All posts by Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.

Cardinals Announce 12 Summer Camp South Additions

photo: Nolan Gorman with Tre Fletcher behind (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

When St. Louis Cardinals Summer Camp opened, manager Mike Shildt sketched out a tentative portion of his overall schedule as it relates to the organization’s alternate camp, Summer Camp South, in Springfield, MO.

  • Friday, July 11 or Sunday, July 12: Roster cuts
  • Monday, July 13: Scheduled camp day off
  • Tuesday, July 14 Summer Camp South opens

In terms of players, the Cardinals have already named 48 of their 60 allowable players in the 2020 pool. The group in Springfield will include cuts from St. Louis as the team narrows down to its 30 active players for Opening Day on July 24, plus as many as 12 additional invitees.

The players sent down from St. Louis will be joined by three coaches, Jose Oquendo will be leading Summer Camp South, assisted by minor league pitching coordinator Tim Leveque and hitting coordinator Russ Steinhorn. Former catcher and current Johnson City manager Roberto Espinoza will be joining them in Springfield.

On Wednesday evening, six days before Summer Camp South was scheduled to begin, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak offered additional information to the media via Zoom. It started with an update to the working schedule and included the final 12 names.

Schedule change

Due to the testing delays over last weekend and wanting to avoid next weekend for the necessary testing lead and two-day quarantine time, the start of Summer Camp South has been pushed out two days, to Thursday, July 16. The St. Louis cuts will not occur until at least Monday, July 13 and the day off remains to be determined.

“We are delaying that a couple of days,” Mozeliak said, referring to the start of Summer Camp South. “We will now open on the 16th.”

“The purpose of that is just to try to avoid any of the prior weekend testing issues that we experienced here. Also given the fact that we had some question marks about this camp and then we are hoping to add three more here shortly (previously announced as Zack Thompson, Seth Elledge and Rob Kaminsky), I thought we will have enough protection here, and ultimately open that camp (Springfield) and let baseball begin there.”

John Mozeliak via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Mozeliak also added that they plan to keep Summer Camp South “open as long as possible.” However, exceptions will be considered for participants who want to take classes in the fall term.

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced 12 players will be invited to their Alternate Training Site located at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo., home of the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate Springfield Cardinals.

Among the 12 players invited are 2020 first round selection 3B Jordan Walker and second round selection SS/RHP Masyn Winn.

Jordan Walker

Matthew Liberatore, a left-handed pitcher acquired by the Cardinals via trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, will be at the Alternate Training Site, as well as his high school rival and friend 3B Nolan Gorman, the Cardinals first round selection in 2018.

Nine of the players reporting to Springfield also took part in 2020 Major League Spring Training in Jupiter, Fla.  Also taking part in the Alternate Training Camp will be 19-year old outfielder Tre Fletcher, the Cardinals second round selection in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft.

Trejyn Fletcher

“Now that we have completed our intake process at our St. Louis Summer Camp we will now begin the process of opening our camp in Springfield,” said St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak.  “We will have a balance of players who we feel can protect our Major League roster along with players we deem as prospects. We will follow the identical protocols in Springfield that we do here in St. Louis.”

The 12 players are scheduled to report on Sunday, July 12 and will begin workouts on Thursday, July 16.  The addition of these 12 players will bring the Cardinals to a combined 60 players participating in their primary St. Louis Cardinals Summer Camp and at their Alternate Training Site.

Invites to the Alternate Training Site in Springfield:

POS.      NAME

RHP       Nabil Crismatt
OF          Tre Fletcher
3B          Nolan Gorman
LHP       Matthew Liberatore
INF        Evan Mendoza
3B          Malcom Nunez
RHP       Roel Ramírez
C             Julio Rodríguez
RHP       Angel Rondón
RHP       Alvaro Seijas
3B          Jordan Walker
SS/RHP   Masyn Winn


Other Mo notes

Mozeliak commented that with as many as 34 players in Summer Camp South, they can play intrasquad games. They will not push too fast as the later 12 will be experiencing their first baseball in a few months. The camp will be creative, while knowing they cannot replicate a regular season.

On Trejyn Fletcher – “He needs to play baseball.”

On including 2020 draft picks – “Get drafted players into the ebb and flow of pro ball.” Does not know yet if there will be an Instructional League (so this may be the only opportunity this season).

On Jordan Walker – “Will get a look at third base.” “Getting into baseball rhythm.”

On Masyn Winn – “Will allow him access to both positions (shortstop and pitching).”

Masyn Winn

On Tink Hence (2020 draftee not invited) – “It is just a matter of numbers. Could have argued for 65 of 70 (players active this season, but are limited to 60).


Brian Walton’s roster analysis

Here are the 12 newest invitees broken down by position and age as well as ranking in The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List. Also noted is their final level of play in 2019.

The final  12 Position Age Top 50 2019 level
Matthew Liberatore LHS 20 3 A
Angel Rondon RHS 22 10 AA
Alvaro Seijas RHS 21 24 AA
Nabil Crismatt RHP 25 NR AAA
Roel Ramirez RHR 25 NR AAA
Julio Rodriguez C 23 23 AA
Masyn Winn SS/RHP 18 12 HS
Evan Mendoza SS 24 32 AAA
Nolan Gorman 3B 20 2 A+
Jordan Walker 3B 18 7 HS
Malcom Nunez 3B 19 15 Rk Adv
Tre Fletcher OF 19 18 Rk Adv

5 ½ of the 12 are pitchers and 6 ½ are position players. As noted above, Winn has one foot firmly planted in each group.

The dozen include four members of TCN’s current top 10. Just two are unranked and only one, off-season free agent signee Nabil Crismatt, is a surprise to me. Then again, as Mozeliak noted, some of the players in camp are primarily there as St. Louis depth insurance. The 25-year old right-handed pitcher fits that bill.

Nabil Crismatt

Beyond Crismatt, the only other members of the 12 I did not predict (from my pre-camp article) are Evan Mendoza and Roel Ramirez. The Memphis shortstop and right-handed reliever, respectively, are other potential good St. Louis depth additions. In fact, the 24-year old Mendoza can also play first base and third and Ramirez, 25, is the only true relief pitcher in the group of six hurlers added. My trio of misses are not coincidentally the three oldest players of the 12.

Eight of the 12 finished 2019 in full season ball. The exceptions are high school draft picks Walker and Winn plus the Johnson City duo of third baseman Malcom Nuñez and outfielder Fletcher. All four are still teenagers.

Alvaro Seijas

Only Alvaro Seijas is currently on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster, a hurdle any player must first pass before making his St. Louis debut. Again not coincidentally, the right-hander is the longest tenured Cardinal of the 12, having signed as an international free agent five years ago, in July 2015.


For more

To view the Summer Camp South roster, click here. And to track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.

As manager Mike Shildt, PBO Mozeliak and selected players meet with the media after daily Summer Camp practices, summaries of their comments are posted on The Cardinal Nation’s free message board. (A userid is not required to read forum comments.)

St. Louis “Summer Camp” news

Mike Shildt via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals are Excited about 100 mph Arm Edwin Nuñez


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals Add Pitching Trio to Summer Camp

photo: Zack Thompson (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

As has been widely reported, the St. Louis Cardinals are running their first week of Summer Camp without their full complement of 22 pitchers.

One of the previously missing, Carlos Martinez, received the desired negative result from his inboard testing on Tuesday. However, the right-hander lost workout time because he was among the many whose Friday tests were not delivered to MLB’s lab until Monday.

Left-handers Genesis Cabrera and Ricardo Sanchez and third baseman Elehuris Montero previously tested positive. While asymptomatic, the trio remain out of camp until they pass the necessary protocol testing. Also absent are two right-handers – Giovanny Gallegos, who is home in Mexico, and Alex Reyes.

While the three who tested positive were not among my projected 30 to start the Major League season on St. Louis’ active roster, the other two are.

As reinforcements, the Cardinals added three non-roster pitchers to their Summer Camp roster on Tuesday, bringing the invited total to 48, 25 of whom call the mound home. The newest arrivals are lefties Zack Thompson and Rob Kaminsky and righty Seth Elledge.

This means the organization can add as many as 12 more players to their maximum pool of 60 eligible to participate in the 2020 season. They, along with upcoming cuts from St. Louis, are expected to report to Summer Camp South in Springfield, MO, which will open on July 14.

Zack Thompson

Despite being the furthest away from St. Louis in prior experience (High-A), Thompson was by far the most effective of this trio in spring camp and has the highest ceiling. St. Louis’ first-round draft pick in 2019 is The Cardinal Nation’s eighth-ranked prospect.

In 2019, Thompson made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, striking out four batters over two scoreless appearances. The former University of Kentucky star finished at Palm Beach, posting a 3.77 ERA in 12 games. He fanned 21 batters over 14 1/3 innings pitched.

In March camp, the 22-year old tossed three perfect innings with three strikeouts.

