It is that in-between time of spring, after minor league camp closes and before the regular season begins. In the St. Louis Cardinals system, the major league exhibitions with Triple-A Memphis and Double-A Springfield on Thursday and Friday evening meant preliminary rosters had to be shared. While they are not 100 percent accurate, they are very close to what we will see on Minor League Opening Day this coming Thursday, April 6.
At the Class-A level, the Peoria Chiefs roster was disclosed by the club on Sunday. That leaves only the high-A Palm Beach Cardinals. Based on what I have been told from officials, we should not expect that roster to be released until mid-week. Why it is being kept under wraps is unclear, but we can back into most of it now.
The primary reference point for this article is The Cardinal Nation’s team rosters. Underneath the site logo at the top of the page, click PROSPECTS > MiLB ROSTERS/PLAYER PAGES or use this direct link.
Let’s go team-by-team on the three rosters we know before focusing in on Palm Beach.
The Redbirds’ exhibition roster included 30 players, five of whom then moved on to play for Springfield the next night. The 24 players with uniform numbers listed on the TCN Memphis roster, plus newly-signed reliever Mark Montgomery, should make up the opening 25. Three others without numbers – Marco Gonzales, Mitch Harris and Jordan Schafer – are likely going to be placed on the disabled list (though this will not be confirmed until opening day). The roster will also include suspended reliever Corey Littrell.
(Alex Reyes is only listed due to a quirk in our system that requires all players on the Scout.com National Top 100 Prospect List to have a minor league roster entry. Ignore Reyes here.)
The Double-A exhibition roster included 27 players. One of whom, catcher Dennis Ortega, is clearly not going to remain in Double-A, but almost certainly will be in extended spring training. Obviously, one other cut is coming.
Therefore, you will see TCN’s Springfield roster has 26 names with uniform numbers currently. The club still had six infielders and five outfielders, so that could be the source of the final move. My guess returning to Palm Beach could be outfielder Austin Wilson - or perhaps Oscar Mercado.
You will notice six players without numbers. They finished 2016 with Springfield but were not on either the Memphis or Springfield exhibition rosters. They will apparently either open the season on the DL or may be released. There is also a small chance one or more could be sent down to Palm Beach.
The six are Mason Katz, C.J. McElroy, Andrew Morales, Casey Turgeon, Trey Nielsen and Jesse Jenner.
The Chiefs feature just four holdovers from last season. They are three pitchers and a catcher – John Kilichowski, Ronnie Williams, Dailyn Martinez and Brian O’Keefe. They and the other 21 on the tentative opening roster have their uniform numbers listed on TCN’s Peoria team page.
That leaves 13 members of last year’s Chiefs squad, plus trade acquisition Luke Dykstra (who played at low-A with the Braves last season), without a spot - temporarily. My practice here is to not move players to new rosters until confirmed, so on TCN’s Peoria roster, those players NOT among the following season-opening 25 are designated with a question mark (?) in the uniform number field.
Here are the 25 Chiefs by position grouping, with comments following each.
Starting pitchers (6)
Bryan Dobzanski, Steven Farinaro, Jordan Hicks, Ronnie Williams, John Kilichowski, Ian Oxnevad
The Cardinals followed a more traditional promotion approach, with the top starters from State College and Johnson City moving up. No fast-moving international prospects – at least yet. Kilichowski is the only college arm among the group, however.
Relief pitchers (7)
Estarlin Arias, Brady Bowen, Eric Carter, Dailyn Martinez, Ramon Santos, Greg Tomchick, Spencer Trayner
Again, key short-season relievers promoted plus Martinez moving into relief.
Brian O’Keefe, Ryan McCarvel, Andrew Knizner
Knizner was with manager Chris Swauger at Johnson City. McCarvel can also play first base.
Stefan Trosclair, J.R. Davis, Tommy Edman, Danny Hudzina, Andy Young
College first baseman Trosclair makes the jump from the Gulf Coast League. Davis should play second, Edman short, Hudzina third and Young as the reserve.
