Coach Jose Oquendo and minor league infielders (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

From now into June, a group of minor leaguers will keep working in Florida on improving their game.

From now into June, a group of minor leaguers will keep working in Florida on improving their game. Those in Extended Spring Training include seven of The Cardinal Nation top 50 prospects.

After the St. Louis Cardinals major league club and the four full-season minor league affiliates broke camp, leaving Jupiter, Florida behind, the 72 minor leaguers who remain continue to develop during the organization’s Extended Spring Training (EST).

The 2017 edition of the annual camp began the same day as the regular minor league season – on Thursday, April 6 - and will continue through Saturday, June 3. Games begin Monday, April 10.

The 72 players in EST include every player still in the organization that suited up for one of the United States-based clubs in 2016 not already on one of the four full-season clubs. The only exception is injured GCL pitcher Silas Bohannon. The most prominent of the invitees is 2016 first-round draft pick, shortstop Delvin Perez, The Cardinal Nation’s third-ranked prospect.

http://www.scout.com/player/206019-delvin-perez?s=321

A wide variety of coaches and player development personnel will work with the players, including special assistants Willie McGee and Jose Oquendo, specialists in baserunning/outfield and infield play, respectively. From last fall’s Instructional League camp, Perez listens to the two gurus.

Delvin Perez, Willie McGee, Jose Oquendo (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

 

International flavor

Perhaps partially because of the growth in the international program, the number of players in camp is up by 15 compared to the count from EST last spring - with more to come.

Speaking of the international program, six players who competed in the 2016 Dominican Summer League, including TCN’s 18th-ranked prospect, pitcher Johan Oviedo, are among the EST invitees. Others are catchers Julio Rodriguez and Carlos Soto plus outfielders Victor Garcia, Jonatan Machado and DSL MVP Brian Sanchez.

http://www.scout.com/player/210323-johan-oviedo?s=321

 

Taxi squad

There are also eight players in EST who finished 2016 at higher levels of play - in full-season ball – two pitchers and six position players. They are not, however, listed among the disabled list players on their former rosters. As a result, I have moved them all to the State College roster, though they are clearly overqualified for the New York-Penn League.

They are – from Springfield, catcher Jesse Jenner and infielders Mason Katz and Casey Turgeon – from Palm Beach, infielder Juan Herrera – and from Peoria, pitchers Steven De La Cruz and Jery Then and infielders Matt Davis and Jose Martinez.

For the position players, at least, this appears to be a taxi squad of sorts. During spring training, I saw five of the six hitters playing in game action. Martinez reported late this spring due to a visa issue.

 

Prospect power

Seven EST invitees are members of The Cardinal Nation 2017 top 50 prospect list. Along with Perez and Oviedo, right-handed pitcher Alvaro Seijas, ranked number 19, is the third member of the TCN top 20. The other top 50 prospects at EST are Machado (27), catchers Dennis Ortega (44) and Carlos Soto (48) and outfielder Wadye Ynfante.

http://www.scout.com/player/201625-alvaro-seijas?s=321

 

Later additions

A final group of players (in the 10-12 range in number in prior years) yet to arrive are academy players who first participate in a mini-camp at the Cardinals facility in the Dominican Republic. More is coming on those players, who should arrive in Jupiter on April 17.

 

Logistics

Speaking of mid-month, the 2017 EST schedule has two phases. One team from each of the five organizations training in the area will play the others during the first two weeks – starting on April 10. (Of course, the uneven number of teams means every club has a camp day every fifth day.)

On April 24, a second EST team from four of the organizations – the Cardinals, Mets, Astros and Nationals – will begin play and continue through the final six weeks of camp. Only the Marlins will go with one team during Extended Training 2017. As always, no EST games are played on Sunday.

Typically, the Cardinals call the older squad the Red team and the younger players compete for the White team.

Of course, those on the disabled lists at any of the full-season clubs may participate in daily EST games as part of their rehab, as well.

 

The Players

The 2017 extended spring training participants follow. Year-end 2016 team assignments are also noted.

