Less than a year after the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the first round, third baseman Zack Cox made his Class AA debut Wednesday night in Springfield.
Cox, batting fifth, singled twice, was hit by a pitch, and walked. He contributed two runs in the Springfield Cardinals’ 12-6 victory at Hammons Field.
“But I’m nervous before every game I play,” Cox told S-Cards beat writer Kary Booher for this morning’s Springfield News-Leader. “When I go out there, it all goes away.”
Cox, who turned 22 earlier this month, is on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster, a condition of his signing for a total package of $3.2 million. The lefthanded-hitting infielder had a grand total of 15 at-bats with an affiliate before starting this season, his first full season as a pro, in High-A Palm Beach. The Cardinals felt that Cox’s bat was ready for Double-A and the Texas League. They decided to play conservative, though, and start him at the pitcher-friendly Florida State League before slingshotting to the S-Cards.
After a micro slow start, Cox his .335/.380/.439 in 45 games with the PB-Cards. Near the end of his stay in Jupiter, Fla., Cox had a 15-game hitting streak, the longest by a Cardinals farmhand so far this season, and his .335 average was the highest in the organization.
Cox had three homers and 11 total extra-base hits in 164 at-bats with Palm Beach. His power numbers figure to bloom with the promotion. Florida State League teams play mostly at spring training facilities, which come complete with big-league dimensions. Throw in the sometimes tricky conditions for hitting and the FSL annually has among the most-suppressed offensive numbers in the minors.
The Texas League does not have such, um, restraints.
In the FSL, there are four players with more than 10 homers. In the Texas League, there are eight, and three of them play for San Antonio.