In case there is any doubt about the Cardinals intentions with Thompson, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak made it clear that Thompson is still projected to be on the Summer Camp South roster when the season begins.

Rob Kaminsky

Kaminsky, the former Cardinals prospect sent to Cleveland in trade, re-signed with the organization as a minor league free agent in December. The 25-year old was still in MLB spring camp when it was shut down, having been charged with two runs in three innings on four hits and four walks.

The New Jersey native was St. Louis’ first round draft pick in 2013 and remained in the Cardinals system until his trade to the Indians for outfielder Brandon Moss in July 2015. Kaminsky endured at least five stints on the injured list while Cleveland property, including missing almost all of the 2017 campaign. When he returned, Kaminsky was moved to the bullpen.

Kaminsky spent all of 2016 through the first half of 2019 at Double-A before finishing last season with the Tribe’s Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs, where he registered a 5.11 ERA in 23 appearances. He became a free agent following the season. With the Cardinals, Kaminsky was expected to serve as left-handed relief depth at Memphis.

Seth Elledge

Elledge is The Cardinal Nation’s 34th-ranked prospect. The 23-year old was invited to big-league camp this spring, but was among the first cuts, announced on March 7. (Among the others in that group were 40-man roster players Montero and Sanchez.) Elledge only threw one spring inning, yielding two runs on four hits and a walk.

Acquired from Seattle for Sam Tuivailala in the summer of 2018, Elledge used a solid first full season with the Cardinals organization to earn a 2019 Arizona Fall League invitation. Elledge split last summer between Triple-A Memphis and Double-A Springfield, compiling a 4.26 combined ERA in 47 games. The slider-fastball artist struck out 75 batters in 67 2/3 innings.

Elledge is a contender to be added to the 40-man roster and make his MLB debut either this season or next.


For more

To view the Summer Camp roster and to track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.

As manager Mike Shildt, PBO John Mozeliak and selected players meet with the media after daily Summer Camp practices, summaries of their comments are posted on The Cardinal Nation’s free message board. (A userid is not required to read forum comments.)

St. Louis “Summer Camp” news

John Mozeliak via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Single-Season Hit Leaders Since 1960


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mozeilak and Shildt Lay out Cardinals Summer Camp Details and More

photo: John Mozeliak, Mike Shildt (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

On Wednesday, July 1, St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and manager Mike Shildt separately met with the media via Zoom for approximately 30 and 40 minutes, respectively.

The primary focus is the team’s Summer Camp, which officially opens on Friday, July 3 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, however other topics were also fair game.

My initial summary of their remarks will be on minor league topics, with major league ones following, related to Summer Camp and the regular season.

Springfield – Summer Camp South

The camp in Springfield starting July 14 is being called “Summer Camp South,” which I will denote here in shorthand as “SCS”.

The SCS roster will be announced in 7-to-10 days. They are waiting to see all the Summer Camp test results first.

SCS may not open at full strength (60 pool players minus those in St. Louis). The organization may maintain some roster flexibility to add players later for (virus or injury) protection.

If the Cards do not expect the players will be needed for MLB protection, 2020 draftees could be among those invited to SCS.

A large Summer Camp roster reduction from the initial 45 players is expected on July 11 or 12. Those cut players (optioned out or reassigned to the minors) will join the new invitees arriving in Springfield for SCS.

Jose Oquendo (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Jose Oquendo as well as minor league pitching and hitting coordinators Tim Leveque and Russ Steinhorn are part of the Summer Camp staff, along with all of Shildt’s current coaches. All are in St. Louis.

The three coaches named will relocate to Springfield prior to SCS opening, with Oquendo in charge. Johnson City manager Roberto Espinoza will also be a coach for SCS and Memphis’ Dan Martin will be the trainer.

Asked about additional minor league development opportunities in 2020 for a larger group of players, Mozeliak admitted that he has “no good or great answers” at this time and deferred the matter until the MLB team gets going.

St. Louis – Summer Camp

No players are expected to opt out of the season. Except for those on the MLB charter flight from the Dominican Republic, which has landed in Miami, all players have reported to St. Louis.

Elehuris Montero must have been on that plane as the 40-man roster third baseman has been added to the Summer Camp roster, the 45th invitee. The 21-year old is The Cardinal Nation’s fourth-ranked prospect.

Elehuris Montero

The Summer Camp schedule is 19 days in duration with one day off and an optional participation day before the opener.

The Summer Camp roster will take its first live batting practice on Friday, July 3. All pitchers will go through one live BP before pitching in an intrasquad or sim(ulated) game.

There will be eight intrasquad games starting on Wednesday, July 8. They will be played competitively with separate dugouts and lineups. There is a Red group and a Blue group starting with workouts. There will be no Summer Camp games against other organizations.

Workouts are planned for the mornings to give them weather flexibility, but will shift to evenings on the 11th day of camp to prepare for a regular-season routine.

Per directive in a new MLB memo, players going onto the new COVID-19 related injury list will not be named.

St. Louis – Regular season

The regular season schedule is expected to be released early next week. Because there are no day of the week preferences with no fans in attendance, Mozeliak said he had no concerns with the first draft he was shown. He thinks the delay is related to lining up game times for television.

While the Cardinals leaders were meeting with the media, the following news was floated. It was not discussed with Mozeliak and Shildt.

Shildt expects to open the season with 16 pitchers and 14 position players, with 17/13 a possibility.

If the road team wants to add an in-trip roster replacement that plays at a different position from one of the three-man taxi squad members (one of whom is required to be a catcher), the team may instead play a man short until it returns home (and a different player can be added to replace the injured one). In other words, during a road trip, only taxi squadders are eligible to be activated.

The schedule is such with off-days that a six-man rotation will not be needed. There also will not be directly specified tandem pitching pairings. The focus will be on creating the best situations to try to win each individual game.

Jack Flaherty

The five starting pitchers are expected to be named after the first week of camp. Shildt mentioned positives for Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez and Kwang-Hyun Kim. That upcoming announcement should include a formal reaffirmation of Jack Flaherty as the Opening Day starter.

Jordan Hicks will be on a rehab program both in Summer Camp and when the regular season opens. That suggests the 23-year old will be placed on the 10-day injured list by Opening Day. The right-hander had no real setbacks, but the team is showing “patience.” per Shildt. Hicks threw a side session on Tuesday and played catch on Wednesday. The manager would not speculate when in August he expects the closer to be ready to be activated.

Jordan Hicks


Related article for members of The Cardinal Nation

For members, I laid out my best MLB backfill “Summer Camp South” roster, my best prospect-only SCS roster and finished with my blended prediction.

I updated this slightly based on Wednesday’s news. With Montero moving up to St. Louis, my projected 16-man SCS roster correspondingly drops to 15. I also moved a pitcher up from SCS in my 30-man Opening Day roster prediction to replace Hicks.

Cardinals Alternate Training Site Roster Alternatives


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.:

Minor League Baseball Takes Strike One of Three

Tuesday, June 30 was a very difficult day for Minor League Baseball and its fans, as the group of 160 domestic teams finally threw in the towel on the 2020 season.

But this announcement is far from the end of problems facing minor league ball. No 2020 season will soon transition into fewer teams in 2021 and fewer players under contract.

Strike one – No 2020 season

For some weeks, Tuesday’s outcome had been clear. The reality of COVID-19 restrictions across the country, coupled with the need for fans in seats for minor league teams to secure any revenue doomed their hopes of playing.

The lack of supply of players by their MLB organizations as mentioned in the MiLB release was another factor, but not the telling one. After all, most minor leaguers are still being paid for not playing.

Strike two – Fewer teams in 2021

As inevitable as the end of the 2020 minor league season before it began is MLB’s plan for contraction of at least 40 minor league teams, starting in 2021. The combination of these occurrences means that fans in those communities are unable to say goodbye to their teams during one final summer – a real shame.

In terms of the MiLB teams themselves, the current affiliation model with MLB parents will change for 2021, as MLB takes greater control. But the most difficult aspect may be the loss of 2020 revenues since no minor league games will be played. These small businesses lack the liquidity and asset base of the massive MLB enterprises and some may not be able to return post-pandemic due to heavy financial losses.

What this means for MLB for 2021 is straightforward. Being managed as a business more than as a public trust with an eye on building their future, those running baseball believe they can more cost-efficiently run their machine to develop future major leaguers. Towns and their fans losing affiliated ball will be the losers.

Starting in 2021, the plan is for each of the 30 MLB organizations to field four full-season clubs plus rookie level teams in their Arizona and Florida complexes. In terms of the basic math, 160 today minus 40 equals 120, which equates to 30 organizations times four farm teams.

Any minor league teams on the chopping block that can be “saved” by local grassroots efforts and backroom maneuvering would just mean another town will lose its affiliation instead. 120 is 120.

The levels reportedly being disbanded are Short-Season Class A and Rookie Advanced. For the St. Louis Cardinals, this means the State College (PA) Spikes and the Johnson City (TN) Cardinals are expected to lose their affiliated status and will have to seek for a new role to survive.

