In a season that has seen the MLB Cardinals riddled with injuries we have seen massive movement throughout the Cardinals minor league systems as well. As a resident of Springfield, I tend to focus my energy on guys who play for the current Springfield Cardinals. Throughout this season we've seen fast track players such as Harrison Bader blossom (Also full disclosure I actually have a Harrison Bader shirsey). We know that there are some sure fire major league hopefuls there now such as P Luke Weaver who has done nothing but dominate Texas League pitching and C Carson Kelly who leads the team in avg as well as being perhaps the best defensive catcher in the Texas League.
It is easy to get caught up in the hyped players, and rightfully so. However, as I looked through the list of players who have logged the most games this season I saw two intriguing names; 3B Paul DeJong and 1B Luke Voit. With them playing seemingly every game in Springfield does it spell end of the road for these young players' careers or is it a logical minor league process in motion? Well let's see what I can find out...
Paul DeJong has played in 79 games this season for the Springfield Cardinals with 76 defensive starts. Also, before I go into what he is doing this season it should be noted that DeJong played last season in Peoria and bypassed playing in Palm Beach, starting the season in Springfield. Of those defensive innings he has played all but 29 of his roughly 680 innings at 3B with the rest coming at SS. Defensively DeJong as a 3B this season has committed 8 errors with a .956 fielding percentage. At first glance that number didn't impress me, but this year at the major league level the Cardinals have played 5 different players and 3B (Carpenter, Peralta, Tejada, Gyorko and Garcia) and collectively they have a fielding percentage of .939 according to Baseball Reference (also the league average is .958). Defensively, DeJong (only 22 years of age by the way) is playing at an average level and has a better fielding percentage than the Major Leaguers for the Cardinals this season.
At the plate DeJong leads the team in HR and RBI with 15 and 53 respectively. For being 22 years old I can say the guy just has raw power. Last night he hit a no doubt home run to left that cleared the grass seating area down the line at Hammons Field. However, his splits are meh at .254/.313/.464. DeJong does also strike out a lot as he has logged 94 in 295 AB or a SO% of 31.86% in registered AB. DeJong only has 24 walks this season in 329 PA. Plate discipline is certainly something that is concerning but again this is a guy providing average defense and power at a position that may not be covered long term for the Cardinals (depending on what they want to do with All-World star Matt Carpenter). Perhaps he needs more time with AA hitting coach Ramon Ortiz to work on his approach at the plate. Otherwise, we could be looking at DeJong as another Mark Reynolds. Again, though, I just want to stress he is 22 years old and playing pretty well at AA; there is time for development.
Our next interesting look is at 1B Luke Voit. Voit is no stranger to Hammons Field and Springfield having played his college ball at Missouri State University who shares the stadium with the AA Cards. Voit is currently having career highs so far in BA and SLG. I know these aren't full season numbers but his splits are .280/.356/.460. Voit was a Texas League All-Star this season and won the home run derby clubbing 30 HR in total including 14 in the first round. To put it bluntly, the guy can flat out hit.
One potential problem for Voit moving forward is the position he plays. Currently on the MLB roster there are six players who have played 1B for the Cardinals this year. While this is a little inflated with players like Molina, Holliday and Gyorko who may not figure to be in the running when Voit would become ready, the road blocks of Carpenter (imo), Adams and Moss could loom. Voit is a solid defensive first baseman with a fielding percentage of .991 committing only 5 errors in 526 innings at first base. He also has played almost 73 innings in the outfield showing some versatility.
Despite taking some factors of his defensive ability into account which are not bad I think Luke Voit has one commodity in this league. His best bet will be for the National League to adopt the DH rule or to be dealt to an AL team where he could fill the role. Voit is 25, not old by any stretch but aging for a AA player (1.2 years older than avg per BR). Voit can flat out hit and can hit for power and average. Perhaps Voit would be the kind of prospect the Cardinals could look to deal when looking for bullpen help at the deadline, if that is the direction they go. Voit, in my amateur opinion, has the ability to be a role player in the big leagues but I do not necessarily see him with the Cardinals.
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