Patrick Wisdom was one of just nine minor-leaguers to hit 30 or more homers last year but is still waiting for his chance to play in the major leagues. (Memphis Redbirds)

By Rob Rains

Patrick Wisdom is happy to be in St. Louis in the middle of January – but he would much rather be here between April and September.

Wisdom has yet to get that chance to play for the Cardinals, watching all of last season from his perch in Memphis as teammate after teammate was summoned into the manager’s office to get the life-changing news that they were heading to the major leagues.

Even though he was one of just nine players in the minor leagues to hit 30 or more homers in 2017, and helped lead the Redbirds to the PCL championship, Wisdom was not even called up when rosters could be expanded in September after the minor-league season ended.

“To be honest it was frustrating,” Wisdom said Sunday on the second day of the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-up. “But what can you do? You’ve got to keep playing and try to get better. Personally it’s frustrating, but you have to use it as fuel to keep going.”

Wisdom said he was not given any input about why he did not earn a promotion after his 31-homer season, just as he was not told anything about the organization’s decision to not add him to the 40-man roster in December, making him eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the second year in a row.

“I don’t really hear what’s going on,” Wisdom said. “I wish I could get that information. I just keep my head down and keep moving.”

Because of his 31 homers, there was at least some level of expectation that Wisdom would get picked by another team in the Rule 5 draft, giving him a chance to reach the majors that he has so far not received from the Cardinals.

Instead, teams apparently looked at his 151 strikeouts in 495 at-bats, his career .238 average and his age, now 26, and passed.

“It was just another day for me,” Wisdom said. “I didn’t really pay much attention to what was being said. Nobody really knows. I went about my business and my phone didn’t ring. … I just used it as motivation to get better.

“It was a mixed bag (of emotions). I’m still with the Cardinals. I’m comfortable with that and thankful. I’m going to get an opportunity in spring training. I also was kind of bummed I didn’t get picked. I don’t really know how to feel. Either way is good.”

Wisdom has been with the Cardinals since 2012, when he was the 52nd overall pick in the draft out of St. Mary’s in California. He moved steadily through the lower levels of the system, but now seemingly finds himself stuck at Memphis.

A third baseman for most of his career, Wisdom began playing more first base last season – a year which ended with him hitting a home run in the deciding game 5 of the PCL Championship series against El Paso, leading to his selection as the MVP of that series.

That homer capped a year in which Wisdom became the first Memphis player to hit 30 or more homers since 2008.

No matter whether he is playing third or first, Wisdom’s route to St. Louis seems much more difficult to navigate then simply getting on Interstate 55 and heading north. There really is not a chance for playing time available at either spot with the Cardinals.

Having another 30-homer season, however, could either force the Cardinals to create a path for him to the majors or finally convince another team to give him that chance.

“I knew I was capable of that all along,” said Wisdom, who reached Triple A in 2016 but also missed 53 games that season because of injuries. “To see it come to fruition was gratifying and I’m proud of it. I definitely think that’s what I’m capable of every year.”

Wisdom knows he can earn more attention if he is able to maintain his home-run production while finding a way to reduce his strikeouts and hit for a higher average.

“That’s kind of the golden question in baseball right now,” Wisdom said. “It’s a goal of mine to reduce the strikeouts but I can’t really focus on that because I don’t want to focus on negative things. I want to be positive and I think having a consistent swing will decrease the strikeouts just naturally.”

If he is back in Memphis once this season begins, Wisdom knows he will have to try to remain mindful of not worrying about what he can’t control, such as when he might get his chance to play in St. Louis.

Wisdom was one of 12 position players on the opening night roster in Memphis last season, and he watched eight of them earn that promotion to the Cardinals. One day soon, he hopes to join them.

“Everyone likes to dream, to better themselves,” he said,” but I like to keep mind where my feet are and not stray too far.”

Other news and notes from day 2 of the Warm-Up:

* Taking his turn for a media scrum, the never-bashful Tommy Pham said, “I think I’m a 30-30 player. I probably would have got it (in 2017) if I had been up all year.”

The Cardinals have never had a 30-30 player. Pham finished with 23 homers and 25 stolen bases, although he did hit four more homers and had six more stolen bases in 25 games in Memphis before his promotion.

Talking about making his goals public Pham added, “A lot of people don’t believe anything I say. After I do it it’s easy for me to say, ‘I told you so.’”

* Adam Wainwright is heading into the final year of his contract but vowed not to be consumed by that.

“A lot of people are thinking about if I can be the fifth guy in the rotation,” Wainwright said. “I can’t think that way, that I have to think about fighting for a spot in the rotation. I know I have some things to prove because last year didn’t go well.

“Proving other people wrong is not as important as proving to myself that I can be great. … I’m not ready to be mediocre. I want to be great again. I know I can do it.”

* Paul DeJong said there was no decision to make about giving coach Jose Oquendo back his normal number 11 this season. DeJong said he thinks he will now wear number 12.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains