Kelly among cuts as Cardinals further trim spring roster

The Cardinals announced today that they have optioned catcher Carson Kelly and pitcher Mike Mayers to minor league camp, as well as assigned infielder Patrick Wisdom and outfielder Adolis Garcia. The moves leave 37 players remaining in major league camp including 9 non-roster invitees.

Kelly, 22, is at the center of everyone’s attention these days as the organization nears a potential extension with Yadier Molina. Kelly, the #1 catching prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, is considered to be Molina’s eventual replacement with his path to the Majors being complicated by such an extension.

Kelly hit .286/.387/.455 between Springfield and Memphis last season and was 2-for-13 in a brief appearance in St. Louis last September.

With Molina playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, Kelly got an opportunity to see more time working with the big league club in spring training. Unfortunately, he struggled at the plate, hitting just .182/.300/.182 over 16 games. He will be the everyday starter in Memphis as he waits for an opportunity behind Molina.

Mayers, 24, got his first opportunity in St. Louis last season as he was called up to make a start for the Cardinals. But over one start and four relief appearances, Mayers was hammered, allowing 16 earned runs over just 5 innings. Otherwise, he pitched well in the minors, posting a 3.19 ERA over 25 starts and 144 innings between Memphis and Springfield.

It was going to be difficult for Mayers to do any worse that he had last season with the big league club, but he rebounded nicely. Over 11 innings of work in 7 apperances, Mayers had a 1.64 ERA on a 1.00 WHIP. He is likely headed for what is shaping up to be a stacked rotation in Memphis.

Wisdom, 25, hit .233/.303/.374 with 5 home runs last season with Memphis in a disappointing season. He had hit 43 home runs over the previous three seasons. He hit .300/.405/.667 with 3 home runs this spring with the big league club. It was an impressive start to a player who should be knocking on the door and is about to get some pressure from behind in the organization. He heads into 2017 as Memphis’ third baseman.

Garcia, 24, was just signed by the Cardinals and has only been in camp and eligible to play in Grapefruit League games for a little over a week now. He went 2-for-13 with a walk and three stolen bases in his brief time with the big league club. He is expected to begin the season in the Memphis outfield.

Cardinals sign Cuban outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia

The Cardinals announced tonight that they have signed Cuban outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia to a minor league deal with a $2.5 million signing bonus. Garcia, who turns 24 next week, will also get an invitation to Major League camp to work with the big league staff. He will join the team in camp immediately and will be assigned the #75.

In the 2015-16 season, Garcia played for his hometown Tigres de Ciego de Avila in Cuba’s National Series and hit .315/.395/.517 with 14 home runs while inning MVP honors and leading his team to the championship. He briefly played for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, but from what I can tell went 0-for-7 over 4 games. He also has some international experience, including hitting three home runs as well as a walk off winner in the bronze medal game of the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The general opinion seems to be that there is still work to be done for Garcia before he’s ready to see the Major Leagues. But signing him and bringing him to big league camp indicates how highly the organization thinks of him.

He is a toolsy player who brings speed and a good throwing arm to the outfield which has him considered capable of playing all three outfield positions. Before that MVP winning season for Ciego de Avila, Garcia was considered the #20 Cuban prospect by Baseball America.

Garcia does not count as an international signing because he was granted free agency by Major League Baseball last September, given his age and his experience.

His older brother, Adonis Garcia, currently plays for the Atlanta Braves.