There are 70 players currently in camp competing for jobs on one of three clubs which open play in the second half of June – the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League, the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League and the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Further complicating the selection process is the unknown presented by the June draft, as the early signees must also be assigned to teams.
Coaches Oliver Marmol (left) and Mike Shildt (5th from left, both looking at camera)
While there are a number of players in camp from the academies in Venezuela (since closed) and the Dominican Republic, they should be considered graduates. In other words, they must either make one of the US teams or likely face release. The 2011 Dominican Summer League Cardinals roster is already full.
The Cardinals will continue to drop players from EST as they are deemed uncompetitive and with over four weeks to go, more releases are almost assured.
Coming back to the numbers, the 70 players are broken down as follows: 29 are on the White, or more advanced club, 36 are assigned to the Red team, while five others are out with injuries and unable to play (noted as "Ext Reh" in the table below).
There is one new name in the latter group from previous reports. Infielder Ildemaro Vargas suffered a right thumb fracture and as such, is out of action.
In addition to the 70, ten other players are in camp, currently on the disabled lists of higher level clubs. The members of this group are at various stages of rehabbing injuries. Three of them are playing in games as part of the White team ("Oth Rehab"). The other seven have not yet been cleared to play ("Reh Prgm").
|Ext White (29)||Oth rehab (3)||Ext Red (36)||Ext Reh (5)||Reh prgm (7)|
|SP||Avendano||Kopp Spr||Hernandez (L)||Bibona QC|
|Jenkins||E Hiraldo||Gorgen Spr|
|B Martinez||J Lucas||McGregor Spr|
|B Freeman (L)|
|RP||Edwards (L)||Samuel Mem||Paulino||Nadeau (L)||Delgado Spr|
|Canache||Cardenas (L)||Mijares (L)||Pichardo PB|
|Bittle||Nazario (L)||Revesz (L)|
|S Lopez||Kiekhefer (L)|
|A Lucas||Villanueva (L)|
|Mendoza||M DeLaCruz (L)|
|C||Klein||Stock QC||A Garcia||Hill Spr|
|1B||D Medina||H Garcia|
|IF||Bergman||B Valera||Vargas||Stidham QC|
(There is no significance to the order of player names within a positional grouping.)
In an interesting twist, the manager of the lowest level club, Steve Turco of the Gulf Coast League Cards, is currently managing the higher-level players, the White team. Johnson City skipper Mike Shildt is leading the Red team during the first half of camp.
Shildt explained that since the Red squad is mostly made up of the players that did not attend regular minor league spring training camp, this way he can structure their introduction the same way as he did for the earlier arrivals in March. This is especially important with the new overseas players.
As the regular season nears, Shildt and Turco will switch squads to better align with their in-season duties. This approach also allows the coaches a better opportunity to see and get to know all the players in camp.
In addition to being the organization's Catching Coordinator, Batavia manager Dann Bilardello is also very active in EST. He happened to be away during my stay there. Field Coordinator Mark DeJohn was the last to leave each day as he remained after EST activities completed to work with the Palm Beach club, watched their evening game in street clothes and consulted with the coaches after the contest.
These are long days for all, with considerable investment being made with one goal in mind – to help the major league club win championships.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.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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