When we discuss prospects, we often categorize them by the role they could play on their eventual major league team. One of the types of categories we use are first-division regular vs. second-division regular vs. role player, which can be a complicated designation.
First-division regulars are players who can play every day on competitive teams, usually ones that are in or around the playoff discussion. Second-division regulars are those who are good enough to play every day, but not on good teams. If you're playing this player every day, your team is probably not going to be good enough to win, especially if he is one of your better players, but he is still among the 30 best players at his position, thus justifying everyday play. Role players are players who have at lest one skill worthy of a major league roster spot, but ones who are not good enough to justify extended periods of playing time.
I begin an introduction to Randal Grichuk with this explanation because many times, the role a player falls into often times depends on his organization. Being traded this off-season from the Angels to the Cardinals didn't change Grichuk's potential, of course, but it may change how he is used.
Grichuk can do a number of useful things on a baseball field. He is a plus defender in right field and has some right-handed power, a valuable commodity in today's game. He gets saddled with the "contact issues" label, but that's not really correct, as his strikeout totals are not dangerously high, especially for someone with some pop. The bigger issue is the lack of walks. If he plays every day, Grichuk is going to make a lot of outs, especially against right-handed pitching.
On a bad team, Grichuk would get a chance to play every day and would slide nicely into the second-division regular profile for which he projects. The Cardinals, however, are not just any organization.
Because of their organizational depth, the Cardinals will not be forced to play Grichuk everyday. The Cardinals have a lot of moving parts at the moment, but one could envision Grichuk sharing time with a player like John Jay at some point if the Cardinals decide to use a platoon. If not, Grichuk falls into the role of an over-qualified bench player.
Because the Cardinals have so much depth, they have the luxury of using second-division-regular-type players as bench players, making them better equipped for when injuries or slumps happen. Grichuk is going to get a chance to play, and if he hits, he'll keep playing. Ultimately, he's not going to be an everyday player for the Cardinals, who contend year in and year out, but they have the personnel to put him in an advantageous position and get the most out of his skills while masking his weaknesses.
Lastly about Gruchik, it should be pointed out that his promotion is not a declaration that he has jumped over prospects like Oscar Taveras or Stephen Piscotty on the Cardinals internal organizational depth chart. Those two players are a part of the future for the Cardinals and are well entrenched in their long-term plans. Taveras is still working his way back from injury and is proving that he can stay on the field for more than a few weeks at a time while Piscotty has just 70 games above A-ball on his resume. With the amount of moving parts on the Cardinals major league roster and the organizational shuffle taking place between St. Louis and Memphis, it wouldn't be prudent to call up a prospect like Taveras or Piscotty without the ability to play them everyday. Grichuk, however, is better suited for that role.