Fowler Injured Again; Cardinals Promote Bader

(photo: Harrison Bader/Memphis Redbirds)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Dexter Fowler (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Tuesday) that they have placed outfielder Dexter Fowler on the 10-day disabled list with a left wrist strain and have purchased the contract of rookie outfielder Harrison Bader (BAY-der) from Memphis (AAA).  Bader will become the sixth Cardinal to make his Major League debut this season.

Fowler, 31, was removed from last night’s game in the top of the 8th inning following his fourth plate appearance in the game.  The switch-hitting outfielder is batting .241 with 14 home runs and 37 RBI in 81 games.

Bader, 23, was the Cardinals third round draft pick (100th overall) out of the University of Florida in the June, 2015 First-Year Player Draft.  The outfielder played on the Gators College World Series team in June 2015 and made his triple-A debut in Memphis on July 6, 2016.  Entering the 2017 season, Bader was rated as the No. 7 prospect in the Cardinals system by Baseball America.

Harrison Bader (USA TODAY Sports Images)

In 289 career minor league games, Bader has batted .287 with 49 home runs and 138 RBI, hitting 50 doubles, eight triples and stealing 39 bases in 64 attempts.

The right-handed hitting Bader began the season as a non-roster invite to Major League Spring Training and was assigned to Memphis.  He was batting .297 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI in 97 games with the triple-A Redbirds and ranks T10th in the Pacific Coast League in home runs.

In 2016, Bader was named to the Arizona Fall League All-Prospect Team, AFL Rising Stars Game, was a Texas League (AA) All-Star and Cardinals Minor League Player of the Month for April.

Chad Huffman (Memphis Redbirds)

The Cardinals also announced today that Memphis outfielder Chad Huffman was outrighted and subsequently granted his unconditional release.

Bader has been assigned uniform No. 48.

Brian Walton’s take

OK, where do I begin?

First of all, this is a different but lingering injury for Fowler, as his last DL stint, from June 25 to July 6, was due to a heel problem. What has been a frustrating first of five seasons with St. Louis continues its slow downhill slide for the 31-year old.

Ironically, the same day Fowler went on the DL also marked the end of Huffman’s brief time with St. Louis. Huffman, 32, was added to the 40-man roster on June 7 and enjoyed his first time in MLB since 2010, totaling 2 ½ weeks. The college teammate and friend of Matt Carpenter struggled in his return to Memphis, however, finishing his time in the organization in an 8-for-54 (.148) slump over the last month.

Still, I cannot help but wonder if the Cardinals would have handled Huffman differently had they known Fowler would be going on the DL. Huffman cleared release waivers, meaning none of the other 29 teams wanted him on their 40-man roster, either. At that point, Huffman had the right to declare free agency or report to Triple-A – if the Cards wanted him. Apparently, they did not.

Memphis is currently one player under its 25-man limit, but has other outfield options including trade acquisition Tyler O’Neill, Adolis Garcia and Nick Martini and several others excelling at Double-A Springfield, most notably Magneuris Sierra.

In St. Louis, Bader is being looked at as another option in center field over Sierra, who has had several stints this season already, and is continuing to work on his game back at Springfield. From my perspective, Bader, The Cardinal Nation’s fifth-ranked St. Louis prospect, is a more-ready MLB player. Whether or not he excels out of the gate, however, is for anyone to guess. In his debut Tuesday, the right-handed hitter is batting seventh and playing in center field.

Stephen Piscotty (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Even though the Cardinals had an open 40-man roster spot following the trade of Marco Gonzales over the weekend, they still have one, as Bader essentially took Huffman’s spot.

In other Cardinals outfield news, Stephen Piscotty is slated to begin his rehab outing on Thursday with the Class-A Peoria Chiefs. The right fielder has been out since July 15 with a right groin strain. Since his own return from the DL, Randal Grichuk has seized the job, with four home runs in four games.

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