The Cardinals do not only look thin at the major league level at 3rd base, they look pretty thin in the minors as well minus a few exceptions. We are considering Freese and Allen Craig major leaguers at the position.
Matt Carpenter will play every day at Memphis at 3rd base to build on his breakout 2010. Carpenter is the emergency third baseman should something happen to Freese and the Cardinals decide they do not want Allen Craig or Nick Punto starting every day at third. Craig is much more palatable than Punto, but Carpenter is the “next man up” as far as 3rd base is considered.
The next step away from the majors has a bit of a empty space unless Zach Cox gets pushed to Springfield right away. That seems unlikely, so Niko Vasquez might be the next in the depth chart here. Vasquez finally began to hit again last season and finally gained his promotion to Quad Cities. He will soon be hard pressed to turn his project-ability and swing into numbers in the mid to high minors.
Jermaine Curtis is also kicking around Springfield at third, but his projection does not take him anywhere above a 4-A player.
Further away from the minors is top 2010 draftee Zack Cox, who we have see so little of in the professional leagues that the jury is still out on how he will translate to the pros. Scouts are mixed on Cox’s projection and whether he is a better fit on 2nd or 3rd, but his first full season in the minors should tell us two things. First, where the Cardinals place him should tell us a lot about where they think he stands on his pro progression and his numbers should tell us a lot about where he actually stands.
John Rodriquez part 2 is also in the low minors with bonus baby Roberto De La Cruz. At this point, De La Cruz has lost a lot of his luster and J-Rod 2 is waning.
After taking a second, third and forth look at the third baseman depth it is not as scary as I initially thought. However, if Zack Cox moves off of third base, the Cardinals will need a huge year from either De La Cruz or JRod 2 to keep the quality of this group high. What do you think? Do the Cardinals have enough here?