Cardinals make first cuts

The St. Louis Cardinals made their first cuts of spring training today, sending catchers Adam Ehrlich and Jesus Montero, along with infielder Starlin Rodriguez to minor league camp. The team may make additional cuts over the next couple days with minor league spring training expected to begin March 6th.

Ehrlich has appeared in 3 games and has walked in both of his plate appearances. Montero has appeared once and struck out in his only plate appearance. Rodriguez has gotten the most playing time, appearing in three games going 1-for-4 with a double.

The move leaves 55 players remaining in camp, you can check to see who is left on my Spring Roster page.

Meet the NRIs: C Cody Stanley

Back from a 50 game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, Cody Stanley received an invite to Spring Training thanks to being a catcher. Stanley, 24, was a fourth round pick out of the 2010 MLB Draft out of UNC-Wilmington. Scout.com lists him as the Cardinals’ #26 prospect.

He played last year mostly in Palm Beach where he put up a .280/.300/.401 line in 45 games after returning from suspension. His plate discipline seems to be questionable as he walked just six times in 180 plate appearances last year. He’s said to have average tools with athleticism being his best attribute. He’s also been called very raw and an eager learner.

Stanley seems to have everything you’d need to put together a long career, but can he put all those tools together in a package that teams want? That’s my question about Stanley. He wouldn’t play for me though without a better batting eye.

Meet the NRIs: 2B Starlin Rodriguez

Starlin Rodriguez is a switch hitting second baseman from the Dominican Republic. He actually originally signed for the 2009 season with the Tampa Bay Rays and played 8 games for them in the Dominican Summer League before he failed a physical and the team voided his contract. That led to him being signed that fall by the Cardinals.

Last year in Palm Beach for the Cardinals he hit .300/.373/.442 with 8 HR and 48 RBI in 114 games. Over his four seasons in the minors he’s hit .293/.364/.419. It’s probably good enough to get the jump to Double-A ball. The team obviously thinks enough of him to bring him to major league camp, perhaps in the hopes that it’ll help his learning curve being around veteran players.

He’s a guy that doesn’t get a lot of press, but comes across as a very toolsy player who could be very good if he can bring it all together. He is 23 years old, so he doesn’t have much time for setbacks. And he is about to make what I feel is the key jump in the minor leagues, from A ball to AA. He just needs to keep progressing and maybe he could make Kolten Wong‘s life interesting in a couple years if he puts it together.

Too bad he doesn’t play shortstop.

Cardinals extend Mozeliak and Matheny

The Cardinals announced today that they have signed General Manager John Mozeliak to a three year extension that will run through the 2016 season. Also, they have picked up the option year on Mike Matheny‘s contract which keeps him the skipper of the team through 2014.

Mozeliak inherited a 78 win team in 2007, a team that was mostly aging stars on offense and was missing Chris Carpenter. Since then, the team has had five straight winning seasons, one of just two teams to have accomplished that (Yankees being the other). His teams have also gone to two straight National League Championship Series’ and the future still seems as bright as ever.

Matheny will be entering his sophomore season as manager and led the team to an 88-74 record last season. He managed a team that lost Albert Pujols to free agency, as well as Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman for most of the year with injury and still finished just two games worse than the Cardinals’ did the year before. He also had the Cardinals one win away from a second straight World Series trip. Continue reading

Meet the NRIs: C Jesus Montero

No, not the Jesus Montero who was a Baseball America top-10 prosect for the Yankees and then traded to the Mariners. That’s his older brother. No, really. We’ve got the little brother. This Jesus Montero, 21, signed with the Cardinals in 2007 as a free agent out of Venezuela.

Being just 21, Montero still has plenty time to develop his tools. Last year he split time between Quad Cities and Batavia and put together a combined line of .287/.360/.434, 4 HR, and 25 RBI in 43 games. Though he struggled in his 10 games in Quad Cities. He shows some defensive ability, throwing out 37% of base stealers in his minor league career. He was also a New York Penn league All Star last year.

This will be his fourth year playing in the US after two years playing in the Venezuelan Summer League and then a year in the Dominican Summer League. If he can keep up those hitting numbers, it should only be a matter of time before he breaks a major league roster. But he’s done all that at A ball and below. His real litmus test is yet to come.

Meet the NRIs: C Adam Ehrlich

The Cardinals’ 6th round pick of the 2011 MLB Draft was catcher Adam Ehrlich. Ehrlich, who turned 20 in December, has yet to jump above rookie ball. He put up impressive numbers last season though, posting a line of .329/.404/.409 with 1 HR and 14 RBI in 42 games.

Now that can mean a few things from he is highly skilled to him simply being more advanced than the pitchers he was facing. All that is possible, but some still say that he may be the best catching prospect in the Cardinals’ system. Scout.com ranked him as the #34 prospect for the organization.

While his bat may still be suspect (I read that his BABIP last year was .400), being in big league camp and getting the opportunity to catch some veteran pitchers can only be a benefit for him. Hopefully he’s got his eyes open, watching and learning from the other catchers who are in camp.

You can find Adam on Twitter at @BigAEhrlich.