Cardinals Sign Four Minor Leaguers

The St. Louis Cardinals have added a quartet of minor leaguers - three pitchers and an infielder, including an old friend.

When the St. Louis Cardinals welcome their minor leaguers to spring training camp in Jupiter, Florida starting on Monday, March 8, there will be four new faces. Well, three new faces and one from the past, returning to the organization after three years away.

Along with newcomers Kevin Howard, Yoffri Martinez, Houston Summers, left-hander Rich Rundles is back with the Cardinals.

Needing left-handed relief at the Triple-A level, the Cardinals called upon a familiar arm in Rundles. The 29-year-old spent the last three seasons as a reliever with the Cleveland Indians organization after completing the early part of the 2006 season with Double-A Springfield as a starter. Rundles made his MLB debut with the 2007 Tribe, pitching in eight contests and also had a one-game curtain call in 2008.

Since first signing with the Red Sox at the age of 18 in 1999, the Tennessee native has also pitched in the Montreal/Washington and New York Mets organizations. In 11 minor league seasons, Rundles has a 47-62 record with seven saves and a 4.31 ERA.

Kevin Howard is a well-traveled second-third baseman. The 28-year-old was originally signed by the Cincinnati Reds after being taken in the fifth round of the 2002 draft. The Cardinals will be the left-handed hitter's eighth organization in eight seasons after he played in the Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Mariners, Blue Jays and Padres systems.

To the Pacific Coast League Memphis Redbirds, Howard is a familiar opponent. In 2009, he split his time between the Triple-A affiliates of Toronto (Las Vegas) and San Diego (Portland). In seven minor league seasons, 806 games, his line is .287/.354/.421.

This winter, Howard was busy, posting a .752 OPS in 32 games with La Guaira in the Venezuelan League and an .896 OPS in 13 contests with Estrellas in the Dominican Republic.

Houston Summers is a 22-year-old right-hander who was taken in the 47th round of the 2005 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had appeared primarily as a catcher, but also as second baseman, third baseman and in the outfield before becoming a full-time knuckleball pitcher three seasons ago.

Pitching since 2007, Summers has appeared in just two games above the A level. He was primarily a starter the first two years before moving to relief last season. Overall, he has a 9-10 record with a 4.22 ERA in 45 games including 17 starts. Summers has 78 strikeouts and 96 walks in 162 career innings.

According to Cardinals Director of Minor League Operations John Vuch, Summers was spotted by Senior Special Assistant to the GM Gary LaRocque and was given the thumbs up after scout and Johnson City manager Mike Shildt also watched him throw.

Yoffri Martinez is a right-handed reliever yet to reach Double-A. The 24-year-old Venezuelan spent his first five years as a professional in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization before his release last August.

Combined, the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder has an 8-14 career record with three saves and a 5.10 ERA in 107 games. Last season, he walked 27 and struck out 29 while posting a 6.57 ERA in 37 Sally League innings.

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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