Cardinals invite 162 to minor league camp
The unofficial start of spring for St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers will be on February 22 when a group of 24 prospects who were previously invited to early spring camp report to Jupiter, Florida. They will be joined by other minor leaguers, tentatively numbering 138, when the official spring camp begins. Pitchers and catchers will report on Monday, March 4, with their first workout the next day. Position players will join them on Wednesday, March 6. They will be competing for the roughly 100 jobs with one of the Cardinals' four full-season clubs coming out of camp: Memphis Redbirds – Triple-A – Pacific Coast League Springfield Cardinals – Double-A – Texas League Palm Beach Cardinals – A-Advanced – Florida State League Peoria Chiefs – Class A – Midwest League Click on each highlighted team name to review rosters, currently listing end-of-2012 season player alignment. While there, explore the links to each player's profile page where there is a wealth of information, including photos, past articles, links to stats and much more. Harris at 2012 EST Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Several quick notes up front. As reported first here at The Cardinal Nation in early December, right-hander Mitch Harris has completed his Navy commitment and is ready to take the mound. I arbitrarily placed the 27-year-old at Peoria for this illustration. Wherever his initial assignment turns out to be will be the location of his first professional pitch in game action. There is a familiar name that should not have been expected to be on this page, let alone among the pitchers. It is not a mistake. Utilityman Garrett Wittels, one of 19 minor leaguers released in October, has emerged from the ashes, at least temporarily. Wittels has re-signed with the organization as a right-handed pitcher. For purposes of this exercise, the 23-year-old remains on his 2012 season-ending New York-Penn League roster. That is probably right, as it would be quite surprising for the new right-hander to make a full-season club out of camp. One name is missing, John Gaub. The left-handed reliever was removed from the 40-man roster in September. At this point, I do not know why Gaub is not among the camp names, but I will share it with readers once I learn the specifics. Following are the 162 names, with the 24 early camp invitees' names in bold. As always, this is a tentative list, subject to change. Memphis (8) SP C 1B/3B 2B SS OF Voss (L) Peterson Swauger Additon (L) Huffman Cerda RP Reifer Greenwood (L) Springfield (19) SP C 1B/3B 2B SS OF Ri Castillo Tartamella Scruggs Albitz Melker McGregor Lemmerman O'Neill Swagerty Curtis Pham Whiting Parque Gorgen Romak RP K Thomas Hooker Delgado Wright (L) Palm Beach (21) SP C 1B/3B 2B SS OF Sherriff (L) Klein Jon Rodriguez Gil Edmondson Corrigan Pritchard Swinson Hald (L) Rahmatulla Ramsey Ferrara (L) Blair RP T Miller Nazario (L) Miranda (L) Russell A Lucas Kiekhefer (L) Almarante Billbrough Peoria (29) SP C 1B/3B 2B SS OF Jenkins J Castillo Bergin Lu Mateo M Williams An Garcia H Hernandez (L) Walsh Melchionda Martini Villanueva (L) D Medina Gaviglio V Hill Polanco Walton Watson Longmire Harris Apelian Piscotty RP Renfro (L) Llorens Cornelius (L) Barraclough Stock Wyatt Y Castillo Heyer State College (29) P C 1B/3B 2B SS OF Baker Lewis R DeLaCruz B Valera Mejia Young Melling (L) Keener Washington Wilson Caldwell S Ramos Creath Rasmus Stienstra R Williams B Freeman (L) Wisdom Vargas Popkins Wittels P(2012 added) Cooney (L) Cuda Helisek (L) O'Shea (L) Scanio Stoppelman(L) C Thomas Aldrete Johnson City (29) P C 1B/3B 2B SS OF S Lopez Lizcano Schaffer Le Mateo C Valera Jeffries S Garcia Velazco Martin McElroy Bautista C Kelly Ro Castillo DeLeon Deol Aguilar Tilson Tuivailala Gerdel Paulino J Lucas Mills P(2012 added) Sabatino (L) Shaban Donofrio Petrick Booden Rauh Lee Gulf Coast (23) P C 1B/3B 2B SS OF DeLosSantos Bean Almaraz L Perez Barbuena Acevedo Perdomo J Gomez R Medina Argenal Paredes Wick R Garcia Peoples-Walls Bryant Wiley Capellan P(2012 added) Y Gonzalez Foody (L) Mitchem Gallardo Perry Jones DSL (4) P C 1B/3B 2B SS OF L Cruz R Reyes Godoy J Lopez Not invited Gulf Coast (4) P C 1B/3B 2B SS OF Villegas F Flores P(2012 added) Machuca (L) Caballero Who is out The minor league camp invitee list includes every active player (not in major league camp) who ended the season at one of the US-based affiliates with the exception of four pitchers. All four finished 2012 with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. They are Kender Villegas, Fidencio Flores, Juan Caballero and Javier Machuca. The four are among those not viewed as being competitive at this time to at