He hasn’t played above AA, but the Cardinals Rule 5 draft pick, Erik Komatsu is making the most of his extended playing time in ST. Komatsu was the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Player of the Year in 2010, but was traded to the Washington Nationals for Jerry Hairston Jr. in the Brewers attempt to go all in during the middle of 2011. Komatsu was left unprotected by the Nationals due to injury, and they assumed he wouldn’t have been chosen because of the injury plagued season and his below average numbers when he did play in 2011.
I think the Cards would have found a way to keep him before the Skip Schumaker injury, and it looks almost certain now that he will a part of the 25 man roster heading into 2012. Every ST game I’ve watched this year Komatsu has played, and he’s been impressive. It’s hard to read too much into the box scores from ST, but Komatsu looks like the real deal. With new manager Mike Matheny wanting to run more, Komatsu is a nice fit. I’m not saying Komatsu is going to be the next Shane Victorino or Darrell Evans of the Rule 5 draft, but he feels a need on the Cardinals in 2012, the question is for how long?
After the Carlos Beltran signing, the Cardinals looked to be full in the OF for 2012. Matt Holliday is set for LF, Jon Jay for CF, and Beltran in RF. Allen Craig will be out until early May, and will receive plenty of AB’s in RF for Beltran and at 1B for Lance Berkman when he returns. If all goes well, Beltran will play some in CF to give the Cards a more potent lineup and allow Craig’s bat in the lineup with him at the same time. When Schumaker returns, assuming everyone stays healthy, the Cards will have all they need. At this point and time though, Komatsu fits. If everyone returns healthy in May, well, the Cardinals can make a bigger decision then.
Komatsu is a small guy at 5’10” and 175 lbs., but seems to handle all three OF spots well. On offense, he has good plate discipline, with a .389 OBP in the minors, and rarely strikes out. Komatsu also averages 23 steals per 500 AB’s in the minors. Currently, he leads the Cards with 5 steals in ST so far. Again, it’s a fine line on what to make of a kid who hasn’t played above AA and a small sample size in ST, but there’s something steady about Komatsu who looks solid across the board, and I think Matheny takes him north to start the season. Matheny wants to run more, evidenced by him bringing Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith to ST and the fact that the Cards have stolen 19 bases so far this spring compared to 16 total under Tony LaRussa in ST in 2011.
With Beltran’s past knee troubles, the uncertainty of Craig and Schumaker heading to the DL, Komatsu should stick. Many think Adron Chambers should be in line for this spot on the roster, but he seems to still have a few holes in his swing and has options. The Cards might have found a solid player in Komatsu, and they should give him a longer look IMO.