ST. LOUIS - The Cardinals 2017 season may be over, but the future looks bright in St. Louis. The Cardinals have several dependable rookies on their roster who, if they can keep up their hard work, all have the potential to be key players in future playoff runs.
Here are a few rookies who have made names for themselves this season, including one unsung hero, and two who deserve to be in the discussion behind Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger for National League Rookie of the Year.
John Brebbia was perhaps the most consistent member of the Cardinals bullpen this season after being called up at the end of May. He posted a 2.44 ERA in 51.2 innings pitched. That combined with his 51 strikeouts, made him a dependable arm for the Redbirds.
His arsenal consists of a four-seamer, a slider, a sinker, a changeup, and the rare curveball. His ability to change velocity and his propensity for short, single inning, outings make him a perfect fit for a late-inning reliever role in the future. The Cardinals bullpen, with Brebbia and hopefully the return of Juan Nicasio, needs to be improved through outside sources this upcoming offseason.
Paul DeJong’s career got off to a fast start back in May. In his first at-bat he cranked a Greg Holland fast-ball into the seats at Coors Field, and to be honest he never really cooled off. DeJong was named the National League Rookie of the Month for the month of July. During that month, he batted a scorching .298 with eight home runs and a .347 On Base Percentage.
The Cardinals financial outlook is, admittedly, not all roses. It starts with the players slated to be the team's two highest paid in 2018: Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Loyalty in sports is a farce, but if any two players in the MLB are deserving of that respect from their employers, they're Wainwright and Molina.
DeJong’s fast start helped cement him as the Cardinals’ everyday shortstop for the rest of the 2017 season. The highlights include his aforementioned May as well as back to back months of July and August where he batted .298, and .297 respectively.
He cooled off slightly towards the end of the season, batting .272 in September, but his ability to consistently get on base, paired with his ability to consistently hit the ball out of the yard makes him a key part of the Cardinals’ roster moving forward. His season as a whole should make him a National League Rookie of the Year Candidate.
The key for DeJong next year will be to adjust his game when pitchers begin to form scouting reports on him. The Cardinals saw young shortstop Aledmys Diaz go through a huge sophomore slump and certainly hope that will not be the case for DeJong.
José Martínez has been a key part of the Cardinals lineup all season long. He batted .342 in April, but his May was hampered by injury. Then he came back for a good June before a red-hot end of the season including hitting .345 in September as the Cardinals were trying to chase down a playoff spot.
That end of the season performance earned Martínez the title of National League Rookie of the Month for the month of September. His day-to-day flexibility has been invaluable for the Redbirds all season. Playing a combination of First Base and corner outfield positions, Martínez has not found his everyday position yet.
That is not necessarily a bad thing though as he’s been able to fill in all over the field depending on who needs a day off. Having that kind of player in the starting lineup every day is incredibly useful, and it makes Martínez a player to keep an eye on in the future.
Last winter was a big season for relief pitchers. Teams doled out the three largest contracts ever for a relief pitcher. Brett Cecil may not have gotten the money that Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon did, but he still earned a big paycheck. The Cardinals gave Cecil $30.5 million over four seasons.
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