Strike three – Fewer players

With fewer teams comes the need for fewer players. The bottom line as I see it for the Cardinals is that if the 2021 short-season would begin today, the organization would have a current excess of approximately 40 minor leaguers.

Here is my rough math using 2018 and 2019 as a guide. This data comes from The Cardinal Nation’s Roster Matrix (a free resource you should be using!).

June 2018 June 2019 June 2020 Pre-draft 2021
Players in organization 302 313 275 275 estimate
minus St. Louis (active + IL) 32 30 30 estimate
Minors players 270 283 245
Maximum active roster spots 275 275 205
“Excess” -5 8 40

It shows that at this time the last two years, there was between five theoretical open roster spots and eight more players than active roster spots. The latter can be explained by those on injured lists and early international signings not effective until the next summer. Also, the lower minors often do not run with entirely full rosters of 35 active players.

The broad conclusion is that in the past, the organization had a balance between the number of players under contract and the available roster spots to place them. Makes sense.

But things could change for 2021.

Some players will leave as free agents this fall, but others will be signed. Also remember that before the next short-season schedule begins, the 2021 First-Year Player Draft will have been held. While the number of rounds has yet to be announced, many expect 20 to be the new total. In addition, the new international class, which was scheduled to begin July 2, has been deferred to January. This means a considerable number of players will sign, many of whom will need to be assigned to a team roster.

Putting all these potential pluses and minuses aside, the most logical way to drop by 40 players is to release them.

This is not unprecedented, nor should it be surprising.

In late May, many teams across MLB released a large quantity of minor leaguers. In the case of the Cardinals, 33 players were cut loose, the largest number let go at once in the 12 years I have been tracking every system roster movement.  The combination of no 2020 minor league season and the team’s payroll burden of paying players for not playing this season, along with the knowledge of fewer teams next season all had to be drivers.

What may be ahead?

Will another mass release occur in the future? Does it matter how the cuts are made?

Whether the reductions occur in one fell swoop or via a series of smaller moves, the end result would be the same. With the current structure, the Cardinals will have 70 fewer roster spots in which to place minor leaguers – 205 in 2021 versus 275 prior.

But could the current team configuration change?

About a third of major league organizations already have a second rookie level team playing in their spring training complexes in Arizona or Florida. These teams participate in the short-season Arizona and Gulf Coast Leagues (GCL), respectively.

Could the Cardinals join them, adding a second GCL team for 2021?

By doing so, they could reclaim half of the roster spots lost in the shedding of State College and Johnson City, at a lower overall cost to the organization, since the players would be at the team-owned Jupiter, FL facility.

A second GCL team could also help relieve what appears to be a significant player bottleneck in the system going forward. As it is on paper, without State College and Johnson City, there will be great pressure on the 35-player maximum GCL roster to serve many needs.

The top players from two feeder teams in the Dominican Summer League normally play their first US-based games in the GCL. The level also hosts many of the current years’ draft picks, especially the high schoolers, along with collegiate pitchers, who due to their heavy spring workload need to ramp up slowly in their first partial professional season.

Finally, without two levels in between, the jump for players to make from the GCL directly into full-season Class A would present a huge obstacle for most minor leaguers. In the past, the few to accomplish this were the organization’s very best prospects, while other really good players were unable to handle the significantly higher level of competition in the Midwest League. Two GCL teams, perhaps structured by experience level, could help smooth out some of these bumps.

However, to do so, considerable expense would be involved and it is unclear if the Cardinals are even considering such an idea. Still, it has to be less than fielding two teams at State College and Johnson City, while keeping more players in the developmental pipeline than cutting 70 roster spots at once.

Not to be forgotten is the collateral damage in this drive for efficiency – baseball fans in State College, Johnson City and at least 38 other communities across the USA slated to lose their local affiliated team.

Despite all the continued uncertainty across Minor League Baseball, one thing is certain. The pain driven by dramatic change has just begun and the pressure will only intensify.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Alternate Training Site Roster Alternatives


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals Organization Roster Matrix – 2020 Summer/Alternate Training Camps

As St. Louis Cardinals players are reporting to Busch Stadium following the 2 1/2-month shutdown across Major League Baseball caused by COVID-19, a refresh of the Roster Matrix is in order.

A reset of St. Louis pre-season roster, called Summer Camp roster, was announced on Sunday, June 28, consists of 44 players. By July 14, the Cardinals will complete their 60-man roster of eligible players for the shortened 60-game regular season to begin on July 23-24 and run through September 27.

The 44 are reporting to St. Louis in preparation for the first official workouts of Summer Camp on Friday, July 3. The other 16 players will arrive in Springfield, MO mid-month to begin preparations as the team’s alternate training site squad, called “Summer Camp South”.

As the 44 is whittled down to 30 during July, players will also be reassigned to the Summer Camp South, with all transactions reported here.

In addition, the Cardinals signed 15 new players during June. Seven comprised the club’s 2020 draft class and the other eight were non-drafted free agents. As they are added to minor league rosters, the changes will be reflected here as well as on our individual team rosters.

The previous matrix outlined all organizational transactions from the close of big-league camp on March 12, including the late-May release of 33 minor leaguers.

If you are new to The Cardinal Nation and not familiar with the Cardinals organization roster matrix, here is quick summary:

As all draft picks are signed and Summer Camp begins, the St. Louis Cardinals have 275 players under contract from top to bottom, including 39 players on 40-man roster, plus one pitcher just added to the 60-day injured list (John Brebbia, out for the season). The 40-man members are called out in bold.

The matrix places each of the 275 at his assigned level in the system as well as by position. The non-roster invitees remaining in Summer Camp are noted by (NRI). Those already cut have a line through the (NRI) and 40-man players optioned out to the alternate training site are designed by (opt).

The matrix is updated whenever transactions occur.

Nowhere else will you find this current and comprehensive single-page view of the entire Cardinals organization plus a decade of history.

(Do not be concerned about the order of the players’ names within position. It has no relative significance.)

Looking ahead and back

Now that you’ve found this page once, remember one of three ways to get back here. Bookmark the page, type “Roster Matrix” in the dark blue search box at the upper right (click on the magnifying glass icon) or use the menu at the left of the page: “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES” > “TRANSACTIONS/ROSTER MATRIX”.

While you are using that menu, note TCN’s full rosters and player pages for every level and every player in the Cardinals system. Note the addition of the new Alternate Training Site, to be used in 2020 only. Rosters other than St. Louis and the Alternate Training Site are essentially inactive this season.

St. Louis Cardinals
Summer Camp South
Memphis Redbirds
Springfield Cardinals
Palm Beach Cardinals
Peoria Chiefs
State College Spikes
Johnson City Cardinals
Gulf Coast League Cardinals
Dominican Summer League Cardinals Blue
Dominican Summer League Cardinals Red
International players signed for 2020

For details behind past rosters and transactions, check out the earlier versions (back to 2009) of the Cardinals organization Roster Matrix, via the following link.

Link to previous matrices

(Note that all international players signed to 2020 contracts are listed separately below as well as 2020 draft picks and non-drafted free agents yet to be assigned to specific team rosters.)

Transactions

6/28: New matrix. Organization total: 275 players. 38 players on 40-man roster plus two players on the 60-day injured list (Jordan Hicks and John Brebbia). 44 players assigned to St. Louis Summer Camp (excluding Brebbia), along with 16 alternate training site players to be named. Among the 44 are 37 members of the 40-man roster plus seven non-roster invitees.

7/1: 3B Elehuris Montero added to StL Summer Camp. 45 total in StL Summer Camp – 38 on 40-man, 7 NRIs. 22 pitchers, 23 position players.

7/3: RHP Tink Hence (2) assigned to GCL. RHP Levi Prater (3) assigned to SC. RHP Nick Troglic-Iverson (FA) assigned to SC. OF Matt Chamberlain (FA) assigned to SC.

7/7: 3 added to Summer Camp: LHPs Zack Thompson, Rob Kaminsky, RHP Seth Elledge. 48 total in StL Summer Camp – 38 on 40-man, 10 NRIs. 25 pitchers, 23 position players.

7/8: 12 assigned to Summer Camp South – RHPs Nabil Crismatt, Roel Ramirez, Angel Rondon, Alvaro Seijas, LHP Mattnew Liberatore, C Julio Rodriguez, SS Evan Mendoza, 3Bs Nolan Gorman, Malcom Nunez, Jordan Walker, OF Trejyn Fletcher, SS/RHP Masyn Winn. 12 total in Summer Camp South.

