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Baseballs fear the name Matt AdamsPosted Tuesday, May 29, 2012, at 9:15 AM
By COREY NOLES
His friends call him "Patch." Cardinal Nation hasn't decided what they want to call him yet; they just know they're glad they called him.
Matt Adams, the 23-year-old Cardinals first base prospect, came to the majors last weekend, about a full season before some preferred. There simply wasn't a lot of choice, so they did what needed to be done.
With four bats on the disabled list all batting over .300, the Cardinals needed an impact bat to save the day. That bat belongs to Adams.
The sizeable young man walks to the plate with a look in his eyes that says he fears no pitcher. To date he has had good games against Chad Billingsley, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. That's not bad at all for a kid many believed had no business here yet.
I know it's only been a week, but sometimes you can sense things. I've watched a lot of players and I'm here to tell you, this kid is here to stay.
As of Tuesday morning presstime, Adams is batting .382/.417/1.034 OPS. That impressive OPS is second only to Allen Craig. Of his 13 hits, five are doubles and one is a homerun. While that may not sound like a lot, let me put that in perspective. Those five doubles have him tied for fifth on the team, ahead of even Carlos Beltran (who obviously prefers to just hit the ball in the bullpen).
Many people are concerned about his strikeouts, but I don't really sweat those. With experience will come patience. To date, he has seven strikeouts over nine games. In itself, that's not bad, but when you consider three of those came Thursday night off of Joe Blanton, then it's really good.
Frankly, some strikeouts now should be expected. Remember, Cardinals fans aren't the only ones who have watched Matt Adams, so has every team's scouting division. He's getting big respect straight out of the gate as pitchers are already being pulled for lefty relievers when he comes to the plate.
They know the threat. I know he only has one homerun right now, but it won't stay that way. Any player will tell you the first is the hardest. Of course, Mark McGwire might argue that number 62 was a bit tough, but, generally speaking, the first is a big hump to cross. When McGwire thinks a kid has superstar potential, you should listen because he knows a thing or two about swinging a bat.
Another thing Adams has going for him is his style of swing. His swing is very compact and lightning fast for a larger guy. It reminds me a lot of Prince Fielder at the plate. He makes quick adjustments. When he sees his pitch he goes after it and hits it. Hard. Singles, doubles, homeruns, fouls -- if it leaves his bat, it's leaving in a hurry.
Defensively, he has made a couple of minor gaffes, but he's also made some good plays. With experience, the defense will follow. I think he will be just fine.
The most interesting problem is what happens when guys like Allen Craig return to the lineup. That will be this week most likely, and I can't see them deciding to ship Adams back to Memphis. Before Sunday's game, Craig was taking reps at second base. I can't imagine putting him at second with his knees, but this is going to require creativity. With both Craig and Adams in the lineup, and Jay returning, this team will be a lot of fun to watch. That's not even taking into account guys like Rafael Furcal (.340) and Yadier Molina (.321).
Like I've said hundreds of times, if this team can keep its health in check, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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