Cardinals Send Six Down, Including Rasmus

Top prospect Colby Rasmus is among three position players and three pitchers reassigned by the St. Louis Cardinals to their minor league camp on Monday.

On Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals today announced that they have optioned pitchers Mike Parisi and Jason Motte and outfielder Joe Mather to their Triple-A Memphis. The team also re-assigned pitcher Clayton Mortensen, catcher Mark Johnson and outfielder Colby Rasmus to their minor league camp.


The difference is that the first three are on the club's 40-man roster, so will use an option season this year in the minor leagues. The latter three were in camp as non-roster invitees, so they are simply re-assigned.


Summarizing the springs of all six to date:


Mike Parisi has made 95 starts as a professional and none as a reliever. All spring, Cardinals officials have stated their intent to keep Parisi starting, which kept him out of the bullpen competition. Not ever reaching the same plane as others fighting for the rotation such as Todd Wellemeyer, Brad Thompson and Anthony Reyes meant that Parisi was clearly ticketed all along for a return to Memphis' rotation.


Overall this spring, Parisi pitched in two games, including one start. He yielded four runs, three earned, over five innings on the mound. Parisi allowed seven hits, fanned five anddid not issue any walks.



Right-handed reliever Jason Motte impressed with his high-nineties fastball and will head to Memphis to continue to refine his game. He picked up a win and a save in his six outings. Over seven innings, Motte allowed a single run on four hits and three walks. He fanned five.



Outfielder/first baseman Joe Mather was one of the pleasant surprises of camp, hitting .289/.386/.526 in 38 at-bats. That included four doubles, a triple and a home run and he drove in four while playing a solid outfield and first base. Yet, there were just too many outfielders competing for too few jobs this time around.


Mather made his final spring game with the big club memorable. Hitting for starting pitcher Anthony Reyes in the fifth inning against Atlanta Braves veteran Mike Hampton, Mather laced an RBI double for the Cardinals first run. Defensively, he played at first base and left field on Monday.


After hitting 31 home runs last season between Springfield and Memphis, Mather will anchor Memphis' lineup and is expected to be asked to continue to hone his game in the outfield. With Albert Pujols around, Mather must excel in the outfield to advance.



The top prospect in the organization, Colby Rasmus, started slowly this spring, but showed a good eye at the plate all along. In the last week, his results at the plate progressed to the point his overall numbers improved to a solid .273/.467/.515, including 12 walks, two doubles and two home runs. Rasmus also swiped three bases and scored seven times over his 33 at-bats.


In his final spring MLB contest on Monday, Rasmus led off and played in centerfield. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He will be back. It now becomes a matter of when. Rasmus can force the issue by coming hard out of the gates in his first-ever action in Triple-A.



Right-handed starter Clayton Mortensen, selected in the supplemental first round out of Gonzaga last June, remained in big-league camp longer than anyone, including the player himself, ever expected.


It was a combination of the 22-year-old impressing his coaches as well as injuries to established starters such as Matt Clement and Joel Pineiro that opened the door for Mortensen to start two games. He appeared in one other contest in relief. Overall this spring, Mortensen allowed nine runs in 7 1/3 innings on 11 hits and five walks. He fanned four.



Catcher Mark Johnson, 32, was signed as injury insurance for the major league club as well as to work with a potentially younger Memphis staff than in recent seasons. A veteran of almost 1000 major league contests, Johnson had no chance to unseat Jason LaRue as the backup catcher coming out of camp. He went hitless this spring in six at-bats, though he did walk and score once.



With the moves, the only NRI prospect remaining in MLB camp is reliever Chris Perez. Reliever Hugo Castellanos as well as veterans Cliff Politte and Ron Villone also are still standing. From the position player side only infielder D'Angelo Jimenez and outfielder Juan Gonzalez are in camp.


The top prospect from the 40-man roster still in the scrum is pitcher Kyle McClellan, capable of starting or relieving. Rule 5 pick up Brian Barton is in the midst of a fight for the final outfield berth with Gonzalez. D'Angelo Jimenez would appear to be competing against Brendan Ryan, though both veterans seem behind.


Overall, 31 healthy players remain in camp. 16 pitchers are competing for 12 jobs, with 15 position players fighting for 13 spots.


Assuming Anthony Reyes is in the rotation and Brad Thompson is in the pen, then five players are in the battle for one final spot at the end of the bullpen. They are Politte, Castellanos, McClellan, Perez and Kelvin Jimenez.


Able (16) Injured (6)
Hugo Castellanos Chris Carpenter
Randy Flores Matt Clement
Ryan Franklin Tyler Johnson
Jason Isringhausen Josh Kinney
Kelvin Jimenez Mark Mulder
Kyle Lohse Joel Pineiro
Braden Looper
Kyle McClellan
Chris Perez
Cliff Politte
Anthony Reyes
Russ Springer
Brad Thompson
Ron Villone
Adam Wainwright
Todd Wellemeyer
Position Players
Able (15) Injured (1)
Rick Ankiel Juan Encarnacion*
Brian Barton (*not in camp, but on roster)
Chris Duncan
Troy Glaus
Juan Gonzalez
Cesar Izturis
D'Angelo Jimenez
Adam Kennedy
Jason LaRue
Ryan Ludwick
Aaron Miles
Yadier Molina
Albert Pujols
Brendan Ryan
Skip Schumaker


NRIs are in italics



Brian Walton can be reached via email at


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