Cardinals Midseason Report

Jay making his case for a role





BEST PLAYER: Long pegged as a potential fourth outfielder, Jon Jay excelled at the role when given the chance, and then did even better when ejected from it.
Jay, 25, hit .375 (6-for-16) as a pinch-hitter during a cameo appearance with the Carindals. He didn't stumble when the Cardinals decided he would thrive with regular playing time at Triple-A Memphis, as he hit .300 in June and upped his overall line to .321/.394/.491.

Jay, a second-round pick (74th overall) in 2006 out of Miami, has refined his swing and gained the kind of balanced, line-drive stroke that had scouts predicting he'd win a minor league batting title at some point. It's certainly made the Cardinals consider his ceiling. The outfield is crowded with Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus, but Jay has created an opening for himself.

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: Scott Schneider was so quick to impress that he won two of the organization's pitcher of the month awards in his first four months as a pro. But it was a fair question to ask if the 2009 20th-round pick out of St Mary's could keep it up at higher levels.

Schneider has, turning a 5-2, 3.11 stint in low Class A Quad Cities into a promotion and a 2-0, 0.69 start at high Class A Palm Beach. He had more strikeouts (68) than baserunners allowed (58) in 64 innings with Quad Cities.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: The idea was to have shortstop Pete Kozma return to Double-A, grow confident offensively and surge to Memphis. Instead, he hasn't factored in a shuffle of infielders at the top rungs in the organization.

Kozma, 22, has had a spike in power (eight homers, 23 extra-base hits), but his overall line has sagged to .237/.309/.380. His bat hasn't emerged as expected this season, and his glove—lauded by Texas League managers as the best in the league at his position last season—has scuffled with 22 errors.

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• Daniel Descalso, one of Memphis' most consistent hitters, sustained a hairline fracture in his left collarbone and was expected to miss several weeks. The Cardinals' top prospect at second base, Descalso was hitting .274/.357/.414.

• Injuries at the major league level led to ripple-effect promotions for pitchers throughout the system. Righthander Eduardo Sanchez, one of two Futures Game representatives for the Cardinals, was promoted to the Memphis bullpen.