Samuel Absorbs Another Career Setback

The St. Louis Cardinals have designated once-promising reliever Francisco Samuel for assignment.

To make room for reliever Eduardo Sanchez on their 40-man roster, the St. Louis Cardinals needed to make another transaction. On Tuesday, they designated right-handed reliever Francisco Samuel for assignment. He will be reassigned to the minor leagues unless another organization claims him with a willingness to keep him on their 40-man. Given his recent history, that seems unlikely.

The 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic has suffered through a very rough and injury-plagued 2011 after finishing 2010 with Triple-A Memphis. Samuel suffered a lat strain while still in major league camp in March and was never right. He had a setback in extended spring training and just after being activated all the way down in Palm Beach in late June, he went back on the DL.

On July 10, Samuel was activated but dropped down all the way to the Gulf Coast League, then moved up to Palm Beach and Springfield within the next ten days. He struggled in Springfield only to be put back on the DL on August 15, where he remained for the rest of the season until one final outing on September 3.

That last outing continued a familiar Samuel pattern. Throwing in the upper 90's isn't as valuable if one can't control his pitches. In that final game, he walked two and gave up two runs without allowing a hit in 1/3 of an inning. Overall this season, Samuel fanned 17 in 14 innings but issued 16 free passes. His ERA across the three levels was a whopping 12.21.

Samuel was originally signed by the Cardinals as a free agent in 2006. He was ranked on The Cardinal Nation Top Prospect List in each of the last three winters, but dropped each year - from number 19 in 2009, to 22 in 2010 to 35 last off-season. Once considered a future closer candidate, Samuel saved 28 games for Palm Beach in 2008 and 22 with Springfield in 2009 before his career downturn began.

Update: Samuel went unclaimed and was outrighted to the minor leagues on Saturday, September 17.

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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