Colombian Cardinals Winter Action Expected

Six or more Cardinals prospects may be playing under Minor League Catching Coordinator Dann Bilardello for the Sincelejo Toros in Colombia this winter.

While not all details are confirmed at this time, we believe the St. Louis Cardinals will have a major contingent this winter in Colombia, with the Liga Colombiana de Béisbol Profesional and specifically the Sincelejo Toros team.

Dann Bilardello, the Cardinals Minor League Catching Coordinator, is expected to be managing the Toros. Other Cardinals players will be under Neder Horta, who is the Cardinals' head scout in Colombia. Horta will be heading the rival Cartagena Tigers.

Players from Palm Beach Cardinals that will reportedly be going to Colombia are catcher Nick Derba and pitchers Casey Mulligan, Davis Bilardello, and Shaun Garceau. Memphis' outfielder Shane Robinson is listed on the club's preliminary roster, though he is already committed to the Arizona Fall League through mid-November. Recently-released infielder Dan Nelson and Quad Cities first baseman Carlos Pupo are also listed on the Toros' tentative roster. Possibly other Cardinals players from Class A and Rookie teams may be invited, too.

Bilardello coached in Nicaragua last winter and has managed in the minor leagues for the Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Boston Red Sox' affiliate in the Carolina League in 2005 and the South Georgia Waves/Columbus (GA) Catfish in the South Atlantic League in the Dodgers system in 2003 and 2004. Prior to that, in 2002, he guided the Great Falls Dodgers to the rookie level Pioneer League title. Bilardello's four-year minor league managerial record is 240-249.

The Colombian League consists of four teams, the Barranquilla Crocodiles, Cartagena Tigers, Monteria Cardinals and Sincelejo Bulls. In 1999 Edgar Renteria (of the Detroit Tigers and an ex-Cardinal) and his brother Edinson founded Team Renteria to promote and develop Colombian baseball.

Their main goal is to re-establish the Colombian Winter League as a legitimate Caribbean league with official MLB relations. Although Edinson runs the league, Edgar is the chief financier. Another purpose of the league is to promote baseball in Colombia, since its most popular sport is Soccer.

Each of the four teams are allowed to carry 10 players that are from a country other than Colombia. Non-Colombian players generally come from United States minor league and independent league teams. The season lasts from October to January.

Here at The Birdhouse,, we will keep you updated on winter ball action as it affects Cardinals prospects all over the globe!

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