Vaughn: Kozma continues to impress -

Vaughn: Kozma continues to impress

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(Baseball StL) -- If you’re waiting for Pete Kozma to fall apart and revert back to his minor league days, you might be waiting a long time.

The more you see of this guy, the more you have to like him. After filling in well for Rafael Furcal at the end of the 2012 season, Kozma came right back and tore it up in the Grapefruit League in spring training.

He hit .359 with three homers and 15 RBIs. Now he’s off to a fast start with the bat in the regular season. The homerun he hit to straight away center in Arizona traveled about 450 feet. Not many shortstops in the major leagues have that kind of power. 

At age 24, it appears Kozma has matured into the kind of player the Cardinals hoped he would become when they drafted him out of high school in the first round in 2007. 

Kozma has also been impressive defensively at shortstop. He won’t make anyone forget about Ozzie Smith, but he might make us forget about Furcal. Even if Furcal were to come back healthy next week I’m not sure he’d get his old job back.

Yes, I know, it’s very very early and I shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from just a few games at the start of the season, but Kozma looks like the real deal to me. At this point he’s earned an extended shot at the position, even if he should go into a batting slump. 

Over the past seven years the Cardinals have started seven different shortstops. I’d be very surprised if that streak didn’t end next year. Kozma may be around for awhile.

In fact, I may just pick him up for my fantasy baseball team. No wait, I’ve got Troy Tulowitzki at short. I’m getting carried away now. But it’s easy to get excited about Kozma, and his potential as a quality shortstop for the Cardinals for the next several years.  

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