Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Friday, March 3, 2023

Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Friday, March 3, 2023

Weather: 84 degrees, party cloudy

Result: Cardinals 8, Marlins 3

By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn, the Cardinals’ top two prospects, should get a lot of playing time over the next couple of weeks filling in for players who are away participating in the World Baseball Classic.

They intend to make the most of it – just like they did on Friday.

Walker hit leadoff for the first time so he could potentially receive an extra at-bat and he went 2-of-4, igniting a four-run first inning with a single and later adding a double.

Winn was 1-of-3, but the hit was one of three homers by the Cardinals in the win over the Marlins. The blast was estimated at 435 feet, five feet longer than the home run Walker hit on Sunday.

In the early days of the spring games, Walker has gone 5-of-14, the most at-bats on the team, for a .357 average, while Winn is 5-of-10 with two stolen bases.

The two prospects are just 20 years old, with Winn’s birthday coming up on March 21 while Walker won’t turn 21 until May.

The two admitted that they felt some nerves in the early days of the first big-league spring camp but have not settled down a bit as they have started to have some success and become more comfortable.

“I would say the first couple of days I was a little nervous,” Winn said. “Walking on eggshells around guys like (Nolan) Arenado and Goldy (Paul Goldschmidt) … The first couple of groundballs I was throwing to Goldy I was terrified I was going to throw it in the dirt.

“These are the big-league guys. This is who I want to be with in the future. Give them a little show before I’m up there.”

While Winn is all put certain to begin the year in Memphis, Walker is trying to play his way onto the opening day roster, skipping Triple A.

“I always have faith in my skills,” Walker said. “Being able to play around these big leaguers I have learned a lot. Just the way they carry themselves, I think that was the part I was missing in the minor leagues.

“Anybody that tells you there’s not nerves is lying. But nerves are a good thing because it makes you want to get better. I think it was a little more excitement than nerves for me. I’ve really been looking forward to this camp for a while and now that I’m here I am having a great time.”

Manager Oli Marmol is having fun watching the two prospects..

“They’re young and they’re good,” Marmol said. “There’s a reason people have been talking about them as much as they have. They are showing exactly why.”

Here is how Friday’s game broke down:

High: Miles Mikolas worked three scoreless innings in his last start before leaving to join Team USA for the WBC.

Low: The Cardinals committed three errors, all in the ninth inning, leading to two Miami runs.

At the plate: The two other homers came from Nolan Arenado and reserve infielder Taylor Motter. Arenado also doubled in the first as he raised his spring average to .583 … Alec Burleson and Motter also had two of the Cardinals’ 14 hits … Andrew Knizner had his first hit of the spring in eight at-bats, making him and fellow catcher Willson Contreras a combined 1-of-15.

On the mound: Mikolas allowed two hits, walked one and had three strikeouts in his 38-pitch outing … Dakota Hudson also worked three innings, giving up five hits but only one run. He got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth on a comebacker and a strikeout … Andre Pallante and Chris Stratton each threw a scoreless inning while the Marlins’ two runs in the ninth were charged to Tink Hence.

Worth noting: Paul Goldschmidt was away from camp because of a family issue, Marmol said. He was replaced in the lineup by Juan Yepez, who drove in one of the runs in the first inning … Walker’s double in the fourth inning came after he had fallen behind 0-2 in the count.

Up next: The Cardinals will play the Nationals in West Palm Beach on Saturday. Connor Thomas is the scheduled starter.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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