All posts by Brian Walton

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

Cardinals Add Pair of Veteran Starting Pitchers

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

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired two left-handed starting pictures with considerable MLB experience – J.A. Happ and Jon Lester.

St. Louis Cardinals press releases

The St. Louis Cardinals announced this afternoon (Friday, July 20) that they have acquired veteran left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ and cash considerations from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for right-handed pitcher John Gant and minor league left-handed pitcher Evan Sisk.

Happ, 38, is a veteran of 15 big league seasons since debuting with the Phillies in 2007.  Happ has compiled a career mark of 128-98 with a 4.13 ERA in 343 career games (317 starts), including a career-high 20 wins in 2016 with Toronto.

The 6-5, 205-pound Happ has had career stops in Toronto, Philadelphia, New York Yankees, Houston, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Seattle.   He finished 2nd in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting in 2009 after winning 12 games for the Phillies and was an American League All-Star in 2018.

Happ has appeared in 15 postseason games during his career, including the 2009 World Series with Philadelphia. He is 5-6 with a 6.77 ERA in 19 starts for the Twins this season.

J.A. Happ

The St. Louis Cardinals have announced their second trade of the afternoon, acquiring veteran left-handed pitcher Jon Lester from the Washington Nationals in exchange for outfielder Lane Thomas.

Lester, 37, was 3-5 with a 5.02 ERA in 16 starts for the Nationals this season.

The 6-4, 250-pound Lester owns a career mark of 196-116 with a 3.64 is a veteran of 16 big league seasons with Boston (2006-14), Oakland (2014), Chicago Cubs (2015-20) and Washington (2021).

Lester is a four-time Cy Young Award Top-10 finalist (2010, 2014, 2016, 2018) and a five-time All-Star.   He led the National League in wins (18) in 2018 as a member of the Cubs and had a league-best .792 winning pct. (19-5) in 2016 while helping the Cubs to the World Series.

Lester is a three-time World Series Champion, winning titles in 2007 and 2013 with Boston and 2016 with the Cubs.

Jon Lester

Brian Walton’s take

The Cardinals add the pair of lefties, looking for “stability and experience” “without giving up a lot of future talent,” St. Louis’ president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said on Friday afternoon.

Though the Cardinals were chasing other pitchers, the number of clubs looking as well made the price higher than the Cardinals were willing to pay. Mozeliak specifically referenced the organization’s top five prospects are ones the Cardinals want to keep.

The PBO noted both new Cardinals will be given a chance to start, with Monday’s day off giving the club a chance to “hit the reset button” on the rotation.

Neither’s recent results offer too much confidence they can help lead the rotation into the post-season. Mozeliak acknowledged the Cardinals tried to acquire other pitchers and cited an example that they lost out on one who he thought the team would be acquiring when he came in Friday morning. But it fell though. Veterans Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas are early in rehab outings with the hope they can return by mid-August.

Jake Woodford

The two youthful starters to be displaced are Jake Woodford and Johan Oviedo. Mozeliak specifically noted the latter will be able “to grow at a more natural pace” with Triple-A Memphis. He was unclear about how Woodford, who has far more Triple-A experience, will be impacted.

Johan Oviedo

As noted in the release, the Cardinals received cash from the Twins to offset some of Happ’s remaining salary of $2.6 million. Lester is owed about three-quarter of a million dollars for the remainder of 2021.

John Gant

Thomas and Gant have certain similarities in their standing. While Gant has been a consistent bullpenner in recent years, he was removed from the 2021 starting rotation in large part due to excessive walks issued.

Thomas had a strong 2019 debut but struggled in 2020 and 2021. In the meantime, the starting outfield of Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader and Dylan Carlson has solidified, leaving Thomas to come off the St. Louis bench when not sent back down to Memphis.

Lane Thomas

The transactions are roster-neutral, with Thomas and Gant coming off the 40-man and Happ and Lester going on.

Evan Sisk

Sisk, 24, was taken by the Cardinals in the 16th round of the 2018 draft. The left-hander advanced to Peoria to open the season and after 10 relief appearances (with a 2.84 ERA), he was promoted to Springfield. In Double-A Sisk’s ERA was 3.60 in 16 outings. His season ERA is 3.31 with his career mark 2.90.

Footnote

Down one offensive player with Thomas gone and with Lester not reporting until Sunday, the Cardinals also recalled outfielder Lars Nootbaar from Memphis on Friday.

Lars Nootbaar

Expect a move of a pitcher off St. Louis’ roster ahead when Lester officially reports.

Update no. 2

After Saturday night’s poor start, Jake Woodford was optioned to Memphis to accommodate the arrival of Lester.

Jake Woodford

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.

Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

TCN’s Monthly Cardinals Top 50 Prospect Rankings – July 2021

Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

10% off Blowout Sale now underway on the spiral-bound, printed version.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!

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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Promote Trio to High-A Peoria

The St. Louis Cardinals have promoted three players from Low-A Palm Beach to High-A Peoria. They are shortstop-pitcher Masyn Winn, first baseman Todd Lott and left-handed pitcher Kevin Marnon. Brian Walton considers what may be behind these moves and what may be next.

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Cardinals Acquire 40-Man Roster Pitcher T.J. Zeuch

photo: T.J. Zeuch (Toronto Blue Jays)

St. Louis Cardinals announcement

Zeuch, who had been designated for assignment, was acquired in return for cash considerations. He was Toronto’s first round selection (21st overall) in the 2016 Draft. The former University of Pittsburgh right-hander will celebrate his 26th birthday on August 1.

Befitting his draft status, Zeuch was once considered a top prospect in the Jays system, but his star has dimmed in recent years.

T.J. Zeuch

He first reached Triple-A in 2019 and has a 3.84 ERA in 25 appearances, including 22 starts. Zeuch has fanned 81 and walked 45 in 136 innings.

Zeuch made his MLB debut with the Jays in 2020 and in 13 outings across the two seasons, he has a 4.59 ERA. His 24 walks against 31 strikeouts in 49 innings is a concern while groundballs remain his forte.

The ability of the 6-foot-7, 245-pounder to start gives the Cardinals additional flexibility should either rehabbing Jack Flaherty or Miles Mikolas stumble. In the meantime, he will join the Memphis starting corps and try to impress the St. Louis brass.

Given his minimal MLB experience, Zeuch has two minor league option years remaining. He took the 40-man roster spot of reliever Roel Ramirez, claimed off waivers by the Mets this past week.

More on Zeuch from Prospects Live

In March, our friends at Prospects Live ranked Zeuch no. 29 in the Jays system, with the following commentary.

“Pitch-to-contact righty who needs to live on the edges to succeed. The stuff doesn’t miss enough bats consistently to be effective over the plate, even when sequencing well, and the command isn’t consistent or precise enough to MLB hitters out on a regular basis. Likely an up and down long reliever/emergency start guy that can give innings in a pinch. Could peak in middle relief if the slider improves.”


Other Sunday news

High A Peoria has placed first baseman Brady Whalen on the seven-day injured list.

Brady Whalen

In his fifth professional season on the field, the 23-year-old has a career-high nine home runs and 27 RBI in 49 games. The switch-hitter’s 2021 slash line is .255/.318/.432/.750.


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.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

TCN’s Monthly Cardinals Top 50 Prospect Rankings – July 2021

Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

10% off Blowout Sale now underway on the spiral-bound, printed version.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Willis Signs, Cardinals Have Two Draft Picks to Go

photo: Alec Willis (Karen Stoughton photo)

On Saturday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Alec Willis who hails from a Colorado high school. The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder was the Cardinals’ seventh-round pick, but the Cardinals had to entice Willis enough to forego his commitment to attend the University of Minnesota.

St. Louis gave Willis a signing bonus of $1,000,000, according to MLB Pipeline. That is over three-quarters of a million more than his pick’s slot value of $211,500.

Alec Willis

Now with 19 of their 21 draft picks signed a week before the August 1 deadline, the Cardinals have spent their allocation from MLB, with the exception of $125,000 per remaining pick. However, adding in an optional 5% overage, they still have over $300,000 remaining to spend before incurring draft pick penalties – but not all can go to one player.

Their two remaining picks are 17th round outfielder Elijah Cabell from Florida State and 20th rounder, third baseman Xavier Casserilla. Any signing bonus over $125,000 each would eat into the current buffer of $55,455. So, for example, the maximum non-penalty spend on one would be $180,455, with the other unable to receive more than $125,000.

(Note: In the initial version of this article, Willis’ bonus total was misrepresented as his above slot amount, which affected the math that followed. This mistake has been corrected.)


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.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2021 Week 11


Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

10% off Blowout Sale now underway on the spiral-bound, printed version.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Reliever Roel Ramirez Claimed off Waivers by Mets

photo: Roel Ramirez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

St. Louis Cardinals announcement

It was not disclosed previously that Ramirez had been placed on outright waivers, but it is clear the Cardinals wanted to clear a 40-man roster spot. For what use remains to be seen, but it is worth noting just 10 days remain until the trade deadline.

Roel Ramirez

Because Ramirez had previously been outrighted by the Cardinals last summer, had he not been claimed, he could have elected free agency, anyway.

