St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig returns to action Friday with a new five year deal and an option in 2018. All signs point to this being a very positive move for St. Louis solidifying the first base position after the departure of Albert Pujols in 2012
What this means for the future is that first base prospect Matt Adams–the number seven prospect in the Cardinals farm system–will likely toil in Triple-A or be resigned to pinch hitting and role playing. It’s possible given that Craig is an injury risk that he could get a decent amount of at bats. However, Adams isn’t above the injury bug either. He was out the final month of the 2012 season due to bone chips in his elbow which he had removed.
Adams is certainly giving the Cardinals something to think about this spring. As of Friday he’s hitting .400 with an 1.155 OPS with two home runs while being tied for first in RBI with seven.
Adams has a terrific swing and should have no issues hitting for power and average making him very interesting to some organizations on the verge of contending. He’s flown through the minors and has never had a season where he’s hit below .300. His OPS has averaged well over .900 and his ISO average has been well over .200 in six minor league seasons.
The knock on Adams is he’s going to strike out a lot–much like a younger version of Adam Dunn. He hit .244 in 91 plate appearances so it’s anyone’s guess as to if he’s truly MLB-ready. Also, his defense at first isn’t great but it isn’t bad either as he held a -5.4 UZR/150 in 2012. And to add insult to injury, first is about the only place he’s really capable of playing outside of a DH role which he obviously won’t get with St. Louis.
Odds are the Cardinals will send Adams back down to Triple-A, but how much longer can they keep him there if he continues to dominate? My guess is you will see Adams with another team come late summer as the Cardinals will likely be in a pennant chase looking for some immediate help in the trade market.