Usually Triple-A is a way station for minor league veterans. But the Memphis Redbirds will begin the season with Cardinals' top prospect, righthander Shelby Miller, as well as third baseman Zack Cox and 10 of the team's top 22 prospects. With first baseman Matt Adams, shortstop Ryan Jackson and Cox, the club will come close to having an all-prospect infield. The Redbirds will light up radar guns as well, with Miller, Maikel Cleto, Eduardo Sanchez, Joe Kelly and Adam Reifer all pitching in the high 90s at their best.
Leap Of Faith
\When the Cardinals talked with outfielder Oscar Taveras about improving his all-around approach this spring, they gave him plenty of incentive to improve his defense and baserunning, with the promise of a jump to Double-A Springfield if he showed significant improvement this spring. Taveras lived up to his part of the bargain, so he will become a rare teenager in the Texas League. He skips over high Class A Palm Beach. Taveras will have one of his 2011 teammates from low Class A Quad Cities making the jump with him in righthander Trevor Rosenthal.
Where Is That Guy?
Righthander Jordan Swagerty will miss the entire 2012 season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Swagerty was dealing with bone chips in his elbow this spring and could have opted to simply have the bone chips removed, but that often destabilizes and weakens the ligament and leads to further problems. So instead of risking more problems down the road, Swagerty and the Cardinals decided to fix all of the problems in one surgery. Catcher Cody Stanley will miss the first 50 games of the season as he serves a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Time Is Running Out
Robert Stock skipped his senior year of high school to enroll early at Southern California in 2007, but the move didn't pay dividends for Stock. He batted .226 as a college junior, and most scouts thought he was better suited to be a pro pitcher than catcher. He had gone 5-4, 2.90 in 77 innings for the Trojans as a junior. But Stock wanted to catch, and the Cardinals, who drafted him in the second round in 2009, let him. Two and a half years and a .667 OPS later, Stock is starting over as a righthander, returning to Quad Cities. Stock will pitch the entire season as a 22-year-old, so he's still got youth on his side, but his status as a 2009 college draftee means the Cardinals will have to make 40-man roster decision about him after this season. He'll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if the Cardinals don't add him to the 40-man.
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