Cardinals Team USA Preview

Team USA starts its warm up for the IBAF Tournament on Thursday. The team will be led by three of the St. Louis Cardinals top Minor League prospects.

A group of minor leaguers representing 16 organizations have been assembled for Team USA as it readies itself for play in the IBAF Cup in Taiwan. The tournament serves as a precursor to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Players will be looking to catch the eye of General Manager Bob Watson and Field Manager Davey Johnson as they look for their core group for next year's Olympics. Also on the coaching staff is the Cardinals' Rick Eckstein. The brother of shortstop David Eckstein served as the Memphis hitting coach in 2007 and will coach third for Team USA.

The squad is comprised of 24 players who have reached at least Double A and this group has eight players who saw Major League action this past summer. Team USA will take part in seven warm-up games with the teams of the Arizona Fall League starting on Thursday, October 25. Of note, Team USA will face the Mesa Solar Sox, the team comprised in part with Cardinals minor leaguers, on October 30. The team will then make its way to the Far East for the tournament, scheduled to begin November 6 and ending with the finals on November 18. The Americans will see their first action of the tournament on November 7 against Team Mexico.

The Cardinals have sent three of their top prospects to participate in the international field; catcher Bryan Anderson (the youngest player on the team), relief pitcher Chris Perez, and outfielder Colby Rasmus (the second youngest player on the team). Both Perez and Rasmus were scheduled to lead the Cardinals contingent in the Arizona Fall League before being named to Team USA. The Cardinals are the only team with three representatives on the American squad.

Anderson will be keeping a journal of his experiences at the Team USA website here.

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at

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