Cards Winter Instructional League Begins

The St. Louis Cardinals 2006 Florida Winter Instructional League camp opens on Tuesday, September 12th in Jupiter, Florida and runs through October 5th. Cardinals Director of Player Development Bruce Manno offers his perspective.

In a sure indication that the Boys of Summer are gone and the minor league seasons are over, one of the bellwethers of fall, the seasonally-challenged Winter Instructional League, starts on Tuesday.

Some of the very brightest organizational prospects - 25 players in all - 11 pitchers and 14 position players - are coming together at the Cardinals complex in Jupiter, Florida to receive individualized instruction from the best coaches the system has to offer.

Minor League Field Coordinator Jim Riggleman is in charge, assisted by a team of specialists that include Mark Riggins - pitching, Dann Bilardello – catching, Tom Spencer – baserunning/outfield, Gene Tenace – hitting, State College skipper Mark DeJohn and Johnson City manager Dan Radison.

Top talent from the 2005 draft includes four of the organization's first five selections that year. They include first-rounder and top prospect, outfielder Colby Rasmus, as well as fellow first-rounder, shortstop Tyler Greene. Also on the squad are supplemental first-round selection Mark McCormick and second-rounder Nick Webber. Both are right-handed pitchers.

2006 draftees participating include the Cardinals' top six picks, made in the first three rounds - pitchers Adam Ottavino, Chris Perez and Brad Furnish, outfielder Jon Jay, first baseman Mark Hamilton and pitcher Gary Daley.

Players range in age from Greene, who turned 23 years of age one month ago to shortstop Thomas Pham, just 18-1/2 and fresh out of high school in Las Vegas, a 16th round pick this June with top five round talent.

Experience levels also vary, from second baseman Will Groff, the 29th round selection making his professional debut, to Rasmus, McCormick and Webber, all of whom finished the season at High-A Palm Beach. The others played for rookie-level Johnson City, State College or Quad Cities this past summer.

The full Cardinals Winter Instructional League roster is available to subscribers at this link.

Subscribers can also hear Bruce Manno, Cardinals Director of Player Development provide a quick overview of how the camp is different this year, both in terms of size and focus.

Come back Wednesday, when subscribers can listen to Manno go into detail on why these particular players were selected and what the staff hopes to accomplish with the 25 prospects between now and the close of camp on October 5th.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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