Last time out, we reviewed the working group assignments for 174 players in St. Louis Cardinals minor league camp – all competing for one of 100 jobs on the active rosters of one of the four full-season clubs. They are Triple-A Memphis, Double-A Springfield, high-A Palm Beach and low-A Peoria.
As players are regularly coming down from big-league camp and roster sizes need to be pared down to 25 in the next week, at least 39 minor leaguers moved down a level in their working group assignments during this past week.
All that movement, pushing players down, makes the upstream moves of five others all the more notable. They are the ones I will highlight below, as it would seem they are showing coaches progress this spring. All are position players – four infielders and a catcher.
Having said that, do not read too much into this. While they are moves up, perhaps the players were simply placed too low initially, with these changes designed to make necessary corrections.
Another important point is that four of the five moved up to Peoria 1 from Peoria 2. While that difference may seen relatively minor, the final Peoria 1 roster heads North while Peoria 2 stays behind in Florida for extended spring training.
Yet, in the push to reach four rosters of 25 this coming week, any or all of the four newly-added to Peoria 1 could easily still end up in extended spring training camp when all the smoke clears.
Here are the five.
Mikey Reynolds – Palm Beach to Springfield
Many missed the signing of the former independent ball player as its timing, in September, was unusual. Reynolds was acquired from the roster of the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League.
Reynolds clearly has talent. After all, the 25 year-old was Atlanta’s fifth-round selection in the 2013 Draft from Texas A&M. After a nice .818 OPS in the rookie level Appalachian League, albeit not an aggressive placement, Reynolds moved up to the Class-A Sally League for 2014. There, he got off to a terrible start with the bat, hitting .188 in 18 games before serving a 50-game suspension for PED use. While out, he hurt his elbow and did not play again.
At the end of 2015 spring training, the Braves released Reynolds. From there, he caught on with York after his rights were purchased from Fargo-Moorhead of the independent American Association. Playing second base and shortstop, Reynolds served as York’s leadoff man, with a .356 on-base mark for the season. At the time he suffered a broken thumb on May 25, the 5-foot-9, 155-pounder was batting .346. After missing nearly seven weeks, the right-handed hitter returned on July 11, however his season average since slid to .280. Reynolds swiped 17 bases in 19 attempts over his 73 games.
In two different camp games this spring, I saw Reynolds’ toughness. In a game in which he ended up with two hits, he appeared to suffer an injury while attempting to advance to second base in the second inning. He was helped off the field by a coach, but remained in the game, to get another hit.
The next day, he was hit by an up-and-in pitch, but shook it off and quietly took his base.
When doing my roster projection series earlier this month, I had a quandary about where to slot Reynolds. Given his very limited experience in affiliated ball, I slotted him as among those competing to make the Peoria roster, but I had not seen him yet, so did not push others off ahead of him.
Based on Reynolds’ results in spring camp to date, that projection could be way off.
Dylan Becker – Peoria 2 to Peoria 1
The 23 year-old was a free agent signee from Missouri State last June. Competing against teenagers in the lowest US rung, the Gulf Coast League, the third baseman put up a nice, but low-power slash line of .303/.386/.394/.780. With top prospect Bryce Denton on the GCL roster, Becker actually spent the most time defensively at first base in 2015.
Danny Martin – Peoria 2 to Peoria 1
Martin, 21, was St. Louis’ 24th-round selection last June from Azusa Pacific and immediately took off in the New York-Penn League. The second baseman slashed .304/.400/.522/.922, drove in eight and scored seven runs in 14 games before suffering a season-ending groin injury.
Even before camp, I could see the Californian pushing his way into Peoria. Still, if he gets to the Midwest League now, there will be a lot of playing time competition in the middle infield.
Jose Martinez – Peoria 2 to Peoria 1
The switch-hitting shortstop was acquired from Kansas City in December in return for catcher Tony Cruz. Martinez, 19, is a contact hitter with a career line of .247/.305/.316/.620 in 665 at-bats over 185 games. His 2015 strikeout rate was relatively low at 11.5 percent. With average speed, Martinez is not a burner on the bases, with 18 steals in 33 career attempts.
Because of a combination of the unknown (new to the organization) and competition at the position potentially ahead of him including Edmundo Sosa, Leobaldo Pina and Allen Cordoba, I did not have Martinez making Peoria out of camp. He is doing all he can to be noticed, though, with consecutive 2-for-4 afternoons, including a double on both Friday and Saturday. In my first introduction to him, it looks to me like Martinez can be a solid contributor.
Joshua Lopez – Peoria 2 to Peoria 1
Lopez, who turned 20 this month, received almost a half-million dollar signing bonus back in 2012. To date, his hitting has lagged behind his defense behind the plate, but the Venezuelan native has slowly improved. His DSL OPS in 2013 was .570. The next two years in the GCL, he went to .580, then .619.
Realistically, there are far too many catchers at the lower levels, including recent draftees Chris Chinea and Ryan McCarvel plus holdovers Jose Godoy and Chris Rivera for Lopez to leap over them all and make Peoria. Remember that at the time the last working rosters were posted, both of Memphis’ projected catchers, Michael Ohlman and Eric Fryer, were still with St. Louis, so more assignment level dominoes are certainly yet to fall.
However, like all the others profiled here, keep an eye on Lopez this season due to his spring showing.
For more information
Link to the full Cardinals minor league spring training game schedule.
Remember to check The Cardinal Nation Blog each evening during spring training for the day's minor league stat highlights and notes and the Roster Matrix. The matrix has every transaction listed along with all players in the system by level and position, including the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and non-roster spring training invitees, STEP campers and more.
Prior articles in this series
Cardinals Minors Working Rosters: 03/27/16
Cardinals 2016 Spring Minor League Injury Updates
Cardinals Minors Pitching Plans: 03/26-28/16
Cards Spring News from Jupiter: 03/25/16
Cards Release Once-Promising Lefty Stoppelman
Cards Spring News from Jupiter: 03/24/16
Cards Spring News from Jupiter: 03/23/16
Cardinals Minors Working Rosters - 03/22/16
Cardinals Say Goodbye to Three Minor Leaguers
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