The first weekend in June marks the traditional opening weekend of the rookie-level Dominican Summer League and 2017 is no different. This Saturday, June 3, the St. Louis Cardinals’ club opened the new season, welcoming the Washington Nationals to their facility, called Baseball Oasis.
In preparation for the opener, the Cardinals were required to submit their 35-man active roster, which will initially be at 33 with no players opening on the disabled list.
There has been more dramatic turnover from the prior year DSL Cardinals than ever before. The driving reason is accommodating the large 2016-2017 international class of signees.
To help create roster room and to further their careers, more players than usual moved to the US this spring. Specifically, 16 players from the 2016 DSL Cardinals had been in the US competing in extended spring training and all will remain in the US to either win a spot on a short-season club or perhaps be released. In addition, three 2016 DSL Cards pitchers are no longer on the roster and are assumed to have been released.
Of the group of 33 active in the DSL, just 12 are holdovers and a whopping 21 are recent signees, with the latter group taking the field for their first professional action. Of the returnees, eight are second-year DSL players and four are in their third year in the league. Two of the most-experienced four, pitchers Jose Geronimo and Anthony Trompiz, missed all of 2016 due to injury.
The opening day 33 active includes 18 pitchers, of which just three are left-handed. The roster includes three catchers, six infielders and six outfielders.
The international roster features players from four nations. Over 60 percent, 20, call the Dominican Republic home. Ten are from Venezuela with one from Colombia plus two hail from Panama.
|Avelino, Rodard||RHP||6-1||170||17||6 3 99|
|Benitez, Allinson (VZLA)||RHP||6-4||200||17||11 4 99|
|Cordero, Diego||LHP||6-2||171||19||9 8 97||2|
|Garcia, Roy||RHP||6-0||190||16||8 28 00|
|Geronimo, Jose||RHP||6-3||239||19||10 26 97||2|
|Madera, Wilman (COL)||RHP||6-2||200||18||3 10 99||1|
|Moreno, Jose (VZLA)||RHP||6-1||170||16||8 20 00|
|Pereira, Wilfredo (PTY)||RHP||5-11||197||18||4 26 99||1|
|Pirela, Brian (VZLA)||RHP||6-2||221||19||1 19 98||2|
|Prada, Nelson (VZLA)||LHP||6-1||170||17||5 6 00|
|Rondon, Angel||RHP||6-2||184||19||12 1 97||1|
|Solano, Enmanuel||RHP||6-1||160||18||9 23 98||1|
|Soriano, Larimel||RHP||5-11||160||17||1 28 00|
|Soto, Hector (MEX)||RHP||6-1||175||18||3 2 99|
|Taveras, Leonardo||RHP||6-5||190||18||9 7 98|
|Trompiz, Anthony (VZLA)||RHP||6-3||241||19||11 20 97||2|
|Ventura, Francis||RHP||6-2||197||17||7 22 99||1|
|Zapata, Cristoffer||LHP||6-1||150||18||10 30 98|
|Garcia, Joyser (VZLA)||C||R/R||5-10||165||17||10 14 99|
|Herrera, Ivan (PTY)||C||R/R||6-0||185||17||6 1 00|
|Longa, Cristhian (VZLA)||C||R/R||5-11||180||17||4 28 00|
|De Jesus, Freddy||1B||R/R||6-1||200||17||10 15 99|
|Gomez, Pablo||SS||R/R||5-11||170||17||9 4 99|
|Ozuna, Raffy||SS||S/R||6-3||196||18||9 6 98||1|
|Pena, Erik (VZLA)||SS||S/R||5-8||155||17||1 6 00|
|Rosario, Yowelfy||SS||R/R||6-3||165||16||6 9 00|
|Soto, Franklin||SS||R/R||5-11||168||17||9 23 99|
|Del Rio, Diomedes (VZLA)||OF||R/R||5-10||160||19||9 15 97||1|
|Garcia, Victor (VZLA)||OF||R/R||6-3||235||17||9 16 99|
|Jimenez, William||OF||R/R||5-10||171||21||1 23 96||1|
|Montano, Luis||OF||L/R||6-2||170||17||4 10 00|
|Samuel, Alexander||OF||R/R||6-3||190||17||3 24 00|
|Soler, Carlos||OF||L/R||6-2||163||17||10 29 99|
To see the entire DSL Cardinals roster, up to date and correct plus EST assignees from the 2016 team, you can also click here. Each player has a profile in our database with the information about him that is currently available, including 2017 uniform number.
