With Tommy Edman (wrist) and Lars Nootbaar (ribs) doing more healing than playing, the Cardinals are missing two starting outfielders. There’s no reason to believe the rehabbing players will be ready to go by the start of the regular season on March 28.

What’s a team to do?


There’s a stirring … there’s a flash … there’s a man flying … and buzzing … and rattling opponents in a dizzying blur of high-speed action.

Who is this spectacular man?

He goes by the name of Victor Scott II.

Brought to you — seemingly — by the folks that make the Marvel movies.

OK, let’s take care of the preliminaries. The conventional-wisdom stuff. With Edman and Nootbaar down, that  would leave a probable starting outfield of Alec Burleson in left field, Dylan Carlson in center and Jordan Walker in right. If the Cardinals remain shorthanded for a while, Michael Siani will come into view as the fourth outfielder. Super Utility Dude Brendan Donovan can play in left field, but the Cardinals would have to be comfortable with the idea of Donovan hurling long-distance throws with a surgically-repaired right elbow.

Did I leave someone out?

Why, yes. I did.

Let’s get back to Victor Scott II.

In last Friday’s column, I mentioned Scott’s presence and said “too soon.” His professional baseball experience is thin. Scott has only played in 163 minor-league games. Only 66 have come in Double A, and he hasn’t spent a minute at the Triple A level.

Now I must revisit those two words: too soon.

And now I must ask: is it really too soon for Scott to bypass Triple A Memphis and sprint directly to St. Louis and be a part of the opening 26-man roster?

He has the speed to do it.

Scott stole 94 bases last season with a success rate of 87 percent and won a minor league Gold Glove for his exceptional range and takeaway skills in center field. Defensively, Scott impacts the game by outrunning line drives and fly balls to take away hits. There’s plenty of speed in his arm; in a recent game against the Red Sox, Scott sizzled a throw at 90.4 miles per hour as tracked by Statcast.

As a baserunner, Scott menaces catchers and stresses other parts of the defense by charging his way around the bags. Catchers make wild throws. Infielders aren’t sure what to do with the ball when Scott goes by them like a comet. They freeze. When Scott gets on base the anticipation instantly rises, and everyone braces for an exciting adventure. What will he do this time?

If we include the Arizona Fall League, Scott stole 112 bases in 2023. But when we talk about speed, it isn’t just about Scott’s sprint time. His developmental speed as a prospect is just as impressive. This isn’t a one-trick performer. Scott plays an all-around game is, definitely smart and instinctive, and learns fast. For those reasons and more he was named the Cardinals’ minor league player of the year in 2023.

In Tuesday’s exhibition road game in against the Red Sox in Ft. Myers, Scott batted leadoff and offered a glimpse of a radiant future. Scott went 3 for 3, got hit by a pitch, stole his fourth base of the spring, and scored two runs. This spree elevated his batting Florida batting average to .370. His onbase percentage zoomed to .469. He’s slugging a healthy .444. And Scott is on a heater, batting .500 (9 for 18) in six March games.

Scott got the Cardinals on the board early with this sequence:

— Bunt single.

— Stolen base.

— Scored from second on a single.

Just as he pressures opponents, Scott is putting pressure on the Cardinals to give him a place on the big club at the start of the regular season. It’s enough to make John Mozeliak’s bow tie spin. Memphis may have to wait.

Scott’s urgency is intensifying. He’s daring the Cardinals to refuse him. The 23-year old is making opponents sweat. And he’s making the Cardinals perspire as they get closer to deciding on roster spots. It’s fun to see Scott making such a thrilling case for himself.

Hey, once upon a time a roster spot opened for a rookie named Albert Pujols when Bobby Bonilla strained a hamstring near the end of 2001 spring training. The rest of the story became Cooperstown bound.

The Cardinals’ thinking on this is linked to the availability of Edman and Nootbaar. If the club is confident that they’ll return by, say, mid-April, that seemingly would reduce Scott’s chances of claiming a 26-man roster slot.