The 26-year-old was up and down with St. Louis once since being restored to the 40-man roster on June 28. Though successful at Triple-A, Ramirez could not replicate that with St. Louis. He was returned to Memphis on July 4 and remained there since after allowing three runs in 1/3 innings with the Cardinals. His MLB career total is nine earned runs yielded in one inning total for an ERA of 81.00.

Ramirez originally joined the Cardinals on July 31, 2018 as part of the Tommy Pham trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.


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.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2021 Week 11

Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

10% off Blowout Sale now underway on the spiral-bound, printed version.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Increase 2021 Draft Commitment to 11 of 21

photo: Gordon Graceffo (Villanova University)

St. Louis Cardinals announcement

On Monday, July 19, the St. Louis Cardinals formally announced six additional signings from their 2021 draft class (see lower tweet). However, three of them were previously reported a week ago on MLB’s draft tracker and already acknowledged here.

Monday’s new names are:

  • 5th rounder: RHP Gordon Graceffo
  • 15th rounder: LHP Alec Cornwell
  • 18th rounder: RHP Andrew Marrero

Gordon Graceffo

Alex Cornwell

Andrew Marrero

Individual signing bonuses for the above trio have not yet been disclosed.

You may notice the above tweets include just 10 players. The 11th, first-rounder Michael McGreevy, was announced last Friday. That leaves 10 draft picks yet to be signed prior to the August 1 deadline.

You can read much more about these – and all the Cardinals draft picks – in these articles.

Cardinals Conclude 2021 Draft with 10 Picks

St. Louis Cardinals Select 10 in Day 2 of 2021 Draft

Cardinals Select Michael McGreevy in 2021 MLB Draft’s First Round


Updates – Baez is done

Later Monday afternoon, the organization announced its second rounder has come to terms. As a prep star with considerable leverage, Baez was expected to be an over slot signing and all of the Cardinals’ picks to date with known bonuses created cost savings. Baez is a major beneficiary, receiving $911,500 over slot to sign.

Joshua Baez

Baez increases the Cardinals draft signing total to 12 of 21.

Two others go

As new players come into the organization, others reach the end of their time as Cardinals. So it is on Monday for one pick from the each of the 2018 and 2019 drafts.

  • Peoria RHP Cole Aker has been given his unconditional release.
  • Palm Beach RHP Will Guay has been given his unconditional release.

Aker, 24, was the Cardinals’ 18th-rounder in 2018. He was a starter until midway through the 2019 season at Low-A, where he logged a 6.17 ERA. Aker improved in the High-A pen that season with a 2.91 ERA in 19 games, but at the same level in 2021, he struggled to a 7.62 ERA in 20 appearances.

Cole Aker

Guay, 24, became a Cardinal after his selection in 2019’s 24th round. He began strongly in the 2019 Johnson City pen, with a 2.35 ERA and was named The Cardinal Nation’s top reliever on the rookie-Advanced club.

But he was plagued by the walk at Class-A this year. Guay issued 27 free passes to go with 33 hits in 27 1/3 innings. A 5.53 ERA resulted.

Will Guay

Lateral shift

  • RHP Marlyn Almonte has been transferred from the DSL Red roster to DSL Blue.

This is likely a balancing move as the former roster had three more players than the latter.

Almonte, 18, is a first-year professional from the Dominican Republic. In 1 1/3 innings for the Red, he allowed one run.

Marlyn Almonte


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.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

Florida Complex League Cardinals Notebook – 2021 Week 3


Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

10% off Blowout Sale now underway on the spiral-bound, printed version.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Promote Left-Handed Reliever T.J. McFarland

photo: T.J. McFarland (Rhona Wise/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Friday, July 16) that they have selected the contract of veteran left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland from Memphis (AAA) and optioned lefty Brandon Waddell to Memphis.

To make room for McFarland on the team’s 40-player Major League roster, Waddell has been placed on the COVID Injured List at Memphis.

McFarland, 32, was signed by the Cardinals to a minor league contract on July 1 following his release by Rochester, the Triple-A affiliate for Washington, and was assigned to Memphis.

T.J. McFarland

In four games for Memphis, McFarland was 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA (7.0 IP/2 ER) and one save.  He is a combined 2-2 with a 4.65 ERA in 22 games this season between Memphis and Rochester, striking out 34 in 31.0 innings pitched, with seven walks.

The 6-3, 200-pound McFarland, a native of Palos Park, Ill., has complied a career mark of 20-14 and a 4.08 ERA in 285 games (3 starts) with Baltimore (2013-16), Arizona (2017-19) and Oakland (2020).

McFarland is the fifth pitcher to have been added to the Cardinals pitching staff over the past month, joining Wade LeBlanc, Justin Miller, Luis García and Waddell.

McFarland has been assigned uniform no. 62.

