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St. Louis Cardinals spring training tracker: Is the bench picture coming into focus?

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We last took a look at the St. Louis Cardinals' spring-training batting stats last Wednesday, so I thought today would be a good day to check back in. Monday seems like a good day to reset our idea of how players are performing in spring training and who manager Mike Matheny is giving playing time to as the starters are beginning to play deeper into games.

  • Last week, I received some negative comments for not including top prospect Stephen Piscotty as one of the potential bench candidates. The reason I didn't was the fact that Piscotty is not currently on the St. Louis 40-man roster. I delved into why that's important last week, too. Another reason is that Piscotty changed his swing during the offseason in an attempt to generate more power, which Bernie Miklasz wrote about in the Post-Dispatch over the weekend. Piscotty still has some developing to do and is not on the 40-man roster, so he'll start the season in Memphis. His .333/.375/.381 line of last Wednesday dropping to .265/.297/.294 after Sunday will probably do more to silence the advocates for his inclusion on the St. Louis bench than anything else, even though the stats don't mean anything.
  • Randal Grichuk's excellent training-training exhibition performance continues. Of course, does anyone think that Piscotty will end 2015 with more strikeouts than Grichuk or that Grichuk will end 2015 with a higher BA and OBP than Piscotty? Of course not. That being said, Grichuk is continuing to get playing time and appears to be a good bet for the St. Louis bench.
  • I'm on the record as being in favor of prospects playing daily in Memphis when I don't know how much playing time they'll get in the minors. I feel that the 23-year-old Grichuk would perhaps benefit more long term from this path than playing once a week in the majors and collecting a couple other PAs while pinch-hitting, but that's also because I hope he can be something more than a fourth outfielder. Jason Heyward wouldn't be a Cardinal today if the organization thought that Grichuk (or Piscotty) were ready to start in the majors this year. Perhaps the organization views Grichuk as a bench option not just in 2015, but beyond (while also viewing Piscotty, with his superior contact rates as a future everyday outfielder). It's an interesting question to ponder.
  • Tommy Pham has continued to be sidelined by the quad injury he suffered back on March 13.
  • Raise your hand if you expected Tony Cruz and Pete Kozma to lead the team in batting average on March 22. Raise your hand if you expect Cruz and Kozma to place first and second on the team in batting average this season. Raise your hand if you think either Cruz or Kozma will place higher than tenth on the team in batting average this season. Why is no one raising their hands? Are you telling me that Cruz and Kozma's spring-training batting averages are a mirage?

In all seriousness, the bench competition doesn't look much changed from last week. Based on PA totals, Matheny is apparently still giving Grichuk, Kelly, and Kozma the longest looks. It appears that the opening-day bench composition will be either Cruz, Reynolds, Bourjos, Kelly, and Kozma or Cruz, Reynolds, Bourjos, Grichuk, and Kozma.

Spring Training Batting Stats Through March 21, 2015

Player

PA

G

H

BB

K

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

S. Piscotty

37

17

9

1

9

.265

.297

.294

.591

R. Grichuk

36

13

9

4

7

.281

.361

.688

1.049

M. Adams

35

13

8

3

3

.258

.314

.419

.734

T. Kelly

35

16

6

7

6

.214

.371

.321

.693

P. Bourjos

34

10

2

3

8

.069

.182

.172

.354

J. Wilson

32

16

10

1

8

.323

.344

.548

.892

P. Kozma

31

15

13

1

5

.464

.467

.464

.931

S. Moore

31

12

7

1

9

.233

.258

.400

.658

K. Wong

30

12

5

2

3

.185

.267

.259

.526

M. Carpenter

29

13

8

5

3

.348

.448

.391

.840

J. Peralta

28

11

7

4

6

.292

.393

.417

.810

Y. Molina

27

10

8

1

3

.308

.333

.308

.641

X. Scruggs

27

15

4

3

6

.174

.296

.217

.514

J. Heyward

25

10

8

3

2

.364

.440

.364

.804

M. Holliday

25

10

8

4

5

.381

.480

.476

.956

M. Reynolds

25

10

4

2

9

.182

.280

.455

.735

R. Ortega

22

17

2

0

3

.091

.091

.136

.227

D. Anna

21

13

4

2

5

.235

.286

.294

.580

T. Cruz

18

9

8

2

3

.500

.556

.625

1.181

T. Pham

18

8

7

0

2

.412

.389

.588

.997

C. Stanley

16

8

5

4

2

.417

.563

.917

1.479

J. Jay

7

2

2

0

0

.286

.286

.286

.571

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