While St. Louis Cardinals fans find something to fill their time until 2017 Spring Training opens next February, the powers-to-be work to prepare. With reports of CF Randal Grichuk being penciled in to cover left field in 2017, the organization will be working to fill the middle outfield. On the minor league radar, twenty-two year old, Cardinals #11 prospect outfielder Harrison Bader. Along with #2 prospect pitcher Luke Weaver, both were named Cardinals 2016 Prospects of the Year.
Prospect OF Harrison Bader was one of two named Cardinals 2016 Prospects of the Year. (Photo: St. Louis Cardinals)
Bader was drafted by the Cardinals in 2015, third round. A New York native, went to college at University of Florida. He spent 2015 between State College Spikes, PA, an A- league and the Peoria Chiefs, Low-A league. His performance between the two leagues, .311 BA/.368 OBP/.523 SLG/.892 OPS. It was impressive enough to be added to the minor league invitees for 2016 Cardinals Spring training at the Jupiter, FL complex, Roger Dean Stadium. He played in five games for his first experience facing major league pitchers in Spring Training; and, left with a promotion to the Springfield Cardinals Double-A. And, he did not disappoint while in Springfield, .283/.351/.497/.898 with 16 HR/41 RBI/12-2B/4-3B. However, his 93 SO/25-BB was concerning; but; not totally discouraging for the Cardinals organization.
At mid-season, he received another promotion to the Memphis Triple-A. There he met his match. Facing stronger pitchers, in his 49 games played, he saw a considerable drop, .231/.298/.354/.652 with only 3 HR/17 RBI on 34 hits. He was sent back to Springfield for the last ten games of the season and resumed where he had left off with the Double-A team.
Bader was named to this season's Arizona Fall League, Cardinals top prospect to be named to the Glendale Desert Dogs. "He's made both MLB.com and Baseball America's top 100 list (90th and 89th respectively). He also placed 40th on KATOH's top 100 list, which ranks prospects based on how they perform at the areas most predictive of future MLB production." (Ben Markham, SB Nation) The AFL runs from October to mid-November for "mostly AA and AAA players (with the ability to send two players below AA), whether they be top prospects or possible organizational guys (that it, 40-man roster members who do not spend much time on the 25-man). The White Sox, Astros, Nationals, and Dodgers will join the Cardinals in populating the Glendale Desert Dogs' roster."
Thus far, playing center field, Harrison Bader [Stats] is making a statement in the AFL. The fall league has played ten games, Bader in three with 13 at-bats, he's had 1 HR/2 RBI on six hits; and, added four runs. Offensive slash line: .462 BA/.500 OBP/.769 SLG/1.269 OPS. Even with his small sample early in this minor league schedule, I expect to see Bader back at Cardinals Spring Training 2017. Should he continue this power shown, so far in Arizona, into the spring, will the Cardinals consider him as their every day centerfielder? I don't know if they will make that decision for their Opening Day roster; but, I expect to see him in St. Louis at some point during the regular season. Even though, I do believe he will be a part of the Cardinals 40 man roster come 2017.
In the meantime, Cardinals fans there is approximately 120 days to while-away until Cardinals pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in 2017.