Cardinals release RHP Mitch Harris

RHP Mitch Harris announced this morning that he has been released by the St. Louis Cardinals with a post on Instagram. The team confirmed it later in the day.

Today was my last day as a St. Louis Cardinal. I couldn’t be more proud of the time I’ve spent with this organization. They believed in my when others didn’t. They provided me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and to that I say thank you! Today marks the end of my time with the Cardinals but the beginning to another journey. I don’t know what God’s plan is but I know I’m excited for it. Thank you Cardinal Nation for your unending support! Thank you to the coaches for pushing me to become the pitcher they knew I could be. Thank you most of all to my teammates. I’ll cherish all our time together and most importantly our friendships. It was an honor to wear the “birds on the bat” … Thank you!

Aka LT

Harris, 31, was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2008 draft out of the United States Naval Academy. Due to his military service commitment and unable to get an early release from his service (as NFL players had been able to do), it would be until 2013 before Harris would see a professional mound for his minor league debut. Yet the Cardinals held onto him.

In 2015, the Cardinals called Harris up and he would make his Major League debut in Milwaukee, allowing two hits, two walks, and striking out one in 1.1 innings of work. When he did that, he became the first Naval Academy graduate to pitch in the Major Leagues since 1921. Harris would spend three cups of coffee with the the Cardinals that year, posting a 3.67 ERA and 1.59 WHIP over 27 innings of work.

He would arrive to camp in 2016 as one of the players in the running for a bullpen spot, but arm soreness would derail his spring. In June he opted to have “UCL reconstruction,” a procedure pioneered by Dr. George Paletta and also undergone by former Cardinals’ teammate Seth Maness. Maness has 1.50 ERA in 6 innings for the Royals triple-A affiliate this season.

Harris would throw two innings in spring training and start the season on the disabled list as he worked to regain strength. He would also make two appearances this season for Memphis between disabled list trips, most recent being a 1-2-3 inning on April 16th.

When he was informed of his release, he was preparing to take another bullpen session as he worked towards returning to the mound. He told the Post-Dispatch that he is one to two weeks from being back to game ready.

Weaver and Harris optioned to minors

The Cardinals continued trimming their roster today, announcing that pitchers Luke Weaver and Mitch Harris have been optioned to minor league camp. That reduces the number of players in major league camp to 51.

Luke Weaver, 23, dominated the minors last season, posting a 1.30 ERA over 13 starts between Double-A Spingfield and Triple-A Memphis. However, he struggled to find traction in the Majors when called up to step into the Cardinals’ rotation last summer, posting a 5.70 ERA over 8 starts, 1 relief appearance, and 36 innings.

He was likely always going to be ticketed to open the season in Memphis and was more or less jockeying for a position on the depth chart for a midseason callup. But he will need to continue to work, as this spring he struggled in his 4 appearances for the big league club, posting a 12.60 ERA on a 3.00 WHIP in 5 innings.

Mitch Harris, 31, did not pitch last season for the Cardinals after undergoing UCL reconstruction surgery. In 2015, he had a 3.67 ERA on a 1.59 WHIP over 27 innings in St. Louis and a 3.38 ERA on a 1.50 WHIP over 27 innings in Memphis.

Harris made just two appearances for the big league club this year, posting a 9.00 ERA and 3.00 WHIP over 2 innings of work. He will likely start the season in Memphis again and be on the list for a midseason callup in the need of relief help.

Cardinals promote Garcia and Scruggs

Just a day after talking about how any offensive reinforcements we can call up from Memphis probably won’t create that much of effect, John Mozeliak indicates he had to try something anyway and added first baseman Xavier Scruggs and infielder Greg Garcia to the Major League roster. Headed back to Memphis are catcher Ed Easley and relief pitcher Mitch Harris.

In theory, this will help solidify the Cardinals’ bench and give Mike Matheny more options while he constructs lineups on a nightly basis.

Since Matt Adams went on the disabled list, Pete Kozma has been the Cardinals’ only bench infielder. So basically he’s been acting as the backup at second base, shortstop, and third base. He’s also seen a little time at first base and in left field. While Kozma is retained by the team simply because he’s the only one that can play a defensively plus shortstop in the organization, were anything to happen to Jhonny Peralta, he is hitting just .098/.164/.098 so far this season.

While Greg Garcia may not be able to handle shortstop on an everyday basis for the Cardinals, he won’t be asked to do that and can fill in at third and second. He’s been having a stellar season in Memphis too, hitting .313/.405/.369 over 61 games so far, and .347 over the last month.

Garcia made a couple trips to St. Louis last season. Combined he went 2-for-14 and was hit by more pitches (3), including a walk off HBP against the Cubs, than he had hits (2).

Xavier Scruggs is the other guy and I discussed him at length yesterday. Scruggs is hitting .251/.363/.488 with 11 home runs over 60 games this season. He is also hitting .339 so far in June. Hopefully some of that heat will carry over to the Majors, but unless he hits the ground running, it’s going to be awfully difficult to say that he deserves to take playing time away from Reynolds. Reynolds, while he has lacked his overall thump, is about the only Cardinals’ regular doing anything positive with the bat in June.

The move itself is good to see if for no other reason than it will hopefully quell the frustration I read every night on Twitter. The success or failure of it will depend on Matheny actually giving these guys opportunities to play.

Easley is the position player going back to Memphis, but he only had three plate appearances in the three weeks or so he was with the big league club. For Scruggs and Garcia, that won’t do it. They will need to play more often. If only to keep the infield fresh.