Yeah yeah yeah, I know Spring Training stats aren’t supposed to mean anything. So what? That doesn’t mean we can get irrationally excited about a few Cardinals players killing it in Grapefruit League play.
I checked in on some other top performers after week 1 here, so I’m going to focus on some other guys this time around.
1. John Gant (10.0 IP, 1.80 ERA, 8 K, 3 BB)
It’s clear that the 2017 season is going to test the starting pitching depth of the Cardinals, so Gant’s early spring performance is an encouraging sight so far. Gant has bounced around a bit early in his career, from New York to Atlanta before ending up in St. Louis this offseason in the trade that sent Jaime Garcia to the Braves. While he doesn’t come with the big pedigree of a top prospect, he’s shown the ability to be an innings-eater if nothing else, and his spring stats support that.
2. Dexter Fowler (.391/.531/.565, 2 2B, 3 RBI)
While many players of Fowler’s caliber are off competing in the WBC, Fowler has been content to have a calm, relaxing spring adjusting to his new home in the NL Central. So far, that adjustment is off to a great start. Mike Matheny’s likely Opening Day leadoff hitter is finding himself right at home in Cardinal Red, and is showing off his knack for getting on base with a sparkling .531 OBP in Grapefruit League play. The skills are clearly translating, so all that’s left to watch his how Fowler develops chemistry with his former division rivals turned new teammates.
3. Harrison Bader (.364/.400/.636, 2 HR, 7 RBI)
Bader, the #11 prospect in the Cardinals minor league system according to FanGraphs, has been taking full advantage of the increased playing time that comes with early spring games. When the big names hit the back fields for postgame sprints in the fifth inning, Bader and his fellow minor leaguers with numbers in the 80s and 90s take the field to show their stuff in front of the big league skipper.
Bader reached AAA in 2016, and many expect the 22-year-old outfielder to make his major league debut in 2017. He’s flashed some power with 2 home runs this spring, and his minor league career high of 19 homers in 2016 confirms that he has that kind of potential.
4. Patrick Wisdom (.240/.367/.640, 3 HR, 4 RBI)
Non-roster invitee older than your average minor leaguer having a huge spring – sound familiar? Many are drawing comparisons between the 25-year-old Wisdom and 2016 Grapefruit League MVP Jeremy Hazelbaker. As many know, Hazelbaker had an enormous spring to force himself onto the Opening Day roster before eventually fizzling and ending up back in the minors a few months later.
It doesn’t appear that there’s currently a spot available for Wisdom thanks to the crowded infield, but if he keeps swatting big flies at the same rate, it might not be too long until Jhonny Peralta pundits are calling for Wisdom to take over a share of the job at the hot corner.
5. Matt Bowman (6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 K, 1 BB)
Bowman, a Rule 5 draft pick from the New York Mets system, was contractually obligated to stick on the active roster for the duration of the 2016 season. Having accomplished that (relatively) unscathed, Bowman is now officially St. Louis property, and can be maneuvered freely between the minors and majors at the will of the front office.
With his strong spring performance, Bowman is certainly making his case to stick around for the Cardinals to begin the season. It surely won’t be easy to convince Mike Matheny or John Mozeliak of that case, as they plan to lean on a collection of major league veterans to begin the season.
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