Predicting the St. Louis Cardinals 2012 NRIs

19 players are expected to receive non-roster invitations to St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp. Brian Walton takes his shot at guessing their identities and so can you.

Again, it is time for my predictions of the non-roster invitees (NRIs) to be invited to St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp. We have a bit of a head start this year, as Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch notes the club plans to bring 19 NRIs to camp.

The 19 will join the 39 players currently on the 40-man roster, who by definition, will be in major league camp as well. The 19 NRIs have been informed of their selection, but the club has not yet released their names.

From Strauss' article and players tweeting, we seem to have a good idea about 10 of the 19. They include prospects Shelby Miller, Tyrell Jenkins, Kolten Wong, Matt Adams, Jordan Swagerty, Joe Kelly and Nick Greenwood. Then, there are three veteran NRIs in Koyie Hill, R.J. Swindle and Eugenio Velez.

My assignment here is to take my educated guess on the other nine. After all, I have asked readers to make your predictions, so I figure I should have my own picks on record first. If you are interested in logging your own guess, you can do so over at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

Of course, there could be a veteran signing or two to minor league deals with a spring training invite that would affect this list, but for now, we will go with the players under contract. I will add that I have spoken to no one in the organization about this, so these are my own personal guesses as to what I think the Cardinals might do.

The two left columns are the ones assumed. The far right column lists my final nine.

Prospects (7) Veterans (3) Predictions (9)
Starters Shelby Miller John Gast (L)
Tyrell Jenkins Brian Broderick
Joe Kelly Nick Additon (L)
Relievers Jordan Swagerty R.J. Swindle (L) Victor Marte
Nick Greenwood (L)
Catchers Koyie Hill Nick Derba
Steven Hill
Audry Perez
Travis Tartamella
Infelders Matt Adams Eugenio Velez Ryan Jackson
Kolten Wong

Let's start with the easier ones, the catchers. With the three 40-man catchers plus Koyie Hill already assumed, I added four more backstops to reach a total of eight. The four others here will likely be among the first NRIs to be reassigned to minor league camp, in concert with the extra pitchers they will catch. (This projection has 29 hurlers in camp at its opening.)

While I could see Luis De La Cruz slip ahead of Travis Tartamella, ultimately I went with the players that ended 2012 at Double-A and above. Another possibility is inviting one fewer catcher and one more pitcher than I list above.

The infield and outfield look to be very quiet areas. Other than a no-brainer, shortstop Ryan Jackson, there are very few players close enough to the majors to justify a camp invitation. Outfielder Tommy Pham needs to prove his health with infielders Jose Garcia and Jermaine Curtis perhaps be the next closest to being selected.

The Cardinals relief corps is already a crowded group with more legitimate 40-man roster candidates than openings exist. Still, 31-year-old reliever Victor Marte performed admirably as Memphis' closer last season and it seems he has earned a look. Another possibility is former 40-man righty David Kopp.

Two of the three starters I think could be invited are left-handed. John Gast, who impressed in 2011 camp, would seem to be a lock. In a normal environment, I might not include lefty Nick Additon, but given the dearth of solid left-handed relief options, I could see the 6-foot-5 Floridian getting a look-see. Additon made 16 starts for Memphis last season.

My final choice is right-hander Brian Broderick. Just one year ago, the 6-foot-6 righty was in the Washington Nationals spring camp. Despite no experience above Double-A, he had been selected in the Rule 5 Draft after drawing attention in the Arizona Fall League. While Broderick pitched well in spring training and made the Nats' opening day roster, he was soon returned to the Cardinals and spent the remainder of the season in Memphis' rotation. Michael Blazek is the other possibility from the Redbirds' 2011 starting group.

Though it would be tempting and easy to list top prospects that have yet to play even one game at the Double-A level, I suspect the Cardinals will instead aim them to their expanded early camp for top minor leaguers. They can receive more developmental attention there than they would ever receive in big-league camp. Among the names I would expect on that list are right-handers Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal and outfielder Oscar Taveras.

There you have my picks along with a brief explanation as to why. Don't forget to log your own guess over at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

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 during the season at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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