Cardinals Draft For Depth

St. Louis takes outfielder Komatsu in Rule 5





ST. LOUIS—As the Cardinals try to mine their minor league system for middle infielders and a few lefty relievers, an area of great depth has been outfield. Naturally, they took an outfielder in the major league Rule 5 draft.
There is a method to the sameness.

The Cardinals plucked Erik Komatsu, 24, from the Nationals in the annual prospect apple bob. Komatsu is a former player of the year in the Brewers system, and he projects as a high-average hitter off the bench with the ability to play all three spots in the outfield. The Cardinals could use a righthanded-hitting center fielder. Komatsu hits lefty.

"He does a lot of things well," farm director John Vuch said. "He can play all three outfield positions. He's got some power. He drives the ball in the gaps, primarily. Hard-nosed guy. Plays hard. We felt like he was a candidate to stick as the fourth or fifth outfielder."

The Cardinals could find a way to fit Komatsu into the major league roster. Cemented in place as the team's fourth outfielder is Skip Schumaker, the super-utility lefthanded hitter who may be the starter at second base. Adron Chambers won the spare outfielder role for the first two rounds of the postseason, and he had two key pinch-hit appearances that helped drive the Cardinals toward October.
Chambers will compete with Komatsu—and a few others—for that open spot on the bench.

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• To replace vice president/scouting director Jeff Luhnow, who joined the Astros as their general manager, the Cardinals planned a broad, though hastened search. Many of the scouting programs that Luhnow advanced (Latin America, analytics) will remain, led by people he hired or promoted.

• The Cardinals lost three players in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, including catcher Charles Cutler, who had good performances but was squeezed out of playing time. Others lost were infielder Domnit Bolivar and Javier Avenado. All three came from the Double-A roster.