While this article has nothing to do with Kolten Wong losing his place in the 2019 season. It is not to early to take a look at our future at 2nd base. For further research click on player names below for stats courtesy of Baseball Reference. I present you with the following options.
Kolten Wong potentially becomes a Free Agent in 2021. The Cardinal’s hold a $1M buyout or a $12.5M team option in 2021. Wong will be 30 as that decision rolls around for the Cardinals. Certainly not an old man, but going to the wrong side of 30. 2021 Free Agency 2B include names such as: Jason Kipnis, Starlin Castro, and Cesar Hernandez which leaves Wong as perhaps the best option at only $12.5M in his final year.
Wong is fabulous defensively, just missed receiving his 1st gold glove in 2018, a career .979% at 2B, and was 5th in range factor/ 9 innings in the Majors at 4.73, and lifetime MLB he is 4.96. In his last full seasons at AAA and AA he posted 5.11 and 5.33 RF/9 numbers.He simply gets to balls that most others dont. While Wong has not seemed to live up to his offensive potential, and is somewhat injury prone he is a career oWAR 7.3 with it being 1.5 in 2018. Let’s look at the following guys.
Yairo Munoz, acquired in the trade for Stephen Piscotty was a surprise pick to make the team out of spring training and performed well offensively. The 23 year old Munoz got off to a slow start and was sent back to Memphis for a month in Mid April. he returned for good and hit .276/.350/.413 in 329 PA with 8 HR and 42 RBI. He seemed to struggle defensively at times in 2018, committing 20 errors in 108 games with time at all 3 outfield positions and 2B, 3B, and SS. His minor league stats show him at a 4.82 RF/9 and a .972 FP, at 2nd base albeit only 40 games as he seems to be more of a SS with 321 games career wise.
The much hyped Max Schrock age 24, came to the Cardinals as well in the Piscotty trade. Schrock was signed by the Nationals as a 13th round pick in 2015. In short stints in the minors he hit .308, .326, .111, .341, and .391 through 2016 as he advanced all the way to AA in two years. He was traded to the A’s in 2016 for LHP Marc Rzepczynski . 2017 saw him hit .321 in a full season of AA ball for the A’s. The Cardinals played him exclusively at Memphis, where he slowed hitting wise to a .249/ .296/ .331 line with 4 HR and 42 RBI in 114 games. Defensively at 2nd he showed a RF/9 of 3.82 with a .969 FP%. Lifetime in the minors he is RF/9 of 4.25 with a .976 FP% While Schrock hits LH and that is an advantage, we may have some better options unless he is much improved at Memphis in 2019.
Ramon Urias, relatively unknown a year ago has certainly made some noise as he was added to the 40 man roster in November. The 24 year old Urias was an international signing by the Rangers in 2011. He never made it stateside and played in Mexican Professional Baseball from 2013-2017. The Cardinals signed him as a FA in 2018 where he spent time at Springfield and Memphis hitting a combined .300/ .356/ .516 with 13HR and 44RBI in 90 games playing his way onto the 40 man roster via Rule 5 draft protection. 2017 saw him hit 20 HR in the Mexican league classified as AAA. Officially listed as 5’10” and 150 lbs, but with a lot of wallop behind that frame, he gained more fame with a 3 HR game for Los Mochis in the Mexican Pacific league this winter.
Defense sees Urias as both a SS and a 2B. Memphis shows a 4.60 RF/9 and a .987FP% at 2B in 361 games. All levels through 8 seasons give him a 5.24 RF/9 and a .982FP%. He also projects at SS as well. In 7 professional years at SS he has played 307 games and a .956FP%. I think it will be a stretch for him to make the MLB team on a 5 man bench, but the right injury will probably let him see some action with the Cardinals in 2019.
Drew Robinson 26, recently acquired in the Patrick Wisdom trade, does show adequate 2B skills in 7 pro seasons. A .973FP% 2B thru 7 seasons of pro ball with a RF/9 of 4.83 shows him adequately prepared to handle 2B duties. Significant time at all 3 OF positions as well as 3B, may indeed make him the LH utility guy the Cardinals were looking to fulfill this offseason. Again a tough team to crack onto the 25 man in 2019 barring any trades. If Gyorko or JMart are still around, Robinson might bump Tyler O’Neill back to AAA.
The 22 year old Edmundo Sosa, signed internationally at the age of 17 by the Cardinals in 2012, has quietly made his way through the ranks and spent 2018 between Springfield and Memphis with a late season callup to the Cardinals. he held his own at Memphis in a half a season hitting .262/.321/.408 with 5 HR and 27 RBI. He carries a lifetime pro average of .281 with 27 HR in 429 games. Defensively he is a SS with limited time at 2B, and until the Cardinals change that I see a limited fit at 2B.
That leads to my favorite prospect for 2B the 23 year old Tommy Edman. Edman was a 6th round draft choice of the Cardinals in 2016. I have written about Edman previously as I believe he has a lot of good things going for him. He finished the season at Memphis in 2018 where he hit .318 in 17 games. He was showcased in the Arizona Fall League and slumped at the end of that season hitting .238. However in 3 minor league seasons he has hit .283/.353/.399 with 16 HR in 311 games. Defensively looking strictly at numbers he has been primarily a SS, but projects much better than Sosa does as a 2B. In 61 games at 2nd he sports a 5.31 RF/9 in 61 games and a .986 FP%. That, in a smaller sample, is better than Kolten Wong numbers when he was in AAA and AA ball. He also has an advantage as a switch hitter Edman is not on the 40 man roster and will be Rule 5 eligible in Dec of 2019.
Keep your eye on Tommy Edman as I believe in a year or two he may want to take that baton away from Kolten Wong.
Thanks for reading and I also update our minor league players progress in the Fall and Winter leagues at St. Louis Cardinal Minor League Spotlight on Facebook and share on the Cardinal Nation 24/7 facebook page. On twitter as well Jeff Schrader @StlCardsMinor