The 16 players from extended spring training remain on the DSL roster here at TCN, each with the designation “EST” rather than their uniform number. All will end up elsewhere when short-season ball begins later in the month and will be moved to their new teams at that time.
I believe the Cardinals have released three pitchers, but have only confirmed the first. Right-hander Jesus Garcia was cut at the beginning of May, with Luis Rosales and Cristhian Lugo disappearing from the roster before the season. When I confirm the status of Rosales and Lugo, I will update this article.
Garcia, 19, is a native of Veracruz, Mexico whose rights were acquired from Veracruz of the Mexican League in October 2014. The 6-foot-4, 185 pound right-hander struggled to a 6.63 ERA in his first Cardinals season in 2016. He walked 15 against 13 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Update: I have confirmed that both Rosales and Lugo were released by the Cardinals.
The US returnee
As we reported during extended spring training, outfielder Victor Garcia was returned to the DSL from EST, and was replaced in the US by outfielder Andres Luna.
In terms of bonus sizes, six of the new 2017 DSL Cardinals received reported bonuses of $100,000 or more. They are led by Garcia, with the only seven-figure take among this subset of the overall international signee list that totaled almost 30 in number. All of the DSL six will be playing at 16 or 17 years of age this season.
|Signed - bonus reported||Pos||Ctry||Sign age||Bonus|
After releasing the initial roster, the Cardinals added another player, right-handed pitcher Dionis Zamora. Too old to be a prospect at age 20 (he will turn 21 in early August), the Venezuelan is in fact the oldest player on the DSL Cards' roster. Still, despite this being his professional debut, the 6-foot-2, 193-pounder is believed to be able to help serve as a stabilizing influence on the young staff, most of whom are three or four years his junior.
Update to the update: In the early going, manager Fray Peniche has thrown Zamora right into the fire, using him as the closer. Zamora has delivered, going 2-for-2 in his first save opportunities.
For the third year, the Cardinals will be playing their home games at their Boca Chica academy, called Baseball Oasis. For full details on the academy, click here.
The Cardinals’ divisional assignment for 2017 is with the Boca Chica South Division. The number of other clubs in the division is seven: Minnesota, Yankees, Mets 1, Phillies 1, Colorado, Angels and Washington. Only the latter three teams were in the Cardinals’ division in 2016.
Like last season, all clubs will play all of their games within their division – for a total of 72 games on the schedule. As always, DSL contests start at 10:30 a.m. ET. Two-game home-and-away series are the norm, with three series per week. Play occurs six days weekly, with Sundays off. The All-Star Game will be held on Sunday, July 16 with playoff scheduled on Monday, August 28.
Just two seasons after the 2014 club limped home at 22-48 (.314), their worst record since the Cards joined the rookie-level league in 2008, the 2016 team almost flipped that total over, winning 45 and losing just 26, for a .634 winning percentage. That represented an 11-win improvement over 2015.
Despite the team-record .634 winning percentage this season, the Cardinals fell short of the playoffs. In the reconfigured six-division DSL, the Cardinals ran into a buzzsaw assembled by the Rockies, which went 51-20 (.714), relegating the Cards to a second-place finish, six games back in the eight-team San Pedro Division.
Manager Fray Peniche is back for a seventh season at the Cardinals helm. Hitting coach Jose Leon is a new member of the organization. Veteran Cardinals pitching coach Bill Villanueva is back with the DSL club. Assistant hitting coach John Matos, also an infield specialist, also returns for another season. Shoki Hioki is the trainer, assisted by Pedro Betancourt with Carlos Nin and Gustavo Osario serving as strength and conditioning coaches.
As always, our Minor League Notebooks will include the daily DSL Cardinals results starting with Sunday morning, June 4.
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