A Second Look at 2015 Springfield Cardinals

How the Cards’ Double-A Texas League roster compares to our pre-spring training predictions. The arrival of 2014 draftee Andrew Morales is among the surprises.

We have received a preliminary roster for the 2015 Springfield Cardinals. It includes 27 players, so two further reductions will be required by Thursday’s Opening Day for the Texas League. In addition, there are three others who were with Springfield last season not included among the 27, nor on any other active rosters, and therefore, presumed to be in rehab.

I will also use this opportunity to look back and compare this roster to the one I predicted would be in place over a month ago, before spring training even began.

First of all, here are the tentative initial 27 S-Cards for 2015. Listed under the DL? heading are the three inactive players mentioned above. In parenthesis are the players’ rankings in The Cardinal Nation top 40 prospect list for 2015.

Springfield (27+3)      
SP RP C 1B
Cornelius (L) C Thomas Ehrlich Jon Rodriguez 
Heyer Donofrio  Ohlman  Washington
Hald (L) Baker Rosario   
Petree (20) Wright (L)    
Mayers (25) Wyatt     
T Lee  Sherriff (L)    
Morales (35)      
       
  DL?    
  Blair    
  Stoppelman (L)    
  Swagerty    
       
2B SS 3B OF
B Valera (15) Mejia Wisdom (27) Martini
J Wilson (14) A Diaz (12)   S Rodriguez
      Tilson (10)
      An Garcia 
Bold = 40-man roster      
(x) TCN top 40 rank      

In a continuation of the continuity theme we saw with the Memphis roster, 15 of the 27 finished the 2014 season with Springfield. Four more were at Triple-A as the season ended, but were with Springfield prior – pitchers Mike Mayers, Heath Wyatt and Justin Wright and first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez.

The most interesting promotion, however, is that of pitcher Andrew Morales. The Cardinals’ second second-round pick last June, taken 71st overall, finished his rookie season with a short and successful stint at Palm Beach before being transferred back to the Gulf Coast League in a paperwork move.

Four new S-Cards are being promoted to the level from Palm Beach, three for the first time. They are pitcher Thomas Lee, first baseman David Washington and outfielder Anthony Garcia. In addition, shortstop Aledmys Diaz is back after finishing last season at Palm Beach.

Also, catcher Adam Ehrlich is on the Springfield roster. The 22-year-old, who has never played more than 22 games with any club before being moved in his four years in the system, had some experience at Palm Beach in each of the last two years, but finished 2014 at State College.

The two newcomers to the organization may share the catching duties with Ehrlich. Michael Ohlman was acquired from Baltimore and Alberto Rosario was signed as a free agent.

Eight of the 26 are members of The Cardinal Nation top 40 prospect list for 2015, headlined by number 10-ranked Charlie Tilson in centerfield. Others are infielders Diaz (12th), Jacob Wilson (14th), Breyvic Valera (15th) and Patrick Wisdom (27th), along with pitchers Nick Petree (20th), Mike Mayers (25th) and Morales (35th).

Only two are members of St. Louis’ 40-man roster, Diaz and Ohlman. They are listed in bold above.

Now, let’s compare my early predictions to the 27-man roster. “Adds” are the players who were not on my early guess list. “Misses” are the players I thought would be on the roster, but are not.

We will start with pitchers, catchers and first basemen.

SP adds RP adds C adds 1B adds
Mayers Wyatt  Ehrlich Jon Rodriguez
T Lee Wright (L)   Washington
Morales      
       
SP misses RP misses C misses 1B misses
S Garcia Stoppelman (L)   Voit
  Waldron    
  Perry    

Starters

I knew Memphis’ rotation would be crowded, but I thought Mike Mayers, who had a late-season debut there, might have a chance. It did not work out that way. As mentioned above, the arrival of Morales is a surprise, but if he can continue to perform well in the Texas League, he could contribute in St. Louis earlier than expected.

Lee is an interesting story, having been moved from relief to starting at Palm Beach last season. His name was a common sight among the spring training standouts. I had Silfredo Garcia being promoted from Palm Beach’s rotation instead, but he was injured in camp.

With seven legitimate contenders for five starting berths, it will be interesting to see who is squeezed out.

Relievers

2014 closer Joe Donofrio is back as are lefty Wright and righty Wyatt, down from Memphis. The three, along with returnees Ryan Sherriff, Cory Baker and Chris Thomas, offer experience.

I spoke with Lee Stoppelman in camp about some shoulder discomfort he was experiencing. Apparently it lingers. I had Rule 5 pick Tyler Waldron at Springfield, but he made the Memphis club instead.

The other difference was that I had Arizona Fall League reliever Chris Perry, who had a strong 2014 at multiple levels, making the Double-A jump. It still may be coming soon enough.

Even in spring camp, I had Swagerty and Blair in limbo status. The former due to injury recovery and the latter due to ineffectiveness. Apparently they are going to be given more time to get ready.

Catchers

I had Ohlman and Rosario on the Springfield roster as an offensive and defensive specialist, respectively. Ehrlich has been a wild card wherever he goes.

First base

I had thought there was a chance for Jonathan Rodriguez to make Memphis, where he debuted in August when Xavier Scruggs made his MLB debut. That did not happen.

Further, based on 2014 performance, I predicted that Luke Voit, not David Washington, would be the first baseman promoted from Palm Beach. With Washington not only being perhaps the most impressive hitter in spring training and his ability to also play some outfield, I can see why he received the nod for Springfield.

Now, let’s move to the rest of the infield and the outfield.

2B adds SS adds 3B adds OF adds
  A Diaz (12)    
       
2B misses SS misses 3B misses OF misses
  M Williams   Popkins

Second base/Shortstop

This is an experienced group, with all four having played most of 2014 with Springfield.

As noted above, Diaz, Wilson and Valera are all top-20 prospects with Mejia an underrated talent. Good thing Wilson and Valera can play multiple positions, as at-bats may be a challenge.

My only pre-camp prediction miss was thinking Diaz could make Memphis. That honor went to Matt Williams, instead.

Third base

No mystery here. Wisdom is back for a second shot at the Texas League. His defense is ready, but his hitting needs more work. Wilson could be his reserve.

Outfield

Tilson and Nick Martini were exposed to Springfield last season, while Starlin Rodriguez has bounced up and down between there and Palm Beach for a few years now. Anthony Garcia earned a promotion after two years in the Florida State League.

My only outfield miss was not predicting the release of 2013 Palm Beach standout David Popkins.

So, there you have it. The “almost” 2015 Springfield Cardinals, a club with a strong infield corps, an improved bullpen and a number of interesting starting pitching options.

Stay tuned to The Cardinal Nation for the Palm Beach roster information coming very soon.

Bookmark the Roster Matrix

To see the full 2014 season-ending rosters by level and position for the entire Cardinals system on one page, along with every transaction all season long, check out the Roster Matrix, always up-to-date and free at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Join the discussion with other Cardinals fans here



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.

© 2015 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories