JUPITER, Fla. (BaseballSTL) -- For, oh, five years after getting drafted in the first round back in 2007, Pete Kozma's name has been synonymous with words such as laughingstock, draft bust and pretty much anything else you can think of with a negative connotation.
A .230 career minor league hitter will get that.
But in the best interest of competition, in the best interest of sport, one of the most unexplainable things deserves the right to be, well, even more unexplainable.
How Pete Kozma has turned from .230 minor league hitter to - at times - legitimate big league shortstop is a phenomenon that no one truly understands. Hitting .333 to finish the 2012 regular season in September and October? Delivering some of the most crucial hits of the postseason to keep the team advancing?
It, in every since of the word, makes no sense.
Yet here we are in March 2013 and, once again, the Cards find themselves without Rafael Furcal due to injury. And, once again, Pete Kozma finds himself atop the depth chart at shortstop.
"It's just another opportunity," Kozma says.
One that, frankly, he deserves.
Sports is about being the best. And competing for the right to say you're the best. What Pete Kozma did in September and October of last year, manager Mike Matheny believes he's earned the right to build on that.
"You'd be crazy not to take the information you have. We've got big decisions to make," Matheny says. "We have to make sure we take everything into consideration. To see what Pete did it would be a mistake on our part not to take that into account with the pressure that was on in that particular situation and how he came in and performed above and beyond what we thought he would do, that says a lot about him as a player."
What Kozma does with this newest opportunity is anyone's guess. Would it really surprise anyone if he went back to being the same old .230 hitter he once was, committing more than 30 errors like he did in Springfield one year?
But would it really surprise anyone if he used this new found success as a building block for the future?
History says that answer is a resounding no.
No one knows what is going to happen here. GM John Mozeliak just might have to go out and part with some of these precious pitching prospects to get an everyday shortstop here for the long term. He might not.
One thing we do know, however, is that Kozma has earned the right to help him make that decision with what he does on the field.