Cardinals Prune Six from Dominican Ranks

The St. Louis Cardinals have released a half-dozen players from their Dominican Summer League roster.

In our recent St. Louis Cardinals Dominican Instructional League preview, we noted a number of new signees, but had not yet reported the corresponding releases. We have that information now.

The organization has released six players from the DSL roster - four pitchers and two infielders. They are lefties Rigobert Urena and Andy De La Cruz, righties Jose Lara and Esteban Vallejo, first baseman Henry Alvarado and corner infielder Joaquin De La Cruz.

At 20 years of age, Lara and Vallejo are the oldest and most experienced, having each completed three DSL seasons. Clearly the two were out of career runway, with the Cardinals not seeing either as being competitive for the Gulf Coast League next season.

Lara finished his three years out of the pen with a 4.90 ERA to go with 53 strikeouts and 26 walks in 79 innings. Vallejo has a 3.78 career ERA and 66 strikeouts against 44 free passes in 88 frames.

The other four former Cardinals competed for two summers in the DSL. Alvarado, who signed for $150,000, is the youngest at 18. Urena and Joaquin De La Cruz are 19, while Andy De La Cruz has already celebrated his 20th birthday.

The good news from Alvarado’s year two? Two-thirds of his hits went for extra bases, including eight home runs. The bad news? The right-handed hitter batted just .198 and coaxed a lone walk to go with 39 strikeouts in 111 plate appearances over 30 games. A .422 OPS and a 36 percent strikeout rate isn’t going to cut it at any level. He began as an outfielder/first baseman in 2013, but was only an infielder this summer.

Defensively, Joaquin split his time between first base and third base. The right-handed hitter had the same issue as Alvarado – not enough production from positions that demand it. In 344 plate appearances in 2013 and 2014, De La Cruz hit just two home runs, plated 22 and had a slash line of .167/.272/.212/.484. He “only” struck out 29 percent of the time.

Andy, not related to Joaquin, posted a decent 1.97 ERA in relief over the past two summers, but fanned just 46 while issuing 26 free passes in 59 1/3 DSL innings. Urena walked more batters than he struck out, 27 to 25, to go with a 4.61 ERA over 41 innings, primarily out of the bullpen, in 2013 and 2014.

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

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