Cards Invite 24 to Early Minor League Camp

Top St. Louis Cardinals prospects Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras are among early minor league camp invitees.

One year ago, the St. Louis Cardinals introduced a new concept, an early camp for selected minor leaguers. Its primary objective is to offer individualized coaching attention prior to the opening of regular minor league camp to a group of players viewed as having high potential.

#3 prospect Taveras
On Wednesday, the club released the names of its 24 invitees for 2012. The group includes two of the organization's top three prospects in right-handed pitcher Carlos Martinez and outfielder Oscar Taveras and four players drafted this past June.

An expansion of the camp in its second year in 2012 is to add to the youngsters a second population, a group of more experienced minor leaguers. Members of the latter group would be seen by the Major League staff and be ready to be called upon to play in 1 P.M. spring St. Louis games if reserves are needed.

"We felt it was a really successful program for us last year," Cardinals farm director John Vuch explained. "(Matt) Adams, (Ryan) Jackson, (since-traded Alex) Castellanos, (Oscar) Taveras - a lot of the guys we brought in went on to have really strong seasons. So I think there was benefit having a running start heading into camp and the season."

In 2012, the early minor league campers report on February 24 and will have their first workout the next day. That is the day after the major league position players are required to report to Jupiter, Fla. and at least 10 days before the other minor leaguers are scheduled to arrive.

The release of the names of the group also offers a first peek at some individuals who have clearly impressed the organization but have not had enough at-bats, innings-pitched or statistics to yet stand out to the general public.

One year ago, right-hander Trevor Rosenthal was such a name. The 21-year-old was then-unranked in our Cardinals top 40 prospect list, but has since vaulted to number 12 in the entire system and snared a 2012 big-league camp invite. This year, 19-year-old Dominican hurler Victor De Leon is among those who may have similar potential.

St. Louis Cardinals 2012 early minor league camp invitees

Pitchers (10): Carlos Martinez, Michael Blazek, Deryk Hooker, Eric Fornataro, Victor De Leon, Anthony Ferrara, Hector Hernandez, Tyler Lyons, Willy Paulino, Justin Wright

Catchers (2): Geoff Klein, Audry Perez

Infielders (6): Starlin Rodriguez, Greg Garcia, Ronny Gil, Kenny Peoples-Walls (2011 4th round), Xavier Scruggs, Breyvic Valera

Outfielders (6): Oscar Taveras, Nick Longmire, Charlie Tilson (2011 2nd round), C.J. McElroy (2011 3rd round), Lance Jeffries (2011 10th round), Kyle Conley

Over the past weekend, the Cardinals also released the names of the 19 players invited to major league spring training camp as non-roster invitees. Though they were previously posted at The Cardinal Nation Blog, I will repeat them here.

St. Louis Cardinals 2012 non-roster major league camp invitees

Pitchers (10): Shelby Miller, John Gast, Joe Kelly, Jordan Swagerty, Trevor Rosenthal, Victor Marte, R.J. Swindle, Kevin Siegrist, Nick Greenwood, Tyrell Jenkins

Catchers: (5): Steven Hill, Koyie Hill, Robert Stock, Cody Stanley, Luis De La Cruz

Infielders (4): Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Ryan Jackson, Eugenio Velez

Cardinals Major League pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter, Fla. on February 18 with their first workout set for February 19. The Cardinals full squad reports on February 23 and begins workouts on February 24.

You can view the entire 2012 Cardinals spring training schedule here.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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