Last time out, we said goodbyes to 35 players who were part of the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 2015 but have since left.
Now, with minor league camp beginning on Monday, March 7, it is a great time to recap the action from this system this winter in restocking the Cardinals with a whole group of new players – 25, specifically.
The 25 new players joined the Cardinals since last September. 15 of the new recruits are pitchers with the other 10 position players.
The vast majority, 19, were signed as free agents. Of that group, two are returnees to the organization. The other methods include one player claimed off waivers, two acquired via trade and three picked up in the Rule 5 Draft.
In terms of where they are assigned to open this spring, seven are on the 40-man roster, with another seven having joined them in big-league camp. Two of the new minor league additions were invited to the minor league early program, STEP Camp. That leaves six players expected in minor league camp and finally three new members of the Dominican Summer League Cardinals.
In the table below, the new Cardinals are broken into pitchers and position player columns. The horizontal groupings are based on their spring camp assignments. Within those categories, the players are listed in the order in which they signed. (All were free agents unless noted otherwise.)
|Pitchers (15)||Pos||Date||Position Players (10)||Pos||Date|
|40-man||Jayson Aquino *||LHP||09,Dec||Brayan Pena||C||30,Nov|
|(7)||Matt Bowman #||RHP||10,Dec||Jedd Gyorko >||IF||08,Dec|
|Jonathan Broxton %||RHP||10,Dec|
|NRI||Juan Gonzalez||RHP||12,Nov||Eric Fryer||C||12,Nov|
|(7)||Deck McGuire||RHP||20,Nov||Jeremy Hazelbaker %||OF||10,Dec|
|J.C. Sulbaran||RHP||10,Dec||Carlos Peguero||OF||22,Jan|
|STEP||John Brebbia #||RHP||10,Dec||Chris Jacobs||1B||26,Dec|
|Minors||Michael Heesch #||LHP||10,Dec||Mikey Reynolds||IF||23,Sep|
|(6)||Bob Wheatley||LHP||02,Feb||Erik Garcia||C||16,Oct|
|John Church||RHP||12,Feb||Jose Martinez >||SS||02,Dec|
|DSL||Winston Nicacio||RHP||27,Feb||Julio Rodriguez||C||27,Feb|
|* off waivers||% re-signed|
|# Rule 5||> trade|
40-man roster (7)
The first two players to join the 40-man roster this off-season are position players. As November ended, catcher Brayan Pena came over from Cincinnati as a free agent on a two-year deal and two days later, infielder Jedd Gyorko was acquired from San Diego in exchange for Jon Jay.
Jayson Aquino has yet to pitch above high-A, but the Cards snatched the left-hander off waivers from the Cleveland Indians system in early December. Matt Bowman was claimed from the New York Mets in the Rule 5 Draft and is in camp competing for a long relief role. In that same two-day period, reliever Jonathan Broxton resigned with St. Louis for two years at a reduced rate. After the season, the Cardinals had declined the option on his old contract, which he brought along with him from Milwaukee.
After missing out on free agent David Price, the Cards turned their attention to Mike Leake, who essentially is replacing Lance Lynn this season and is under contract for four more seasons afterward. The final 40-man addition is veteran Korean reliever Seung-hwan Oh.
All except Aquino have a realistic chance to make St. Louis’ 25-man roster coming out of camp, though Bowman has to be considered a bit of a long shot due to the sheer number of competitors.
Non-roster invitees (7)
None of the seven NRI’s in MLB camp will probably come north with St. Louis, though all could start the season with Triple-A Memphis. Free agent catcher Eric Fryer might have the best chance of being added to the 40-man roster, a situation that is entirely dependent on Yadier Molina’s thumb.
Of the four right-handed pitchers, former New York Mets starter Jeremy Hefner has the most extensive resume, but he missed all of last season with a second Tommy John surgery. Juan Gonzalez, Deck McGuire and J.C. Sulbaran provide organizational depth.
Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker first signed with St. Louis last May and decided to rejoin the organization for 2016. He and veteran MLB outfielder Carlos Peguero provide important reserves behind the big-league corps.
STEP Camp (2)
Of the 25 new additions, just two of them are a part of early minor league camp. That is not surprising, since most of the STEP invitees are top prospects grown internally.
The exceptions are first baseman Chris Jacobs, most recently in the Cleveland system and right-hander pitcher John Brebbia, picked up from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 Draft. Both spent the most time in 2015 at the A-Advanced level.
Minor league camp (6)
Class-A infielder Mikey Reynolds was the first signee of the season, added in September. Next was short-season catcher Erik Garcia. Also a short-season player in 2015, shortstop Jose Martinez was received in return from Kansas City for catcher Tony Cruz.
Like Brebbia, Michael Heesch came over in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. The left-hander pitched in the Chicago Cubs system in 2015. Two pitchers were added just last month – Class-A lefty Bob Wheatley and veteran Triple-A reliever John Church.
Dominican Summer League (3)
As announced first by The Cardinal Nation, St. Louis signed three teenagers for the 2016 Dominican Summer League Cardinals – right-handers Winston Nicacio and Angel Rondon, throwing to catcher Julio Rodriguez. (Full details here)
Make that 26 new players. MiLB.com reports the Cardinals have added another pitcher to the Dominican Summer League roster, Wilman Madera. Set to celebrate his 17th birthday next week, the native of Cartagena, Colombia, throws right-handed. Madera stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 195 pounds.
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