The St. Louis Cardinals enacted their second set of cuts this spring on Friday, optioning out six players on the 40-man roster and reassigning one. The 40-man roster players include pitchers P.J. Walters, David Kopp, Francisco Samuel, Adam Reifer and Maikel Cleto. Shortstop Pete Kozma was also optioned out. Non-roster invitee pitcher Adam Ottavino was also reassigned to minor league camp.
After the traditional day off to move from one clubhouse to the other, they will join the over 150 others working out in minor league camp. Initial intrasquad games are next Thursday with the first external competition scheduled a week from today.
Kozma was added to the 40-man roster this fall after competing in the Arizona Fall League. The 22-year-old appeared in six spring games, including on Friday when he doubled in two plate appearances. Kozma went 4-for-8, including that two-base hit. The former first-round draft pick will be looking to step up to Memphis after almost two seasons in Springfield. Kozma is The Cardinal Nation’s 17th ranked prospect for 2011.
Cleto, acquired from Seattle for Brendan Ryan, pitched against Detroit on Friday and lived up to his advance billing. The 21-year-old walked three and fanned three in two innings of work. The right-hander’s spring ERA is 4.50 in four innings total over two games. He is expected to compete for a job with A-Advanced Palm Beach and can start or relieve.
Samuel also needs continued work on his control, having issued three walks in his 2 2/3 spring innings spread over three games. On the positive side, the 24-year-old right-hander fanned four and allowed just two hits and no runs. Samuel is The Cardinal Nation’s 35th ranked prospect for 2011.
Reifer, 24, joined Memphis at the tail end of the 2010 season after an All-Star season with Springfield. The right-hander was successful in camp, totaling four scoreless frames on just one hit. He walked three and also struck out three in his four innings of work. Reifer is The Cardinal Nation’s 13th ranked prospect for 2011.
Walters, who turns 26 on Saturday, pitched in just one 1:00 game, allowing two runs in 2 2/3 innings of work against the Mets on March 3. With considerable starting experience, the right-hander was thought by some to be a fifth-starter competitor. Instead, a return to Memphis’ rotation seems likely. Walters is The Cardinal Nation’s 25th ranked prospect for 2011.
Kopp faced live hitters for the first time this spring on Friday, as detailed here at The Cardinal Nation. The right-hander, an All-Star with Double-A Springfield last season, was not ready to appear in games while coming off off-season surgery. Kopp will be bidding for a spot in Memphis rotation as well. He is The Cardinal Nation’s 23rd ranked prospect for 2011.
Ottavino was removed from the 40-man roster in November after a shoulder injury curtailed his 2010 season. The 25-year-old right-hander pitched in just one “A” game, with one walk the only mark. He also pitched in a “B” game on the 9th, fanning two in two perfect innings. Like Walters and Kopp, he will likely join the Memphis starting scrum. Ottavino is The Cardinal Nation’s 32nd ranked prospect for 2011.
On March 6, the Cards had reassigned eight players to minor league camp and optioned out one. That group included three pitchers, four catchers and two infielders.
Having started with 61 players in major league camp, a full 40-man roster and 21 non-roster invitees, the Cardinals now have 45 players remaining to compete for the 25 active roster spots available to open the season. The 45 includes injured players Nick Punto and Adam Wainwright.
The players remaining in major league camp include 26 of the players on the 40-man roster plus 19 non-roster invitee players. The NRI group is made up of 10 pitchers and nine position players.
Full and up-to-date spring camp rosters, both major and minor league versions, can be seen at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
The Cardinal Nation subscribers can also view full minor league spring training game schedules here.
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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