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The Cardinals and Harrison Bader are at a crossroads

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Four St. Louis Cardinals offensive prospects have made their major league debuts in 2017, Paul DeJong, Magneuris Sierra, Luke Voit, and Alex Mejia. Harrison Bader has had to watch three of them exit the Memphis Redbirds’ clubhouse for greener pastures and has kept hitting. For the Cardinals, a decision has to be made on Bader and pretty quickly.

Harrison Bader was the Cardinals’ 3rd round pick in the 2015 draft, the same draft that saw the Cardinals select current MLB’er DeJong and prospects Jordan Hicks, Bryce Denton, Ryan Helsley, and Jake Woodford. That draft class has a ton of potential, led by Harrison Bader.

Bader began his professional career with a short but very successful stint with the State College Spikes. After a quick promotion to the Low-A Peoria Chiefs, Bader had a 152 wRC+ for the remainder of the 2015 season in Peoria. 2016 saw a big jump from Peoria to Double-A Springfield, and still Bader hit (143 wRC+). 13 months after he was drafted, Bader was promoted to Triple-A Memphis were he saw his first signs of adversity. Over 161 plate appearances in Memphis, Bader slashed .231/.298/.354 for a 74 wRC+. He obviously wasn’t quite ready for the highest minor league level.

Flash forward to today and Bader is absolutely raking for the Memphis Redbirds. To date, Bader has 16 home runs in 81 games played. Yes, that would correlate to 32 homers over a full MLB season. While I don’t think that is to be expected, Bader is putting together a nice profile offensively and defensively. He has primarily played center field and has played it at an above average clip. Offensively, Bader is turning into more of a home run hitter than people thought.

Since June 1st, Bader has an OPS of 1.003 and a wRC+ of 153, which shows that there isn’t much more for him to learn at the minor league level. If there was something for him to work on, it would be working the count a little more and drawing a few more walks. However, if he is going to continue his power surge, the limited walks wouldn’t be a big problem.

The emergence of Tommy Pham, along with the Dexter Fowler contract, has limited the future role of Harrison Bader. While he is likely MLB ready right now, there appears to be no spot for him on the 25-man roster. I don’t believe his value has ever been higher, so the Cardinals need to decide his future. Do they clear a spot for him on the major league roster or do they package him in a deal for the middle-of-the-order bat the Cardinals are looking for?

The Cardinals have given Luke Voit, Jose Martinez, Alex Mejia, John Brebbia, and Paul DeJong their MLB shots, so why not Bader? The Cardinals are at a crossroads with Bader and they need to figure out which route to take.

Thanks for reading!

John Nagel
@CardinalsFarm

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