Cards make last roster move before Rule 5 Draft

During the press conference for Mike Matheny’s extension, John Mozeliak informed us that Oscar Taveras, Mike O’Neill, and Greg Garcia had been added to the 40 man roster. They also removed John Gast and Jermaine Curtis, while Ryan Jackson was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros. The moves mean that there are still 36 players on the 40 man roster, leaving room for a draft acquisition, a trade, or free agent signings.

Oscar Taveras, 21, is widely viewed as the best hitting prospect in baseball. He spent most of last season fighting a nagging ankle injury. He is expected by many to contend for a spot on the Opening Day roster for the Cardinals, if not start in center field this coming season. He hit .306/.341/.462 with 5 HR over 46 games for Triple-A Memphis last season.

Mike O’Neill, 25, was a name that I hadn’t heard before. He was a 31st round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2010. O’Neill has hit at every level of the minors and split last season between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. He posted a .314/.424/.369 slash line with 2 HR in 130 games.

Greg Garcia, 24, has been Kolten Wong’s double play buddy since college, as they both went to the University of Hawai’i. A long shot to stick at shortstop, it’s been said of Garcia that he probably would have moved to second base on every team he’s been on if not for Wong. Garcia struggled a bit with the jump to Triple-A, but still posted a solid season with a .271/.377/.384 line with 3 HR in 116 games.

On the other side, the Cardinals did remove John Gast and Jermaine Curtis from the 40 man roster.

Gast, 24, got his first taste of major league action this season before a shoulder injury ended his season. He had been off to a hot start in Triple-A Memphis, starting the season with 32 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. He was 2-0 with a 5.15 ERA in 3 starts for the big league club.

Curtis, 26, got a chance in the majors this year with the Cardinals after a hot start, but he failed to record a hit in five plate appearances. He was a 5th round pick from 2008 for the Cardinals, but has never been one of their top prospects. He wrapped up the 2013 season with a line of .257/.355/.349 with 5 HR over 115 games.

And finally, the Houston Astros claimed Ryan Jackson off of waivers, prompting the typical response, “Of course they did!” The Astros, of course, are led by the Cardinals’ former player development director Jeff Luhnow. Jackson, 25, never caught on with the Cardinals after being described as a quality glove man who may also bring a bat to the table. But in two opportunities with the Cardinals he didn’t get much playing time or opportunity. Though he did finally get to play his first major league game at shortstop this year.

As a result of the moves, Gast and Curtis are now eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft. While neither is expected to be drafted, if I were the GM of a losing team I’d take Gast in a heartbeat. He profiles to be a quality left handed pitcher and once he gets through this elbow injury, give him the chance to rehab, and who knows. Worst case scenario, you spend $25,000 for a reclamation project that didn’t pan out.

I can’t really see a downside to it.

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