The Cardinals have a bit of a glut of outfielders currently at the top of their minor league system and the way they sorted them between Springfield and Memphis is interesting and may tell us a little about each player after the jump.
(My proposed starters in bold)
Daryl Jones – DJ Tools gets an aggressive move up to Memphis after 2+ years in Springfield with a total .741 OPS there. This is a sink or swim year for Jones. He’s still only 23 (turning 24 in June) – so he is not completely used up. Jones’s day in top prospect lists have already past, now the Cardinals have to see if he will make a quality major league regular. Youngsters Craig, Jay and Chambers are all ahead of him on the totem pole.
Adron Chambers – The aforementioned Chambers is the hottest name in the market amongst hitters in Memphis, he even got praise from noted curmudgeon Joe Strauss during Spring Training. He’s only been in Memphis for portions of a season before this year, so his numbers there will still be important.
Andrew Brown – The Cardinals seemed to have officially moved Brown off of 1B and into the outfield. He played 1B most of the time in 2008 and 2009 and about 50% in 2010. Brown will more than likely be the backup to 1B in Memphis, but play mostly in the outfield. Brown hasn’t played in Memphis before, so this is also another test for the 26 year old.
Jim Rapoport – Rapoport spent most of last season with Memphis. He’s not known much for his slugging or his offense, but the Cardinals keep him as a reserve outfielder and capable defender.
Sugar Shane Robinson - Robinson has been up to the big leagues for a cup of coffee, but like Rapoport, he does not get on base or hit for power and will stay in Memphis as a reserve outfielder.
Tyler Henley - Henley is a big surprise for Springfield because he spent part of last season in Memphis. He struggled, but Brown and Jones had not even played in Memphis before. The Cardinals likely want to get Henley consistent at bats in Springfield, where he has dominated.
Aaron Luna -Luna also spent part of last year in Memphis and was also leapfrogged by Brown and Jones. Luna also struggled in AA, so is in the same boat as Henley. Both are in need of at bats and both should dominate in Springfield.
Tommy Pham – Pham is 23 (similar age to Jones, amazingly) and finally made it out of the pitchers paradise in the FSL to Springfield last year. This is his natural place to start the year and hopefully builds on his strong finish to 2010.
Chris Swauger – After a mid-year promotion to Springfield last year, Swauger is a solid fit for depth in the Springfield outfield this year.
Alex Castellanos – After a solid full year in Palm Beach, Castellanos earns a promotion to the crowded outfield in Springfield, but he won’t get much further until he cuts down on his K’s and increases his walks.
What do you think? Are Brown and Jones being set up for a “final challenge”. Are Luna and Henley being marginalized?