The other 60 or so players staying behind will be joined by 30 new arrivals when the Cardinals annual extended spring training camp (EST) begins on April 4. The most advanced players are considered to be candidates to join one of the aforementioned full-season clubs at some point this season, performance and opportunity willing, of course.
When they begin play in mid-June, the Cardinals affiliates in the New York-Penn League (Batavia Muckdogs), Appalachian League (Johnson City Cardinals) and Gulf Coast Leagues will be the three teams primarily staffed by the extended spring participants. They will be augmented by at least 40 new signees from this June's draft.
This invitee count of 30 is down from the 42 brought in last year but still higher than the 20 additional players sent to EST two years ago. The count reflects a need by the organization to make career decisions on a baker's dozen of lower-level players from the Dominican Summer League who are making their first trips to play ball in the USA. Other EST invitees played at Johnson City and in the Gulf Coast League in 2011 but were not already invited to regular spring training.
|Extended Spring Training (30)|
|Pitchers (16)||Pos||Final 2011 club|
|Freeman, Ben||LHP||Johnson City|
|Rein, Matt||LHP||Johnson City|
|Aguilar, Cesar||RHP||Gulf Coast|
|Bautista, Juan||RHP||Johnson City|
|Brand, Cole||RHP||Gulf Coast|
|Martinez, Bryan||RHP||Gulf Coast|
|Montanez, Fermin||RHP||Gulf Coast|
|Tapia, Angel||RHP||Gulf Coast|
|Toribio, Arturo||RHP||Gulf Coast|
|Knox, Michael||1B||Gulf Coast|
|Mateo, Leandro||2B||Gulf Coast|
|Vargas, Ildemaro||2B||Gulf Coast|
|Martin, Trevor||SS||Johnson City|
|Argenal, Jem||OF||Gulf Coast|
|Castillo, Ronald||OF||Johnson City|
|Deol, Dutch||OF||Gulf Coast|
|Dodd, Corderious||OF||Gulf Coast|
Last summer, the fewest new EST invitees finished with Johnson City (five) with a dozen having finished with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Earlier, the remainder of the 2011 season-ending Johnson City and GCL rosters were among the 127 players invited to regular minor league spring training camp. (Note: Outfielder Anthony Bryant was a late addition to regular camp and was not accounted for in the earlier article.)
|Final 2011 club||2012 EST invitees|
Just over half of the new EST group - 16 of the 30 - are pitchers, including a pair of left-handers. The rest of the position breakdown includes one catcher, seven infielders and six outfielders.
One name noticeably missing is Mitch Harris. The 26-year-old right-hander announced earlier this month that he has been allowed by the Navy to participate in EST. The organization's 13th round pick in the 2008 draft from the US Naval Academy has been on active duty ever since, but has been trying to secure an early discharge.
As of yet, the organization has not commented on why Harris' name is not among the EST players. However, Harris noted on his Twitter page on Friday that "Today a life long dream begins!" The implication is that he has already reported to camp.
Full and up-to-date spring camp rosters, both major and minor league versions, can be seen at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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