When I posted the Minor League Spring Training rosters on Thursday, I chose the words in a particular passage very carefully. Specifically, I said that I had accounted for all the players currently under contract who played in the St. Louis Cardinals system in the USA to conclude the 2015 season.
The key phrase is “currently under contract”. In reality, two Cardinals have decided not to report to camp – not to sign 2016 contracts and not to play. Whether or not they both have officially retired is not completely clear, however.
In the past, the organization simply moved such players to the voluntary retired list while maintaining their professional playing rights. If a return is considered by the player later, it would be required to be as a Cardinal. At this point, team officials will not confirm the two retirements, instead simply noting the players are not in camp.
The first, Kyle Hald, had reached Triple-A Memphis twice last season and was expected to compete for a rotation spot there in 2016. Instead, the left-hander has apparently decided to step away from the game. According to his Twitter feed, the 26-year-old became a first-time father during the off-season. Hald did not respond to a request for comment submitted two days ago.
Through 2015, the former 18th-rounder had completed four full-season campaigns in the Cardinals system since leaving Old Dominion University in June 2011. He had been available in the last two Rule 5 Drafts, but was not selected.
As a rookie in Johnson City in 2011, Hald was the Cardinals organization Pitcher of the Month in August and following the season was named an Appalachian League All-Star representing the league champions.
In 2014, Hald was called up to Springfield from Palm Beach in late April. He initially performed well and in fact, was the winning pitcher in the Texas League All-Star Game - before slumping in the second half.
Hald opened 2015 back in Double-A before making two starts with Memphis in May, during which he allowed seven earned runs in 11 innings. As the season ended, he was back at Triple-A for two starts, this time yielding six runs, five earned, in 11 frames.
In between, his second season at Springfield culminated with a 5.12 ERA over 102 innings. Hald fanned 72 but issued 31 Texas League free passes in 2015, apparently his final campaign as a Cardinal.
Update: Hald's agent, John Domantay, confirmed to TCN reporter Derek Shore that the pitcher has indeed decided to retire.
The second player not in camp, infielder Michael Massi, was placed on the voluntary retired list on February 9, according to MiLB.com.
The 23-year-old native of Pittsburgh made an interim stop between Mercer University and the Cardinals. In June 2014, the non-drafted free agent initially signed with the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League, from whom the Cardinals almost immediately purchased his contract.
While playing all four infield positions defensively, Massi batted just .210 with the 2014 Gulf Coast League Cardinals. In 2015, he was a fill-in player at three different levels. Massi remained in extended spring training until mid-June, when he joined Peoria. A week later, he moved up to help Palm Beach before briefly returning to the Chiefs in August. In another week, he packed his bags again, this time to finish the summer with short-season State College.
Over the two years at four official levels, the right-handed hitter had 176 at-bats in 65 games. His professional line was .205/.321/.261/.582.
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