Cardinals take Stock to pitching, cut two

The St. Louis Cardinals are returning catcher Robert Stock to the mound and reassigned him and pitcher Jordan Swagerty to minor league camp on Monday.

Immediately following their first spring training game, a 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals made their first cuts of the spring. Right-handed pitcher Jordan Swagerty and catcher Robert Stock have been reassigned to minor camp. Both were non-roster invitees (NRIs).

Jordan Swagerty
Both are now right-handed pitchers as well. The Cardinals have informed Stock that he is being returned to the mound. The 22-year-old performed at both positions at Southern Cal before being drafted in 2009. The Cardinals selected him in the second round, 67th overall, and agreed to let Stock be a catcher, his stated preference, when paying him a reported signing bonus of $525,000.

After Stock did not progress as hoped as a hitter, the organization is now ready to switch him from a catcher to a pitcher. He did both while playing at USC after bypassing his senior year of high school. With Southern Cal, Stock the pitcher both started and relieved. He went 8-7 with a 3.38 ERA and nine saves while fanning 128 in 117 1/3 NCAA innings.

"The decision to ask Robert to switch positions is something that we discussed internally, and both the minor league and major league personnel feel that the best way for Robert to ultimately experience success at the major league level would be as a pitcher," said Cardinals farm director John Vuch.

"Once we reached that conclusion, it made sense to make the switch as soon as possible, so that he could have the benefit of using spring training to begin making the conversion. Several of us discussed it with Robert yesterday, and he was receptive to the idea.

"We're excited to see him on the mound and are optimistic about his future in this role," Vuch concluded.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus is among those who felt all along that Stock was a better pitching prospect, but isn't all that enthused either way. "He was 90-94 in college with average secondary stuff. Good, but nothing to get too worked up about," Goldstein tweeted on Monday. Baseball America's Jim Callis adds this: "His delivery is fairly easy, good control of an 88-92 mph fastball that can hit 95 and a good changeup."

Stock first reached Class A Quad Cities at the tail end of the 2009 season. He remained there all of 2010 and part of 2011 before being moved up to A-Advanced Palm Beach. Stock's OPS of .688 after joining the Florida State League was only slightly better than his .644 career mark.

Stock was our ninth-ranked Cardinals prospect in 2010, sliding to 39 in 2011 before dropping from the rankings entirely this past winter. Others drafted after Stock in the 2009 Cardinals draft class who passed him along the way include Joe Kelly, Ryan Jackson, Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams.

After a pitching layoff of almost three years, it remains to be seen if Stock can realize his potential at the position. In addition to the physical aspect, there is also the question of his mindset. However, given his inability to hit consistently, it seems time to try.

Swagerty, 22, has been sidelined for the last week due to elbow stiffness. An MRI indicated no structural problems, however, bone spurs in his right, pitching elbow caused inflammation and irritation. Swagerty had not been throwing and no clear timetable for his return has been released.

A closer in college at Arizona State, Swagerty started 12 games last season before being moved into the bullpen to limit the innings on his arm. In his first professional season, Swagerty began with Quad Cities, where he threw to Stock, and finished two levels higher, at Double-A Springfield. He is our 10th-ranked prospect in the Cardinals system coming into the 2012 season.

After the pair of moves, the Cardinals now have 58 players in major league camp – 39 members of the 40-man roster and 19 NRIs. 152 players are participating in minor league camp, which opened Monday as well.

To see the entire organization in a single view, check out the Roster Matrix 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 minor league features during the season at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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