Change to the St. Louis Cardinals roster has been prevalent in recent weeks and continued again on Friday.
At the conclusion of the 2010 season, the organization had 43 players on their 40-man roster, including three on the 60-day disabled list and therefore not counting against the limit. (Click here to see the full system-wide season-ending roster view.)
Since the 2010-11 off-season began, the organization has pared a dozen players from its 40-man roster while adding seven this off-season – through Thursday. The total was 38, with the remainder of two available to be used to add players via the Rule 5 Draft, free agency or trades. (Click here to see the current organizational roster view.)
With obvious needs in at least four spots at the major league level, left-handed reliever, reserve catcher, left-side of the infield and veteran reserve outfielder, the two available roster spots did not appear to be adequate.
Perhaps that is why the Cardinals made an additional set of moves on Friday, removing four players from their 40-man roster. St. Louis outrighted pitcher Adam Ottavino, catcher Steven Hill and outfielders Daryl Jones and Nick Stavinoha. They now join a group of Cardinals minor leaguers eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
The club also added catcher Tony Cruz and reliever Blake King onto the 40-man roster, with the net total now at 36. Cruz was a non-roster invitee to 2010 Spring Training and both players participated in the Arizona Fall League for the Surprise Rafters, whose season ended Thursday.
King (44th round, 2005 draft), 23, is a right-handed reliever out of Eastern Oklahoma State Junior College, who pitched this past season at Springfield (AA) where he was selected to the Texas League All-Star team. He posted a 4-3 record with a 2.91 ERA in 53 appearances, fanning 84 batters in 68 innings. The 53 appearances ranked fourth among Cardinals minor leaguers and ranked third in the Texas League. He also led the league with 12 holds. In the Arizona Fall League, King was 1-0 with a 6.30 ERA in 10 appearances averaging a strikeout per inning.
The Cardinal Nation.com subscribers: Be sure to listen to our exclusive audio interview with King from the Arizona Fall League earlier this month.
Cruz (26th round, 2007 draft), 24, is primarily a catcher who also played a few innings at third base. The Palm Beach, Fla., native played 90 games this season, starting out with his hometown club at Palm Beach (A), but advanced to Springfield (AA) and received the call to finish the season at Memphis (AAA). Cruz batted .282 with eight home runs and 46 RBI overall this season and smacked 26 doubles. In the AFL, Cruz batted .342 with three home runs and 17 RBI, ranking T-11th in both batting and RBI.
The Cardinal Nation.com subscribers: Catch our exclusive audio interview with Cruz as he spoke earlier this month from the Arizona Fall League.
Ottavino, the Cardinals’ first-round selection in the 2006 draft, suffered a shoulder injury this past summer, but went the rehab route after the club initially announced he would undergo surgery. The 24-year-old right-handed starter was activated by St. Louis at the end of the season, but did not pitch. Ottavino had been added to the 40-man roster one year ago.
Jones, 23, was the club’s third-round pick in the 2005 draft, overall one of the best classes in the organization’s recent history. The left-handed hitter was the Cardinals’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2008 when he excelled between Palm Beach and Springfield. Since then, his stock has fallen as the result of two consecutive off years. Jones is currently playing winter ball in Colombia. He was placed on the 40-man roster prior to the December 2009 Rule 5 Draft.
Stavinoha, 28, joined the organization in the seventh round of the 2002 draft. The right-handed slugger spent most of the 2010 season at the major league level and showed early success as a pinch-hitter, but dropped off as the season progressed. Stavinoha hit a system-wide high .337 with Memphis in 2008. His role may be assumed by Allen Craig or a veteran free agent in 2011. Nick was added to the 40-man in June 2008.
Hill, 25, became a Cardinal in the 2007 draft, taken in the 13th round. The power hitter has experience at first base and the outfield as well as behind the plate, but it remains unclear whether his catching skills will become major league-ready. Hill was added to the 40-man and made his St. Louis debut in August, but sat in favor of Cruz down the stretch for Memphis. He was a Texas League All-Star in both 2009 and 2010.
The previous comings and goings this off-season have been as follows:
Outfielder Shane Robinson and catcher Matt Pagnozzi were removed from the 40-man, with the latter now a free agent. Outfielder Joe Mather was lost when claimed by the Atlanta Braves. Pitcher Bryan Augenstein came onto the roster when added via a waiver claim from Arizona.
The Cardinals had nine major league free agents, with only the first name on the list set to return for 2011. They are pitchers Jake Westbrook, Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan, Dennys Reyes, Mike MacDougal, catcher Jason LaRue, infielders Aaron Miles and Pedro Feliz and outfielder Randy Winn.
Earlier this week, five minor leaguers were added to the roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. They are pitchers David Kopp, Adam Reifer and Eduardo Sanchez, shortstop Pete Kozma and outfielder Adron Chambers.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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