Cards move to shore up Memphis relief corps

One game back in the standings, Triple-A Memphis gets two new relievers plus an important outfielder off the disabled list.

With pitching becoming a scarce resource at the upper levels of the St. Louis Cardinals system, the organization made a flurry of transactions on Thursday to help shore up Triple-A Memphis especially.

Three pitchers are receiving promotions with another hurler and an outfielder coming off the disabled list. An infielder is being returned to a lower level to complete the moves.

Triple-A Memphis
Activated outfielder Adron Chambers from the seven-day disabled list.
Assigned infielder Vance Albitz to Springfield.

Double-A Springfield Cardinals
Assigned reliever Lee Stoppelman to Memphis.
Assigned reliever Jose Almarante to Memphis.

A-Advanced Palm Beach
Assigned reliever Corey Baker to Springfield.
Activated pitcher Tyler Melling from seven-day disabled list.

Effective on August 18, Chambers was placed on the disabled list of the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds due to wrist soreness after the 26-year-old played just one game there following being sent down from St. Louis.

Chambers had been optioned to Memphis on August 16 when Kolten Wong's contract was purchased and went 0-for-3 with an RBI on the 17th in his Redbirds return. He is a prime candidate to be recalled to St. Louis once Memphis' season ends.

As has been the case in the past, Vance Albitz was a temporary replacement for Memphis. The infielder most recently came up from Double-A Springfield to take Chambers' roster spot and on Thursday, the 25-year-old was returned to the Texas League Cardinals.

This time up, Albitz played in five Pacific Coast League games. The right-handed hitter went 6-for-18 (.333) with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored.

Stoppelman, 23, has been one of the brightest successes in the Cardinals system in 2013. The left-hander has allowed just two earned runs in each of the last three months. His ERA between Palm Beach and Springfield is 1.41. Stoppelman has struck out 76 and walked 24 in 64 innings.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder from Central Missouri State went 3-1 with six saves for Springfield, and has been selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League prospect showcase following the season.

Almarante, 24, moved up to Springfield at the end of May. The native of Haiti has logged a 2.75 ERA in 39 1/3 innings over 27 Texas League games. Almarante added three saves in August. Between Palm Beach and Springfield, the right-hander has fanned 57 and issued 21 free passes in 65 1/3 innings this season.

Baker, 23, is another fast riser. The right-hander began the season with Class-A Peoria, where he was named a Midwest League All-Star. He earned a promotion to Palm Beach on May 22 and made a spot start for Springfield in mid-June before returning to the Florida State League.

Baker was back at Double-A from June 26 until July 28, when he was returned to Palm Beach. Since back with Palm Beach, his performance has been uneven, yielding nine earned runs in 14 FSL innings (5.79 ERA).

In 18 2/3 innings over seven previous Texas League games, he had an ERA of 6.75. Baker fanned six but walked seven and yielded six home run balls over his first two Springfield stints.

Melling, 24, has been out since August 13. The left-hander also missed two weeks in July. On the season for Palm Beach, he has a 4.93 ERA in 17 games, including 14 starts. Melling has struck out 43 but issued 21 free passes in 73 FSL innings.

Update Thursday evening

The Cardinals announced the recall of left-handed pitcher Sam Freeman from Memphis in advance of the team's seven-game road trip that begins Friday night in Pittsburgh. The team optioned right-handed pitcher Michael Wacha to Springfield and right-handed pitcher Michael Blazek to Memphis.

Freeman, 26, has appeared in four games (4.0 IP) for the Cardinals this season, striking out five batters and allowing no runs. He has posted a 7-2 mark with a 2.97 ERA and two saves in 49 games (69.2 IP) for Memphis. Freeman has limited left-handed batters to a .237 BA at Memphis, while righties are hitting just .207.

Wacha fanned seven batters in 4.0 scoreless innings of relief Wednesday night vs. Cincinnati so will not be ready to pitch again for several days. The 22-year-old rookie is 2-0, 3.78 ERA in 10 games (four games started) for the Cardinals and has struck out 37 batters in 33.1 innings pitched.

Blazek worked 1.2 scoreless innings in relief Wednesday night and has struck out 10 batters in 11 relief appearances for the Cardinals this season.

Both Memphis and Springfield's regular seasons end on Monday. When the seasons are done, the players can be recalled to St. Louis without having to wait the customary 10 days.

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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