International Flavor in the Cardinals' Minors

22 international players reported to the Cardinals minor league camp last week.

Among the dozens of hopeful Cardinals' organization players who recently arrived in Jupiter, Florida ready to make their mark, there are at least 22 players who call somewhere other than the United States their home.

Among these players are four recent signees who have not yet been profiled here at stlcardinals.scout.com this off-season – Juan Richardson, Eddi Candelario, Rodney Medina and Jorge Hadad. Their capsules follow. Other new players were introduced in January in the article "Restocking the Minors".

In addition, next time, we'll bring to you 16 players from the Dominican Republic, most of whom are graduating from the Dominican Summer League for their first taste of minor league baseball here on the mainland when Extended Spring Training begins next month.

Country/name Position Last Level
     
Colombia (1)    
Donovan Solano Shortstop Short-A
     
Cuba (1)    
Juan Diaz First base Double-A
     
Dominican Republic (8)    
Carlos Artiles LH reliever Triple-A
Roberto Batista RH swing High-A
Eddi Candelario* RH pitcher Double-A
Carlos De La Cruz Outfield Short-A
Jose De La Rosa RH pitcher Rookie
Victor Moreno RH pitcher Rookie - GCL
Franklin Perez RH reliever Triple-A
Juan Richardson* Third base Double-A
     
Mexico (3)    
Iker Franco Catcher Triple-A
Jaime Garcia LH pitcher Instructs
Jorge Hadad Catcher Rookie
     
Puerto Rico (1)    
Jose Delgado Second base Short-A
     
Venezuela (8)    
Jose Garcia RH swing High-A
Henry Guerrero Catcher Rookie
Milko Jaramillo Shortstop Triple-A
Rayner Laya Shortstop Double-A
Juan Lucena Shortstop Single-A
Jose Martinez Second base Rookie
Rodney Medina* Outfield High-A
Yonathan Sivira Outfield Short-A
     
* Recent signings    

Juan Richardson – A 25-year-old right-handed hitting third baseman from the Dominican Republic. Richardson was a highly-regarded Phillies prospect not long ago, slamming 40 home runs and driving in 166 in 2001 and 2002 and known as a solid defender at third.

In fact, our Scout.com counterparts in Philadelphia rated Richardson the #18 prospect in the Phils' system just two years ago and were not the only ones to mention him in the same breath as slugging Phils first baseman and 2005 National League Rookie of the Year, St. Louisan Ryan Howard.

However, Richardson missed much of the 2003 and 2004 seasons due to serious ankle and shoulder injuries. He was ultimately designed for assignment by the Phillies last September. This winter, Richardson played in 18 games for the Cibao Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League, hitting just .220 in 41 at-bats.

Eddi Candelario – Apparently, the Cardinals had a scout covering the Cibao club this winter, as recent signee, right-handed pitcher Eddi Candelario, also played there. In 21 2/3 innings, Candelario pitched well, holding opposing hitters to a .200 batting average while posting a 2.49 ERA. Still, it is difficult to get excited about a 28-year-old with a career minor league ERA of 5.15.

Looking back, despite being signed in 1998 by the Dodgers, Candelario has not been able to rise above Double-A ball in his career. Yet, in 2003, the New York Yankees thought highly-enough of Candelario that they added him to their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. But the honeymoon didn't last long, as Candelario was outrighted back to the minors less than a month later.

At the end of the 2005 season, Candelario was a six-year minor league free-agent, securing his free-agency from the Pirates organization.

Jorge Hadad – The 23-year-old Mexican catcher was originally signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 2001. In the most recent stats I can locate, Hadad hit just .162 for the O's Appalachian League entry back in 2003. He was optioned to the Tijuana Toros of the Mexican League in 2004, where he was a teammate of former Cardinals outfielder Felix Jose. Hadad was finally released by the Baltimore organization last summer.

Rodney Medina – This 25-year-old outfielder from Venezuela toiled seven years in the Toronto system, never rising above A-ball. Medina is a career .286 hitter who has yet to drive in 50 runs in a season. He became a minor League free agent this past fall.

Medina played for the Lara Cardinales in winter ball, hitting a relatively-hollow .291, with just two extra-base hits, both doubles, among his 25 safeties. He did post a .351 on-base percentage and fanned just five times in 86 at-bats.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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