United Cardinal Bloggers Roundtable – 2012’s unexpected contributor?

by on November 8, 2011 · 2 comments

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Adron Chambers #57 ...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

It’s that time of the year again, for the United Cardinal Bloggers’ Fall Roundtable discussions.  You can find all of the other question and answer sessions by visiting the UCB site – but yesterday was our turn to do the asking, thus today is the day to do the posting.

We asked:

It seems with every organization, every season, there is at least one player that winds up on the major league roster as a result of some unforeseen circumstance. Sometimes these players contribute heavily, other times it’s a cup of coffee before heading back to the minor league grind.

We saw it happen in the Cardinals’ bullpen in 2011 and with Adron Chambers. My question for you then is, which player (or players) with ZERO previous major league experience will see time with the St. Louis club in 2012 and for what reason (injury to others, forces his way onto the roster, or otherwise)?

For bonus points, which one (if you think there will be more than one) will make the most significant contribution to the 2012 Cardinals?

And the responses (some rejected for not following the rules!):

Bill Ivie, I-70 Baseball

It may end up being a pipe dream, and honestly I feel he needs to not debut until 2013, but I see Shelby Miller arriving in St. Louis by mid-summer.

The kid has some maturing to do (see: underage drinking suspension, 2011) but his stuff is electric, he thinks a good game, and he could be a jolt in the arm for the team should it need it.

As for how he arrives, well, I’m citing 2006 as a blueprint. Struggles for Motte (not that he’s the closer or anything) will see Shelby arrive as a non-closer himself for the second half of of 2012 before taking his projected spot in the rotation the following year.

There are other exciting names in this system right now with Matt Adams and Ryan Jackson being two of the more prominent, but I feel they are a bit further out than next summer at this point.

Daniel Solzman, Redbirds Fun

I’d rather someone make the roster out of ST but I’d like to see someone like Miller up in St. Louis. Whether he is ready, I don’t know.

G-d forbid we lose a key starter to injury though.

Daniel Shoptaw, C70 at the Bat

I do expect to see Shelby Miller next season, perhaps in August when the team feels it can finally cut bait on Jake Westbrook and not have a prohibitive payroll hit.

I could see Matt Adams forcing his way onto the roster if Albert Pujols doesn’t resign with the club and then Lance Berkman has a short DL stint.

On the whole, though, I’d select Miller as my answer for the one that would be most likely to make the most impact.

JE Powell, STL: Fear the Red

Even before I saw any of the responses, my first thought to the question was: Shelby Miller. I think that Miller could go the way of Wainwright and be used in the bullpen before seeing any Major League starts. He could even get a spot start or two, I suppose, later in the year. From what I have seen and heard, it appears that his stuff is too good to keep in the Minors for too long. My guess, then, is that the Cardinals will use Miller out of the bullpen in 2012 and will put him into the starting rotation in 2013. I think Miller’s arm will be important in August and September.

Ray DeRousse, STL Cardinal Baseball

It’s a tantalizing question. Predicting the answer involves better knowing where Shelby Miller, Matt Adams, Zack Cox, and Ryan Jackson will be next year. The current players in Memphis are either not good enough or they don’t fit within the parameters of the question.

Clearly, Adams is the front runner if the Pujols/Berkman/Craig situation totally collapses. Cox sounds like he needs more time. Jackson sounds close, but i dont see the club doing much with him in the bigs next year.

However, I suspect that we will absolutely see Miller at some point late in 2012. And he will contribute in huge ways if/when he does show up. Our starting rotation is still so shaky that I cannot imagine a scenario in which Miller doesn’t ascend in ’12.

Erika Lynn, Cardinal Diamond Diaries

Stepping away from the popular answer of Shelby Miller, I’ll throw out a new name and predict we see Donovan Solano in the big leagues for the first time in 2012.

If Nick Punto, Ryan Theriot (take him, please?) and Skip Schumaker all move on, the Cardinals’ shallow infield gets even thinner. Daniel Descalso claimed a spot for himself in 2011 by being a posterboy for versatility. Donovan Solano may be able to do the same. Solano has split time in AAA (and AA) at SS, 2B & 3B. And without looking up any stats because 1) I’m too lazy and 2) stats wouldn’t have predicted Pete Kozma or Adron Chambers’ 2011 MLB appearances – I’m relying on what I’ve seen. Watching Solano with Memphis (in OKC) this year, I swear every time I blinked Solano was on base. It made an impression.

