Peoria Chiefs continue to make roster changes

Last week, Carson Kelly moved up from extended spring training. This week, C.J. McElroy is getting his shot at full-season ball.

Last week, the arrival of top prospect Carson Kelly was big news for the St. Louis Cardinals affiliate in the Midwest League. This week, another prominent hitter is joining the Peoria Chiefs, also from extended spring training, outfielder C.J. McElroy.

In fact, the Chiefs announced four roster moves on Thursday. The Class A club is adding two outfielders while losing a member of its rotation plus an outfielder.

The transactions are:

Outfielder C.J. McElroy from extended spring training to Peoria
Outfielder Nick Martini is being activated off Peoria's seven-day disabled list
Outfielder David Popkins is moving from Peoria to A-Advanced Palm Beach
Left-handed pitcher Dail Villanueva was placed on Peoria's seven-day DL, effective April 21

McElroy, 19, The Cardinal Nation's 31st-ranked prospect, has been working on switch-hitting since last fall. The speedster needs to improve his results against right-handed hitting. Last summer, McElroy played in the Appalachian League, logging a .314 OBP.

Martini, 22, went on the DL one week ago due to an ankle sprain. In eight games this season, Martini is hitting .207 with one double, one RBI, two steals, five walks and four runs scored. The native of Crystal Lake, IL was the Cardinals seventh-round draft pick in 2011 from Kansas State University.

The two will join Michael Swinson and Charlie Tilson in competing for outfield time with the Chiefs. Jordan Walton is also on the roster, and had been playing first base regularly since David Washington was suspended. However, with the arrival of Carson Kelly, Wisdom has been seeing time at first base, so there may be a playing time crunch in the outfield.

Popkins joined the Chiefs when Martini went down, so the 23-year-old played in just four Midwest League contests after his promotion from extended spring training. The right-handed hitter went 0-for-8 with three strikeouts with Peoria.

Villanueva, a 23-year-old left-hander, has endured a rough beginning to his 2013. Despite repeating the Midwest League this season, the Venezuelan native has been rocked for 12 runs, 10 earned, in 7 2/3 innings over three starts. Villanueva did not get out of the first inning in his most recent start on Saturday.

It is not yet clear whether the Chiefs will replace Villanueva in their six-man rotation, either via a subsequent transaction or shift of a reliever or will simply drop down to five starters.

In addition to these transactions, Palm Beach will need to make a roster move to accommodate the arrival of Popkins.

Update: The additional Palm Beach action is the reassignment of outfielder Jimmy Parque to extended spring training.

The 24-year-old appeared in just three FSL games, going 0-for-9 with two strikeouts. Parque moved up from EST on April 15. He joined the organization when his contract was purchased from Rockford of the independent Frontier League last November.

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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