Less than a week from pitchers and catchers officially reporting back to the everyday grind, the St. Louis Cardinals continued to replenish their minor league pitching depth with the signing of John Church to a minor league pact, reports Baseball America.
In 2015, he had a 7-3 record with 3.93 ERA in 61 games and converted seven saves and finished 22 games. In 71 innings pitched, Church struck out 44 and walked 16 batters.
The Florida-born Church becomes the third former New York Mets pitching farmhand to join the Cardinals this offseason, following Rule 5 selection Matt Bowman and free agent signee Jeremy Hefner. He also is the third Cardinal signee to have played winter ball for Escogido in the Dominican Republic along with Hefner and another free agent addition, outfielder Carlos Peguero.
His ascent has stalled of late because of his age and lack of quality stuff, but Church is said to throw his fastball in the high 80s to low 90s and has decent feel for his slider and changeup. He also has decent command and keeping the ball on the ground is his bread and butter while limiting the amount of long balls. However, these types of pitchers grow on trees and fit well as organization filler types.
Update: Church is not among the non-roster invites to big-league camp this spring, but will certainly supplement the Cardinals' relief depth at Triple-A Memphis and has experience and familiarity pitching late in games in the Pacific Coast League.
To see the entire Cardinals system by level and position, along with free agents and every transaction all year long, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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