Even after many of the big international names are signed by Major League clubs on or shortly after the July 2nd opening each year, additional player signings trickle on throughout the remainder of the 11-month period.
Such is the case for the St. Louis Cardinals.
But first, they made a major splash right out of the gates.
The organization, deciding the time was right to overspend their allocation, did so dramatically in July, dropping more than $8.5 million in signing bonuses for eight players (not including penalties). The Cardinals had also quickly signed another 10 players of lower profile, whose bonuses were not reported publicly.
The former group includes a trio of Cubans - outfielder Jonatan Machado ($2.3 MM), right-hander Johan Oviedo ($1.9 MM) and the most recent to join, outfielder Randy Arozarena (pictured above in background with Machado in the foreground, $1.25 MM). All three are among Cardinals farmhands currently working in instructional league camp in Jupiter, Florida, with the more-experienced 21-year-old Arozarena expected to open 2017 in full-season ball.
At the other end of the age spectrum, the latter group of 10 includes a player whose deal was done, but whose signing could not become officially complete until he celebrated his 16th birthday in late August, right-handed pitcher Roy Garcia.
Full details on the first 18 signees can be viewed at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
The Cardinals did not stop there, though.
In September, St. Louis added five more international free agents, bringing the club’s total to 23 for this signing period. The five are less known than the big-bonused signees, but add depth to an already-impressive free agent haul.
The signings of all five were initially reported by Baseball America in name only. Though no scouting reports are yet available on any of them, I have secured their vitals as follows.
All hail from the Dominican Republic. Three are pitchers, with two infielders. As a group, they are a bit older, with two players are 18 (or a few weeks away), two 17 (or very close) and just one 16 years of age. All will be at least 17 when DSL play begins next spring.
Only pitcher Larimel Soriano and first baseman Freddy De Jesus were first-time eligible as part of this July 2nd class. Leonardo Taveras has intriguing size, standing 6-foot-5, though the right-hander is the oldest of the group. The only left-hander among the recent signees is Cristoffer Zapata, the lightest at just 150 pounds. The group is completed by 17-year-old shortstop Pablo Gomez.
|Soriano, Larimel||RHP||R/R||5-11||160||1/28/00||Azua, DR|
|Taveras, Leonardo||RHP||R/R||6-5||190||9/7/98||La Vega, DR|
|Zapata, Cristoffer||LHP||L/L||6-1||150||10/30/98||San Pedro de Macoris, DR|
|De Jesus, Freddy||1B||R/R||6-1||200||10/15/99||San Cristobal, DR|
|Gomez, Pablo||SS||R/R||5-11||170||9/4/99||Maimon, DR|
|Garcia, Roy||RHP||R/R||6-0||190||8/28/00||Nagua, DR|
|Arozarena, Randy||OF||R/R||5-11||170||2/22/1995||Pinar del Rio, Cuba|
All five of the new signees plus Garcia will be among those suiting up for the Cardinals at their upcoming Dominican instructional league camp. Because of the volume of new players, the Cards will sport two squads this fall. There should be no issue from a space perspective, as their new academy, Baseball Oasis, has physical capability to accommodate up to 80 players. Several coaches from the US are expected to come over to help.
However, do not expect that will continue into the 2017 season. Due to attrition, promotions and injuries, the Cardinals are planning to continue with just one team in next year’s Dominican Summer League. As a result, job competition at the low levels of the Cardinals system next spring may be fiercer than ever before.
The newest five plus Garcia are listed on the DSL Cardinals roster here at The Cardinal Nation, with Arozarena arbitrarily placed by me at Palm Beach, and all are reflected on the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation Blog. However, it is possible they may not appear on MLB.com until sometime next spring. Don’t let that mislead you. All seven have been signed.
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