Make that five more down, not two, and eleven to go. In other words, with less than two weeks remaining before Opening Day, the St. Louis Cardinals still need to shed just short of a dozen players to make their 25-man roster target.
The latest five cuts were communicated on Sunday, bringing the total number of players on-hand in the major league camp to 36. Joining pitcher Randy Keisler and outfielder Rick Ankiel (story link) in being sent to minor league camp were three other players. Outfielders Ryan Ludwick, Miguel Negron and right-handed reliever Andy Cavazos have joined the Memphis (Triple-A) squad.
Ryan Ludwick seemed to do everything asked of him, but was a victim of a crowded outfield competition. The 28-year-old was the club’s leading hitter this spring, batting .435 (10-for-23) including three doubles. He collected three RBIs in the process. Ludwick signed with the Cardinals in December as a free agent after batting .266 with 26 home runs and 82 RBIs for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens in the Detroit system in 2006. Ludwick has 334 career Major League at-bats with Cleveland and Texas, with a career MLB line of .237/.299/.426 (BA/OBP/SLG).
Miguel Negron, a former first-round selection of the Toronto Blue Jays, also signed with the Cards in December after being let go by the Chicago Cubs. He played at the Double-A level last season. In Spring Training, Negron struggled with the bat, with just four singles in 24 at-bats (.167) and struck out six times. However, the 24-year-old also demonstrated an ability to draw a walk, with seven free passes, good for a .355 on-base percentage.
2007 will represent Andy Cavazos’ fifth season in the Cardinals system after he pitched in the Texas Rangers organization previously. The 26-year-old right-handed reliever was added to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster in October following a successful 2006 campaign between Springfield and Memphis. He also pitched in winter ball in Mexico. This spring, Cavazos posted a 3.86 ERA in seven innings over seven Major League games, fanning four and walking four more.
Dennis Dove and Kelvin Jimenez are the two remaining pitching surprises - minor leaguers with no MLB experience still in camp. However, they are part of a scrum of 17 players for likely 12 jobs, meaning their odds remain long.
On the position player side, even with the possibility seemingly growing daily that Juan Encarnacion may start the season on the disabled list due to his slow recovery from wrist surgery and Jim Edmonds’ readiness not assured, 17 other players are fighting for just 13 jobs.
Longer-shots remaining in camp include infielders Tagg Bozied, Jolbert Cabrera and Edgar Gonzalez plus catcher/utilityman Eli Marrero. Others seemingly fighting for two or three jobs at most include veterans John Rodriguez, So Taguchi and Preston Wilson plus youngster Skip Schumaker.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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