The St. Louis Cardinals are moving quickly to fill openings created by free agency at the upper levels of their minor league system. Last Friday, Chad Huffman signed on. Two more veterans were added on Tuesday – pitcher Kendry Flores and outfielder Todd Cunningham.
Flores was primarily with Miami’s New Orleans club in 2016, but also made a three-inning start for Miami on June 5. The 24-year-old right-hander made 16 stats in 18 appearances with New Orleans, logging a 4.53 ERA. The Dominican Republic native struck out 74 and walked 39 in 91 1/3 innings. Flores also tossed 12 1/3 innings for the Fish in his MLB debut in 2015.
Flores was originally signed by San Francisco in June 2009 before being traded to Miami in December 2014. The former top 10 prospect in the Marlins system was outrighted by the club in early September after three option seasons and elected free agency earlier this month.
Given his recent status as a top prospect, why did Miami let Flores walk? My guess is that they do not view him as being ready/able to hold a Major League job in 2017. If in fact he is out of minor league options as I believe, he would be in a similar situation to Tyler Lyons. However, with Flores as a minor league signee, the Cardinals are not under any such restrictions - until/if he reaches St. Louis. He will likely compete for a rotation spot with Memphis in 2017.
Cunningham, 27, mostly suited up last season with Salt Lake, the Angels’ top farm team. The outfielder also played for Los Angeles in 20 games, batting .148. It was his third year of partial MLB play, having also reached the bigs with Atlanta in 2013 and 2015 for a total of 47 contests.
The Braves’ second-round draft pick in 2010 from Jacksonville State went to the Angels via a waiver claim last October and was outrighted twice in 2016 – in April and again in July. He elected free agency following the season.
In 99 games with Salt Lake in 2016, the switch-hitter posted a line of .278/.378/.387/.765. Cunningham plated 43, was 23 of 28 in stolen base attempts, and had a 56 to 51 strikeout to walk count. Defensively, Cunningham has primarily been a center fielder, but has also played in right and left. He will likely open 2017 in the Memphis outfield.
At this point, it has not been confirmed whether the two have been invited to St. Louis' MLB spring training camp, but given their MLB experience, it seems quite probable.
Other news – Reynolds released
Baseball America reports infielder Mikey Reynolds has been released by the Cardinals. The 26-year-old had retired off the Palm Beach roster in May. At that point, he was placed on the Voluntarily Retired List. That way, the organization continued to hold his rights in case he wanted to return. Now, the ties have been completely cut.
Reynolds had been acquired by St. Louis from the independent York Revolution in September 2015. After a 2014 PED suspension, Reynolds was given his release in spring training 2015 by his original organization, the Atlanta Braves.
Another international signee
St. Louis has added its 24th international signing since July 2nd, in Nelson Prada. The left-handed pitcher hails from Venezuela.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder will turn 17 years of age in May and will likely officially open his career in the 2017 Dominican Summer League.
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