The St. Louis Cardinals Organization Roster Matrix (effective 7/8/20)

StL 60-day injured (1) (not in 60-man pool) 40-man (38+2)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Brebbia (60 IL)
StL Summer Camp (47+1)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Flaherty  Kim (L) Y Molina Goldschmidt Wong  DeJong Carpenter  Fowler
Mikolas Webb (L) Wieters Ravelo Edman  B Miller E Montero Bader
D Hudson A Miller (L) Knizner Nogowski (NRI) Schrock (NRI) Sosa  O’Neill
C Martinez  Helsley Godoy (NRI) L Thomas
Wainwright Gant I Herrera (NRI) J Williams
Ponce de Leon  Carlson (NRI)
G Gallegos  Dean
A Reyes Hicks (60 IL)
Woodford Cecil (L)
Cabrera (L) Gomber (L)
Oviedo (NRI) Ju Fernandez
R Sanchez (L) Whitley (NRI)
Thompson (L) Kaminsky (L)
Elledge
Summer Camp South (12)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Crismatt R Ramirez Ju Rodriguez E Mendoza Gorman Fletcher
A Rondon Winn (2) (also RHP) E Nunez
Seijas Walker (1)
Liberatore (L)
Memphis (9)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Kruczynski (L) Brink Capel
Herget
Meisinger
J Cruz
Bosiokovic
C Jones
D Gonzalez
Springfield (22)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Parsons Dayton (L) Yepez I Lopez Robertson Nootbaar
FaGalde Patterson (L) Baker Dunn Ascanio Toerner
Au Warner (L) Dobzanski Jose Martinez Pinder
Shew R Williams Hurst
Breto (L)
R Santos
S Justo
Palm Beach (19)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Roberts Aker D Ortega Whalen Donovan Del Perez Plummer
E Gonzalez Escobar Pages And Luna
D Cordero (L) L Taveras Denton
Leahy Pacheco
Walsh
Oxnevad (L)
Pallante
Peoria (25)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Roach N De Jesus C Soto D Williams I Diaz Cedeno
Brettell Sisk (L) M Castillo Machado
Schmid (L) Tabata Fuller
C Thomas (L) Pereira Reichenborn
Gragg Locey Vinsky
YaSenka Avelino
Schlesener (L)
Blanco (L)
Ralston
Lunn
State College (14)
P P C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Holba Solano Raposo (FA) Buchberger (FA) Jew
Lex Dalatri (FA) LJ Jones (5)
Prater (L 3) Lardner (L FA) Burleson (2)
Troglic-Iverson (FA) Koperniak (FA)
Chamberlain (FA)
Johnson City (15)
P P C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Sommers H Soto Antonini Lott Redmond Gil V Garcia
Guay Ortiz Longa Torres
F Justo
J Moreno
Puello
B Baird
Gulf Coast (21)
P P C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Statler Gingery (L) Richardson F Soto R Mendoza Montano
Hart L Jimenez J Garcia F Hernandez A Cruz
Paniagua Tena E Rodriguez J De Los Santos
N Heredia (L) R Garcia Romeri
O Sanchez (L FA) Black
Hence (2)
DSL Blue (29)
P P C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
D Rodriguez Miranda L Rodriguez F Diaz E De Jesus Del Villar B Hernandez L Pena
E Martinez Saldana J Zapata Arcia Moquete
GJ Rodriguez Pimentel J Sanchez GA Rodriguez
Ozoria (L) Richard Orecchia Otamendi
Portillo Arias Jo Rodriguez
Suarez Villanueva
W Ortega J Peralta
Lugo
DSL Red (29)
P P C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
V Herrera Yedis R Heredia Andujar Mora C Ramirez
Rincon Calderon Velasquez Inoa Matute Brazoban
Dominguez Cuenca E Salas
D Guerrero (L) O Lopez S Vargas
H Cordero (L) L Garcia
H Gomez Manzo
Jaquez B Lopez
B Ramirez Clemente
Marcelino W Reyes
Bautista
DSL sign 2020 (30)
P P C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Beltre (L) M Martinez J Guerrero Bolivar R Guzman Carbonara
Cervantes J Salas M Hernandez Encarnacion Cordoba
Cuello Curvelo Burns Espinoza Ramos
Davila Almonte M Justo Reynoso
F Guzman Giulianelli Rivas F Taveras
Ang Luna Saladin Rombley
Marte Yanez
E Nunez
2020 unassigned (1)
P P C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Bedell (4)

Codes

(opt): 40-man player optioned to Alternate Training Site or minor leagues
(NRI): non-roster invitee to MLB camp
(NRI): non-roster invitee to MLB camp sent to Alternate Training Site
(IL): injured list
(TI): temporarily inactive list
(PL): paternity leave
(RL): restricted list
(L): left-handed pitcher
bold: on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster
(xx): round selected in the 2020 draft
(FA): non-drafted free agent signed in June 2020
(#+#): for teams, the number of active players on the roster plus number of inactive/not under contract (IL+TI+PL+RL) players


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

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St. Louis Cardinals Name 44-Player Summer Camp Roster

photo: Johan Oviedo (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

On Sunday, June 28, the 30 Major League Baseball teams were required to submit their pool of eligible players for the 2020 season. While some organizations disclosed all 60 players to be allowed this season, the St. Louis Cardinals only announced the 44 invited to big-league camp 2.0, a group the team is calling the “2020 Busch Stadium Summer Camp Roster”.

From this contingent of 44, who will report by July 3, the club will have just three weeks to select the 30 players who will make up the Opening Day roster on July 23 or 24. The remaining 14 (barring injury) to be cut from camp will head to Springfield, MO, the team’s designated alternate training site.

The 14 will be joined by 16 others yet to be announced by the Cardinals. The later group, to arrive in Springfield by July 14, will include some prospects further from the majors, for whom the organization will want to get structured workouts this summer.

The entire Springfield “alternate training site” group will serve as potential reserves for St. Louis during the two-month regular season. However, regular roster rules apply, most importantly being that anyone called up to St. Louis must first be a member of the 40-man roster.

Roster analysis

37 of 39 of the team’s active 40-man roster players are invited to St. Louis. The two excluded are pitcher Alvaro Seijas and third baseman Elehuris Montero. 60-day injured list pitcher John Brebbia, who is out for the season, is exempted.

Seijas, who has yet to pitch above High-A Palm Beach, and Montero, who missed most of 2019 at Springfield due to a hand injury, certainly could be among the 16 assigned to the alternate training site in Springfield. Since they will use one year of their three allowed minor league options in 2020 either way, my guess is that the organization will not want either to lose a year of development.

The addition of seven non-roster invitees (NRIs) bring the team to their self-defined total of 44. The NRIs are pitchers Johan Oviedo and Kodi Whitley, catchers Jose Godoy and Ivan Herrera, infielders John Nogowski and Max Schrock, and outfielder Dylan Carlson.

Dylan Carlson (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

Of the seven, no. 1 prospect Carlson may have the best chance to crack the Opening Day 30, but that may not occur. Last week, John Mozeliak, the team’s president of baseball operations, reaffirmed the intent to give incumbents Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas their chances in the St. Louis outfield. Further, by Carlson spending roughly a week in the minors, the Cardinals would be able to control his rights a year longer prior to free agency.

While the Summer Camp roster consists of a balanced 22 pitchers and 22 position players, the club is expected to open the season with an imbalance of the initial 30 in favor of extra pitching. This reflects the compressed training camp and fast ramp up being expected to put more pressure on pitchers.

Of the 44, 13 are members of The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List, including six of the seven NRIs, only excepting Godoy, Among the organization’s top prospects in Summer Camp already on the 40-man roster are pitchers Genesis Cabrera, Junior Fernandez and Jake Woodford, catcher Andrew Knizner, infielders Rangel Ravelo and Edmundo Sosa and outfielder Justin Williams.

See the full prospect list here.

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings

Self-audit results

Several days ago, I shared with members of The Cardinal Nation my predictions for the 44 Summer Camp players (as well as the 16 for Springfield). I was correct on 40 of the 44 announced. The other four heading to St. Louis, I had among the 16 for Springfield, instead. Three of my four misses are among the non-roster invitees.

My misses: Oviedo, Herrera, Schrock and 40-man left-handed pitcher Ricardo Sanchez.

The four I predicted would be among the 44, but are not, include three relievers and an infielder. All would have been non-roster invitees – Jesus Cruz, Bryan Dobzanski and lefty Rob Kaminsky along with infielder Evan Mendoza. They are among candidates to be a part of the group assigned to Springfield, along with top prospects such as pitchers Zack Thompson and Matthew Liberatore and third baseman Nolan Gorman.

Footnote: For those worried about a particular prospect not being included among the 44, don’t be – unless he is not among the 16 yet to be announced for the alternate training site. Most of these prospects, whether with St. Louis for a time in camp or not, are going to end up in Springfield, anyway. Having said that, the non-roster invitees to Summer Camp should bear extra attention as potential contributors with St. Louis later.

Why two announcements vs. one?

John Mozeliak (St. Louis Cardinals)

On KMOX Radio on Sunday morning, prior to the release, Mozeliak explained why he split his roster announcement into two groups.

“I am going to submit a roster of roughly 44 today,” he said. “I am not going to fill the 60. I want to make sure that the 44 that we submit that are coming into St. Louis all pass their COVID (tests). Because once you have someone on that list of 60, they are part of it. In other words, the only way you can start interchanging is if you start releasing (players).”

