Meet the NRIs: C J.R. Towles

Justin Robert Towles, or better known as J.R. Towles, is probably best known to Cardinals’ fans as the backup catcher for the Houston Astros. Despite being drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2002 and 2003, Towles returned to school until drafted by the Astros in the 20th round of the 2004 draft.

Towles’ highlight game came against the Cardinals on September 20, 2007, where he posted the Astros franchise record 8 RBI after being in the majors for all of about two weeks. That game included him hitting his first career home run off of Aaron Miles in an 18-1 blowout. From there, however, his career has struggled to take off.

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Meet the NRIs: C Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson began his professional career as a fourth round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 2004 draft. He attended Saddleback College in California before transferring to the University of Houston where he played one season before entering the MLB Draft in 2004.

In the 2005 season, between A and high A ball, he posted a .280/.332/.432 slash line. The organization noticed and he earned the jump to Triple-A Tacoma the next season. He may have been promoted before he was ready though as he struggled with a line of .231/.261/.318. Over the next two seasons with Tacoma, his Triple-A numbers improved, posting a line of .305/.363/.441 with 9 HR in 2008.

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McClellan released, Johnson signed

It’s the end of the road in a Cardinals uniform for Kyle McClellan. Officially, anyway. We knew it for quite some time. In fact, even McClellan knew it, saying when he had surgery this summer that he figured his time with the organization was over.

GM John Mozeliak informed McClellan of his release today, a week ahead of the team’s deadline to tender offers to it’s arbitration eligible pitchers. McClellan, 28, is one of those players. There were a combination of factors that led to this point.

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