The St. Louis Cardinals cut ten players following Monday’s spring training contest. 40-man roster players optioned out are first baseman Mark Hamilton, catcher Tony Cruz and reliever Blake King. Non-roster players reassigned are third baseman Matt Carpenter, outfielder Shane Robinson and pitchers Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, John Gast, Brandon Dickson and Raul Valdes.
Position players cut
Carpenter, 25, joins minor league camp after batting .340 (17-for-50) including three doubles, three triples and seven RBI. The left-handed hitter fanned seven times and walked six. Carpenter has yet to appear in a Triple-A game, but showed very well in camp.
Hamilton is a valuable first baseman, but remains blocked by his defensive inflexibility and the presence of Albert Pujols. The 26-year-old hit just .222 (10-for-45), but smacked three home runs and drove in seven during spring camp.
Robinson was removed from the 40-man roster in November coming off an injury-plagued 2010. Though he saw limited action, the 26-year-old had nine hits in 28 at-bats (.321), including a pair of doubles.
Cruz, 24, is the last true catcher to be cut, outlasting more highly-touted prospect Bryan Anderson. The right-handed hitter batted just .158 in camp (3-for-19) with seven strikeouts, but drew compliments for his work behind the plate.
Lynn, the organization’s 2009 Pitcher of the Year, was in contention for the open fifth starter position, at least on paper. The 23-year-old right-hander started two games and relieved in two others. He allowed six earned runs in 11 innings for a 4.91 ERA. Lynn struck out nine, issued four walks and held opposing hitters to a collective .225 average.
Dickson, 26, was The Cardinal Nation’s Pitcher of the Year in 2010, but like Lynn, is not on the 40-man roster and lost out in the starting derby. The right-hander appeared in three “A” games, including one start. Dickson yielded six earned runs in nine innings for an ERA anyone can calculate.
Kelly, 22, struggled with his control in camp, walking ten in eight innings. The right-hander was charged with eight earned runs for a 9.00 ERA. Opposing hitters batted .400 against Kelly, who pitched for Class A Quad Cities in 2010.
The left-hander Gast drew raves for his pickoff move, but also was effective, allowing just one run in 6 1/3 innings over five outings. However, he was touched for a .375 average and walked more, six, than he struck out, four. The 22-year-old pitched in short-season ball with Batavia last summer, so made a huge step just to remain in major league camp this long.
Valdes was signed as a minor league free agent after pitching for the New York Mets last season. The left-hander can start or relieve, getting one start and three spring relief appearances. The 33-year-old allowed nine runs, six earned, over 5 2/3 innings for a 9.53 ERA. Opposing hitters batted .419 against him.
King, the only true reliever among the group, was added to the 40-man roster in November. The 23-year-old right-hander finished his 4.50 ERA spring with a scoreless inning against Washington on Monday. King yielded four runs in eight innings over seven games. Enemy batters managed just a .174 average against him, but his strikeout to walk ratio was only 6/6. King is expected to make his Triple-A debut to start the season.
With the moves, the Cardinals now have 30 players in major league camp. The players remaining in major league camp include 28 of the players on the 40-man roster including injured players Adam Wainwright and Nick Punto plus two non-roster invitee players. The NRI group is down to reliever Miguel Batista and outfielder Nick Stavinoha.
Bryan Augenstein, Batista, Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez remain in contention for two bullpen spots. Despite being able to catch, Stavinoha unseating Allen Craig for a reserve outfield spot seems a long shot. With Carpenter being optioned out, Daniel Descalso has apparently made the club as an infield reserve while Punto starts the season on the disabled list.
Augenstein, acquired via an off-season waiver claim from Arizona, has been impressive in his eight innings, allowing just one run. The 24-year-old’s strikeout to walk ratio is 9/3 and opposing hitters are batting just .111 against him. A starter by heritage, the right-hander could be a long man.
Batista, 40, was ejected from Monday’s game for hitting Washington’s Ian Desmond. The right-hander is carrying a 2.45 spring ERA, having allowed two earned runs in 7 1/3 innings. Batista’s strikeout to walk ratio is an unimpressive 3/4.
Salas, who was up and down to Memphis six times last season, has allowed just one hit, four walks and no runs in 8 1/3 spring frames. The 25-year-old right-hander from Mexico has posted a microscopic .034 batting average against this spring.
Sanchez, our 4th-ranked Cardinals prospect, has only 27 innings of Triple-A experience and is almost half Batista’s age at 22. This spring, the right-hander has spun six scoreless on just two hits. Sanchez struck out five and walked only one.
Full and up-to-date spring camp rosters, both major and minor league versions, can be seen at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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