The Road To and From Memphis

It’s only 285 miles from Memphis to St. Louis. For Randal Grichuk and Greg Garcia, yesterday’s trip went by especially fast. Both Cardinals prospects have been called up to the major leagues for the first time, and it’s more than a special feeling – it’s unforgettable.

Shane Robinson – Photo: Taka Yanagimoto/St. Louis Cardinals

With every action, though, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Those unfortunate souls belong to highly touted rookie second baseman Kolten Wong and scrappy outfielder “Sugar” Shane Robinson. For them, the trip from the Gateway City to Graceland must have felt like a cross-country tour. Those rides are full of “what ifs” and “wish I would haves.” There will be pity parties. But, they better not last long. Nobody cares how you’re feeling; it’s about results. Go down and do your job.

Wong will have an opportunity to play each and every day for the Redbirds. He’ll get his at-bats and hopefully regain his stroke and confidence, which will help him get back to the big leagues and stick for good.

Kolten Wong – Photo: Taka Yanagimoto/St. Louis Cardinals

I’s surprising Kolten Wong didn’t have more of an opportunity, initially, with the Cardinals. It’s not unusual for a young hitter to have his ups and downs while getting adjusted to MLB pitching. Unfortunately for Wong, he is a victim of not only his struggles but those of his teammates. When a team is struggling offensively, sometimes you have to make personnel moves. When you’re a young player who has options, you’re often the first to go. If you don’t like it, play better.

The road back to the “show” might be a little bit bumpier for Robinson. He’s a very solid player. He does all of the little things right and is a great teammate. As an outfielder off of the bench, however, he lacks power. His track record and familiarity with the team could help produce a reunion sooner than later, but Memphis already has a few very talented outfielders on its roster – all of whom could have a higher upside than Robinson. Just consider the great numbers being put up by No. 1 prospect Oscar Tavares, Stephen Piscotty and Joey Butler so far this season.

I have no doubt that Wong and Robinson will head to Memphis with great attitudes and a common goal: getting back to the majors. For Wong, he’s just gotten a taste of what it’s like being a big-leaguer. I assure you, it tastes good. He’ll fight to get it back. Robinson has accrued just over two years of service time with the Cardinals. He played in 201 games for the Cards in 2012-13. He was probably just starting to feel at home. Robinson will have his work cut out for him to make it back, but he will undoubtedly do everything in his power to do so.

It’s uncertain if Randal Grichuk and Greg Garcia are the two missing pieces to fix a disappointing Cardinal offense, but I do know they’re both deserving of the opportunity. Getting your first call-up is a very special feeling. I hope they let themselves enjoy the experience and find success here in St. Louis. The offense needed a shot in the arm and, hopefully, they will be the ones to administer it. —

Listen: Cardinals farm director Gary LaRocque discusses the Grichuk/Garcia call-ups and the Wong/Robinson demotion.