Former pitcher Rick Ankiel appears to have successfully bridged his conversion to outfielder, demonstrating a powerful arm while hitting in the .270-.280 range with 20 homers at Triple A Memphis. However, due to practical considerations the Cardinals are biding time calling him to St. Louis.
It appears that the Cardinals are being cautious with Ankiel because he has no remaining options, meaning that once Ankiel is called up he must be called up to stay, lest another team claim him when he is sent down again, according to an opinion ventured by ESPN baseball radio analyst Dave "Soup" Campbell.
Until such time as the team clarifies its outfield situation, Ankiel's bidding for major league time is on hold. In the worst case, Ankiel will be activated for September roster expansion, though he is more than ready for St. Louis now, as a reserve if nothing else. Much will depend on the return of injured center fielder Jim Edmunds and the performances and health of outfielders Juan Encarnacion, Ryan Ludwick and Skip Shumaker.
Encarnacion has had injury issues all season and Ludwick and Shumaker appear to have less potential than Ankiel.