullpen spot to an extra position player for the opening day roster.

Last season, Hazelbaker hit .333 in 58 games at the Triple-A level while hitting 10 homeruns. He also has the ability to create havoc on the base path, stealing 24 bases last season between triple and double A. The part of his game holding Hazelbaker back is his tendency to strike out often. In his 751 professional games played, he has struck out 789 times while only drawing 295 walks. In fact, he only averages 2.75 pitches per plate appearances for his entire career.

If Hazelbaker is able to increase his plate discipline and cut down on his strikeouts, there is no reason he would not make the Cardinals opening day roster.