The Cardinals are 2-5-2 so far in Spring Training, and despite 11-1 and 17-5 losses in their last two games, Spring Training is still awesome, and I am here to provide a few reasons why. First and foremost, it is live baseball after a long and brutally cold winter.
Secondly, in just nine games, 36 players have had at least one plate appearance and 27 pitchers have thrown at least one-third of an inning. One hitter has a .667 batting average, while one pitcher has an ERA of 36.00. Oh, the joy of small sample sizes. As spring rolls along, the minor leaguers will be optioned and reassigned while regulars will begin getting regular playing time, so enjoy these outlandish numbers while you can because they won't be around for long.
Crazy statistics are fun, but another factor that makes Spring Training so awesome is the fact that it serves two very different purposes depending upon the player. For veterans under contract (i.e Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, etc.), Spring Training can be seen as a mere tune-up for the regular season. For prospects such as Carson Kelly or Kurt Heyer, it can be seen as a showcase—their time to show team executives what they can do against major league talent firsthand.
Depending upon the level of the minors, some of these prospects will play under the watchful eye of John Mozeliak just a handful of times during the season. Despite having eight team affiliates to keep track of, Mo still, unfortunately, can only be in one place at a time. However, if a prospect impresses him at some point during spring, you better believe he will make a few extra trips during the season to see how he is progressing.
With the majority of spring games being televised on Fox Sports Midwest this season, fans are able to see players that they have likely never seen before. Have they read about them? Of course. With what seems like hundreds of prospect lists published each season (MLB Pipeline, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, Future Redbirds, etc.), fans know more about minor leaguers than ever before, but seeing these prospects in live action is something that very few have the privilege in doing, unless of course they live in a minor league town like Memphis, Springfield, Peoria, etc.
Thus, some of these players will be seen in St. Louis at some point this season. Some will arrive next season. Some won't make it to Busch Stadium for three or more years down the road. Some may never make it to the big show at all. That's the beauty of Spring Training. The Cardinals uniform is one of the most beautiful things on Earth, and in Spring Training, fans get to see players wear the Birds on the Bat that may never get to wear them in the future. Fans get to see players that will likely wear the jersey for a very long period of time. It all depends, and in the moment, fans shouldn't really care. Instead, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of live baseball, and Cardinal red of course.
Finally, here is something you will never see outside of Spring Training. What was that guy even doing walking on the warning track in the middle of the game?