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.
He was expected to be the Astros’ primary backstop in 2008, but found himself headed to Triple-A by June after hitting .145 through the first two months of the season. He bounced back and forth for the rest of the season and then did so the next few years. After being cut loose by Houston after the 2011 season, he played last year for the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester. He hit .214/.280/.315 in 52 games.
Towles isn’t expected to do much beyond minor league depth. He and Rob Johnson are likely to battle each other for the starting job in Memphis to fill a hole in the system. Both should be an advantage for the young pitching the Cardinals’ have.
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.
In 2009, he spent the entire year in the majors with Seattle after cups of coffee in 2007 and 2008. He posted a slash line of .213/.289/.326 with 2 HR and 27 RBI in 80 games. After the season he would have two hip surgeries and a wrist surgery, similar to the hip surgeries that Alex Rodriguez has recently undergone. Continue reading
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.
McClellan’s arm has caused him issues for the past year, culminating in a labrum repair in July. MLB rules prohibit McClellan’s salary from dropped more than 20%, meaning he would have been due at least $2 million this offseason. The team acquired Edward Mujica at the trade deadline and took the reins of the 7th inning role that was to be McClellan’s this year. And finally, the team could use that $2 million elsewhere this offseason as they are projected to once again surpass the $110 million mark in Opening Day payroll.