Brian Walton / The Cardinal Nation

A preliminary view of how the St. Louis Cardinals’ short-season Class-A club’s roster is being assembled.

A preliminary view of how the St. Louis Cardinals’ short-season Class-A club’s roster is being assembled.

The Cardinal Nation’s weekly State College Spikes Notebooks will be back for 2016, appearing each Saturday morning for the entire season, offering in-depth assessments from our local reporter. Our new beat writer is Kara Duriez from Penn State University, who will be working the road opener at Williamsport on Friday and at home on Saturday. Read about Kara here.

While the official initial State College roster will be released on Friday, just prior to the New York-Penn league opener, we have here a preliminary roster of 31 players, plus one pitcher in limbo. I decided to look at the group based on where the players came from, rather than by position. Of course, one can still get the latter perspective simply by viewing the following table by columns.

The following shows the tentative Spikes by their sourcing.

State College (32)              
               
Returnees (12)              
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Cross  Almonte  Drongesen E Rodriguez Martin      
D Martinez Bowen (L)     Swirchak      
D Perez (L) Escudero            
  Tomchick            
  Velazco            
               
JC promos (7)              
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Dobzanski   C Rivera         R Bautista 
Farinaro   McCarvel         Ray
R Williams              
               
GCL promos (4)              
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
  DeLorenzo (L)     Tice     Franco
  Y Medina             
               
Draft (6)              
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
  Trayner (25) Je Martinez (4)     Edman (6) Hudzina (10) Jackson (14)
              Fennell (22)
               
Trade (1)              
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
          Jose Alex Martinez    
               
Free agent (2)              
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Bard Wheatley (L)            

Returnees

http://www.scout.com/player/165909-dailyn-martinez?s=321

I count a dozen players who suited up for the Spikes last season, including half of the 2015 rotation – Carson CrossDailyn Martinez and lefty Dewin Perez - plus an experienced bullpen. That many starters returning is a bit unusual, but these three were blocked from the Midwest League this spring by four starters making the jump from the Gulf Coast League directly to Peoria and another coming straight from Johnson City.

Catcher Riley Drongesen was called the most improved player in extended spring training by his manager, Johnny Rodriguez. The promising introductory season in 2015 of Danny Martin was cut short by injury, so the infielder is back to restart his career.

Johnson City Promotions

http://www.scout.com/player/188400-ronnie-williams?s=321

Three more starters are ready to move up from the Appalachian League, with Ronnie Williams and Bryan Dobzanski having been in the Johnson City rotation last summer and Steven Farinaro moving from relief to starting. At number 27, the right-hander Williams is the only Spikes player on the May update of The Cardinal Nation top 40 prospect list.

Like many of these players, catchers Ryan McCarvel and Chris Rivera have already played some at higher levels this year as injury replacements.

Gulf Coast League Promotions

http://www.scout.com/player/165906-bladimil-franco?s=321

Three of the four in this group have also spent time filling in at higher levels of play. Only reliever Yeison Medina will be making his official 2016 introduction with the Spikes. Outfielder Bladimil Franco stepped back from JC to the GCL in 2015 and batted .322 in a nice bounce back.

2016 Draft

This group of six is likely to be augmented as soon as Friday and will probably grow some next week and beyond as well, especially on the pitching side. The big challenge may be to sort out any additional drafted starters with the six already on the roster.

http://www.scout.com/player/190432-jeremy-martinez?s=321

The top 2016 picks on the Spikes so far are fourth-rounder Jeremy Martinez and St. Louis’ sixth-round selection, shortstop Tommy Edman. Doling out playing time behind the plate could be a real challenge with Martinez being one of four backstops on the team. At the other end of the spectrum, 10th-rounder Danny Hudzina is the only third sacker on the current roster.

Trade

http://www.scout.com/player/204176-jose-martinez?s=321

The third Martinez on the roster, Jose Martinez, had a nice fill in period with Palm Beach recently and offers promise as the Cardinals’ take in the Tony Cruz trade with Kansas City. My guess is that Martinez will be the regular at shortstop with Edman serving as the understudy.

Free agents

Former Red Sox starter Daniel Bard was signed by the Cardinals over a week ago, according to Baseball America, but is not yet reflected on the MiLB.com website. The 30-year-old right-hander is not on State College’s roster, either, but he has to be placed somewhere, perhaps on a disabled list until deemed ready to take the field.

http://www.scout.com/player/205243-bob-wheatley?s=321

Lefty reliever Bob Wheatley was signed as a free agent over the winter and has yet to make a full-season appearance. That may still be awhile in his future.

UPDATE

The Spikes announced their official Opening Day roster on Friday morning. The above 31 players (excluding Bard) are the exact same ones in the team's announcement!

For more

As more signing and roster information is learned, it will be noted on team rosters here at The Cardinal Nation as well as on the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog. The latter source also is tracking the status of all 42 draftees.

To go deeper on any of the Cardinals’ 42 draftees, check out this article.

By clicking on any highlighted player name, you will be taken to his individual player profile page. There, a wealth of past information about him is available – articles, injury news, photos, videos, interviews and more - all in one place.

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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