“So I want to make sure the 44 – which are really going to make up the guys that you most think you’d likely use during the 60-game season – that if they all clear, then what I will likely do is add a little more depth for major league protection.”

For more

To reflect the Summer Camp roster and to track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.

The Matrix was refreshed Sunday evening.

St. Louis Cardinals Organization Roster Matrix – 2020 Summer/Alternate Training Camps


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Flores Executes Cardinals Draft Plan within a Plan


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Sign Ian Bedell to Complete Week-Ending 4-for-4 Streak

photo: Ian Bedell (Ballengee Group)

No one should complain if St. Louis Cardinals assistant general manager and director of scouting Randy Flores and his top assistant Tyler Hadzinsky take the upcoming weekend off.

They have earned the break.

On Friday afternoon, the club announced its fourth addition in four days, which also completes the organization’s 2020 draft class. The final signee is fourth-round draft pick Ian Bedell. The right-handed pitcher, taken 122nd overall, hails from Davenport, Iowa and the University of Missouri.

Bedell inked his contract at Busch Stadium on Friday.

“With the signing of Ian Bedell, we are pleased to announce that our entire 2020 Draft class has agreed to terms,” Flores said. “Although we are still working through what the immediate future holds for their development, we are very excited for the next steps of their careers in the Cardinals organization.”

Ian Bedell

As reported by Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, Bedell’s signing bonus is $800,000 – substantially above the slot amount for the 122nd overall pick of $469,000. The difference was made up by the organization’s decision to allow Flores to overspend his total signing budget by five percent, which he did.

A reason for the overslot spend is that Bedell’s talent was considered higher than his draft spot. According to Baseball America, he was the 105th ranked player in the draft, while MLB Pipeline placed him no. 88. Another data point is that an $800,000 slot value would have been between the no. 77 and no. 78 spots in this draft.

After a 1.56 ERA as a sophomore at Mizzou, Bedell topped it with a 0.59 ERA in the top summer prospect circuit, the Cape Cod League. However, his draft standing may have slipped after a poor start to his virus-shortened 2020 junior season.

Ian Bedell (University of Missouri)

With the formalization of the long-rumored agreement with Bedell, St. Louis has completed its signing of all seven 2020 draft picks.  Other above-slot signings were pitcher-shortstop Masyn Winn and pitcher Tink Hence. The organization also picked up eight non-drafted free agents, for a total of 15 new additions.


Related articles

To learn about Bedell’s skills and background:

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

For details on Bedell’s no. 31 placement on The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List:

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Predicting the St. Louis Cardinals’ 60-Man Player Pool for 2020


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Announce Signing of Second-Rounder Tink Hence

photo: the Hence family (Tink Hence)

The St. Louis Cardinals made it three days in a row, signing top picks from the draft Class of 2020 as well as fresh from their respective high school graduation classes.

On Thursday afternoon, the club announced the signing of second-round draft pick Tink Hence, taken 63rd overall. The 17-year old right-handed pitcher hails from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The University of Arkansas commit is the sixth of seven selections to come to terms with St. Louis.

Hence’s 63rd overall spot is a Competitive Balance Selection acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade that also included prospect pitcher Matthew Liberatore joining the Cardinals. Heading to the Rays were the 37th overall selection along with outfielders Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena.

Hence’s signing bonus has not been disclosed but this article will be updated once that information is disclosed. The slot amount for the 63rd overall pick is $1,076,300.

Tink Hence

Coming into the day, the two remaining St. Louis draft picks to be signed were Hence and fourth-round selection Ian Bedell. Both are overslot candidates and are expected to sign. Including a potential five percent overage on their total signing budget, the Cardinals had about $375,000 extra to work with to complete contracts with their full draft class.

In addition, the Cardinals signed eight non-drafted free agents so have 14 of their 15 newest additions on board. Bedell is expected to follow soon.

Update from Friday morning, June 26

Related articles

To learn about Hence’s skills and background:

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

For details on Hence’s background and journey to date:

Pitcher Tink Hence – “The Quiet Assassin”

For details on Hence’s no. 19 placement on The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List:

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Tentative 2020 Plans for Multiple Camps


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Announce Signing of Second-Rounder Masyn Winn

Brandyn Harris, Masyn Winn, Tiffany Rawson, Earl Luckett, Andrew Guerra (Masyn Winn photo)

As they did the day before, the St. Louis Cardinals delivered good news on Wednesday, introducing their latest 2020 draft signee. This time, the honoree was shortstop-right-handed pitcher Masyn Winn, taken in the second round, 54th overall.

Following recent custom, the team made a public social media announcement while members of the media participated in a video conference with Winn and Cardinals scouting director Randy Flores.

In his opening remarks, Flores characterized Winn as “infectious and driven”. The player noted he takes on a different demeanor depending on whether he is playing shortstop (“high engine”, “talking all the time”) versus pitching (“quietly focused”).

Winn added, “I am grateful for the chance to play two ways,” adding that dual opportunity is “the cherry on top”. He has played with unsigned Cardinals second-round draft pick Tink Hence, who he calls a “great dude” who he “really talks to a lot”. Winn also has a friendship with Cardinals 2019 second-rounder Trejyn Fletcher.

Masyn Winn

As reported by Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, Winn’s signing bonus is $2,100,000 – substantially above the slot amount for the 54th overall pick of $1,338,500. The difference was made up by four earlier underslot signings – Jordan Walker, Alec Burleson, Levi Prater and A.J. Jones IV.

Winn’s family and his agent, Andrew Guerra of Roc Nation Sports, accompanied him to St. Louis. Visitors include his brother Brandyn Harris, mother Tiffany Rawson and stepfather Earl Luckett.

Other remaining St. Louis draft picks to be signed are Hence and fourth-round selection Ian Bedell. Both are overslot candidates and are expected to come to terms with the team. With a potential five percent overage on their total signing budget, the Cardinals have about $375,000 extra to work with to complete contracts with the final two members of their seven-player 2020 draft class.

Related articles

To learn about Winn’s skills and background:

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

For details on Winn’s no. 12 placement on The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospect List:

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Batting Average Leaders Since 1960


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sorting out Major League Baseball’s Rules for 2020

On Tuesday evening, Major League Baseball announced that the 2020 season will begin on July 23 or 24 and each team will play 60 games, with no fans in attendance. The target for the conclusion of the regular season is September 27.

The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) made a companion announcement that all remaining issues have been resolved, while accepting the league’s health and safety protocols, and noting that players will report to camps.

Players are scheduled to arrive in their home cities starting on July 1 (pitchers and catchers first) with Spring Training 2.0 to begin on July 3. A limited number of exhibition games may be allowed near the end of camp.

Teams are expected to play 40 regular season games within their division and the other 20 vs. the same division in the other league. Natural rivals (the Royals and the Cardinals, for example) will meet six times. There are no double-headers planned, though that is likely the path to reschedule postponed games. However, this schedule is tentative until MLBPA approval and is slated to be released to the public on Friday, June 26.

Spring training rosters can include up to 60 players, including some or all of the 40-man roster. These 60 players must be identified by Sunday, June 28.

The season will open with 30-man rosters, dropping to 28 15 days later and the normal 26 at 28 days into the season. There is no mandated pitcher-position player split and no September expanded rosters. Per the March agreement, players will receive a full prorated portion of their annual salary based on team games played. This is approximately 37 percent of the full season (60/162).

Remaining players will train on a taxi squad in an alternate location (Springfield, MO for the Cardinals) with up to three taxi squadders allowed to travel with the MLB team on the road (must include one catcher). Taxi squad members will not receive MLB service time and will be paid salary at their minor league rate.

There will be a separate COVID-19 injured list of no minimum or maximum duration. The regular injured lists for all players will be 10 days and 45 days (rather than 60), respectively.

Players may opt out of the season if they are part of a high risk group and would receive salary and service time. If people the players live with or come into regular contact with are high risk and the player does not want to play, salary and service time will be a team judgment call, with an appeal process. Other players may also opt out, but will not be paid. Owners backed off an earlier request for players to sign an “acknowledgement of risk” form which would have limited MLB’s liability.

MLB has the right to relocate teams to neutral site locations due to health and safety concerns, including in the post-season.

Following pre-camp screening, temperatures and symptoms will checked at least twice daily. All Tier 1 individuals, including all uniform personnel as well as trainers and strength coaches, will take saliva tests every other day. All others will be tested multiple times weekly. Anyone who tests positive will be quarantined and two negative tests will be required prior to return.

Players will be prohibited from arriving at the ballpark more than five hours prior to game time and staying longer than 90 minutes afterward. Reporters must leave the ballpark within one hour upon conclusion of post-game interviews.

The health and safety protocols also indicate that spitting, smokeless tobacco and sunflower seeds are prohibited. So are high fives, fist bumps and hugs. Fighting is also expressly prohibited, with threats of “severe discipline”.

