St. Louis Cardinals international news: 02/13

The St. Louis Cardinals have added players, released others, announced coaches and more exclusive news from their Dominican Republic academy.

While the primary focus of St. Louis Cardinals fans is the opening of spring training camp in Jupiter, Florida this month, there is a considerable amount of activity underway in the organization's international program as well.

This article will catch up on a number of these items.

2013 DSL coaches set

The Dominican Summer League Cardinals will once again be managed by Fray Peniche, starting his third year at the helm. Pitching coach Bill Villanueva doubles that in his sixth year tutoring the Cardinals young arms.

The new addition to the staff is Kleininger Teran, the 2013 hitting coach. The 23-year-old Venezuelan, recently retired as a player, replaces Jobel Jimenez, who has moved up to the same role for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.

The 2013 schedule has yet to be announced, but a first weekend in June start seems likely. The 2012 DSL Cardinals finished 37-33 (.529).

Alex Reyes
Alex Reyes done

All approvals for right-handed pitcher Alex Reyes, whose $950,000 contract with the Cardinals was announced in December, are complete. The right-hander, born in New Jersey but living in the Dominican, took his physical in Jupiter and remains there, getting ready for the season.

You can read more about the 18-year-old here.

Almost time to move on from Robelys

Another Reyes, second baseman Robelys Reyes, has been one of, if not the best position player on the DSL Cardinals for some time. That is due to the fact he has been unable to be promoted to the US in each of the last two years. The issue remains getting a visa to enter the USA.

If not resolved before camp, it seems unlikely that the Cardinals will keep the 22-year-old around for a fourth season in the DSL.

Feliz is Luna

There seemed a long delay in the approval process for Dominican outfielder Ramon Feliz, whose agreement with the Cards was announced last fall. In what is apparently not that uncommon, the problem was with a wrong family declaration on his birth certificate. Feliz is his mother's name, while Luna is his father's. While his age of 18 does not change, it took time to get his birth certificate changed.

The approvals for Ramon Luna are now in place and he should make his official debut in the 2013 DSL.

Missed Mateo

In August, the Cardinals signed a 2012 July 2nd player in Julio Mateo. The right-handed pitcher is a native of San Pedro de Macoris, DR. While the 18-year-old profiles as a starter, his is considered more of a projection player than a present standout.

The product of the Dominican Prospect League (DPL), where he was a 2012 all-star, throws a fastball, curve and change-up. Mateo's fastball is consistently in the 80's but he can reportedly touch 90-91 mph.

Dionauris Pena in the pipeline

Following a January tournament, the DPL announced the Cardinals have come to terms with catcher Dionauris Pena. Scouts from all 30 organizations were reportedly present at the Louisville Slugger Tournament Series. In the four-day tourney, Pena was named most valuable player after going 5-for-5 with two doubles and a home run.

However, Pena's deal is not yet done. It is at step one of a four-step process.

Four signing steps

There are multiple steps required in signing an international player. Too often, news of step one is misunderstood to be a completion of step four. In between, a number of problems can arise.

1. Preliminary investigation. The organization comes to a verbal agreement with the player. They do initial testing including a physical, steroids check and review documents for any red flags.

2. Signing. The player signs the contract.

3. MLB investigation. Documents are submitted to MLB for its mandatory investigation.

4. Approval.

Pena among five releases

With players being added, others must be let go. The Cardinals have released five players - pitchers Juan Fresa and Jose Pena plus three position players - Alejandro Mejia, Junior Agustin and Eduardo Celestino.

Fresa is a right-handed pitcher who turns 21 next month. Signed one year ago, the Dominican native had a very rough time in his debut last summer. Fresa walked 12 in 6 1/3 innings and allowed seven runs, five earned.

Pena, 20, was originally drafted as an outfielder in December 2008, but the Santo Domingo, D.R. resident was converted to pitching following the 2011 season. In his only professional mound campaign, the right-hander walked 17 in 20 DSL innings and logged a 5.40 ERA.

A first baseman originally signed prior to the 2011 season, Mejia turns 20 next month. Also from Santo Domingo, the right-handed hitter logged a career line of .207/.275/.277 over his two seasons in the organization.

The Cards continue the Santo Domingo purge with Agustin, now two months short of his 20th birthday. The third baseman spent three seasons in the DSL following his signing in November 2009. After showing improvement in his second pro season (from a .380 OPS in 2010 to .776 in 2011), the right-handed hitter backslid to a 2012 line of .162/.253/.228 line in 43 DSL contests.

Celestino, 20, is an outfielder from San Pedro de Macoris. Also signed in November 2009, Celestino played three seasons in the DSL. Also like Agustin, the left-handed hitter improved in his second year, but his numbers dropped off the table in 2012 - .115/.179/.192 in 21 games.

US travel plans

The Cardinals have not yet announced their regular minor league spring training camp invitees or those coming to the extended spring camp that follows. However, expect four academy players to make their US debuts in March and another 10-12 more in April for EST.

Stay close to The Cardinal Nation and we will have all this information as soon as it is available.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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