Cards Sign and Release International Players

The St. Louis Cardinals have added one Dominican pitcher while releasing a pair of Venezuelans.

As the old saying goes, "Out with the old and in with the new." So it is for the St. Louis Cardinals academy in the Dominican Republic.

Last week, the Dominican Summer League Cardinals sent a new pitcher into action, Norge Paredes. Older than most international signings and most of his new teammates at 20 years of age, the 6-foot-3, 171-pound right-hander must have something that really interested the organization's scouts. These older players usually garner little attention from clubs usually searching for mid-teens.

Paredes is a thin-framed pitcher with lots of movement/action on all his pitches and mixes them well. His fastball is in the 90-92 MPH range and he also throws a curve and a change. He is expected to add weight to his lanky frame which should help his development.

The native of Santo Domingo is a very low-profile signing but has upside remaining despite his age. The Cardinals are expecting Paredes to be a one-year DSL pitcher, then move ahead to the US in 2012.

Correspondingly, two players are no longer employed by St. Louis as Alberth Almeida and Carlos Oraa have been released.

Almeida, 19, was first signed by the Cardinals from Venezuela in January 2010. The right-hander pitched well enough last season (3.77 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings) to be named our top reliever for the now-defunct Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals.

Moving up to the DSL in 2011, the right-hander made just three appearances, the last of which was on June 14. Almeida was roughed up for ten runs, nine earned, in 2 1/3 total innings. He walked five, allowed five hits and struck out just one.

Oraa, 21, had been in the organization almost 4 ½ years, having been signed in February 2007, also from Venezuela. In 2009, his third season in the VSL, the right-hander moved into the rotation. Making 14 starts, he posted a 3.04 ERA that was sixth-lowest in the entire system. He gave up just one home run in 272 batters faced that season, making him the toughest pitcher to hit a homer against in the Cardinals organization. He also was awarded a VSL Gold Glove for his fielding prowess.

However, the injury bug struck. Scheduled to travel to extended spring training to compete for a job in the US, instead Oraa missed the entire 2010 season due to an elbow injury. He apparently was not ready to come back in 2011, as he remained on the DL until his recent release.

Looking ahead, when left-handed pitcher Delvi Rodriguez and right-hander Jean Carlos De La Cruz are reinstated from the Restricted List after the team's 50th game later this week, expect additional moves to be made to make room for the two on the DSL Cardinals roster.

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

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