Though the St. Louis Cardinals fall instructional league camp has concluded for 2014, another started on October 15. This one is located at the organization’s Dominican Republic academy. The goals in these fall camps remain the same – to help younger players improve their skills in a teaching environment.
The six-week program is geared toward individualized work. While there are some games, much of the instructional efforts occur in intersquads and during repeated drills.
At least 34 players, all either new signees or Dominican Summer League veterans, are participating in the program, which runs through November. The mix is 16 pitchers, including six left-handers, and 18 position players, all ranging in ages from 16 to 20.
That does not mean all the players are Dominican, however. In fact, from this year’s group, they only outnumber non-Dominicans 18-to-16. 13 Venezuelans, two Panamanians and one Colombian are among the participants.
Only one of the players, catcher Joshua Lopez, has appeared in official game action in the United States. The 18-year-old batted .194 in 36 games in the Gulf Coast League in 2014.
In addition to Lopez, three others have two years of professional experience. They are pitchers Estarlin Arias, Will Changarotty and David Oca. 20 other fall invitees played their first official action in the 2014 Dominican Summer League.
The 20 include one especially notable player, pitcher Junior Fernandez. Signed for a $400,000 bonus this July 2nd, the 17 year-old pitched right away in the DSL before becoming the only one of the 34 to participate in both the US and Dominican fall camps this year.
That leaves 10 players who are taking the field for the first time as Cardinals. One, first baseman Dariel Gomez, signed last December, but did not play in the 2014 DSL.
July 2nd class
Three other fall first-timers were announced as July 2nd signees along with Fernandez, but were signed to 2015 contracts. They will make their official debuts in next year’s DSL. They are pitcher Sebastian Nunez, shortstop Starlin Balbuena and second baseman Esequiel Delgado.
The most recent five, all pending the completion of the normal approvals, include three pitchers, a catcher and an infielder. Four hail from Venezuela. They are left-handed pitcher Fabian Blanco, 16, righty Cristhian Lugo, 17, catcher Leandro Cedeno, 16, and shortstop Edwin Figuera, 17. The fifth is 17-year-old Dominican right-hander Diego Cordero.
That increases the Cardinals signing total from this year’s July 2nd class to 10 players, all of whom are participating in this camp.
On the way out
As the Cardinals plan for next summer’s 35-man DSL roster, some players will be brought to the US for extended spring training, but at the other end of the spectrum, a number of releases off the 2014 DSL roster are expected soon, as well. We will share that information when it is made available.
Also, one player previously announced as conditionally signed back in May, 19-year-old Jeikel Feliz, did not become a Cardinal after all. The right-handed pitcher failed his physical and his contract was voided.
DSL Cardinals manager Fray Peniche is leading the instructional league activities. The DSL coaching staff as well as US-based coaches and coordinators are also spending time working with the young players. They include DSL pitching coach Bill Villanueva, hitting coach Erick Almonte and coach John Matos.
St. Louis Cardinals Dominican Republic Instructional League Roster
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