In preparation for Friday’s roster-setting deadline in advance of December 10th’s Rule 5 Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals added eight players to their 40-man roster. Noted is the year each player first signed with the Cardinals, his age at the time and highest level attained in the Cardinals system.
Only one of these eight was not ranked among our Top 40 Cardinals prospects last winter, Norrick, who raised his stock considerably this season.
Craig, 25, was named the Cardinals’ Minor League Player of the Year for 2009 after batting .322 with 26 home runs and 83 RBI for the Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A). Jones, 22, posted a .279 average for Double-A Springfield after being named the organization’s Player of the Year in 2008.
Ottavino, 24, the organization’s top draft pick in 2006, was 7-12 with a 4.75 ERA for Memphis. Norrick, a native of Festus, Missouri, was drafted in 2006 (sixth round) out of SIU-Carbondale. Samuel, 22, ranked second among Texas League relievers with 22 saves for Springfield, fanning 59 batters in his 47 2/3 innings pitched.
Anderson, 22, batted .245 for Memphis; Hamilton, 25, combined for 14 home runs between Springfield and Memphis while hitting .307 overall. Jay, 24, averaged .281 with Memphis and stole 20 bases.
The 2009 regular season ended with the Cardinals’ 40-man at 39. It dropped to 26 following the declaration of free agency by nine players and removal of four others from the roster. Joe Thurston and Matt Scherer remain with the organization while Jarrett Hoffpauir (claimed by Toronto) and Brad Thompson (released) are gone.
Wednesday’s addition of the eight players brings the current roster back up to 34. That allows the Cardinals room to add up to six additional players. They could be veteran free agents at such positions as reserve catcher, starting left fielder, outfield reserve, starting pitcher and relief pitcher. The Cardinals also have flexibility to potentially select a Rule 5 player left unprotected by another organization.
In addition, if required later on, the Cardinals could also clear several additional roster spots by outrighting players currently on the 40-man. Examples might include Matt Pagnozzi, Nick Stavinoha and Josh Kinney. In doing so, the risk is that the player could be claimed by another organization as recently occurred with Hoffpauir.
Among the numerous position players left unprotected are outfielders Mark Shorey and Amaury Cazana and infielders Donovan Solano and Jose Martinez. Pitchers eligible for the Rule 5 Draft include Mike Parisi, Mark McCormick, Trey Hearne, Gary Daley Jr. and Shearer.
Leaving these or any other players unprotected is a calculated risk. A Rule 5 drafted player must remain on the 25-man active roster of the claiming team during the entire subsequent season or be offered back to the original club.
Last winter, the Cardinals protected just two additional players, infielder Tyler Greene and Scherer. The latter proved to be a mistake as unprotected Springfield reliever Luis Perdomo, acquired in the summer of 2008 in return for Anthony Reyes, was selected by San Diego and remained active there all season. Scherer did not threaten making the majors before being removed from the 40-man this fall.
For TheCardinalNation.com/Scout.com subscribers: In my recent Rule 5 protection prediction article, you may recall I highlighted nine players as candidates for protection. The list included all eight eventually chosen by the Cardinals, plus Parisi. The latter has been pitching in the Arizona Fall League as part of his comeback from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery late in the 2008 season.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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