Pitchers (31) 2016 Catchers (9) 2016 Outfielders (15) 2016
Almonte, Max SC Garcia, Erik JC Asbury-Heath, DeAndre JC
Alvarez, Juan GCL Jenner, Jesse  Spr Bautista, Ricardo SC
Calvano, Robbie GCL Lancaster, Tyler GCL Billings, Shane JC
Casadilla, Franyel GCL Lopez, Joshua JC Fennell, Mick SC
Castano, Daniel JC Ortega, Dennis GCL Fiedler, Matt JC
Changarotty, Will GCL Rodriguez, Julio DSL Franco, Bladimil SC
Ciavarella, Anthony GCL Soto, Carlos DSL Garcia, Victor DSL
De La Cruz, Steven Peo Wilson, Irving GCL Machado, Jonatan DSL
DeLorenzo, Jordan SC Zavala, Stephen JC Ray, Anthony SC
Gonzalez, Noel JC     Rivera, Jonathan JC
Gordon, Robbie GCL First base (3)   Robbins, Walker GCL
MaVorhis, Levi JC Bandes, Luis JC Rosendo, Sanel GCL
Medina, Yeison JC Newman, Hunter JC Sanchez, Brian DSL
Medrano, Ronald GCL Rodriguez, Carlos GCL Talavera, Carlos GCL
Mulford, Jonathon GCL     Ynfante, Wadye GCL
Oca, David JC Infielders (14)      
O'Reilly, Mike GCL Balbuena, Starlin GCL    
Oviedo, Johan DSL Davis, Matt  Peo    
Parra, Frederis JC Figuera, Edwin GCL    
Perez, Dewin SC Flores, Luis GCL    
Rowland, Champ GCL Gonzalez, Yariel SC    
Salazar, Paul GCL Herrera, Juan PB    
Schlesener, Jacob GCL Katz, Mason Spr    
Seijas, Alvaro GCL Lopes, Caleb JC    
Sexton, Austin JC Martin, Danny SC    
Shew, Anthony JC Martinez, Jose Peo    
Siomkin, Keaton JC Murders, J.D. GCL    
Tewes, Sam GCL Perez, Delvin GCL    
Then, Jery Peo Turgeon, Casey Spr    
Thomson, Colton GCL Whalen, Brady GCL    
Tilley, Leland JC        

All of the extended spring training players will be conceivably under consideration when openings occur at Peoria. If they still remain in mid-June, they will be assigned to one of the short-season clubs in State College, Johnson City and in the Gulf Coast League.

Some of the academy EST invitees may return to play in the 2017 DSL, especially from the second wave, but returnees should be more the exception than the rule. As of opening of camp this spring, the DSL roster had 52 players and will need to be down to 35 by the end of May. Most of those coming over are expected to earn jobs in the US. Others at the Dominican academy may be cut loose this spring.

 

Direct EST coverage from The Cardinal Nation

As in prior years, look for my in-person reports from Extended Spring Training, exclusively for TCN members, after the full complement of players are in camp. This depth of coverage, coming directly from the back fields of Florida, is available nowhere else.

Another departure

I have been told informally that catcher Chris Rivera left camp last week. For some unknown reason, the Cardinals have not responded to repeated requests to confirm this as well as Rivera's status. Perhaps he has left and the organization is still holding onto his rights.

However, since he is the only player not on any roster, full-season or EST, it seems pretty clear that Rivera is not playing any more. Here was his cryptic goodbye shared on Twitter on March 30.

https://twitter.com/ChrisRivera217/status/847368361373646850

And another later.

https://twitter.com/ChrisRivera217/status/858565410668503042

Originally an infielder, Rivera was selected by St. Louis in the seventh round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. The 23-year-old was moved behind the plate while at Johnson City for a second season in 2015. Last summer, Rivera worked mostly at Palm Beach, but also had a brief stint at State College and finished with one game at Memphis.

http://www.scout.com/player/178965-chris-rivera?s=321

Over his four years in the system, the California native was unable to progress with the bat. Rivera’s career line is .207/.279/.323/.602. In my recent roster prediction series, I correctly identified the lack of a fit for Rivera on full-season rosters this year.

 

For roster and player information

The team rosters here at The Cardinal Nation are as up-to-date for St. Louis and all four full-season clubs. All EST players remain on one of the short-season clubs based on where they ended 2016. To access these team rosters, click on the words “PROSPECTS” > “MiLB Rosters/Player Pages” underneath The Cardinal Nation site logo.

To see the Cardinals’ entire system by level and position on one page along with every player transaction for every club all year long, check out the newly-refreshed Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

 

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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