Back before he returned to the major leagues as a manager, Mike Matheny did some consulting and coaching for catchers—and at least one hometown favor.
A friend asked him to take a look at a catcher at Lafayette High in suburban St. Louis, but that would not be the last time Matheny had an eye on Luke Voit.
“He just continues to put up numbers,” Matheny said.
Matheny saw Voit again at Missouri State, where the manager’s son Tate (who now plays in the Red Sox system)also played. He now sees Voit, a 22nd-round pick in 2013, on his doorstep.
No player in the system had done more in the first two months of the season to enhance his status.
Voit hit .348/.436/.613 with eight home runs through 43 games at Triple-A Memphis. Though he similarly thrashed the Double-A Texas League a year ago, he did not receive an invite to big league camp.
Now, the 26-year-old righthanded batter had clearly positioned himself for a callup.
To clear room on the active roster, the Cardinals traded backup first baseman Matt Adams to the Braves on May 20. One reason cited for the move was depth. In addition to Voit, Memphis shortstop Paul DeJong had gotten off to a powerful start.
Like Adams, himself a 23rd-round pick, Voit is a hulking figure in the batters’s box at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds.
Voit keeps his hands low to start his swing, and that unusual setup had some evaluators wondering if he could catch up to Triple-A competition. He made traditional adjustments to his swing, too. He stopped hooking his foot and closing off to the pitch, and he also shortened his stride.
A better base has meant better balance—and more attention.
“He’s on the radar,” Matheny said.
— Derrick Goold covers the Cardinals for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch