2015 Gulf Coast League Cardinals Preview

The Cardinals’ US entry-level rookie level affiliate got underway Monday with a 31-man active roster that includes three top 2015 draft picks.

On Monday afternoon, June 22nd, the 2015 Gulf Coast League Cardinals took the field for the first time. Under manager Steve Turco, pitching coach Cale Johnson and hitting coach Roberto Espinoza, 31 St. Louis Cardinals organization prospects were active for opening day.

You can view the entire GCL Cardinals roster - as well as those from all Cards minor league affiliates - here at The Cardinal Nation. They are always just a few clicks away. On the menu bar underneath the site logo, click on “PROSPECTS”, then “MILB ROSTERS/PLAYER PAGES”, then select the team and player.

The 2015 GCL Cardinals players come from a variety of sources. At least 11 are brand-new Cardinals – eight from the 2015 Draft class plus three non-drafted free agents. Five are more seasoned, having already seen action at the next-higher level, the Appalachian League, while nine others are from the 2014 Dominican Summer League, stepping up to make their US debuts.

Two others dropped down from full-season ball to reset as part of the transition from being position players to pitching. One hurler is back from retirement and two others are opening the season on the disabled list. Two Class-A players are on rehab assignments, both pitchers, not included in the 31.

Overall, the 31 includes 15 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders and seven outfielders.

Now, let’s dig in!

Newest Cardinals

The GCL Cards sport St. Louis’ top two picks in 2015, outfielder Nick Plummer and pitcher Jake Woodford, taken 23rd and 39th overall, respectively. Compensation third-rounder, righty Jordan Hicks, is also on the roster.

Other 2015 draftees include ninth-rounder, second baseman Andrew Brodbeck and four late-game picks – second baseman Dylan Tice (36th), catcher Stephen Zavala (37th), outfielder Orlando Olivera (38th) and shortstop Joey Hawkins (40th).

The three recent free agent additions are right-hander Brady Bowen, third baseman Michael Polcyn and shortstop Allen Staton.

Experience Upward

Among the initial GCL Cards who have spent some time with the Johnson City Cardinals, one level up, include outfielders Bladimil Franco and Carlos Torres along with pitchers Steven Farinaro, Ismael Brito and Steven Gallardo, the latter back in 2012 before injuries struck.

Former catcher Gerwuins Velazco and ex-catcher and outfielder Rowan Wick are suiting up for the first time as pitchers with the 2015 GCL Cardinals. As position players, Velazco briefly reached Double-A Springfield while Wick peaked at A-Advanced Palm Beach earlier this season.

Peoria pitchers Kevin Alexander and Dewin Perez are rehabbing in the GCL while remaining on the disabled list of the Class-A Chiefs. The two have both been out of Midwest League action since May 22.

GCL Returnees

The most interesting back story among the returning GCL Cardinals is that of lefty Max Foody, who after two years of injuries, retired last season. The 2012 12th rounder, now 22 years of age, came back to the game this spring and is a member of the bullpen.

At least three others spent some time with the 2014 GCL Cards – pitcher Silas Bohannan plus catchers Joshua Lopez and Frankie Rodriguez.

Pitchers Blake Higgins and Davis Ward open the season on the 60-day disabled list.

Stepping Up

Seven members of the 2015 Dominican Summer League Cardinals came across for extended spring training and remained. They are pitchers Sandy Alcantara (opening day starter), Junior Fernandez and Derian Gonzalez, shortstop Allen Cordoba and outfielders Luis Bandes, Jonathan Rivera and Carlos Talavera.

In addition, two 2014 DSL pitchers have made a U-turn. They were in the US this spring but opened the season back in the DSL but have now been returned to join the GCL. They are left-hander David Oca and right-hander Estarlin Arias.

Oca made four DSL starts this season, logging a 0.90 ERA and fanning 26 against just five walks in 20 innings. The 19-year-old Venezuelan was The Cardinal Nation’s 2014 DSL Starting Pitcher of the Year.

Arias, 21, made two tandem starts and two relief appearances to date this season. His DSL ERA was 1.98 as he struck out 13 and walked three in 13 2/3 innings.

For More

Check out The Cardinal Nation’s daily and in-depth weekly reports on the 2015 GCL Cardinals. Our morning Minor League Notebooks recap the previous day’s games and include links to the box scores.

Back for another year is our local GCL Cardinals reporter Paul Ivice, the only media member to regularly attend these games in person. Paul’s weekly GCL Cardinals Notebooks will return - exclusively for TCN members - each Monday morning all summer long.

Join the minor league 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.

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