Pitchers licking their fingers is prohibited. They will be permitted to carry a “wet rag” in their pocket to moisten their fingers.

Rule changes for 2020 only include a runner placed on second base to open all extra innings (to shorten extended games in the regular season only) and the universal designated hitter, with the latter oddly implemented as a health and safety matter.

The trade deadline will be August 31, with post-season eligibility based on rosters as of September 15. There will be no expanded playoffs, with the standard 10-team structure continuing for 2020.

Radio broadcasters will permitted to attend road games, but television crews are not expected to travel, and would call games from a neutral video feed provided by the home network. Reporters will be allowed in ballparks, but player access is expected to be via video chat.

Potential grievances to be filed by players and owners would occur in the background and not disrupt 2020 play. The MLBPA may take exception to the season being shorter than possible while the owners may claim bad faith in the negotiations.

As part of the health and safety protocols, MLB is separating personnel into three tiers:
Tier 1 – Players, coaches, trainers, doctors, physical therapists
Tier 2 – Clubhouse attendants, Baseball Operations employees, PR staff, groundskeepers, security
Tier 3 – Replay crew, cleaners, camera operators, reporters

Tier 1 – All-access
Tier 2 – Access to restricted areas but must keep distance from Tier 1 people and wear PPE
Tier 3 – No access to restricted areas – cannot exceed 150 people

Important disclaimer: There have been no formal announcements of most of these items. The comments here are summarizing multiple social media entries from media members and could include inadvertent errors. Updates will be made as required.


Related article – with events back to March 1

St. Louis Cardinals COVID-19 Time Line


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Batting Average Leaders Since 1960


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© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Announce Signing of First-Rounder Jordan Walker

photo: Katrina, Jordan and Derek Walker (Randy Flores/St. Louis Cardinals)

On Tuesday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of first-round draft pick Jordan Walker, taken 21st overall. The 18-year old third baseman is in St. Louis to complete his physical exam and put pen to paper.

The club made dual announcements via social media as well as in a media session hosted by President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak and Amateur Scouting Director Randy Flores.

Walker’s signing bonus is $2.9 million, according to Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, under the slot amount of $3.13 million. Including cost savings with three earlier picks signed and a potential five percent overage, the Cardinals have over $1,100,000 extra to work with.

Jordan Walker

In The Cardinal Nation’s updated Top 50 Prospect Rankings for the system, Walker initially slotted in at number 7 overall.

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings

Other remaining St. Louis draft picks to be signed are second-rounders Masyn Winn and Tink Hence and fourth-round selection Ian Bedell. All three are overslot candidates.

“I would say in the near future we are optimistic that those will be wrapped up,” Flores said Tuesday.

This year’s signing deadline is August 1.


Related articles

To learn about the power-hitting Walker’s skills:

Cardinals Select Jordan Walker in 2020 MLB Draft’s First Round

To learn about the young man himself:

Jordan Walker’s Play Speaks for Itself, but his Prep Coach Adds More


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Batting Average Leaders Since 1960


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Unable to Find Valid Logic to Trade Jack Flaherty

photo: Jack Flaherty (David Kohl/Imagn)

As the negotiations for the 2020 season became increasingly acrimonious and prolonged, a number of Major League Baseball players spoke out in support of their union’s bargaining positions.

Jack Flaherty (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

One of them is St. Louis Cardinals’ ace right-hander Jack Flaherty. Still four years away from free agency based on the current Cooperative Bargaining Agreement between owners and players, the 24-year old has been in the phase of his career in which production and pay are most mismatched. Specifically, the under-three year player has no choice but to accept any above-minimum salary offer tendered by his team.

The last two seasons, Flaherty respectfully declined to accept the team’s salary assignment, so was docked another $10,000 for his intransigence. He is one year away from his first of three seasons during which his salary can be decided by an arbitration panel if he and the team do not see his annual value similarly.

This is also the point in a young Cardinals player’s career where, if he is considered a core player, the team typically makes a long-term offer to cover the three arbitration years plus a free agent year or two, perhaps as team options. This has occurred a number of times over the years, back to Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina and more recently with Paul DeJong (and perhaps Kolten Wong next).

However, against the backdrop of Flaherty’s ongoing dissatisfaction with baseball’s compensation system, a number of observers (including this writer) feel that he would not entertain a long-term contract initiative – unless perhaps the money was so extraordinary he absolutely could not refuse.

Given that Bill DeWitt Jr. is still leading the Cardinals, the scope of such a proposal would almost certainly be generous, but not record-breaking and precedent-setting. In other words, Flaherty’s salaries for the next three years (2021-2023) are likely to be set on an annual basis, perhaps decided via hearings.

The entire situation led to some recent ripples of social media dissatisfaction and the Belleville News-Democrat even published a column entitled:

“If Jack Flaherty is just about money, the St. Louis Cardinals should trade him — now.”

As Lance Berkman sagely noted as a Cardinal back in 2011, “It is always about the money. No matter what people say, it is always about the money.” Anyone who believes otherwise is living in the even further distant past.

Despite this, this idea of dealing Flaherty became a hot topic on local talk radio. Here is a prominent example, backed up by some very interesting poll results.

Amazingly, almost one-quarter of over 7,200 voters in this twitter poll would be in favor of a Flaherty trade – in a very specific context.

The matter eventually migrated to The Cardinal Nation’s free forum, where a long-time poster asked readers their view of Flaherty’s current trade value.

When no explanation was provided as to why moving Flaherty out would be considered, the silence led me to do it myself. I evaluated four scenarios under which Flaherty might be traded.

After doing so, my conclusion is that none of the four make anywhere near enough sense to consider dealing away the team’s ace.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1) He is a troublemaker!

If the underlying reason to consider a trade is Flaherty’s support of the union in compensation matters, think of the number of players across MLB who have also spoken out this year. If teams were to retaliate against outspoken players, a significant percentage of MLB rosters would be changing uniforms – but which teams would take them?

It is pretty difficult to guess on a trade package without knowing which teams would be willing to take on vocal union supporters as other teams are ridding themselves of them. Of course, another assumption is that the Cardinals would be among the retaliating teams, for which there seems no shred of supporting suspicion.

It is important to remember that Flaherty has directed no acrimony toward the Cardinals or team officials.

2) He is going to leave, anyway!

Another potential reason for trading Flaherty would be a fear of him eventually leaving as a free agent. But since that is four years away under current rules, giving up what look to be very good years ahead at a well below market salary seems a really bad idea, especially for a team not tanking, but expecting to contend each season.

Maybe it would be worth revisiting in three years from now – or sooner if free agent rules and compensation changes are enacted in the next CBA. Also, one can hope that by then, the lingering problems from 2020 will be past and the baseball labor market will settle into normalcy (whatever that will be).

3) Use him to get Arenado!

Nolan Arenado (Allan Henry/Imagn)

Because of Flaherty’s success, relatively low salary and relatively long window before free agency, he is sure to appeal to other teams. The Cardinals might be motivated to trade him to scoop up a high-salaried star from one of the clubs looking to save money, an especially relevant thought in MLB’s current cash-strapped economic climate. (This is a generic Arenado scenario.)

The reason this idea does not hold water is that if Mr. DeWitt did not want to add more payroll in normal times, why would he change direction now? It has already been presented by DeWitt that the Cardinals are more dependent on game-day revenues than most teams – a tap that is completely shut off for 2020. One can only speculate what 2021 and beyond will look like.

Acquiring Arenado – with or without Flaherty in the deal – is not impossible – just extremely unlikely.

4) Sell high!

A fear that Flaherty’s strong 2019 on the mound was an aberration could be another trade driver. But does anyone actually think that Flaherty peaked at age 23?

A poster at TCN’s forum noted that Flaherty’s 5.7 bWAR was exactly half of the 2019 rotation’s 11.4 bWAR total. This placed St. Louis 12th in MLB. However, with a 2.0 bWAR average rotation replacement for Flaherty, the Cardinals staff would have slid to a below-average 20th spot in baseball.

As is the case with these other scenarios, the idea of trading Flaherty, despite any possible motivation, is highly, highly questionable.

We can only hope that live baseball will resume soon, leaving imaginary trades like this one as quaint relics from a time in which there was not enough real news to discuss that some people devised their own – complete with faux outrage!

When games do resume, enjoy Flaherty’s mound mastery!


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Batting Average Leaders Since 1960


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are going fast, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Finalize Contract with Draft Pick Levi Prater

photo: Levi Prater (The OU Daily)

The St. Louis Cardinals’ third-round draft pick in 2020, University of Oklahoma junior left-handed pitcher Levi Prater, finalized his first professional contract on Friday evening, the team announced.

Prater will celebrate his 21st birthday on Saturday. The amount of his signing bonus is not yet available. The slot value for his pick, 93rd overall, is $627,900, but I predict his deal will be at or below that number.

Update: Prater signed for $575,000, per MLB Pipeline.

