In the midst of an unusual season for the St. Louis Cardinals who have been tormented by injuries, poor defense, an inadequate bullpen, and inconsistent starting pitching, there seems to be a bright spot- the call ups.
The Cardinals seem to have no problem pulling the trigger on giving some of their top prospects the call up to the big leagues this year. The start of all these call ups began early in the season starting with outfielder Tommy Pham. Although Pham is 29 he found himself starting the season in the minor leagues once again mainly due to his injury past and the off-season acquisition of Dexter Fowler. On May 5, when the Cardinals placed Stephen Piscotty on the 10-day DL Tommy Pham was once again given the chance to come up to the majors. Since then Pham has taken the opportunity and ran away with it forcing manager Mike Matheny to put him in the starting lineup every day. Pham has provided much of the offense hitting .307 with 14 homers, 43 RBI and has stolen a team high 13 bases.
A few days later when 29-year-old rookie Jose Martinez was placed on the 10-day DL the Cardinals obtained their first look at 21-year-old outfielder Magneuris Sierra. The speedster Sierra has been called up from AA two other times this year and his currently in AA as the Cardinals want him to continue to develop. When Sierra has been with Cardinals this season he has been an absolute spark plug mainly due to his speed allowing him to beat out infield hits and grabbing an extra base any chance he has. In a small sample size Sierra has hit .365 with five RBI and scored 10 runs.
Later that month the Cardinals called up rookie right-handed relief pitcher John Brebbia when Miguel Socolovich was designated for assignment. Brebbia who is working his way into a larger bullpen role has appeared in 19 games hoisting a solid 1.61 ERA. I had the opportunity to watch Brebbia’s game of the season when he came into pitch three shutout innings against the Mets after the Mets scored seven runs in the first two innings of the game.
A man who has been a pleasent surprise for the Cardinals was called up on May 28 sent back down to AAA on June 12 and then recived another call up three days later. That man is 23 year old rookie infielder Paul DeJong. DeJong has really found his home at short stop and has been playing sensational baseball forcing his way into the starting lineup everyday, like Pham. DeJong has batted .292 with 13 doubles, 29 RBI and is currently showing he has some pop in his bat with 13 homers.
In late June rookie first baseman and St. Louis native Luke Voit recived the callup and arrived on the scene. Voit has quickly become a fan favorite due to his St. Louis roots. Voit isnt getting much playing time, only making spot starts at first base and occasional pinch hit attempts. In a limited amount of at-bats Voit has managed to show off his power by hitting six doubles and three bombs.
The latest callup, outfilder Harrison Bader made an instant impact in his first MLB game on July, 25. Bader started the game 0-3 but in his first at bat he almost beat out a routine ground ball hit to shortstop Trevor Story. Teams must take note that a ground ball hit by Bader is anything but routine after seeing him sprint down the line like he was running a 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. In a 2-2 tie game in the bottom of the ninth Bader roped a line drive double down the left field line to start the inning. Greg Garcia then sacrifice bunted Bader to third. Jedd Gyorko then stepped to the plate looking to end the game with one out and Bader on third. Gyorko then hit a shallow fly ball to right fielder Carlos Gonzalez. In a play where many players wouldn’t even think about tagging up Bader used his hustle and speed to test the arm of Gonzalez on a throw to home. Well, Bader won that battle and scored the winning run in his first MLB game.
Even though the Cardinals may have been expecting more consistent successful play and winning the young guys and callups have really provided many sparks to a team that can use some sparks. It will be interesting to see if these guys can help the team make a push to the playoffs, but if not the future looks real bright in St.Louis.