The St. Louis Cardinals are set to enter the 2017 season with a talented team. The only problem, the Chicago Cubs are still in the NL Central. But the Cards and their fans need not worry about that right now. Spring Training is here and they simply need to stay focused on their own business.
With Spring games now underway, the Cardinals will get a look at some new faces. But the majority of the roster will return, but there are a handful of guys on who are in need of redemption following 2016. Whether that is because of a down season (I’m looking at you Michael Wacha) or a strong rookie campaign getting shortened thanks to injury (Aledmys Diaz anyone?).
To put things simply, this roster has plenty of interesting names. With so many fun guys to pay attention to, we narrowed the list down to three. So here are three of the top Cards to watch during Spring Training!
Dexter Fowler –
Anytime you have a player jump from one division rival to another he is going to be a hot name in Spring Training. Hence the inclusion of Fowler on this list. After spending 2016 with the World Series-winning Cubs, Fowler changed allegiances within the NL Central. He is no longer going to don the Chicago blue, but instead opting for the St. Louis red.
Fowler was the guy who set the table for the Cubbies a season ago. Now, the Cardinals will look for him to do the same. He will be turning 31 this season, so he has officially eclipsed that 30-year-old plateau. So will he start a slight downward trend this season? Early signs in Spring Training are that he is going to be off and running, already stealing a base. The Cards will hope to see Fowler do plenty of that as the season goes on, as they lacked that true leadoff man in 2016.
Fowler will be a crucial part of the team’s success this year, so be sure to keep an eye on his throughout the month of March.
Jedd Gyorko –
The team will have a competition for the starting third base job. Jedd Gyroko will be facing off against Jhonny Peralta for the right to man the hot corner. But Gyorko certainly has the higher upside of the two. A season ago he launched 30 homers in 438 at-bats, finally showing the potential he was thought to have coming up in the San Diego Padres’ organization.
Once a highly touted prospect, Gyorko was a huge disappointment during his time in San Diego. Last year was his first in the Gateway City. While things were not all good (see his .243 average), the power burst was certainly a strong reason to have him in the lineup. But will he show that same power output once again in 2017, or will he go back to being the guy from San Diego?
This question is the reason he is worthy of watching in Spring camp down in Roger Dean Stadium. He is still a bit of a question mark for the team. But if he is swinging the bat well in the Spring, the team and their fans should be excited. If Gyorko can put up another 30 homers, it will give the club a nice power surge in the middle of the order.
Aledmys Diaz –
One of last season’s breakout rookies who came out of nowhere. Diaz put up an impressive .300 batting average to go along with 17 long balls, a .510 slugging and 65 RBIs. But a thumb injury did put a halt to his success, costing him some time later in the season. So as 2017’s season approaches, fans want to know if we will be seeing the same Diaz.
He is another year older, but Major League pitchers have now had a full Winter to study his tape. Could he be in line for the dreaded sophomore slump? Well, Spring will be our first indicator. If he is getting fooled by pitchers in March, it will not be a good sign for the coming season. But if he continues to mash, then we could be seeing a repeat of 2016.
Diaz has plenty of promise. But given his unexpected arrival a year ago makes him far from a lock this year. Be sure to keep a close eye on how he is handling pitches during the exhibition slate.
So there you have it Cardinals’ fans. The team certainly has plenty of promise heading into the 2017 season. These three men will have a big role to play in the coming season. If they can all play to their potential, the team could be playoff bound.
So who will you be watching this Spring Training when it comes to the Cardinals? Tell us in the comments!