Dariel Gomez (Dominican Summer League)

The St. Louis Cardinals have added more players to Extended Spring Training, graduates of their Dominican Republic academy.

The St. Louis Cardinals have added more players to Extended Spring Training, graduates of their Dominican Republic academy.

As I wrote about 10 days ago, the St. Louis Cardinals opened up their 2017 Extended Spring Training Camp with 72 players on hand.

Included in this initial group was six players who competed in the 2016 Dominican Summer League. This week, they have been joined by 10 more graduates from the international academy in the Dominican Republic.  Six are pitchers, with the other four calling the infield home.

Here are the new arrivals.

Pitchers (6) Pos Age Sign   First base (2) Pos Age Sign
Blanco, Fabian LHP 19 8/14   Gomez, Dariel 1B 20 12/13
De Jesus, Noel RHP 20 7/15   Cedeño, Leandro 1B/C 18 8/14
Gonzalez, Junior RHP 20 2/14          
Ramirez, Edwar RHP 19 1/15   Infielders (2) Pos Age Sign
Perez, Enrique LHP 19 2/14   Montero, Elehuris 3B 18 8/14
Nicacio, Winston RHP 20 11/15   Castillo, Moises SS 17 7/15
Catchers (0) Pos Age Sign   Outfielders (0) Pos Age Sign
none         none      

These players are not arriving out of shape by any stretch. They have been participating in an annual pre-season mini-camp held at the organization’s facility in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic.


Common threads

In the table above, you may have noted certain similarities. Seven of the 10, including all six hurlers, are either 19 or 20 years of age. In terms of organizational tenure, six were signed in 2014 or earlier, meaning they have had at least two full seasons of experience, and perhaps more, in the DSL.

In other words, their shelf life is limited. It is either time to move up or out.

In another interesting factoid, no catchers or outfielders are in the new group coming over. However, the first 10 included two DSL catchers and three outfielders. So, the recent moves simply balance out the camp representation.


Potential standouts

The three youngest of the group of 10 are all position players.

17-year-old Moises Castillo is both the youngest and the most recent addition, having joined the Cardinals as a July 2nd signee in 2015. In his professional debut season, the shortstop was the regular at the position for the 2016 DSL club.


After settling in, Castillo improved his performance. The right-handed hitter reached base safely in 22 consecutive games. From June 22 through July 21, he posted a .352 on-base percentage. The Dominican native followed that up with 13-game hitting streak from July 26 through August 11. Castillo batted .451 (23-for-51) during the stretch and raised his season batting average from .172 to .254.

Third baseman Elehuris Montero and first baseman-catcher Leandro Cedeno are both 18 years of age and signed with the Cardinals in August 2014.

In two years of DSL play, the right-handed-hitting Montero drove in 56 in 118 games and posted a slash line of .256/.338/.346/.684.


Cedeno, a Venezuelan native, has performed well with the bat and the glove. In his two summers, he has thrown out 27.1 percent (13-of-48) of attempted base stealers. Last season, the right-handed hitter plated 30 runners in 47 contests and put up a solid slash line of .290/.332/.472/.806.


No turning back this time

In some prior years, a few of these players initially invited to the US head back to the DSL when its season opens in late May. However, it is important to note that is not in the organization’s plans for 2017. All of the 16 assignees in 2017 are competing for jobs with one of the three short-season clubs in the US.

From the DSL roster perspective, this is crucial. The DSL team came into the spring with 52 players, with the need to get to 35 by Opening Day. If just one player opens on the disabled list, the roster target can be achieved (52-16-1=35). There is also the chance of both additional signees and releases based on pre-season workouts in the DSL.

From the US rosters angle, there will be 105 active spots to open the seasons in mid-to-late June – 35 per team – State College, Johnson City and the Gulf Coast League. If you add 35 or so new players from the June draft to the new total of 82 in Extended Spring Training, then subtract out players promoted into full-season ball in the interim, injuries and releases, one can clearly see a way to make 105.

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.


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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