The first five of the additional names are first-time travelers who are strong candidates to play in the US in 2009. Cardinals Director of International Operations Moises Rodriguez offers his commentary on the initial three.
Cesar Valera, shortstop (VZ) – "Turns 17 in May; has looked very good in our VZ mini-camps." (His first professional action.)
Yorbel Alcala, catcher (VZ) – "Plagued by injuries last year but healthy; athletic; someone to keep an eye on."
Alberto Rivero, centerfielder (VZ) – "Sound defensive player whose bat came around in 2008." (Hit .309 in the 2008 Venezuelan Summer League.)
Natanael (Angel) De Jesus, right-handed pitcher (DR) – 20-year-old posted a 1.75 ERA in the 2008 Dominican Summer League.
Edouard Estalis, right-handed pitcher (DR) – 20-year-old Haitian-born right-hander posted a 2.31 ERA while fanning 40 in 35 innings in the 2008 DSL.
Romulo Ruiz, third baseman (VZ) – Competed in the GCL in 2007 as a 17-year-old and batted just .190, then missed the entire 2008 season due to injury.
The EST additions also include right-handed pitcher Josh Wilson, returning after a self-imposed retirement of less than a year. For the details of the story behind the 2005 second-round draft pick, check out this article.
Other EST standouts
A pair of catchers, Kevin Moscatel (VZ) and Luis (Jeudis) Polanco (DR) are among those in the spring training group that remained behind, but for them it was clearly a positive. The two were originally scheduled to travel to the US in April but their arrivals in Jupiter were accelerated due to catching needs in spring training camp.
Rodriguez wanted to call out one particular player from the earlier list of EST invitees.
"Of the players already on your list, I'm most looking forward to seeing centerfielder Rainel Rosario. He's a toolsy and good all-around player who is capable of taking a big step forward in 2009. He was impressive during the Dominican Republic fall instructional league and has carried that over into our academy mini-camps this spring," Rodriguez said.
In a roster note, the last name of the 18-year-old Venezuelan middle infielder, Gerardo Mambell, has been misspelled in all official documents up to this point as "Mannbel". The proper spelling has been corrected on the roster matrix for the entire Cardinals system at my blog, The Cardinal Nation, and in the Scout.com player database, which you can access via the roster dropdowns here on the site or by clicking on any highlighted player's name.
Not in US action
Taking into account the players making one of the full-season clubs, the initial EST list and the names above, just two other players who were listed on the Cardinals off-season rosters at the Gulf Coast League and higher have not been placed either on one of the full-season clubs or in EST.
Second baseman Braulio Hiraldo and reliever Christian Concepcion are still under contract with the Cardinals but will not be coming to EST on April 7. Hiraldo, a 20-year-old Domincan Republic native, competed in the GCL the last two seasons and carries a .232 career batting average. A 19-year-old right-hander, Concepcion split his first partial professional season between the GCL and one outing in the Dominican Summer League. His ERA was 24.65 in nine games.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch his Cardinals commentary daily at his blog, The Cardinal Nation.
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