Cardinals spring phenom named Matt will return to earth

Don’t get me wrong. I like Matt Adams as a player. In fact, he is The Cardinal Nation’s ninth-ranked prospect in 2012.

On the other hand, the 23-year-old is not going to continue to produce as he has over the first four games of spring. Sure, let’s give him credit for the grand slam against the Mets and the bases-clearing triple to help sink the Red Sox on Thursday. Then again, no one should be mistaking the big first baseman for Ted Williams, so that .417 batting average is just not sustainable.

Still, the internet is exploding over Adams’s feats, with some already penciling his name onto their projected opening day roster for St. Louis. Calm down, please. I never say “never,” but I give it less than five percent odds of actually happening. Even that would seemingly require an avalanche of injuries to others that would mean significant problems for the 2012 Cardinals.

Some folks seem to have short memories.

Just one year ago, there was another reigning organizational Player of the Year in major-league camp garnering similar attention for unexpected standout play. Further, the infielder had excelled at Double-A Springfield the prior season and had yet to play even one game in Triple-A.

Along with all the other similarities, his name is also Matt – Matt Carpenter.

Until the final week of 2011 camp, it seemed both by playing time given and results delivered that Carpenter might make the season-opening major-league roster. Then, reality set in. He couldn’t sustain his hot play and began the season with Memphis.

Though Carpenter was added to the 40-man roster just before he made his MLB debut last June, he struggled with St. Louis. Despite a good Pacific Coast League campaign, including a .417 OBP, Carpenter did not even receive a September call up. It serves as yet another reminder not to get too high or too low over spring training performances.

A year later, Carpenter is back in big league camp, more prepared to compete for a  job as a utilityman. He remains a decent prospect, number 11 in our 2012 system-wide rankings, but seems destined for a reserve role – in this organization, at least.

Like Carpenter last spring, Adams is also not yet on the 40-man. A more realistic goal than opening the season with St. Louis would be for him to follow Carpenter’s 2011 trail of solid play in Memphis, snag a 40-man roster spot and make a major-league cameo mid-season. Adams could then more realistically compete for a major-league spot next spring.

In summary, no matter what happens this month, the best move for Adams’ long-term development would be for him to don a Memphis Redbirds uniform to start the regular season and play first base each and every day.

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