MILWAUKEE • The Cardinals' need for an added jolt of power from first base apparently increased over the past couple days and this morning outweighed the preference to keep Class AAA Memphis' lineup intact for a title run.
The Cardinals are bringing first baseman and slugger Xavier Scruggs to the majors this afternoon and he's expected to join the team in Milwaukee tonight for the start of a four-game series against the Brewers.
The Post-Dispatch confirmed the move with two sources this morning. The team announced the move later in the afternoon.
Scruggs, 26, hit 21 homers and drove in 87 RBIs for Triple-A Memphis in his first season at the level. He also hit .256 with a .470 slugging percentage and a .820 OPS.
He and Randal Grichuk, who joined the Cardinals late last month, were the two power sources behind the Triple-A Redbirds rise to the Pacific Coast League championship. General manager John Mozeliak said as recently as this past weekend that the parent club preferred to give the Memphis lineup its shot at a championship before making moves for a player like Scruggs, infield Greg Garcia, or potentially others.
The Cardinals' intent to stick with that approach was clear Tuesday when they could have brought Scruggs up to start against Pirates lefty Jeff Locke at first base. Instead they kept Scruggs with the Memphis team and started Matt Adams, whose difficult stretch continued with an oh-for-four.
Adams is in a six-for-45 slump.
He had a single and a strikeout and was one of the Cardinals hit by a pitch in Wednesday's 1-0 victory against the Pirates.
UPDATED INFO: Scruggs' arrival means the Cardinals had to make two 40-man roster moves today. Tonight's starter Michael Wacha was added to the 40-man roster and removed from the 60-day disabled list. The Cardinals started the day with 39 players on the 40-man roster, so the spot was open for Wacha.
Once the Cardinals reach the 40-man limit on the roster they could then -- and only then with a full roster -- move another player to the 60-day disabled list to free a spot for Scruggs. The Cardinals did that by shifting outfielder Shane Robinson (shoulder surgery) to the 60-day DL.
The Memphis first baseman is not on the 40-man roster, though he did come to spring training as a non-roster invitee and the Cardinals did stash him on an upper-level roster last season to protect him from the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft.
Starting on Sept. 1, teams are allowed to expand their rosters from the 25-man limit in place for the first five months of the regular season and the postseason to any player who is eligible for a major league promotion by already being on the 40-man roster.
A 19th-round pick in 2008, Scruggs surged last season by flashing his power potential at Class AA Springfield.
That earned him the promotion to Memphis, where he was one of the team leaders in power categories. Of interest to the Cardinals, as it was with Grichuk, could be Scruggs success against lefthanded pitchers. Scruggs hit .350 with a .403 on-base percentage and a .686 slugging percentage against lefties in 140 at-bats at the Triple-A level.
Eleven of his 21 homers came off lefthanded pitchers, and he had 25 extra-base hits and a 1.088 OPS off lefties.
The Brewers have announced the starters for the first three games of the series and all three are righthanders, including former Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse, who is set to start Saturday's game at Miller Park.