Minor League Previews: PCL American Southern

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July 9, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; World team right fielder Oscar Tavares (15) at bat in the first inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis Redbirds

Parent Club: St. Louis Cardinals

Memphis is the affiliate with the most talent in the Cardinals system, and it features one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Oscar Tavares.

Pitching

Boone Whiting may be getting the ball to open the season for the Redbirds, but he is not the pitcher to watch on the staff. Instead, the lefty Tim Cooney is the pitcher with to keep an eye on in Memphis. Cooney is not a hard thrower Cardinals fans have recently gotten used to the team producing, but is instead a finesse pitcher with a multitude of pitches. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but has a plus change and two above-average breaking balls. The bullpen in Memphis will also feature the veteran David Aardsma to add some name recognition to the pitching staff.

Batting

Oscar Tavares will kick off the season in Memphis, but the top prospect in the Cardinals system is expected to finally make his big league debut this season. Tavares is a hitting machine with plus power to go with it. He is a guy that could certainly win batting titles in the future, but also stick in the home run races. In the field he is above-average across the board, but doesn’t have a true elite tool defensively.

Sharing the outfield with Tavares in Memphis will be a pair of fomer first rounders. Stephen Piscotty was the other compensation pick the Cardinals received when Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels, the other being Michael Wacha. Piscotty displays the patience at the plate one would expect from a Stanford baseball product, but he has really hit at every level too. His lowest batting average at any given level is .292 and he possesses a cannon arm in right field.

The final piece of the outfield will be Randal Grichuk. Grichuk came over from the Angels, along with Peter Bourjos, in exchange for David Freese. While Grichuk will always be the answer to the trivia question “what outfielder did the Angels draft one pick ahead of Mike Trout?” he should carve a decent career out for himself as well. Grichuk does not have the pure hit tool of either Tavares or Piscotty, but he does have a solid arm and can put up some decent power numbers.

The infield will also include some solid talent with Xavier Scruggs and Greg Garcia. Both guys feature an OBP about 100 points better than their average, while Garcia provides solid defense up the middle at short and Scruggs is coming off three consecutive 20+ home run seasons at first base.

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