Cards Instructional League Starts this Week

St. Louis Cardinals Instructional League Camp Coordinator Mike Shildt offers a preview of fall action for 48 Cards prospects scheduled in and around Jupiter, Florida this month and next.

This coming weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals minor league staff will be welcoming 48 prospects to their Instructional League camp in Jupiter, Florida. The crop includes 23 pitchers and 25 position players, allowing both individual instruction as well as organized game play.

 

34 members of the 2008 draft class will see fall action, headlined by supplemental first rounder, pitcher Lance Lynn, followed by every other signed Cardinals draftee through round 24. The group is supplemented by two from the 2007 draft with the rest having been signed as free agents.

 

The Cardinals growing international program is represented by six players that finished in the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues this season as well as several other graduates. The roster includes two exciting young Latin American players, infielder Yunier Castillo and outfielder Ryde Rodriguez, both promoted to Johnson City late in the 2008 regular season.

 

The roster

 

2008 Club Draft Rd
Pitchers (23) Bradford, Jared Quad Cities 2008 18
Bravo, Jon Johnson City 2008 23
Brito, David VSL FA
Brown, George Batavia 2008 27
Castillo, Amaury DSL FA
Colorado, Moises VSL FA
Ferrera, Anthony* GCL 2008 7
Flores, Miguel Johnson City 2008 16
Fornataro, Eric Johnson City 2008 6
Freeman, Samuel Palm Beach 2008 32
Frevert, Matt Quad Cities 2008 28
Gorgen, Scott Batavia 2008 4
Hester, Josh Batavia 2008 17
Kulik, Ryan* Quad Cities 2008 8
Lynn, Lance Quad Cities 2008 1a
McGregor, Scott Quad Cities 2008 15
Notti, Chris GCL 2008 36
Pitts, Zach Batavia 2008 24
Prange, Adam GCL 2008 48
Richardson, Dan Batavia 2008 38
Siegrist, Kevin GCL 2008 41
Thomas, Kevin Johnson City 2008 33
Veres, Adam Batavia 2008 49
Catchers (6) Cawley, Jack Johnson City 2008 34
Cutler, Charles Batavia 2008 14
Murphy, Blake Quad Cities 2008 42
Noland, Ricky Johnson City FA
Perez, Audris GCL FA
Rosa, Christian Batavia FA
1B (3) Arburr, Matt Palm Beach 2007 17
Rigoli, Matt Johnson City 2008 21
Scruggs, Xavier Batavia 2008 19
Infielders (9) Castellanos, Alex Batavia 2008 10
Castillo, Yunier Johnson City FA
Curtis, Jermaine Batavia 2008 5
DeLaCruz, Roberto DSL FA
Mannbel, Geraldo VSL FA
Mateo, Luis Johnson City 2008 20
Sedbrook, Colt Batavia 2008 22
Valera, Cesar VSL FA
Vasquez, Niko Quad Cities 2008 3
Outfielders (7) Bogany, Jarred Johnson City FA
Kingrey, Charlie* Palm Beach 2007 22
Luna, Aaron Palm Beach 2008 9
Peterson, Shane Batavia 2008 2
Rodriguez, Ryde Johnson City FA
Shepherd, Devin GCL 2008 11
Swinson, Michael GCL 2008 12
* left-handed

 

Speaking a few days prior to rosters being finalized, camp coordinator Mike Shildt explains how the players were chosen.

 

"Mostly first-year guys from the draft or ones from Latin America are the guys we are bringing in. That's not to say that there won't be a guy from last year's draft or a free agent if there is someone that really needs to work on something or a rehab guy working to get some innings in or some at-bats in, but there won't be a high number of those," Shildt said.

 

Most of the players not on the roster but were perhaps expected to be there had other conflicts that precluded their participation.

 

"We have been working to finalize the list of players to be invited, to make sure they are healthy and that it would make sense for them to go, checking for school conflicts and things along those lines," Shildt explained.

 

There were other tradeoffs in deciding how many Latin Americans to invite to what should already be a very busy camp. Most will remain in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

 

"There will be a small handful invited. We're going to let a lot of the guys stay at their respective academies and play their fall and winter season there," Shildt explained.

