Cards Sign Five to Minor League Deals

Billy Simon, Troy Cate, Frank Perez, Jesse Hoorelbeke and Rico Washington join the Cardinals organization.

The Cardinals recently signed five players to minor league deals, pitchers Billy Simon and Troy Cate, first baseman Jesse Hoorelbeke and third sacker Rico Washington. The first two are faded prospects while the latter two seem destined to be minor league vagabonds.


These players may turn out to be fine organization men, but it is hard to forecast seeing any of them in St. Louis anytime soon, unless you count the April 4 exhibition at the new Busch between Springfield and Memphis, that is.


Billy Simon, Right-handed pitcher


Born 11/11/82. Ht. 6-6. Wt. 220. B/T: R/R. School: Wellington High School, West Palm Beach, FL. Selected by the Boston Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2001 draft.


Simon was very well thought of coming out of high school. He slipped to the ninth round in 2001 only because he had committed to LSU after graduating from the same school as former Cardinal Justin Pope, who went in the first round in that same 2001 draft. However, the Red Sox gave Simon fourth-round money to sign.


With his considerable size, Simon initially impressed, but has had problems staying healthy. In 2003, he didn't pitch at all due to a hereditary vertebra condition and also missed the entire 2005 season.


When healthy, Simon's fastball was in the 90-92 MPH range with sink and he also has a good curve, but his changeup is still a work in progress. According to Baseball America, Simon was the Sox' #7 prospect in 2003, fell to #23 in 2004 and by 2005 was off the prospect radar screen.


Simon is only 23 years old, however, so if his physical problems are behind him, there is still hope. player profile:


Troy Cate, Left-handed pitcher


Born 10/21/80. Ht. 6-1. Wt. 200. B/T: L/L. School: Ricks (Idaho) Junior College. Selected by the Seattle Mariners in the sixth round of the 2002 draft.


Cate is a bit behind some pitchers of his age due to the fact that he went on a two-year Mormon mission following high school. The finesse lefty's command is considered a plus as is his ability to change speeds. His two and four seam fastballs are in the 85-90 MPH range, while his curveball is his strength. Cate's changeup is slightly above average, but his slider is inconsistent.


Cate was suspended last season for 15 games due to a negative steroids test. He was ranked #29 on Baseball America's Mariners top prospect list in 2003 and moved up to #26 in 2004 before falling off the map last season.


Cate was switched from starting to relieving prior to 2005, when he fanned 54 in 42-2/3 innings. However, keeping matters in perspective, it was his fourth season in A-ball. player profile:


Jesse Hoorelbeke, First base


Born 10/13/77. Ht. 6-3. Wt. 225. B/T: R/R. School: University of Louisiana-Monroe. Signed as undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002.


Hoorelbeke is a 28-year-old non-prospect apparently signed as roster filler. He has played in the Dodgers and Mariners organizations after signing with the former as an undrafted free agent in 2002.


In his fourth season as a pro at Double-A last season, Hoorelbeke hit 22 home runs and drove in 81 runs for his best power display ever, but hit just .249. player profile:

Rico Washington, Third base


Born 5/30/78. Ht. 5-9. Wt. 194. B/T: L/R. School: Jones County High School (Gray, GA). Selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in tenth round of the 1997 draft.


More roster padding is going on with Mr. Washington, who is joining his fourth organization since signing his first professional contract nine years ago. The Cards are his third system in the last three seasons.


Washington first reached Triple-A in 2003 with the Padres and has bounced back and forth between there and Double-A since. He has yet to hit more than 20 home runs or drive in greater than 60 runs in any of his professional seasons. player profile:


Frank Perez, Right-handed pitcher


Born: 6/10/78. Ht. 6-2. Wt. 170. B/T: R/R. Signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1997.


After starting in 2004, Perez was the closer for the Phillies in Triple-A in 2005. He earned 23 saves and 1-7 record with a 4.96 ERA. His strikeouts were low and walks relatively high.


The Dominican Republic native has batted injuries throughout his career, having missed the entire 2003 campaign due to elbow surgery. Following his injury, his fastball is said to approach 90 MPH only on occasion.


At one time, Perez was a decent prospect. He was #22 on Baseball America's Phillies list in 2003, but that was his last sighting in that company. player profile:

Pitcher Bo Dickerson and infielder Steward Chacin were released.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at


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