But if the Edman-Nootbaar injury absences last for a while, and there’s no good reason to hold him back. There may be no reason to deny Scott a spot under any circumstances.

Here’s why:

1. If defense really matters to this team, then Scott belongs. He can be a part of manager Oli Marmol’s stated goal of prioritizing defense instead of repeating the same sloppy, defensive dysfunction that was paramount in a 71-91 season. There’s a legitimate reason to believe that Scott is the best center fielder the Cardinals have, and that includes Edman.

2. Scott is a better center fielder than Carlson. Carlson is pretty good, but he won’t cover as much ground as Scott. Carlson has a strong arm that rated among the top 16 percent of MLB outfielders last season. But Scott can throw accurate fastballs as well.

3. Not to be rude, or anything. But a defensive alignment that has Burleson in left and Walker in right would lead to defensive chaos for the second consecutive season. In 2023, Burleson and Walker were a combined minus 21 in Outs Above Average when playing a corner outfield spot. Last season opponents batted a ridiculous .364 on balls hit to left or right field.

4. Scott bats left-handed, and that’s an important consideration. The Cardinals’ lineup is heavy with right-handed batters. Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan, Nootbaar and Burleson swing from the left side. Edman and Carlson are switch hitters but perform below league average against right-handed pitchers. I know it happened in the minors, but in 503 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers last season, Scott batted .298 with a .369 OBP and .442 slug for an .810 OPS. He slashed 19 doubles, nine triples and ripped nine home runs. As a developing hitter, Scott has been difficult to strike out. His contact skills are very good.

5. Sure, Scott would encounter a formidable challenge when going against big-league pitchers for the first time. Leaping from Double A to the majors is no easy thing, though Jordan Walker did a fine job with it as a St. Louis rookie last season. But Scott’s defense has serious value that shouldn’t be downplayed. The ZiPS forecast for 2024 has him with 1.7 WAR, with much of that based on his value on defense and in baserunning.

6. Carlson can’t stay healthy, and he doesn’t hit RH pitching. In the last two seasons Carlson has batted .204 with a .292 OBP and .327 slug against righties. Would Scott do worse than that? If the Cardinals stay with Edman as their starter in center, shouldn’t Carlson be the next in line? With all due respect to Siani – who runs well and plays skillful defense – Scott has substantially more upside as a hitter. And in time, Scott would likely be more effective against RH pitching than Edman. As the scouts have noted, Scott began hitting the ball a lot yarder last season – especially during the Arizona Fall League.

7. Baseball Prospectus was emphatic in their positive assessment of Scott earlier this offseason.

“Victor Scott II has taken professional baseball by storm, showing strong plate skills and underrated thump to complement a highlight tool of 80-grade, game-breaking foot speed,” analyst Ben Zeidman wrote. “He led all of baseball with 94 stolen bases across two levels in 2023 and made oodles of contact.

“Scott’s recent nine-homer campaign might not adequately reflect his five-tool upside, further illustrated by his most recent 106 mph homer in front of scouts in the Arizona Fall League.

“The young center fielder’s plus bat-to-ball and blazing speed are both unquestionable. Arguably most interesting about Scott is that he also hits the ball hard, albeit at low launch angles on average, setting him apart from the punchless speedsters of the baseball world.

“Notably, Scott does above-average damage against right-handers, and is significantly more slashy against southpaws. Overall, he displayed advanced barrel feel across the low minors, and Scott’s line-drive approach can even be argued as a positive with this kind of speed profile. Tack on Scott’s ridiculous success rate while bunting for hits against left handed pitchers in 2023, and you’ve got an old-school leadoff or 9-hole profile with some platoon-leverageable modern appeal. His elite center field defense pulls you in, but the rest of Scott’s game is plenty exciting.

