Cardinals Release Five Minor Leaguers

The St. Louis Cardinals first minor league spring training cuts are three relievers, a catcher and an infielder, including their eighth-round draft pick in 2005.

With roughly 165 players in camp fighting for 100 jobs, the St. Louis Cardinals began what will be a regular process for the rest of the month, making their first minor league cuts of the spring.

Five players were released, three relief pitchers, a catcher and an infielder. They are right-handed relievers Jason Cairns, Michael Cooper and Julio Sanchez along with catcher Henry Guerrero and infielder Jose Salazar.

Let's take a quick look at each player.

Henry Guerrero, a Venezuelan who turns 26 next month, was signed by the Cardinals as a previously released free agent in October, 2005. The reserve catcher joined low Class A Quad Cities from extended spring training in late May, 2006, where hit .250 with a .340 OBP in 31 games.

In 2007, Guerrero split his season between the Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield clubs, hitting a combined .130 with two home runs and three RBI in 29 games.

Jason Cairns, 25, was selected in the eighth round of the June, 2005 First-Year Player Draft from Central Michigan University. He started quickly, as the first pitcher from that class to reach full-season ball when being promoted from New Jersey to Quad Cities in 2005.

The 6-foot-4, 220 pound righty made 43 appearances out of the pen with the Swing in 2006. He had a late start in 2007 due to a knee injury and upon rejoining Quad Cities, he was less effective than before. Cairns pitched in 33 innings over 22 games, fanning 13 but walking 12 and allowing four home runs. His 2007 ERA was 4.64.

Cairns was touched for three runs in 1 1/3 innings this past Friday. Overall, in his three-year professional career, Cairns' ERA was 3.36.

Michael Cooper, 24, was originally taken in the 17th round of the June, 2005 First-Year Player Draft and missed the entire 2006 season due to right shoulder surgery.

In 2007, between Springfield and Palm Beach, Cooper posted an ERA of 6.17 over 65 2/3 innings. He walked 40 while striking out 44. In the off-season, he was smacked around in the Hawaii Winter Baseball League, registering a 8.49 ERA in 23 1/3 innings over nine games. He fanned 28, but still issued 11 free passes.

Cooper yielded three runs in two innings pitched this past Friday, though only one run was earned. Overall, in his two-year professional career, Cooper's ERA was 5.67.

Julio Sanchez, 22, was signed as a minor league free agent last July after competing for the Atlanta Braves' Gulf Coast League club in 2006 and the Arizona League Padres the previous year.

The Dominican native appeared in nine games for the GCL Cardinals last season, fanning 11 and walking three in 7 1/3 innings. He struggled in two games with Palm Beach, giving up four runs in 2 2/3 frames. Sanchez was a minor league free agent after the season, but re-signed with the Cardinals.

Jose Salazar returned this spring after having been released by the Cardinals last March, but didn't last long this time. The 24-year-old infielder was first signed as a non-drafted free agent in June, 2006 out of Texas A&M University.

That season, Salazar hit .283/.360/.345 in 42 games for short-season Class A State College and he also appeared in eight games with low Class A Quad Cities in August, hitting .250.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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