Solano may never boast the defensive plus of Danny D, but he’s my pick for surprise appearance in 2012.

Tara Wellman, Aaron Miles’ Fastball

Not to simply follow the crowd here, but my initial reaction was Shelby Miller, as well. If he can “keep his nose clean” and grow up a bit, he certainly has the stuff to make it to the big club in 2012. I think the Cardinals are very interested in seeing what he can offer, so I expect him to get a shot somewhere along the line. And when he does, I think we’ll like what we see.

But if this season has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected (Pete Kozma? Yeah…). So we shall see!

Dustin McClure, Welcome to Baseball Heaven

I definitely agree with the mentions of Shelby Miller and Matt Adams. If Shelby can get off to a good start in 2012 and those who make these kinds of decisions feel he’s commanding his secondary pitches I think we’ll see him at least for a spot start or two in the 2nd half. I’m fully expecting him to be in the rotation at the start of 2013 so getting him some time next season would be beneficial.

As for Matt Adams, if he hits in Memphis like he did in Springfield the organization will almost be forced to find him a spot to get him AB’s at the MLB level. Obviously the Pujols situation will have a lot to do with his overall timeline. A good time to do so could be around interleague play. Having the DH available would allow Adams to get in the lineup one way or another.

My dark horse selection is Kolten Wong. Our 1st round selection in the amateur draft last year could be on a faster track than most based on his college baseball experience. He was drafted to play 2nd base and unless his production hits some serious hurdles I’d hope they’d want to give him a look fairly quickly. I’m assuming he’ll start the season in Springfield and not QC but of course I have no insight on that (maybe someone does). As we saw last year the jump from Springfield to St. Louis is not out of the question. Again, this all may sway one way or another based on the free agent action.

Tom Knuppel, Cardinals GM

I will go with Shelby Miller for all of the reasons everyone else has stated.

Jon Doble, Redbirds Dugout

This is a really tough question as most of the players who are considered “ready” or “near ready” in the system spent time in St. Louis this year. You have Matt Adams and Ryan Jackson as two guys who are penciled in as future guys, but both are viewed as at least a year away.

I’ve got to go with Erika. Donovan Solano. He was having a pretty strong year in Memphis (.284/.336/.397 with 23 doubles in 81 games) before they demoted him to give Kozma the starting job at second base. It’s a low sample size of just 21 games, but last year he was the best defensive short stop in the organization by fielding percentage. He could be a potential short stop/second base guy who gets a good look.

But the demotion indicates the organization may have given up on him a little. But he’s definitely a guy that should get a good look in Spring Training. It’s unlikely he’s anything special, but he could be the type of guy who sticks around the majors as a utility-type infielder for several years.

Kevin Reynolds, Cards ‘N Stuff

Okay…I’m gonna’ punt this one, in a way…simply because I have very little knowledge of the unknown guys this time around.

But I’ll say this…I don’t think anyone without MLB appearances makes a “significant” impact this year. There won’t be a Descalso or Lynn this season (I know, DD had MLB appearances…but you get my point). We just have too many young guys up and contributing now to believe another will emerge.

As far as simply making an appearance, the smart money would be on Shelby Miller in September or slightly before…but that’s by no means assured. Also, I believe the Cards will let someone (Theriot, Punto, Schumaker) walk this year on the infield. If it were me, it would be Theriot – Punto can play a better SS and Schumaker is considered by many players as a “core” player who has value in the OF – but i’m not the GM. Regardless, that means a AAA infielder is just one Punto/Schumaker/Furcal? injury away from coming up. Of course, at that point it’s a grab bag…depending on the severity of the injury…but assuming the Cards only need a temp fix, Solano could be the guy. A long-term option needed at mid-season, however, could see Ryan Jackson get his shot – but I doubt it.

Of course, all this is based on whether Pujols signs or not. If he does, then the outfield and 1B is stacked. If he doesn’t, then there could be room for a Matt Adams or a grab bag outfielder to make a debut in mid-season if Berkman et al goes down.