Levi Prater

For full details on Prater’s background and offerings, check out the following article.

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

The Cardinals have now officially signed three of their seven selections from the draft along with eight non-drafted free agents. Prior deals announced are with a pair of outfielders, Alec Burleson (70th overall) and fifth-rounder, L.J. Jones IV, both of whom accepted under-slot bonuses.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reports that the Cardinals also have an agreement in place with their fourth-round selection, pitcher Ian Bedell. The former University of Missouri right-hander is expected to receive a signing bonus above than his slot value, so it may be announced later after other deals are done.

The three selections that remain are the team’s top three, expected to be the most expensive to sign – all high schoolers. They are first-round third baseman Jordan Walker, and second-rounders Masyn Winn and Tink Hence. The Cardinals have approximately $850,000 of additional cap space currently, including a potential five percent overage.

The deadline to sign draft picks is August 1 and with no baseball being played this season, the urgency is somewhat lessened. Ultimately, the Cardinals are expected to sign all seven draftees.


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Pitcher Tink Hence – “The Quiet Assassin”


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Post-Draft St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Top 50 Prospect Rankings

photo: Jordan Walker (Perfect Game Baseball)

Normally, The Cardinal Nation features monthly in-season updates to our St. Louis Cardinals top 50 prospect list. However, with no minor league games being played in 2020, there has been no reason to make adjustments – until this month’s First-Year Player Draft.

During the annual event, held on June 10-11 and limited to five rounds, the Cardinals made seven selections. In our placement of the new draftees into our existing top 50, we are assuming for now that all will be signed.

Our process was for TCN analyst Derek Shore and me to separately place the draftees into the site top 50 for 2020, which we had developed during the off-season. Our two scores for each draft pick were averaged and that spot was where the players were placed on the overall list. (In one case, a tie was broken by the best individual ranking.)

As you can imagine, a lot of thought went into our individual rankings – and there were some significant differences of opinion. The first six draftees made the new top 50.

Following for all readers are the basics – the rankings themselves.  The new and old lists are presented side by side, with the draftees’ names in bold.

Rk New top 50 Prior 
1 Dylan Carlson Dylan Carlson
2 Nolan Gorman Nolan Gorman
3 Matthew Liberatore Matthew Liberatore
4 Elehuris Montero Elehuris Montero
5 Andrew Knizner Andrew Knizner
6 Ivan Herrera Ivan Herrera
7 Jordan Walker Zack Thompson
8 Zack Thompson Jake Woodford
9 Jake Woodford Angel Rondon
10 Angel Rondon Junior Fernandez
11 Junior Fernandez Genesis Cabrera
12 Masyn Winn Jhon Torres
13 Genesis Cabrera Malcom Nuñez
14 Jhon Torres Johan Oviedo
15 Malcom Nuñez Justin Williams
16 Johan Oviedo Trejyn Fletcher
17 Justin Williams Edmundo Sosa
18 Trejyn Fletcher open
19 Tink Hence Luken Baker
20 Edmundo Sosa Kodi Whitley
21 Luken Baker Julio Rodriguez
22 Kodi Whitley Alvaro Seijas
23 Julio Rodriguez Griffin Roberts
24 Alvaro Seijas Tony Locey
25 Griffin Roberts Mateo Gil
26 Tony Locey open
27 Mateo Gil Andre Pallante
28 Andre Pallante Jack Ralston
29 Jack Ralston Alex FaGalde
30 Alex FaGalde Justin Toerner
31 Ian Bedell Seth Elledge
32 Alec Burleson Evan Mendoza
33 Justin Toerner Delvin Perez
34 Seth Elledge Rangel Ravelo
35 Levi Prater Steven Gingery
36 Evan Mendoza Edgar Escobar
37 Delvin Perez Conner Capel
38 Rangel Ravelo Tommy Parsons
39 Steven Gingery Brendan Donovan
40 Edgar Escobar Juan Yepez
41 Conner Capel Evan Kruczynski
42 Tommy Parsons John Nogowski
43 Brendan Donovan Pedro Pages
44 Juan Yepez Francisco Justo
45 Evan Kruczynski Max Schrock
46 John Nogowski Kramer Robertson
47 Pedro Pages Ludwin Jimenez
48 Francisco Justo Patrick Romeri
49 Max Schrock Brady Whalen
50 Kramer Robertson Bryan Dobzanski
off Ludwin Jimenez
off Patrick Romeri
off Brady Whalen
off Bryan Dobzanski

For much, much more

For those who are members of The Cardinal Nation (and we greatly appreciate your ongoing support), Derek and I have explained the whys and wherefores of our placements in significant detail in the following article.

Placing Cardinals 2020 Draftees Among the System’s Top 50 Prospects


For more

If you want to share your thoughts, please head over to The Cardinal Nation’s free message board.

As more signings are announced and roster information evolves, it will be noted on team rosters (located via the ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES menu in the left column) as well as on the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation. The latter source also is tracking the status of all draftees and non-drafted free agent signings.

To go deeper on the Cardinals draft class and the free agents signed following, check out the following free articles:

Cardinals Select Jordan Walker in 2020 MLB Draft’s First Round

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

St. Louis Cardinals Augment 2020 Draft with Free Agents

Cardinals Continue Non-Drafted Free Agent Signings


Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter. Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mr. Jones Becomes a Cardinal

photo: LJ Jones IV (Long Beach State University)

The second of seven 2020 St. Louis Cardinals draftees to be signed, fifth-round outfielder L.J. Jones, has come to terms with the team on his first professional contract.

This comes on the heels of Monday’s announcement of the signing of outfielder Alec Burleson.

Jones, 20, endured an injury-plagued career at Long Beach State University, but offers the Cardinals power potential, a commodity the system has been lacking in recent years. The right-handed hitter will likely require more minor league seasoning than Burleson, however.

LJ Jones IV

To read The Cardinal Nation’s full scouting report on Jones, including video, refer to the following article.

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

The pool amount for Jones’ fifth-round spot is $350,300. Though the Cardinals do not disclose signing bonuses, I would not be surprised if Jones received less than slot value, with the team redeploying that spending on the remaining five unsigned selections.

Update

Later Tuesday evening, Jones’ signing terms were disclosed.

As I expected, Jones was a money-saving pick for the Cardinals. Between Burleson and Jones, the organization has banked around $450,000 they can use on some combination of the remaining five unsigned draft picks. To that can be added another $400,000 if the Cards decide to overspend their total allotment by five percent.

This year’s signing deadline is August 1.


Other news

Also on Tuesday afternoon, the organization formally announced the addition of eight non-drafted free agents, whose signing had been previously disclosed.

Details about all eight free agents signed by St. Louis this week can be found in these two articles.

St. Louis Cardinals Augment 2020 Draft with Free Agents

Cardinals Continue Non-Drafted Free Agent Signings

As is the case for all of the other draftees and free agent signings, the chances of them playing their first official baseball games in 2020 as professionals seem murky at best.


For more

To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series – Best Seasons – 1963-2019


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Does Major League Baseball Consider Itself Bulletproof?

photo: Bill DeWitt Jr. and Rob Manfred (Jeff Roberson/AP)

I feel pretty comfortable in asserting that everyone even slightly involved with Major League Baseball is disappointed over the delays in owners and players coming to agreement on the structure of the 2020 season.

Unlike prior labor disagreements in baseball, when general fan sentiment seemed to be in support of ownership, the owners are taking a beating in the court of public opinion this time around.

Even so, it seems like some MLB team officials are not attuned to the depth of fan concerns aimed in their direction. It appears that they believe the game is bulletproof.

Misreading their customers?

I have little doubt that St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. could demonstrate a view of the books that would back up his assertion that baseball “isn’t very profitable.” Even so, using no more powers than simple common sense, most people suspect that when taking all of their related businesses into account, baseball is in fact a very good investment. DeWitt, a savvy and successful entrepreneur, has owned the St. Louis Cardinals for more than a quarter of a century and is one of the game’s most influential owners.

Chicago Cubs board chairman Tom Ricketts was recently quoted as saying the potential for losses this year are “biblical’ in scope. Again, one can imagine such a case being possible when considering the expenses related to starting up their new television network.

Yet, a short-term cash flow issue is very different from long-term asset growth and profitability. And as is the case for these privately-owned teams, their complete books are not public, requiring a level of trust in these kinds of comments that does not exist for many.

With literally billions of dollars at stake (when considering the next labor agreement to go into effect in December 2021), owners have no reason to share more information about their finances than is required. And that is well within their rights, just as it is for fans to be skeptical.

Speaking of fans, they are baseball’s (relatively) silent majority. They not only get no say in what is happening, their opinions are not even being acknowledged during the labor battle.

Well, come to think of it, that is not entirely the case.

This past weekend, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak made the following statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (I include the segment in its entirety so readers can see the context before I parse out several passages from it.)

