Cards Minor Leaguers: Who and Where Are They?

Bryan Martinez

Checking in on a dozen St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

As the St. Louis Cardinals' three US-based short-season clubs get their 2011 seasons underway this week, the status of several players appeared up in the air. In other words, they are missing from initial rosters or are in different places than first expected. In addition, some unfamiliar names appeared.

The purpose of this article is to report on 12 of them.

Scott Bittle: Reliever, Gulf Coast League. Amid a checkered past that including shoulder surgery and decreased velocity, the Cardinals' fourth-round pick in 2009 will finally make his regular season professional debut, two years after having been drafted.

No longer a starting pitcher as he was at Ole Miss, the right-hander is being asked to compete at the lowest level possible, the Gulf Coast League. Almost all of his teammates will be Latin American teenagers and high school draftees. Surely the next step will either be to move up quickly or out.

Justin Edwards: Reliever, Batavia. Though not on the Muckdogs' opening roster, the 23-year-old left-hander should be activated very soon as he completes his recovery from a minor injury. The Cardinals' 28th-rounder in the 2009 draft was a New York-Penn League All-Star for manager Dann Bilardello's club last season.

David Bergin: Outfielder, 30th round draft pick, Johnson City. On draft day, the major reporting entities, including the Cardinals themselves, listed the former two-way star from Tennessee Wesleyan College as a right-handed pitcher. That is not how he will be used. Bergin is an outfielder with Johnson City and the Cardinals have no plans for him to pitch professionally.

Madrigal
Drew Madrigal: Pitcher, 35th round draft pick, Batavia. The right-hander from California Baptist was announced as signed on June 13 and reported. After doing so, Madrigal apparently had second thoughts and returned home. He is considered retired, though the Cardinals retain his rights should he have third thoughts.

The action reduces the number of active signees from the 2011 draft from 28 to 27.

Brad Watson, Starter, 37th round draft pick, GCL. When the Cardinals announced their first 27 signings last week, they listed the 6-foot-4 righty as a member of Johnson City. That was an error as Watson is in the GCL rotation instead.

Michael Knox: First baseman, GCL. Like Watson, Knox was mistakenly announced in the press release as a Johnson City Cardinal instead of a Gulf Coast Leaguer. Our rosters and player profiles here are correct.

Bryan Martinez: Starting pitcher, GCL. If you are like me, you had to wonder why the right-hander was not challenged by moving to a higher level to start the season. It turns out that Martinez has weakness in his shoulder that will temporarily keep him out of action. Though the Gulf Coast League does not have a disabled list, Martinez will remain in the Cardinals' rehab facility in Jupiter, Florida until ready.

The next three players are in a similar situation. They are on their respective club's DL, rehabbing injuries in Florida. Unlike Martinez, none should be expected back anytime soon.

Jean Mijares, Reliever, Batavia DL. The minor league Rule 5 pickup from last December will have to wait to make his Cardinals debut. The 23-year-old left-hander remains out due to his shoulder.

Jeff Nadeau, Reliever, Johnson City DL. Ditto for this left-hander. Shoulder problems mean the 22-year-old is not ready to answer the short-season bell.

Bob Revesz, Reliever, Johnson City DL. Another 22-year-old lefty, another DL stint to open the season.

Especially with all the injured arms, healthy pitchers are needed. Two new recruits have shown up in Johnson City.

Eric Binder, Reliever, Johnson City. The 24-year-old right-hander signed a free agent contract as the result of a recommendation from minor league pitching instructor Brent Strom. The 6-foot-6 hurler played for Northwestern University in 2006-07 before transferring to Division III Trinity University, where he pitched in 2009-10. In his final season, Binder pitched just 8 2/3 innings, allowing nine runs and a 12:13 strikeout to walk ratio. His junior year ERA was not much better at 7.35.

Logan Billbrough, Reliever, Johnson City. The former William and Mary hurler signed a free agent deal with the Cardinals. The right-hander was the Colonial Athletic Association Co-Pitcher of the Year as a senior as he led the conference with a 2.58 ERA, 97 2/3 innings pitched and 105 strikeouts.

Related article: "Cardinals Short-Season Minor League Rotations"

Shawn Kerrick also contributed to this report.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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