Anyway…to be vague…if something happens early in the season to the ‘pen by way of injury, and considering the arms that are either gone (Walters) or up and contributing now (Lynn), we could see a relative unknown fill an innings spot in the ‘pen from the AAA rotation.

Ultimately…I have no idea.

Just happy to be here!

Eugene Tierney, 85 Percent Sports

FYI…Solano is a minor league free agent according to Baseball America.

Shelby Miller is the easy answer and the one I’d say too. For a position player, I’d go with Ryan Jackson. First off, if we are relying on Rafael Furcal (like many are predicting), he’s good for a DL stint. The organizations has shown they won’t give Tyler Greene a real shot at the position and I could see Jackson getting a look if Furcal is out for an somewhat extended period.

Erika Lynn, Cardinal Diamond Diaries

Is Chuckie Fick still in the organization? We’re running out of potential Baby Bird candidates that haven’t already been called up.

OK… with Donavon Solano gone (shoot.) I’ll shift my prediction to shortstop Ryan Jackson as the non-Shelby candidate.

Bob Netherton, On the Outside Corner

Don’t give up quite so soon, I liked your choice of Solano. Just because he’s a free agent doesn’t mean he’s not coming back. I’d rather keep Solano than Kozma, but I guess that’s not happening 🙂 Solano has sort of a Jose Oquendo quality to him that I like, a lot.

Miranda Remaklus, Aaron Miles’ Fastball

John Gast.
It’s well documented! I’ve had a thing for him since March!
I was listening to a spring training game he was pitching. The way Mike Shannon talked about him… and the way he was pitching at that moment. I was in love! He is a lefty who may have better stuff than Jaime. He is able to pick off runners at first with great ease. Someone speaking during the broadcast added that Gast worked with Jaime to improve his pick off move. Obviously there needed to be more work, because we didn’t see it much out of Jaime. But still… we have this guy in our system. I really look forward to seeing Gast, Yadi and … hopefully, Albert work together!
I thought after his spring he might move up quick. But that didn’t happen. And it’s probably a good thing!
Let him get some time in the minors, pitching and then he can move up and pitch in meaningful games in the future.

Bob Netherton, On the Outside Corner

It was such a great part of the 2011 Cardinals story, the opportunities in 2012 should be fewer. I suspect we will see many of the same kids we saw last year:
Adron Chambers, Matt Carpenter, Maikel Cleto, Tony Cruz. There will be a housecleaning in Memphis this year, some of that has already happened (Andeew Brown), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few intriguing kids that will make an impact next year – but I don’t think it will be Shelby Miller. Miller blew his way through AA on the strength of his fastball, but his secondary pitches need a lot of work to be effective at a higher level. There is no doubt that he will get there, but he will need all of the AAA time and I would be surprised if we saw him in St. Louis next year.

My 2012 surprise will be Chuckie Fick. He might even make the team out of spring, especially if one of the right handers (Boggs, Dotel, McClellan) isn’t back with the club. Fick has a rubber arm and could go out there every other
day. He is somewhat of a slinger, but has a lot of natural sink on his pitches, which will make him effective in the Dave Duncan system. He should be deadly against right handers with that high almost buggy-whip delivery. The only knock on Fick is occasional wildness, but if he can put together a solid spring or first month in AAA with a reduced number of walk, he will be in the Cardinals bullpen.

My sleeper is Adam Reifer. Oh what an arm! He missed nearly the entire season with an injury, but on the plus side, it was a knee and not arm or shoulder (like Pete Parise). There is no reason to believe he won’t come back with a vengeance, and his arm could provide a big lift to the bullpen if they struggle in the summer. Imagine a power arm like Mitchell Boggs, but with very good control. Parise was starting to look better near the end of the season, so he could be an interesting possibility of Reifer doesn’t come back quickly.

Two interesting port-siders are Nick Additon and Samuel Freeman. I don’t think either are ready for 2012, but should there be a need for another lefty, one of them could get the call.

In the “wishful thinking” category, Francisco Samuel is another young arm that showed a lot of promise until injuries last year. His pitches were just as electric as Eduardo Sanchez, but never demonstrated Sanchez control. Shoulder trouble is always a cause for concern, especially with a young power arm. He is pitching this winter in the Dominican league (along with Samuel Freeman), so we should keep an eye on his progress. If he could stay healthy, the Cardinals bullpen could be seriously dominating in a year or two.

