So who’s this big, burly guy mashing the ball all over the ballpark for the Cardinals the first week of Grapefruit League play, you ask?
That would be Matt Adams, and the 6’3”, 230-pound lefty is no joke. I won’t go off the deep end on you and overblow four days’ worth of relatively meaningless spring training games (though he is hitting .417 with a grand slam and 7 RBI), but what I will tell you is this guy can hit.
Obviously, how much success Adams will carry over to the big league level one day is yet to be determined, but based on his track record in the minor leagues, Cardinals fans should be on the edge of their seats to see this guy play. In 2009, Adams broke into the Cardinals organization hitting .355 over half a season playing rookie ball and Low-A, with 10 HRs and 52 RBI in just 63 games. The next year in High-A, the first baseman hit .310 with 22 HRs and 88 RBI. And last year in Double-A Springfield, Adams went deep 32 times and drove in 101 RBI in just 115 games.
Translation: Adams would be averaging 35 HRs and 131 RBIs per season over a 162 game schedule. His minor league career average is .316.
His presence in the lineup is undeniable. Every time he walked to the plate last year at Hammons Field in Springfield, MO, you could sense a buzz in the crowd. He’s easily the most legitimate deep-threat that’s come through the system in the past decade, and let’s not forget that the Cardinals’ minor league system has produced the likes of Allen Craig and Colby Rasmus, who combined for more than 150 career home runs before breaking into the big leagues.
It’s hard to say exactly when fans could first see Adams playing in St. Louis. For this year, the Cardinals have Lance Berkman penciled in at first base, with Allen Craig ready to step in fulltime should Berkman go down with a lengthy injury. But the 36-year-old Berkman is more of a temporary stopgap in the wake of Albert Pujols’ departure, and likely won’t be a part of the Cardinals’ organization more than another couple of years. With Berkman currently signed to a 1-year, $14 million contract, Adams may get a crack at the starting job as soon as next year if he continues to mash the ball in the minors.
It will be interesting to see how Adams continues to play throughout the course of spring training. He’s off to a hot start, and if he keeps it up for another few weeks, there’s an outside chance he could make the opening day roster. Skipping Triple-A isn’t unprecedented, especially at first base.
I seem to remember another Cardinals first baseman who made the jump past Triple-A about a decade ago. What was his name again? With any luck, Matt Adams will help Cardinals fans forget.