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Late Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals reduced the number of players in big league camp from 59 to 50.

Late Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals reduced the number of players in big league camp from 59 to 50.

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Following their game today, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the following roster moves, reducing their Spring Training roster to 50 players, including 12 non-roster invitees.

Optioned to Memphis (AAA) was left-handed reliever Jayson Aquino and re-assigned to the minors were pitchers Corey Littrell, Trey Nielsen, Daniel Poncedeleon, J.C. Sulbaran and Luke Weaver and catchers Steve Bean, Luis Cruz and Alberto Rosario.

Following today’s moves, the Cardinals spring roster currently has 24 pitchers (4 non-roster); 5 catchers (2 non-roster); 13 infielders (4 non-roster) and 8 outfielders (2 non-roster).

Brian Walton’s take

With three games in the last two days, including two away, and a day off just ahead on Tuesday, the timing was right to make the first cuts of the spring. This is business as usual.

A clarification on the wording. All nine players were sent to minor league camp. However, Aquino is the only 40-man roster player, so he is said to be optioned out. The other eight were non-roster invitees to major league camp, meaning they are now simply re-assigned to the minors.

Of the nine, only Sulbaran (Triple-A with Kansas City) and Rosario (Triple-A in three organizations) have played above Class A-Advanced previously. Sulbaran’s cut this early was the only mild surprise.

Note the release labeling Aquino, an off-season waiver claim, as a reliever. The 23-year-old has exclusively been a starter over his first six professional seasons. If the lefty is in fact being remade into a reliever, it could accelerate his progress. The optioning specifically to Memphis does not mean he will start there this season, however.

The other four pitchers should all be competing for spots in the Double-A Springfield rotation. With six fewer pitchers in camp, the three catchers departed as well.

However, this does not preclude one or more of them from still being called over from minor league camp to be late-inning reinforcements for a 1 p.m. MLB contest. By moving to minors camp now, the pitchers can get back into a regular pitching routine in minor league games in preparation for the regular season.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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