Yarbrough, in his sixth season playing in the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league system, was promoted from the Class AA affiliate, Springfield Cardinals, to the Memphis Redbirds (AAA), during spring training.
“I felt like I had a fairly good spring, and the manager and coaches like me as a player,” Yarbrough said.
Despite the strong spring, Yarbrough has played sparingly for the Redbirds. He has appeared in just 12 of the team’s 54 games and is hitting .269 with a triple and two runs batted in.
Currently, Yarbrough is on the team’s seven-day disabled list with an unspecified injury. He started the season on the 15-day disabled list with an ingrown toe nail.
According to Yarbrough, his latest stint on the disabled list is not because of an injury, but because of a logjam of players at the catching position. The Redbirds have Bryan Anderson and Matt Pagnozzi who are listed as the team’s top catchers on the roster.
Yarbrough said his lack of playing time is not because of his abilities, but more due to him being the odd man out.
“It has been tough not being able to showcase what I can do,” Yarbrough said. “I just know since I’m not playing right now that I’ve got to keep working hard and be ready when they decide to put me back in the lineup. I’ll play wherever they need me to play at, which was the case when I played a couple games in the outfield. But when that time comes for me to play again, hopefully I can perform at a high level.”
Yarbrough added he knows it will be difficult for any catcher in the Cardinals’ organization to move up to the big team after St. Louis locked up starting catcher Yadier Molina to a four-year contract worth $15.5 million last winter.
Molina is regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the major leagues and threw out 50 percent of would-be base stealers in 2008.
Yarbrough’s contract may be renewed by the Cardinals at the end of season, but the team’s fifth round pick in 2003 believes going to another team may be the best thing for both parties.
“The Cardinals are a great organization, and I would love to make it to the big leagues with the Cardinals,” Yarbrough said. “But I know I’m going to be a free-agent after this season and I will keep my options open. There are 29 other teams that may need a catcher, but I’ll just have to see how it goes. I just want to put myself in the best situation possible.”
Yarbrough went straight to the minors after graduating from Richmond and believes he made the right choice to bypass college.
“I would have enjoyed the experience, but you don’t get close to the instruction and teaching that you receive at the pro level,” Yarbrough said. “Being in the minors has been a great experience and I felt like I made a good decision. Guys in the big leagues are always floating around and if you keep your ears open, you can receive some good advice or pointers from them that will help you improve as a player. There are college guys I watch, which are good players, but probably needed to go to college for them to mature or grow as players.”
Despite the struggles of trying to get into the Redbirds’ lineup, Yarbrough is confident one day he will be playing for a major league club.
“There are guys that are not just on the Cardinals, but also in the minors that I feel that I have had more success and have been called up to the majors,” Yarbrough said. “I’m happy for them, but at the same time, I have been shocked by it. It gives me the belief, if they can do it, than I can do it. My whole life has been to make it to the majors, and I’m going to keep pushing myself to get there.”