Cardinals clear pair from virtual taxi squad

Two unable to make the Cardinals top minor league clubs in spring training have been released.

When minor league spring training camp closed, the St. Louis Cardinals broke from recent tradition in handling their excess players. Rather than release those that did not make their Double-A and Triple-A clubs or place them on the phantom disabled list, the organization instead assigned a handful of these still-productive players to extended spring training camp in Jupiter, Fla.

Rather than continue to keep two of them indefinitely on what is essentially a taxi squad until roster spots open, the Cardinals have released infielder Vance Albitz and outfielder Adam Melker. Both have spent considerable time at Double-A Springfield and Albitz also filled in at Triple-A Memphis in recent seasons.

Albitz was the ultimate utility infielder both in role and in usage. The 26-year-old kept his bags packed, moving up to Memphis and back down to Springfield at least four times last season as openings occurred and closed. It was a continuation of the role he played across three levels in 2012, filling in at second base, shortstop and third base.

The California native joined the Cardinals organization in August 2011 after completing almost two seasons in independent ball. In 171 games in the system, the right-handed batter logged a line of .248/.309/.313/.622. Albitz even threw four innings of emergency scoreless innings of relief in two games with Springfield last summer.

Off the field, Albitz created a charity endeavor, Gloves 4 Troops, which has provided over 2,500 baseballs and gloves to service personnel deployed overseas for recreation purposes.

Melker, also 26 years of age, first became a Cardinal in the 44th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. The left-handed hitter played in the New York-Penn League after signing, then moved up to Palm Beach in 2011.

Melker's best season was his first with Springfield in 2012. He logged career highs in most offensive categories, including home runs (10), RBI (35) and OPS (.755). One of his two hits in the Texas League post-season was the game-tying RBI as part of Springfield's six-run comeback in Game 2.

Over his 362 contests in four seasons, Melker finished his Cardinals career with a line of .265/.340/.374/.714. He hit 18 home runs and drove in 110, also drawing 110 walks.

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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