“Scott projects as an everyday big-leaguer who will accumulate defensive and baserunning value even in his worst years. There’s far-off power upside against right-handers if he can catch more baseballs out in front, given above-average raw juice.”

8. Scott would add dimension to an offensive attack that tends to be predictable. And, well, dull. He can manufacture base hits with his speed, bunting his way on or outracing throws to first on ground balls. At Double A Springfield last season Scott had a .362 batting average on balls in play – a strong indication of how his speed boosts his offense.

9. The dynamic speed fuels Scott’s onbase percentage. And when he gets on base, Scott can activate his high-speed running game. It’s important for the Cardinals to take advantage of the rules that were put in by MLB in 2023 to generate more stolen bases. Last season MLB teams averaged 117 steals, but the Cardinals ranked 20th with 101. The Redbirds haven’t had a player steal more than 37 bases in a season since Delino DeShields swiped 55 in 1997. And no Cardinal has scooted to more than 55 steals in a season since Vince Coleman bagged 77 in 1990. The Cardinals have been overly dependent on home runs. Scott would give them a different look and more ways to score.

10. Do you think Victor Scott would drive a major increase in ticket sales for home games at Busch Stadium? There’s no doubt about it.  Cardinals fans love the V. Scott style of baseball, which takes them back the the happy 1980s with Coleman, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee and others running all over the yard, making  catchers yelp with their relentless stolen-base collecting, their unstoppable mad dashes around the bases to score runs, and the way they frustrated opposing hitters by stealing hits with their gloves. After last season’s burial of quality baseball in the STL, Scott would be excellent for business, motivating a fan base that’s craving excitement and a return to winning.

Look, if the Cardinals have two outfielders still on the mend out when the regular season gets underway, how could they possibly claim that Scott doesn’t belong?  He doesn’t have Walker’s bat, but Scott can do more things well than any outfielder the Cardinals could call on to cover for Edman and Nootbaar. And he’d offer more than Edman or Nootbaar in some areas of play. Since I’m getting cranked up here, I’ll stretch the point: I don’t see why there couldn’t be room for both Edman and Scott on the 26-man roster.

Scott should help the 2024 Cardinals. His arrival may come later on, but the idea of having him start the regular season with the Cardinals is hardly outlandish. The way he’s going, it would be crazy to put him in the minors.

If the Cardinals want defense and speed and more ways to win games, Scott fits. If they want a new and unique presence that fires up the fans, then this is the one. It’s just a matter of how soon Scott will be here, but don’t rule anything out. His promotion to the majors can be fast-tracked in a hurry – just like the player himself.

In 1985, the Cardinals got off to a 2-5 start and promoted rookie outfielder Vince Coleman from Triple A Louisville. The Redbirds lost 7-1 to Montreal in Coleman’s first game to fall to 2-6.

After that, the Cardinals went 96-52 (.648) when Coleman started. He finished the season with 110 stolen bases and 107 runs scored. The ’85 Cardinals finished the season with 101 wins and a National League pennant.

In a spring training game, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog watched Coleman lash two hits and race to a triple and made a declaration.

“You talk about a man with a future. If the circumstances were right, we could take him and put him out there and he’d probably be Rookie of the Year,” Herzog said.

Coleman was called up after outfielder Tito Landrum pulled an abdominal muscle.

General manager Dal Maxvill greeted Coleman but also gave him a message.

“Look Vince, you’ve had a nice spring, but I want you to realize, right now, that you’re only going to be with us for about a week and then you’ll be sent to (the minors.)”

Coleman’s response?

“Yes, Mr. Maxvill, I understand,” he said. “But  I want you to know that I’m going to be here the whole year.”

Vince Coleman never went back to the minors. He had 752 stolen bases during his 13 MLB seasons — including 549 as a Cardinal. Coleman was enshrined into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

An spring-training injury opened the door for Pujols 2001.

An early-season injury opened the gate for Coleman in 1985.

Am I getting carried away here?


But I’m just sayin’ …

Thanks for reading …


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.