Gorecki Gone from Cards' 40-Man

Two free-agent outfielders sign minor-league deals and join former Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year Reid Gorecki on the Memphis roster and Rule 5-eligible list.

Making a bit of room for a potential free agent signing or trade acquisition, the St. Louis Cardinals dropped outfielder Reid Gorecki from their 40-man roster. The New York native, who turns 26 years of age in two weeks, cleared waivers and has been assigned to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds for Rule 5 draft classification.

With the move, the Cardinals' 40-man roster currently sits at 39.

In addition, the Cardinals added outfielders Ryan Ludwick and Miguel Negron to an already-crowded Memphis roster when the two were signed to minor league contracts.

Could the Cards be signaling a possible trade of one or more of their outfield prospects, such as Skip Schumaker, Nick Stavinoha or Cody Haerther, or is this just a business-as-usual move to add some extra competition to the Memphis mix next spring? Rick Ankiel and Amaury Marti are other potential 2007 Redbirds outfielders.

Reid Gorecki

As a result of this move, Gorecki is eligible to be selected in this week's Rule 5 draft if another club believes he is major-league ready. He was originally selected in the 13th round of the June 2002 First Year Player Draft.

In his professional career, Gorecki got out of the gates quickly, playing some very exciting baseball. He was named a 2002 All-Star in the New York-Penn League, where he led the circuit in triples and runs scored. In 2003, he slammed a career-high 15 home runs and stole 23 bases in 34 attempts in the Single-A Midwest League.

His star rose even higher in 2004, when Gorecki starred in the Florida State League, hit .320 in a late-season call-up to Double-A and ranked sixth in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he batted .363. All-told, that led to Gorecki being named the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year and an addition to the club's 40-man roster.

The last two years have not been kind to Gorecki, however. He struggled in Double-A in 2005, hitting under .200 before being demoted to Palm Beach, where he made a decent, but not outstanding recovery.

Back in Double-A in 2006, Gorecki hit .251 with 16 home runs and 51 RBI and was a mid-season Texas League All-Star, but experienced difficulty in his first taste of Triple-A competition, batting just .162 in 74 at-bats.

Gorecki's Scout.com Player Profile

Ryan Ludwick

A former top prospect himself, the now-28 year old has never been able to reach his potential. Ludwick was originally signed as the second-round selection of the Oakland A's in 1999.

After putting up good power numbers in Single-A and Double-A in 2000 and 2001, he moved to Texas in the Carlos Pena trade in 2002. That year, Ludwick made his big-league debut for the Rangers and was the organization's seventh-ranked prospect in 2003.

In July of 2003, after playing most of the season in Triple-A, Ludwick moved to the Cleveland Indians in another trade, this one for outfielder Shane Spencer. His 162 major league at-bats that season would be a career high.

The right-handed hitter missed considerable time in 2004 and 2005 due to knee and shoulder woes, especially struggling the latter year after making the Indians out of Spring Training. Ludwick moved to the Detroit Tigers system in 2006, where he hit .266 with 26 home runs and 82 RBI for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.

Ludwick's career MLB line is .237/.299/.426 (BA/OBP/SLG) in 334 at-bats.

Interesting factoid: His older brother, Eric, pitched for the Cardinals in 1996 and 1997 before heading to Oakland as part of the Mark McGwire trade.

Ludwick's Scout.com Player Profile

Miguel Negron

The 24-year-old Puerto Rican was the Toronto Blue Jays' first-round draft pick back in 2000, the 18th selection overall. The centerfielder did not progress quickly despite having plus tools – particularly arm strength and speed, said to be the best in the Jays' system.

The downside of the left-hander is his bat, which had limited him to a fifth-outfielder, defensive replacement projection in recent years. Coming off his fourth season in Single-A, Negron was added to the Jays' 40-man roster following the 2004 season.

In 2005, in Double-A, Negron put up a .258/.304/.387 line and returned there in 2006. After hitting just .215 in his first 130 at-bats, he was put on waivers and claimed by the Chicago Cubs in May.

Negron was added to Chicago's 40-man roster and reported to their Double-A affiliate at West Tennessee, where he improved to a .291/.349/.404 mark before being released by the Cubs in mid-November.

Negron's Scout.com Player Profile

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

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