Being a dependable every other day one inning guy (DEODOIG) doesn’t sound terribly sexy, but Chuckie Fick will the big “where did he come from” player next year.

Malcolm Pierce, The Redbird Menace

My guesses are Shelby Miller and Zack Cox. I think it will take a very unfortunate injury to a major player on the Cardinals for either of them to see the majors next season. But if the Cardinals are in a playoff race, there’s no one else who quite compares in the system. Based upon the interviewees revealed to the media, it seems like we’re going to have a manager who is fairly comfortable with younger players. And both Cox and Miller close enough to ready that they will be seen as viable choices and preferable to the largely replacement-level talent surrounding them.

Adams is also a possibility, but I chose Cox over Adams because I suspect that an injury to David Freese is more likely than an injury to whoever we have manning 1b. Further, if Pujols comes back Craig will be first in line to join the lineup full time. Adams wouldn’t just be brought up to be a bench bat. Or at least I hope not. Cox, Adams, or Miller won’t and shouldn’t be in the majors unless they’re getting all the playing time they’d get in the minors.

Christine Coleman, Aaron Miles’ Fastball

Since there really aren’t any logical names out there who haven’t already been mentioned, I’ll go with two who have already been discussed: Chuckie Fick and John Gast … and, since they each did such a great job explaining why, for exactly the reasons that Bob and Miranda stated!

For the record, my opinion on Shelby is that he’ll be a September call-up next year.

Tom Knuppel, Cardinals GM

I think the call-up of Miller is more dependent on who is name manager. Someone currently in the organization is more likely to leave him in Memphis longer than a new person, in my opinion.

Mark Tomasik, Retrosimba

Shelby Miller will be a September callup so that the Cardinals can get a look at him at the major league level and get him acclimated for a spot in the 2013 rotation.

Joseph McBrayer, The McBrayer-Baseball Blog

Shelby Miller is the first name I think of when it comes to 2012 season but my must see is Victor Marte. With 31 saves at Memphis he also carried a 1.44 ERA. A hitter I like to see from Springfield is 2B Jose Garcia. He had a 320 batting AVG. I hear he has a great upside. I saw him briefly on TV during the 2010 Mid-Season All Star game. Fun to watch

[ED Note: Victor Marte has pitched in the big leagues!]

Chris Mallonee, Birds on the Bat 82

There are obviously many variables in play here that have already been mentioned. Which players resign, who becomes manager, who gets injured, etc. I think Mo will exhibit more control over personnel decisions with the new manager than he did during the TLR reign however, and will continue to get the young guys up early and often.

I like a lot of the pitchers that have been mentioned, and could see many coming up in September. The first player I see coming up in 2012 with zero major league experience is Ryan Jackson. Think about it…if the Cards re-sign Furcal chances are he will face an injury sometime before September. If they don’t re-sign him, there are not a lot of great options on the free agent market right now (we are not going to pay Reyes people). Therefore, the Cards will want to see what they have in Jackson and determine if they spend big money on a middle infielder at the trade deadline or platoon current guys if Jackson can play in 2013. Barring significant injuries that force young pitchers up before they are ready, Jackson is the guy you will see first and the only guy that may come up all year with no big-league experience. I get all the Shelby love, but he’s not ready until he develops secondary pitches to go with that fastball.

Oh, now you want my answer?

Even though there’s obviously going to be a lot of movement with it as the off-season progresses, I don’t think it’s necessary to look any further than the Cards’ 40-man roster to choose.

There are two names on there without prior big-league experience: Zack Cox and Adam Reifer. Cox is really only on it by way of his signing a major-league contract out of the draft when he was selected. I don’t think he’s near to the big-leagues on performance merit.

That leaves Reifer, and who else, but a live-armed reliever to make an impact in 2012 – particularly as we’ve come to know volatility when it comes to the Cardinal bullpen.

Thanks to everyone for their time and answers to our question.  Keep tabs on the rest at United Cardinal Bloggers!

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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Zach November 9, 2011

Yu Darvish lol but seriously I’d say Reifer.

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