Cards to add 21 to extended spring training

As April begins, a group of minor leaguers will continue to work on improving their game in Florida.

Once the St. Louis Cardinals major league club and the four full-season minor league affiliates break camp, leaving Jupiter, Florida, those minor leaguers who remain behind will provide the core of players for the organization's annual extended spring training camp (EST).

21 others will be following them in two waves. The majority of non-holdovers from minor league spring training will not arrive at extended spring training immediately on April 3 when EST officially opens. The overseas players will first participate in a mini-camp in the Dominican Republic at start of the month. They will join the others in Jupiter on April 14.

These are players viewed as not yet being ready for a full-season club and will likely compete for jobs on one of three short-season rosters – State College of the New York-Penn League, Johnson City of the Appalachian League and the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.

Here is the breakdown of the 21 based on their season-ending 2013 assignment.

2013 assignments #
New signees 2
Johnson City 2
Gulf Coast League  7
Dominican Summer League 10
total 21

The 10 Dominican Summer League players coming over to the USA for the first time for EST on April 14 include six pitchers, a catcher and two outfielders. Topping the list are The Cardinal Nation's 2013 DSL Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year and Reliever of the Year in Ramon Santos and Yeison Medina, respectively.

Here is the full group.

Extended Spring 2013 Age
Pitchers (14)    
Barkley, Jeff new sign 23
Brito, Ismael* JC 21
Caballero, Juan GCL 21
Carlow, Kevin new sign 23
Flores, Fidencio GCL 22
Hawkins, Dylan* GCL 20
Lara, Jose DSL 20
Mateo, Julio DSL 18
Medina, Yeison DSL 21
Parra, Frederis DSL 19
Rodriguez, Jorge DSL 20
Salazar, Hector GCL 19
Santos, Ramon DSL 19
Villegas, Kender GCL 20
Catcher (1)    
Lopez, Joshua DSL 18
Infield (1)    
Alvarez, Eliezer# GCL 19
Outfield (5)    
Bandes, Luis DSL 17
Franco, Bladimil DSL 20
Sierra, Magneuris* DSL 17
Torres, Carlos GCL 21
Vigo-Suarez, Brian JC 22
* left-handed    
# switch-hitter    

Looking at the ages provides a perfectly-shaped bell curve with 20 years of age at the center.

Ages (when camp opens) #
17 2
18 2
19 4
20 5
21 4
22 2
23 2
total 21

Outfielders Luis Bandes and Magneuris Sierra are both just 17 years of age. Bandes batted just .185 last summer, but Sierra hit .269, fifth-highest on the DSL Cardinals and he stole a team-tying best 15 bases.

At 18 years old are Medina and catcher Joshua Lopez. The backstop received nearly a half-million dollars to sign less than two years ago. Lopez also participated in 2013 EST before returning to the DSL for the summer, where he batted just .173.

Four other teenagers are among the EST invitees – pitchers Santos, Frederis Parra and Hector Salazar and infielder Eliezer Alvarez. Salazar and Alvarez played in the 2013 GCL. All are 19 years of age.

At the other end of the extended spring training age spectrum are a pair of 23-year-old pitchers signed over the off-season, right-handers Jeff Barkley and Kevin Carlow. You can read about their back stories here.

Finally, one member of the season-ending 2013 DSL Cardinals roster had earlier been among the 157 players invited to regular minor league spring training camp in March. That is TCN's 2013 DSL Cardinals Player of the Year, Edmundo Sosa. The shortstop had earlier participated in fall instructional league camp as well.

The extended spring training players should be considered when openings occur at Peoria - and as noted above, those that still remain in mid-June will be assigned to one of the short-season clubs in State College, Johnson City and in the Gulf Coast League.

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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