The St. Louis Cardinals traded Skip Schumaker to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, and they got an infielder--shortstop Jake Lemmerman--in return. But Lemmerman's presence in the deal doesn't mean he's got a smooth path to the major leagues; this was more about dealing Schumaker than acquiring somebody else. If the Cardinals' newest infielder is going to end up on the end of the bench where Schumaker sat, he'll have to pass as many as three kind-of-prospects in the Cardinals' shortstop pipeline. In order: Pete Kozma, Ryan Jackson, and Greg Garcia.
Kozma is the wild card; if his absurd September run is even a little suggestive of some new skill level he'll play a real role on the 2013 Cardinals, but his AAA numbers were so bad in 2012 that it's hard to imagine it was. As long as he's been around he's only a year older than the college-drafted Lemmerman, so he'll be tough to dislodge even as depth.
Behind him is Ryan Jackson, the probable starter in AAA Memphis and the man who forced Kozma to second base for most of last year. Kozma's surge kept him from getting a clear shot at the shortstop job, but he's better-regarded on defense and his offensive numbers have fewer question marks; if Kozma falters he's likely the first person to get a chance at the interim shortstop job during Rafael Furcal's inevitable disabled list stint.
Behind them--and in the strange position of being the Cardinals' incumbent AA shortstop in a year when the AAA starter is unlikely to be promoted and another AA shortstop has just been acquired--is Greg Garcia, perhaps the best prospect of all of them. Garcia, a year Jake Lemmerman's junior, hit .284/.408/.420 in 124 games at AA Springfield, outhitting his better-regarded opposite number, Kolten Wong. He's a bit one-dimensional as a hitter, and most prospect watchers don't see him as a shortstop in the long term, but the Cardinals will have to find some place to put him in Memphis, to see if he can hack it--or continue not-hacking it, I guess--in AAA.
Which leaves Jake Lemmerman in a bit of a bind. Jackson seems likely to start at shortstop in Memphis, with Wong at second, but unless the Cardinals see fit to give Garcia a shot at Memphis's open third base job, it's hard to even see where Lemmerman will play in a second AA go-around.