“There is no doubt right now there is an enormous amount of distrust on both sides, and when we get back to playing baseball it must be everybody’s goal to rebuild that,” Mozeliak said. “If you look on Twitter, you’re going to find that it’s 50/50 as to who is at fault, and regardless of that answer that resentment or annoyance is not great for the game. There’s definitely a group of fans that aren’t active (on social media) and enjoy the game and are hopeful it will return — to have something else to watch other than Netflix. It’s the fact there are a number of fans on each of these sides that if we can’t get this right, there could be reason for concern.”

Let’s break down a few of these points.

“If you look on Twitter, you’re going to find that it’s 50/50 as to who is at fault…”

Is that really what owners and front office people think? Take this weekend poll of 1,100 people on social media, for example. It pegs public sentiment at two-thirds blaming the owners (with 5% on the players and 28% on both).

Note this poll was taken prior to Commissioner Rob Manfred’s Monday reversal on his comment five days earlier that he was 100 percent confident the 2020 season will be played. If anything, support of ownership has almost certainly further eroded since.

“There’s definitely a group of fans that aren’t active (on social media) and enjoy the game and are hopeful it will return — to have something else to watch other than Netflix,” Mozeliak said.

There are several very interesting implications from this quote.

First is that Mozeliak seems to be assuming that those on social media do not want to see MLB return ASAP. (In reality, they absolutely do, but just not on the owners’ terms.)

Second is that he may be suggesting that the fans who are less plugged in to the details of what is going on will be more forgiving.

I suspect what he is getting at is that the vocal fans are relatively few but the silent majority are not that upset with the owners and will come back to the game quickly. I sense this has been an ongoing feeling, that their golden goose cannot be killed.

If so, it could help explain the recent foot-dragging. According to a player agent quoted by The Athletic,

“There are definitely more than eight owners who don’t want to play (the 2020 season).”

After all, why take any losses if you don’t have to? Earlier, owners stated they would lose $640,000 for every game played this season.

I cannot help but feel baseball’s leaders are misreading their customers – whether on social media or not – who want to see baseball in 2020. Most fans have apparently come to the realization is that the owners are the primary reason it may not happen.

Those in power may or may not understand this, but their recent public comments surely put it into question.

Will the game need to be “saved” in the future?

Having said that, how much is puffery and how much is real? It is impossible to separate fan emotion in the moment from their actions in the future. I suspect that owners may believe that most who assert they will stop supporting MLB will actually come back, or perhaps never leave.

Yet, there are plenty of sports writers even who talk about the game being on the road to ruin, unable to rebound from the debacle of 2020.

Some observers point to the highly-damaging 1994 strike, observing there is no McGwire-Sosa home run chase this time around to bring alienated fans back to the game. That is impossible to say without being able to see into the future.

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Whether or not the home run battle actually saved the game, it is worth remembering that 1998 was the fourth season following the strike. Back in 1994, no one had any idea what was ahead – just like no one today knows what the state of the game will be in 2023.

Maybe owners are right. Maybe the game can survive the “disaster” of 2020 (Manfred’s word, not mine). Maybe the Cardinals will again draw 3.4 million content fans in 2021.

But what if they are wrong?

The Lords of Baseball seem to be judging their success by their financial ledgers, and leading up to 2020, indications are that MLB has been a very healthy business for its owners. But how much of baseball’s record revenues have come from higher prices, technology investments and commercial endorsements, rather than in growth of the game itself?

Long-term studies indicate that MLB is losing the hearts and minds of the fans – and has been for years.

Consider this Gallup Poll data, which stretches back to the pre-Bud Selig days. Also note the very small overall impact of the 1998 home run chase. Sosa and McGwire may have drawn attention to the game, but it did not significantly alter the long-term decline in MLB fan preference.

Eventually this is going to catch up with Major League Baseball. The only question seems to be “How soon?” and the debacle of 2020 is almost certainly another major step in that direction.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series – Best Seasons – 1963-2019


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide PDF for less than half price. In addition, our limited edition printed and bound Guides are going fast, so get yours today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series

photo: Johnson City Cardinals – 2019 Appalachian League Champions (Johnson City Cardinals)

Note from the owner

These are trying times, with very serious issues facing each of us. How we react and cope are personal decisions.

While some feel that the virus threat should render everything else in our lives irrelevant, I think there is room for balance. I believe that we can take our health seriously without it consuming every minute of our day.

Once we are as safe as possible, we await further instructions from the appropriate authorities. But what do we do in the interim?

Many who are quarantined crave entertainment. Until further notice, live sports are out.

But for those who subscribe to The Cardinal Nation, we pledge to continue to deliver new and original St. Louis Cardinals-based content daily. Our forums continue to provide a place for Cardinals fans to discuss baseball, even while games are not being played. Personally, what I am doing is to keep writing about the organization we all follow. It is what I can best do and do best.

It is your decision if you want to read on or if you prefer to focus your attention elsewhere, and I respect your choice. But just know that we will still be here whenever you are ready.

Thank you for reading and may you and your loved ones remain safe.

– Brian Walton



The St. Louis Cardinals have enjoyed a long history of success – both at the Major League and Minor League levels.

The focus of this new series is to revisit the rich history of the Cardinals minor league teams and the organization’s standout players over time.

Part 1 – The levels

Following an overview of the system and how it evolved over the years, we will review each level of play – from Triple-A down through the Dominican Summer League, highlighting the best teams in the regular season, the playoff entrants and the ones that progressed to win their league championship.

This classification-focused view begins in 1963 and runs through 2019 – a period of 47 years. 1963 was chosen because it was a time of significant change for minor league baseball. The long-standing B, C and D classifications were eliminated, and the first Triple-A league to fold, the American Association, did so.

In 1963, the Cardinals were down to all-time low of five affiliates (tied), a far cry from the peak of 31 farm teams just two decades prior. None of the five clubs in 1963 were short-season teams, though the Cardinals initiated their first regular season “complex” team in Florida in 1964. Eventually, the system grew to its current nine affiliates – through two may be eliminated in 2021.

Articles:


Part 2 – System season hitting and pitching leaders since 1960

The second phase of this series will highlight the top individual seasons by Cardinals minor leaguers over time in a number of statistical categories – as compiled for both hitters and pitchers. Some of the names will be very familiar, while others might have been forgotten over the ensuing years.

The time frame for this exercise will be 1960 through 2019, a period of 60 years. The starting date is based on the point in time in which the number of minor league games per season were dropped – making counting stat comparisons valid from 1960 onward.

Hitters Pitchers
Batting average ERA
Hits Wins
Runs Innings pitched
Doubles Strikeouts
Triples Saves
Home runs
RBI
Stolen bases

Part 3 – Current affiliate stats leaders

Each of the Cardinals’ current full-season minor league affiliates maintain team single-season statistical leader lists. These differ from the all-time lists since each of the current teams joined the Cardinals system at different points in time, some relatively recently. Some had other organization affiliations before St. Louis, which will be excluded here. Surprisingly, Johnson City does not maintain its own team records, but I will try to compile a list myself.

      • Memphis Redbirds – 1998-2019
      • Springfield Cardinals – 2005-2019
      • Palm Beach Cardinals – 2003-2019
      • Peoria Chiefs – 1995-2004, 2013-2019
      • State College Spikes – 2006, 2013-2019
      • Johnson City Cardinals – 1975-2019

Part 4 – System season hitting and pitching leaders – all-time

A potential fourth segment of articles – if time permits before 2020 play begins (if it does) – will be to review the all-time minor league stat leaders across the Cardinals farm system. The vast majority of these records were set in the 1930s and 1940s. Even so, a number of the standout player names will be familiar to readers.

The categories would be the same as in Part 2, with the exclusion of stolen bases for offensive players and saves for pitchers, which were not kept that far back in time.

Hitters Pitchers
Batting average ERA
Hits Wins
Runs Innings pitched
Doubles Strikeouts
Triples
Home runs
RBI

Part 5 – Other key individuals

We all should know that the primary purpose of player development is to provide MLB-ready players when St. Louis needs them. In this section, we will remember players who made their Major League debuts by year.

Another area of emphasis will be to evaluate the winningest managers in the farm system over time.

Further surprises could follow, depending where the data leads as well as the calendar, as we all ponder how long baseball will remain on hiatus – while anxiously awaiting the return to live play on the fields.


To see it all

At least one article in each part of the series will be free to all readers, but the majority of this content will be available only to members of The Cardinal Nation. (Those articles will be designated with the key icon. )

We never take for granted the ongoing support of our subscribers, who enable us to provide the best end-to-end coverage of the Cardinals system available anywhere year after year.

Thank you to our readers!


Acknowledgments

This series would not be possible without the record-keeping of Baseball America as delivered via their book, The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, as well as the staff of the St. Louis Cardinals, who have maintained individual player leader lists for decades. Baseball Reference remains a valuable fact-verification resource.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals 2019 Minor League Award Winners Recognized


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com or for fastest turnaround, pose your questions on The Cardinal Nation’s members-only forum. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.