It may have only been one week. And it may have only been Spring Training baseball. But that’s not going to stop us from shining the spotlight on some Cardinals players who have gotten off to a fast start this spring.
(All stats current as of March 4)
- Jedd Gyorko (.545/.583/.818, 3 2B, 1 RBI)
Gyorko is locked in a battle for playing time in a crowded infield, and he’s made a strong case for himself through the first week of games. With six hits in eleven at bats, Gyorko is proving that his career year in 2016 was no fluke. As he rounds into form throughout the spring, be on the lookout to see if the right-handed slugger can make consistent contact. Strikeouts were a considerable problem for Gyorko last year, and cutting down on the K’s will make him a more appealing option for the Opening Day lineup for Mike Matheny.
2. Magneuris Sierra (.400/.438/.533, 2 2B)
Sierra, the Cardinals’ #9 prospect according to FanGraphs, is only 20 years old, but is showing that he may be able to make an impact at the major league level sooner rather than later. The toolsy Dominican outfielder has proven his ability to put the bat on the ball consistently, and has shown off his speed and range in center field subbing in for Dexter Fowler in the late innings of games this week. While he’s still considered a raw talent, he’s raising the eyebrows of the Cardinals’ front office with such a strong performance against more experienced competition.
3. Lance Lynn (6.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 1 SO, 1 BB)
In perhaps the most welcome sight of all of Spring Training, a strong and healthy Lance Lynn has put Mike Matheny and anyone else worrying about pitching depth at ease. Lynn has breezed through two Spring Training starts so far, throwing six strong innings as part of his comeback from Tommy John surgery.
While he hasn’t quite generated many swings and misses thus far, he’s hit 94 mph on the radar gun, a number that is in line with his average 2015 velocity. The one walk is a good sign too, keeping in mind that a pitcher in his first season back from Tommy John usually sees a slight bump in walk rate. Moving forward, it will be important to see Lynn remain effective as he works deeper into games.
4. Michael Wacha (5.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4 SO, 2 BB)
Close behind Lynn is Michael Wacha who has also put on an impressive display in his two starts, proving himself capable of filling in the unfortunate void left by Alex Reyes’ injury. Wacha, oft-injured the past few years, has looked healthy and effective in his brief spring stint. His most recent start was also his most impressive, getting in three innings of work against Washington in a very efficient 19 pitches.
Like Lynn, Wacha’s early velocity will be closely scrutinized, as that was identified as a possible source of his struggles last season. Nonetheless, the early returns look promising, leading fans to dream about a revitalized Wacha resembling the one who burst on the scene in the 2013 postseason.
5. Jose Martinez (.286/.444/.786, 2 HR, 4 RBI)
Martinez, a rookie in 2016, has made a strong impression early in camp with two big flies to go along with four RBIs. In very limited time down the stretch last September, Martinez actually hit .400 in 16 at bats as the Cards battled for a Wild Card berth. While a spot on the 25-man Opening Day roster doesn’t seem likely, Martinez may be able to force John Mozeliak’s hand if he can continue his big spring. Otherwise, the 28-year-old Venzuelan outfielder will likely be ticketed for AAA Memphis to begin the 2017 season.
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