Dylan Carlson, Bryce Denton, Vince Jackson, Nick Plummer
There will need to be some kind of rotation for the quartet, perhaps including the designated hitter when available, as all need to play regularly.
Update: After a case of appendicitis required surgery, Denton will surely open the season on the disabled list. His Peoria replacement is TBA.
By process of elimination, we can back into Palm Beach. The players on this roster could most likely come from one of four places – holdovers from 2016, promotions from Peoria, promotions from lower in the system or players down from Springfield. Let’s take each of the four groups individually.
These are the 13 players that are currently listed on TCN’s Palm Beach roster page, left over from 2016. Technically, outfielder Randy Arozarena did not play in 2016, but Palm Beach is where I estimated he would land back when he first signed. I think I was right.
Peoria promotions (14 minus 3)
Remember that this group consists of the 14 players on the Peoria roster denoted by question marks. They include 13 who ended 2016 on the Chiefs plus Dykstra.
Most, but not all of these players should make the Palm Beach team. Among those I question most are infielder Matt Davis (performance, crowded position), shortstop Jose Martinez (visa issue) and pitcher Jery Then (coming off injury). These three and more could open on Peoria’s DL instead and so I excluded the trio from the Palm Beach mix for now.
Promotions from lower in the system (3)
Since Connor Jones and Zac Gallen are not in the Peoria rotation, the 2016 early draft picks are most likely among the Beach Birds’ starting rotation. Catcher Jeremy Martinez looks to be taking the jump from State College, like Jones. Gallen started and finished 2016 in the Gulf Coast League.
Down from Springfield (1)
Above, I mentioned six in-limbo players at Springfield plus one further cut to be made. As noted, my guess is outfielder Austin Wilson will be the only player to move down from the Double-A exhibition roster to Palm Beach to open the season. (It is not a stretch, as in reality, Wilson has never played in an official Double-A game. Same with Mercado.)
Palm Beach summary
If you are following my math, that adds up to 28 names for 25 spots at Palm Beach. So further DL moves or releases will be needed. My guess would be one pitcher and two infielders will need to go.
For now, here is my very unofficial Palm Beach 28 by position and commentary:
Junior Fernandez, Connor Jones, Zac Gallen, Jake Woodford, Ryan Helsley, Derian Gonzalez, Jacob Evans, Brennan Leitao, Ian McKinney
Tyler Bray, Steven De La Cruz, Juan Perez, Landon Beck
The starting pitchers are listed in my approximate hierarchical order and the first five seem locked to me. If three or four at the end of the starting line move to relief and one pitcher is inactive, that could set the opening 12 hurlers.
Jeremy Martinez, Jose Godoy
Still without a chair is Jesse Jenner, who finished at Springfield but played all over in 2016. Jenner could be here instead of Godoy. Probably there will not be three catchers since with Chinea on the roster, he can be the third catcher instead as well as the regular first baseman.
Edmundo Sosa, Darren Seferina, Chris Chinea, Luke Dykstra, Juan Herrera, Leobaldo Pina, Danny Diekroeger, Andrew Brodbeck.
Two may need to come off the end of this list. Herrera played third in spring camp and they don’t need him, Pina and Diekroeger all on the hot corner. Same at second with Seferina, Dykstra and Brodbeck. Sosa will clearly be the every-day shortstop.
Update: Brodbeck reportedly required a surgical procedure of some type that would put him on the shelf to start the season. No more details are yet available.
Magneuris Sierra, Randy Arozarena, Thomas Spitz, Austin Wilson, Craig Aikin
Sierra should receive priority in center over Arozarena. If one has to go, which they may be able to avoid, I think Aikin could be vulnerable.
We have confirmed from multiple sources that Wilson was returned to Palm Beach following the Springfield exhibition so he has been removed from the Springfield roster.
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