Cuban Cazana Resurfaces for Winter Ball

Cardinals minor league outfielder Amaury Cazana, a forgotten man, will play for Licey in the Dominican Republic this winter.

General manager Fernando Ravelo of the Licey Tigers announced on Thursday the signing of St. Louis Cardinals minor league outfielder Amaury Cazana (Marti) to a contract for the 2009-2010 Dominican Winter League. The 35-year-old Cuban native also played last winter for the most successful club in Dominican Republic history.

2009 has been a lost year for Cazana, as he returned to the Mexican League for a second consecutive summer at his own request, says Dominican paper Listin Diario.

There, the right-handed hitter again put up solid numbers, .356/.417/.599 for Oaxaca, wrapped around a wrist injury that sidelined him for three weeks in late April and early May suffered when he was struck by a pitch while hitting. Still, he had 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 247 at-bats over 69 Mexican League contests this summer.

On July 30, Cazana's Mexican League season ended, at which point he disappeared into the ether. He was said to have been sent to Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Florida yet was not assigned to any US-based club for August play. In past years, the Cards' 18th round pick in 2006 saw time with Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis and was twice assigned to the Arizona Fall League prospect showcase.

Despite all the past notoriety, much of it curiosity about his humble background, escape from the island nation of Cuba, a dispute over his rights and an attempt to pass him off as being four years younger than he really is, Cazana's odd career appears to be at a crossroads.

Eligible to be taken in this winter's Rule 5 draft if not added to the Cardinals' 40-man roster, Cazana seems to be a man without a place in the Cardinals organization. He was not invited to Cardinals major league spring training this past spring as he was the previous March and seemingly has no place with any of the US-based affiliates, either.

As such, one has to wonder why Cazana is being kept around. Perhaps another solid winter showing will enable him to get a new start with another organization for 2010.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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