Covered this earlier. I'm not sure what a "surprise" is, honestly. I'm ill-equipped for this question because I hope that we cover the spring training so well that there are no surprises, that you know the players, are prepared to watch them perform, and then are able to get to know them as they do and get closer to opening day. The first Sunday of spring training, I offered some candidates who could "surprise" in camp, and I'll stick with them. Here are the descriptions:
• Justin Williams, OF (roster): Strong finish at Class AAA Memphis was the beginning of lefthanded-hitting athlete’s bid to be on the big-league bench.
• Griffin Roberts, RHP (non-roster): The 43rd overall pick in 2018 has late-relief mix and a slick slider he could ride swiftly to the majors.
• Kodi Whitley, RHP (non-roster): His 1.60 ERA last season hints how strike-throwing righty could be the next Maness or Bowman, with more horsepower.
• Austin Dean, OF (roster): Jose Martinez 2.0. A thundering hitter at Class AAA level who could be a boost for depth, a blast off the bench.
• Evan Mendoza, 3B (non-roster): After injury-abbreviated 2019, steady defender has a good feel for hitting, lacks power. Needs to position himself as a versatile fielder.
• Junior Fernandez, RHP (roster): Part of the power infusion last summer, rookie showed flashes of a true strikeout changeup that fits a setup role.
• Daniel Ponce de Leon, RHP (roster): “Ponce” has navigated his way to the majors for successful cameos, and if the Cardinals don’t have room, 29 other teams are watching.