Two More Cardinals Minor Leaguers Released

The number of St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers released during spring camp has grown to 15 as a 2010 Texas League All-Star is among those let go.

The ranks of St. Louis Cardinals minor league first basemen have been thinned further with Saturday's release of Curt Smith. Same with the catching corps with as Ivan Castro also received his walking papers.

The moves come on the heels of the Thursday release of first baseman Francisco Rivera. Like Rivera, Smith had been on the working roster of Palm Beach. The two had been in competition with 2011 draftee and former Johnson City player Phil Cerreto.

In an indication of increased competition in the system, 2011 Quad Cities first baseman Matt Adams appears to have captured the job in Springfield. In essence, a 2010 Texas League All-Star in Smith has been pushed out as a result.

Curt Smith
The 24-year-old native of the Netherlands Antilles was originally selected by the Cardinals in the 39th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Smith had starred at the University of Maine.

Smith put together one of the best seasons in the Cardinals farm system that summer, winning the Appalachian League batting title (.378) and the League's Player of the Year Award while finishing first in OBP (.418) and RBIs (49), before being promoted to Quad Cities in August.

After beginning the year in the World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands, Smith ended the season in the World Cup. In between, Smith started at A-Advanced Palm Beach and spent a month with Double-A Springfield before being returned. He hit .289 with 12 home runs and 65 RBI in 118 games between the two levels.

The right-handed hitter spent 2010 with Double-A Springfield, where he was named a mid-season All-Star. Smith last played on July 24 due to a broken hamate bone in his left hand. he was hitting .308 over his last ten games and ended at .279 on the season overall in 319 at-bats over 84 games.

Smith ends his Cardinals career with a .301/.336/.457 line in 1064 plate appearances over 260 professional games.

Ivan Castro
Castro, 23, is a native of Santo Domingo, DR. He had been in the Cardinals organization for six years, first signing as a non-drafted free agent in April 2005. The right-handed hitter raised his batting average in his second season in the Dominican Summer League from .243 to .313. Castro was also the top fielding catcher in the 2006 DSL with a .982 fielding percentage.

Castro moved to the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues in 2007, struggling mightily with the bat. His combined OPS was just .483. Castro returned to Johnson City in 2008 where he played in 39 games, hitting .237.

Batavia in the New York-Penn League was Castro's 2009 home. He batted just .207 in 39 games, 153 plate appearances. Castro spent all of the 2010 season with Quad Cities, where he served as a reserve behind starter Robert Stock. Ironically, he had his best season with the bat since 2006, with a .251 average and a .687 OPS.

Castro had been among five catchers most recently listed in competition for a spot on the Palm Beach roster.

The Cardinals will complete their final roster cut downs following their last spring games on Sunday. At the Single A level and below, a group of younger players will be held over for Extended Spring Training, which begins on Tuesday, April 6.

To view working, non-final rosters for Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach and Quad Cities, click here. New invitees to Extended Spring Training can be seen here.

Daily minor league game recaps

Again this spring, I am running recaps of each day's minor league games at my blog, The Cardinal Nation Blog. Game results, player highlights and photos are provided each evening covering that afternoon's results and a look ahead to the next day. Check them out!



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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