St. Louis Cardinals Release Eight from Minors

Group cut includes a member of St. Louis' opening day 25-man roster, right-handed pitcher Bryan Augenstein.

Eight players are no longer members of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league organization, having been released earlier this week, an organization official has confirmed. Often the Cardinals cut players loose this time of year that are viewed as not being competitive enough at their projected levels for the following season.

The eight are listed below by their 2011 season-ending level in the system. Six levels are represented, ranging from the highest US-based affiliate, Triple-A Memphis, down to the lowest, the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.

Memphis: Bryan Augenstein
Springfield: Jim Rapoport, D'Marcus Ingram
Palm Beach: Edgar Lara
Quad Cities: Cale Johnson
Batavia: Manuel De La Cruz, Kevin Moscatel
Gulf Coast League: Richard Mendoza



Augenstein
For right-handed pitcher Bryan Augenstein, it took less than seven months to move from the penthouse to unemployment. The 25-year-old has been given his release by the Cardinals.

After making the major league opening day roster as a long reliever, Augenstein suffered a groin strain in mid-April. He returned in June to be assigned to a minor league rehab assignment and never made it back to St. Louis. He was optioned out before June was over and the next month, was removed from the 40-man roster.

The 6-foot-6 hurler finished his only season in the Cardinals organization with a 9.53 ERA in 5 2/3 innings with St. Louis and a 4.04 ERA in 25 relief appearances and one spot start for Triple-A Memphis.

Augenstein had joined the organization last October when he was claimed off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks.



Rapoport
The handwriting was probably most clearly visible on the wall for Jim Rapoport this July, when the 26-year-old outfielder was demoted from Triple-A Memphis to Double-A Springfield. The former 35th round selection from the 2006 draft has now been released by the Cardinals. Rapoport first reached the Texas League in 2008 and later spent most of 2010 and the first half of 2011 in the Pacific Coast League.

Over his five seasons in the system, the left-handed hitter from Stanford actually improved his OPS at each level, yet his career-best OPS year was just .703 in 2010. After stealing 55 bases his first two professional seasons, Rapoport slipped to a career-worst 7-for-13 in 2011.



Ingram
Outfielder D'Marcus Ingram entered the Cardinals organization in May 2007 as one of their final draft-and-follow players before the rules were changed. He had been selected in the 25th round of the June 2006 draft. Ingram's final season in the Cardinals system was a rough one, before his release earlier this week.

With Palm Beach, the now-23-year-old from Arkansas was suspended this April but played well in the Florida State League upon his early May activation. One month later, the left-handed hitter made his Double-A debut but suffered a hip flexor injury after just 25 games with Springfield. Ingram lasted just five innings of his first rehab game with Batavia on August 17 before his season ended due to another injury.

Ingram stole 86 bases in 119 attempts over four seasons but his career OPS was just .725 due to a lack of pop in his bat.



Lara
In a good reminder that being a mid-season all-star is far from being the end-all, outfielder Edgar Lara has been released by the Cardinals.

The 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic made the Florida State League all-star roster this June, but struggled in the second half, batting just .238 from June 1. After two weeks on Palm Beach's disabled list in July, Lara was later demoted to Quad Cities for the latter half of August before finishing the season where he began.

Over his six seasons in the organization, Lara fanned 500 times against just 139 walks over 1,531 plate appearances. The right-handed hitter's career line is comparable to his second half at .239/.313/.421/.734 (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS).



Johnson
Cale Johnson is listed above as a Quad Cities player as he pitched for the Bandits for the majority of his season, though not theirs. The 24-year-old did not appear in the Midwest League playoffs. In a late August paperwork move to clear space for another hurler, the right-hander was shifted down to Johnson City.

For much of 2009 and all of 2010 as well, Johnson pitched for the Appalachian League Cardinals primarily as a starter after having been St. Louis' 41st round selection in the 2009 draft. He had been added to the River Bandits' roster at the end of this April after remaining in extended spring training for the first month. With Quad Cities, Johnson went 1-4 with a 4.33 ERA, fanning 39 but walking 22 in 52 innings, all in relief.



De La Cruz
21-year-old left-hander Manuel De La Cruz seemed to be making good progress as he threw eight shutout innings of relief for Johnson City before a late July 2011 promotion to Batavia. In the New York-Penn League, the California resident allowed four earned runs in six innings before two stints on the disabled list ended his season. Still, between the two stops, De La Cruz had a 15:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

De La Cruz was our top relief pitcher for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals in 2010, where he tied for the league lead with 22 games finished. His ERA was 1.85 and he had a 43:8 strikeout to walk ratio in 34 innings. He became a Cardinal via the 43rd round of the 2009 draft from Imperial Valley College.



Moscatel
Catcher Kevin Moscatel was a July 2nd signing in 2007 from Venezuela at the age of 16. He spent most of his first three seasons in the Gulf Coast League, with improving offensive results each year, though the right-handed hitter never accrued 105 at-bats in any of his four professional seasons.

In 2011, Moscatel spent the entire summer with Batavia of the New York-Penn League. There, he batted .225 in 30 games. His career line is a power-starved .213/.298/.277/.575.



Richard Mendoza's release was previously reported here on Wednesday, November 9.



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 during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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