Quad Cities-Extended Spring Training Shuffle

The St. Louis Cardinals Midwest League club moves two players out and adds one reinforcement on Sunday.

The offense of the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Midwest League started the 2010 season ice cold. Through the first seven games of the season, Quad Cities hit just .215 and scored a combined 20 runs. There has been improvement recently, though. Over the last three contests, the Bandits have scored 36 runs on 40 hits. They have hit .322 in those three games.

Wanting to sustain that momentum, the 8-2 Bandits were involved in three roster changes on Sunday. Outfielder Edgar Lara, who had been in St. Louis Cardinals extended spring training camp in Jupiter, Florida, was promoted to the Class A club. In return, outfielder Kyle Conley was re-assigned to the Florida camp, but technically remains on the Bandits' DL due to a wrist injury. In addition, infielder Jonathan Rodriguez, who has been with Quad Cities since the season began, but was on the disabled list the entire time, was also sent to extended spring training.

Conley, 22, hit a home run on opening day, April 8, but overall has struggled with the bat, going 5-for-26 (.192). He had one triple, one home run and two RBI and struck out eight times. Conley appeared in eight games, five as left fielder, two as designated hitter and one as a pinch-hitter. The right-hander hitter mostly batted third in the Bandits' order but also dropped down to the fifth and seventh spots.

This is the second time Conley stubbed his toe with Quad Cities, as he also began the 2009 season there after having been selected by the Cardinals in the seventh round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft from the University of Washington. After fifteen games with the River Bandits, he was moved down to the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League, where he thrived, hitting .385 and leading the Muckdogs with eight home runs.

Rodriguez became a Cardinal when he was selected in the 17th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft from Manatee (FL) Community College. Last summer, the right-handed hitter posted an impressive .351/.462/.454 line with 18 walks compared to 14 strikeouts for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Rodriguez was then promoted to Johnson City of the Appalachian League, where he hit .250/.363/.417 along with his first two professional home runs in 24 games. Between the two stops, his .421 on-base percentage was first in the entire St. Louis minor league system, his .309 average was fifth and .858 OPS was third among all Cardinals farmhands.

A shoulder injury which required off-season surgery limited the 20-year-old to first base during his debut season and continues to hinder his recovery in 2010. After the season, Rodriguez was named our Scout.com/The Cardinal Nation Gulf Coast League Cardinals Player of the Year for 2009.

Lara, 21, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, joined the Cardinals as a free agent signing in September 2005 and reportedly received a $250,000 bonus. 2010 is his fourth season of play in the US after starting his career in the Dominican Summer League. The right-handed hitter spent the last two seasons with Johnson City.

Overall, in four seasons, Lara has posted a .234/.314/.413 line in 705 at-bats over 214 professional games.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Brian pens a column each Wednesday at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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