 

From an experience level, the 48 players invited include 11 that finished the year on the full-season Class A clubs in Quad Cities and Palm Beach.

 

2008 Club # Players
Dominican Summer League 2
Venezuelan Summer League 4
Gulf Coast League 7
Johnson City 11
Batavia 13
Quad Cities 7
Palm Beach 4
Total 48

 

A number of the members of the Cardinals player development and minor league coaching staffs will be participating, with the overall camp activities coordinated by Shildt. Having coached with Batavia and Johnson City and serving as minors Spring Training and Extended Spring Training coordinator positions the 39-year-old well for the assignment.

 

The fundamentals of the Instructional League camp were established some time ago. Along with what looks like a solid draft, Extended Spring Training held from April until the start of short-season play in June seems to have translated into good results.

 

Shildt reflects the organization's pride in their preparation and team records that ensued.

 

"It was a good year. The year's not over, but considering everything in terms of how the organization has done, how well we did in Extended… You know, it was very unofficial as it is not about winning or losing games, but we had two teams down there and our more advanced guys, the White team, went 30-6 against other advanced competition.

 

"We had good success there and were able to extend it to the New York-Penn League and the Appalachian League… The Gulf Coast League players were just young and inexperienced. That eventually catches up with you," Shildt acknowledged.

 

Johnson City posted their first winning record since 1996 with the best record in their division and third best in the league (but missed the playoffs) while Batavia won their division in the New York-Penn League and are still playing in the post-season. The GCL club started ok but struggled much of the rest of the season.

 

Shildt focuses on the big picture.

 

"The organization is in really good shape right now. There are a lot of exciting kids, pretty good prospects. Jeff Luhnow has done a good job putting them in the right positions, elevating them when they are ready and they've rewarded the confidence. In fact, our entire player development department has done a superb job of instruction," he said.

 

The schedule

 

In Instructional League play, the Cardinals will face their eastern Florida neighbors, the Florida Marlins and New York Mets in 14 scheduled games between September 19 and October 6. Other contests may be included against local college or junior college teams and doubleheaders could be added once a week or so based on the needs of both clubs.

 

With the Los Angeles Dodgers having moved to Arizona, there is one fewer organization in the area against whom to schedule games. In addition, the Nationals, headquartered in Viera, are going to travel north for their games instead of south this season, taking away another potential opponent. The Marlins are running a mini-camp of just two weeks duration, which leaves open days later in the schedule, while the Mets are planning to field two teams.

 

"It (the schedule) may have some benefit in that it might force you to… not that we don't do it anyway… but have a day or two extra to really just emphasize some hands-on stuff individually with guys. But it is a two-edged sword," Shildt acknowledged.

 

Sat 13-Sep Staff report
Sun 14-Sep Players report
Mon 15-Sep First workout
Tue 16-Sep
Wed 17-Sep
Thu 18-Sep
Fri 19-Sep FLA @ STL
Sat 20-Sep STL @ NYM
Sun 21-Sep STL @ FLA
Mon 22-Sep STL @ NYM
Tue 23-Sep FLA @ STL
Wed 24-Sep STL @ NYM
Thu 25-Sep STL @ FLA
Fri 26-Sep STL @ NYM
Sat 27-Sep FLA @ STL
Sun 28-Sep STL @ FLA
Mon 29-Sep STL @ NYM
Tue 30-Sep
Wed 1-Oct NYM @ STL
Thu 2-Oct
Fri 3-Oct STL @ NYM
Sat 4-Oct
Sun 5-Oct
Mon 6-Oct NYM @ STL
Tue 7-Oct Travel home

 

All in all, Shildt likely reflects the enthusiasm of all the Cardinals coaches and players heading to Jupiter this coming weekend.

 

"It will be a good opportunity for a lot of these guys. Last fall, a lot of guys benefited from the program and were able to carry over into this season – make that jump to the next club or in some cases, two clubs and be successful.

 

"It's the same plan with this group," said Shildt in closing.

 

 

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

 

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