Spring Cardinals international program update

St. Louis Cardinals director of international operations Moises Rodriguez discusses extended spring training, the 2012 Dominican Summer League, July 2nd preparations, MLB's new budget and signing rules and more.

While the more highly-publicized Major League and Minor League baseball seasons officially began this week, so did a much lower-profile, but also very important player development activity.

Extended spring training camp for the St. Louis Cardinals opened in the same location as did regular minor league spring training in March – in the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Florida.

The almost-80 players participating are a mix of injured and suspended players, those held over from March camp that did not make a full-season club as well as a group of 30 new arrivals.

The core of this latter group is an almost equal balance of players that competed last season in the Gulf Coast League and a baker's dozen others who are experiencing their first taste of baseball in the United States.

These new arrivals in the USA are graduates of the Cardinals academy in the Dominican Republic. Planning for their travel began last fall. These players will either make a 2012 short-season club, which begin play in mid-June, or will be given their release.

They and many more of their peers across the system are the responsibility of Cardinals director of international operations Moises Rodriguez.

This is a very busy time of the year, as getting these players situated in the USA is only one small part of Rodriguez' job. Scouts are evaluating the talent of those currently eligible sign as well as teenagers slated to be part of the 2012 July 2nd class. Other players tentatively signed are going through their background checking while those already under contract are working with their coaches to prepare for the 2012 Dominican Summer League.

Late last month, I spoke with Rodriguez at his home base in Jupiter about all of the above and more.

Part one: (9:05)

In part two of the interview, we move into how the Cardinals are reacting to the upcoming changes instituted by MLB in international signing and budgeting. Rodriguez also highlights some of the more notable players coming over to the US this spring for EST and the off-field support program in place to assist them in their transition.

Part two: (9:10)

Note: To review all players invited to extended spring training, those set to play in the 2012 DSL and the entire Cardinals system by level and position, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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 minor league features during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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