least make Peoria out of camp. All except Machuca are right-handers. Villegas (Venezuela) and Flores (Nicaragua) made their first US appearances in 2012. Cabellero (Puerto Rico) was a non-drafted free agent signee in June, while Machuca (PR) was taken in the 38th round of the 2012 draft. We will see them again in extended spring training camp. In a huge jump from 2012, 27 players who finished last season at the Gulf Coast League and lower have been invited to minor league spring training, compared to just nine last year. To even be considered for a full season club would require 23 of the 27 to jump two levels of play, State College and Johnson City, and the other four to also hop over a third stop, the Gulf Coast League. First-year invitees Those four players from the Dominican Summer League are brought to spring training last year to vie to make their US debut in Peoria, compared to one such player invited last year (who could not attend due to a visa issue). This is an indication the international pipeline may be starting to flow a bit more freely. That visa issue player is second baseman Robelys Reyes. After two straight years of being unable to secure a visa to enter the US, Reyes is again trying this season. If the 22-year-old does not get the approval, he will most likely be released. Godoy The other three first-time US camp invitees are catchers – Luis Cruz, Jose Godoy and Joshua Lopez. Cruz, 19, was a Dominican Summer League all-star and our Player of the Year among the 2012 Cardinals. Godoy, 18, was a July 2nd player in 2011 who reportedly received a $200,000 bonus. Lopez is clearly a player to watch. The Venezuelan was a July 2nd player this past June, receiving a $425,000 signing bonus. To receive a US invite before playing a game in the DSL indicates he is someone special. Cardinals director of international operations Moises Rodriguez had this to say about the catcher. "Lopez is still 16 years old. He is exciting and played well in instructional league. He is a mature kid… They can all benefit from the extra month of instruction here (in Jupiter)," he concluded. Another 10-12 players graduating from the Dominican academy will be invited to participate in extended spring training, which will begin in early April. Those names will be disclosed later, but expect 2012 DSL standouts such as converted catcher-now-pitcher Fernando Baez, pitchers Dewin Perez and Hector Salazar and shortstop Leobaldo Pina to be among them. The numbers game The Cardinals total of 162 minor league spring training invitees is up from 151 players last year, primarily due to the increase of 2012 GCL players included. The total number of players who will eventually be available in Jupiter to fill those four full-season minor league rosters could grow to as many as 194. That includes the 32 players in major league camp who will not make St. Louis' roster to open the season. 2013 2012 2011 40-man minus 25 15 14 14 NRI 17 19 21 Early camp 24 24 19 Minors camp 138 127 145 Total 194 184 199 In addition to the team rosters here on the main TheCardinalNation.com site, I maintain a year-round pictorial view of all of these rosters together on a single page along with a detailed listing of transactions on my blog, TheCardinalNationBlog.com. The vehicle is something I call the Roster Matrix. Its base view looks similar to what you see above, but includes the roughly 260 players under contract to the Cardinals organization. Refer to the Roster Matrix to view the 57 players invited to major league camp – the 40 members of the 40-man roster plus 17 non-roster invitees. If past years are any indication, some of these players will be cut from the big-league Cardinals by the time the regular minor league campers report. The remainder of the minor league group - those that do not make one of the four full-season clubs, the injured and those not released - will remain behind in extended spring training camp. By mid-June, the survivors will be slotted into the short season clubs in State College or Johnson City, or be ready to join a full-season club at any time when the inevitable injuries hit. Daily 1:00 P.M. (ET) minor league spring camp games will begin on Wednesday, March 13 and run through Sunday, March 31. Here is the link to the full state of games. The opponent will be one of three: themselves on camp days, the Miami Marlins, with whom they share the Jupiter, Florida facility, or the nearby New York Mets. Coming soon Starting in about a week from now, look for our popular annual features in which we predict the season-opening rosters for all four full-season clubs. Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter. © 2013 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.