Cardinals Add Two Latin Players, Release One

In preparation for 2015, the St. Louis Cardinals continue to tweak their Dominican Summer League roster.

One of the St. Louis Cardinals’ prospective signees in the pipeline has completed all the necessary testing and is now an official member of the organization. 17-year-old left-handed pitcher Luis Rosales is the newest Cardinal. The 6-foot-3, 180 pounder hails from El Sombrero, Venezuela.

He is being joined by another tall hurler with room to fill out. The rights to the services of 6-foot-4, 185-pound right-hander Jesus Garcia have been purchased from Veracruz of the Mexican League.

According to a June report from Puro Beisbol, scouts from at least five MLB organizations had their eyes on Garcia, now aged 17, as he played on the youth academy squad for Los Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz. Joining the Cardinals in the pursuit of him were the Rays, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Braves.

Agent Hugo Catrain was quoted as saying that Garcia is a starting pitcher with four offerings. His fastball is in the 88-91 mph range, along with a “good” 74-77 mph curve, a change up and a splitter. Catrain went on to suggest Garcia is a “little smaller” version of Michael Wacha.

On a club last summer that included players from Yucatan and Veracruz, YUCVER, in the Baseball Academy of the Mexican League, Garcia pitched 57 innings including six starts. He allowed 53 hits, issued 17 walks and fanned 40. Garcia yielded 15 earned runs for a 2.35 ERA.

Though Garcia’s financial terms with St. Louis have not been disclosed, it is important to remember that only 25 percent of compensation for Mexican players applies toward the international bonus cap. This is especially important for the Cardinals as the pool amounts are set in an inverse relationship with Major League results, leaving St. Louis with one of the smallest totals to work with during this signing season, which began on July 2nd.

The two additions are expected to become members of the 2015 Dominican Summer League Cardinals, whose regular season will get underway on June 1st.

One 2014 DSL Cardinals pitcher who will not be there to welcome them is Kerrion Bennett. The 18-year-old Nicaraguan has been released by the organization after just one season.

Working out of the bullpen, the July 2nd 2013 signing appeared in 12 games, pitching 21 innings. Bennett’s 1.71 ERA was clearly misleading as his FIP was 4.41. The left-hander had a particular problem with free passes, issuing 12 to go with 15 strikeouts.

Bennett joins two other DSL Cardinals left-handers cut loose since the end of last season in Rigobert Urena and Andy De La Cruz. They were released in October.

Other Signing News

The Cardinals continue to create minor league catching competition, signing former Colorado Rockies minor league catcher Jose Gonzalez to a minor league contract. This news came from the 27-year-old’s agent, Onyx Sports Management.

Gonzalez

Gonzalez had his first action in the 2006 Dominican Summer League at the age of 18 and moved up the Rockies chain, being re-signed three straight years after reaching free agency. He was sent to the 2012 Arizona Fall League, then first reached Triple-A in 2013.

At the start of April, 2014, Gonzalez signed with the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League. There, he appeared in 15 games before the Rockies brought him back in June, where he worked mostly at Double-A, with a couple of games at Triple-A to end the season.

The Caracas, Venezuela native’s career minor league line is .218/.311/.293/.604 over nine seasons. Known for his defense, Gonzalez’ career fielding percentage of .987, having thrown out 42.3% of base-stealers over his career. He can also play a bit of first base.

This winter, the right-handed hitter posted a line of .247/.309/.315/.624 for Tiburones de La Guaira of the Venezuelan Winter League. 20 of his 24 hits in 97 at-bats were singles and he plated nine in regular season action. Among the pitchers on his club was Johnson City’s Kender Villegas.

It appears the Cardinals are staging a battle of three defense-first catchers and one offensive-minded backstop for two likely roster spots at Double-A Springfield. In the first category, Gonzalez joins holdover Travis Tartamella and fellow free agent signee Alberto Rosario. Recently-acquired Michael Ohlman is the other expected combatant, perhaps the best hitter of the four.

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