Rich Hill Leads 17 Cards Non-Roster Invitees

Former Chicago Cubs top prospect Rich Hill is among 17 non-roster invitees along with 38 rostered players heading to St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced that 17 players have been given non-roster invitations to the team's Spring Training Camp next month. They will join the 38 players currently on the team's major league roster.

The list of non-roster invitees includes eight pitchers, four catchers, four infielders and one outfielder. Fourteen of the 17 non-roster invitees were members of the Cardinals organization in 2009. They are:

Pitchers – Rich Hill, Lance Lynn, Evan MacLane, Pete Parise, Oneli Perez, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Charlie Zink
Catchers – Charles Cutler, Tony Cruz, Steven Hill, Robert Stock
Infielders – Daniel Descalso, Ruben Gotay, Pete Kozma, Donovan Solano
Outfielder – Tyler Henley

The newest addition is left-handed pitcher Rich Hill, who agreed to terms on a minor league contract. Hill last pitched for the Baltimore Orioles in 2009 but was outrighted off the 40-man roster in November, becoming a free agent. He was not offered a major league contract to return for 2010, but was reportedly offered a deal similar to the Cardinals'. The O's recent addition of veteran Kevin Millwood may have forced him out of the rotation plans there.

Hill, who will turn 30 in March, made 13 starts and one relief appearance for Baltimore in 2009, going 3-3 with a 7.80 ERA before missing most of the second half of the season. Due to a labrum tear, Hill required surgery on his shoulder. Earlier, he dealt with an elbow strain for much of the first half that originally surfaced while he was pitching winter ball in Venezuela.

Prior to that, Hill spent parts of four seasons (2005-08) with the Chicago Cubs before they dealt him to Baltimore in February. He had been rumored to have been on the trading block for months. The Cubs had originally selected him in the fourth round of the 2002 draft from the University of Michigan.

Hill was 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 32 starts for the Cubs in 2007 but has hit hard times since. In 2008, Hill lost his control and was eventually pulled from his assignment with Triple-A Iowa and sent to the Arizona League Cubs, comparable to the Gulf Coast Cardinals. Hill's problems continued amid the Cubs organization's assessment that his woes were mental, rather than physical.

Hill is out of minor league options so if he makes the Cardinals out of spring training, he will probably need to stick. The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder owns a career MLB mark of 21-20 with a 4.87 ERA. He is expected to be ready to pitch in spring training.

Other NRIs include former Cardinals #1 draft pick Pete Kozma, Cardinals' 2009 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Lance Lynn and catcher Robert Stock, the team's second-round draft selection in 2009.

Infielder Ruben Gotay, knuckleball pitcher Charlie Zink and Hill represent the only players who came from outside the organization immediately prior to this season. They are also the only non-roster players with prior major league experience.

Cardinals' pitchers and catchers report to the team's Spring Training Complex in Jupiter, Florida on February 17 with their first on-field workout scheduled for February 18. The full squad reports on February 22 with its first workout slated for February 23.

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

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