Cardinals Release Seven Minor Leaguers

Pitchers Fiske, Rosales, three Gonzalez', first baseman Arburr and catcher Murphy were cut loose by the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced their first group of minor league player releases for the spring. It was a bad day for pitchers named "Gonzalez" as all three veterans with that surname in camp were among the cuts.

The seven are pitchers Justin Fiske, Andres Rosales, Jonathan Gonzalez, Reynier Gonzalez and Marco Gonzalez, first baseman Matt Arburr and catcher Blake Murphy.

In terms of highest levels achieved, five are represented. Marco Gonzalez reached Memphis, while Fiske and Arburr appeared for Double-A Springfield, Murphy and Jonathan Gonzalez played for Palm Beach, Rosales reached Quad Cities and Reynier Gonzalez did not advance past Johnson City.

Marco Gonzalez, 25, is a right-handed reliever signed as a free agent in July 2006. In his four seasons in the system, the former Oral Roberts University hurler posted a 14-6 record with a 3.48 ERA. He fanned 102 but walked 75 in 188 2/3 innings.

Last season, with the exception of five games with Memphis, Gonzalez spent the season with Double-A Springfield. He posted an 0-5 record with a 4.95 ERA, striking out 24 and walking 32 in 67 1/3 combined innings. Gonzalez previously appeared in the Hawaiian Winter League following the 2007 season.

Justin Fiske joined the Cardinals organization when his contract was purchased from the Joliet Jackhammers of the independent Northern League in July 2007. The lefty made 14 starts among his 68 career appearances. Overall, his record was 7-1 with a 3.16 ERA. He struck out 148 and walked 53 in 139 2/3 innings as a Cardinal farmhand.

In 2009, the 25-year-old suffered through an injury-riddled season, missing about four months due to arm problems. Fiske appeared in 13 games, including four starts, primarily with Springfield. He had 1-1 record with a 4.88 ERA. Fiske previously appeared in the Arizona Fall League following the 2008 season.

24-year-old Matt Arburr was taken by the Cardinals in the 17th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft from Pace (NY) University. Though the right-handed first baseman had good power, having hit 38 home runs and driving in 104 in 682 career at-bats, average was an ongoing problem, with a .211 aggregate mark as a professional.

Like Fiske, Arburr battled injuries last season. Recovering from an ACL injury, he began the season on the Palm Beach disabled list and ended it in the same place. In between, Arburr appeared in just 58 games, posting a line of .175/.246/.398 between Palm Beach and Springfield.

Venezuelan Jonathan Gonzalez first joined the Cardinals organization in March 2006 at the age of 18. Later that summer, he served a 50-game suspension for a PED violation. Now 23, the right-hander appeared in 75 career games, including six starts. His aggregate record is 8-11 with a 4.25 ERA. Gonzalez struck out 107 and walked 49 in 150 1/3 professional innings.

After competing in the Venezuelan Summer League his first three years, he stepped all the way up to Palm Beach and Quad Cities for 2009. Gonzalez appeared in 21 games in relief for the two A-level clubs, posting a 1-3 record with a 5.50 ERA. Was also known as Yonathan Gonzalez.

Catcher Blake Murphy was the Cardinals' 42-round selection in the 2008 draft from Western Carolina University. The now-24-year-old struggled to hit, posting a career line of .199/.302/.338 in 296 at-bats over the last two seasons.

With the exception of three games at Quad Cities last season, Murphy spent the entire summer with the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League. He posted a line of .168/.261/.273 in 2009.

Andres Rosales is the dean of the seven released players in terms of experience, having first signed with the Cardinals in October 2004, shortly after having turned 16. After two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, the right-handed pitcher spent the last three summers in the US. The Colombian native posted a career 12-15 record with a 3.54 ERA in 85 games, including 34 starts. Rosales fanned 264 but walked 134 in 231 2/3 innings.

In 2009, Rosales was sent down from Quad Cities to Batavia at the first of July where his results declined. Now 21 years old, he went 2-4 with a 5.53 ERA in 18 games in the Midwest League followed by a 2-2 record with a 8.00 ERA in 17 games in the New York-Penn League. Rosales fanned 66 and walked 35 in 58 2/3 combined innings last summer.

Reynier Gonzalez, 21, was signed by the Cardinals out of Venezuela as a non-drafted free agent in September 2005. After one year in the VSL, Gonzalez spent part of 2007 and the entire 2008 and 2009 seasons with Johnson City. His career mark was 8-16 with a 4.20 ERA in 53 games including 35 starts. The righty struck out 166 but walked 101 in 197 1/3 professional innings.

Gonzalez did not show improvement in 2009 as he went 2-5 with a 6.08 ERA in 13 games, including eight Appalachian League starts. He fanned 37 but walked 15 and hit nine batters in 40 innings last summer.

With the moves, the Cardinals now have 167 players in minor league camp.



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

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