Brian Walton’s take

Prior to Friday’s game, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said that Waddell had tested positive after he was optioned to Triple-A. MLB rules allow COVID IL players to be replaced on the 40-man roster, no matter the level assigned.

Brandon Waddell

McGreevy comes to terms

In other Friday news, the Cardinals brought in first-round draft pick Michael McGreevy for his medicals as well as an opportunity to meet with the media. At the end of the day, the club formalized the signing of the right-handed pitcher.

McGreevy is the fifth of 21 Cardinals draftees to officially come to terms with the team. His bonus amount has yet to be shared.

Michael McGreevy

Update


Three other picks come to terms

Though not announced by the Cardinals, signing bonuses for three other draft picks have been recorded on MLB.com’s draft tracker. Fourth rounder Zane Mills signed for more than $100,000 under slot, freeing up money to be used on other selections.

  • RHP Zane Mills – 4th round – $375,000
  • C Aaron McKeithan – 16th round – $50,000
  • 1B Thomas Francisco – 19th round – $100,000

Zane Mills

Aaron McKeithan

Thomas Francisco

This increases the Cardinals total to eight of 21 picks signed.

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.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2021 Week 10


Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

10% off Blowout Sale now underway on the spiral-bound, printed version.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Quickly Sign Four 2021 Draft Picks

photo: Alfredo Ruiz (Long Beach State)

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed the sixth, eighth, ninth and 10th-round selections from their 2021 draft class. The four were picked just two days prior, during Monday’s draft day 2.

Late Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the first four signings from their 2021 draft class.

Alfredo Ruiz

Mike Antico

Trent Baker

Osvaldo Tovalin

Full details on all four players can be found in the following article.

St. Louis Cardinals Select 10 in Day 2 of 2021 Draft

Initial team assignments have not yet been made, though The Cardinal Nation Roster Matrix will indicate their signed status. The club does not disclose signing bonuses.

Other Wednesday news

The Cardinals have returned second baseman Irving Lopez to Double-A Springfield from Triple-A Memphis.

Irving Lopez

The 26-year-old was promoted to Triple-A two months prior, on May 13. In 114 plate appearances with Memphis, Lopez slashed .229/.289/.325/.614. His initial 21-game stint with Memphis in 2019 was far better (.852 OPS). For now, the left-handed batter will have to get back on track at Springfield.


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.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2021 Week 10

Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

10% off Blowout Sale now underway on the spiral-bound, printed version.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals 2021 Pre-Draft Basics

All the background information to prepare for the St. Louis Cardinals’ 21 selections ahead in the 2021 First-Year Player Draft.

When?

The 20-round 2021 First-Year Player Draft consisting of 612 selections will stretch over three consecutive days. (Actually, it begins on Sunday evening!)

Round 1+ (first 36 picks)

  • Sunday, July 11, 7 p.m. ET
  • MLB Network, ESPN and MLB.com
  • Four, then two minutes between selections

Rounds 2-10

  • Monday, July 12, 1 p.m. ET
  • Round 2 only on MLB Network with Rounds 3-10 on MLB.com
  • One minute between selections

Because the Cardinals have a Competitive Balance Round B selection, they will make 10 picks across these nine rounds, including a total of three in the first 70 and five in the initial 120.

Rounds 11-20

  • Tuesday, July 13, noon ET
  • MLB.com
  • No time between selections

Who and Where?

Xavier Scruggs will be the Cardinals’ representative in Denver so the organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant should get a lot of TV face time.

The former MLB first baseman will receive instructions from the brain trust in St. Louis, led by director of scouting Randy Flores.

How Much can they Spend?

The Cardinals have been allocated cap space of $8,167,100 to sign their 11 selections through round 10.

Individual slot values are shown below and are the same as in 2019 and 2020.

The total amount must also accommodate incremental spending on any individual players signed for more than $125,000 each in rounds 11-20. However, every team does have a bit more flexibility. It can overspend by up to 5% of the total without incurring future draft pick penalties.

Based on the reverse order of 2020 standings, St. Louis would pick 19th in each round. However, Houston forfeited its first and second round selections, bringing the Cardinals up to 18th.

Round-pick 2021 draft Pick value
1-18 $3,481,300
2-54 $1,338,500
2-70 CBB $906,800
3-90 $657,600
4-120 $478,300
5-151 $353,700
6-181 $270,300
7-211 $211,500
8-241 $171,200
9-271 $153,300
10-301 $144,600
Pool total $8,167,100

Where will the Cardinals focus?

Everyone would like to know if St. Louis will continue its recent trend of focusing on position players early or return to its traditional pitching core. They also wonder if the organization will take a chance on riskier, but higher upside high schoolers or go with more conservative collegians.

Of course, the front office does not share their draft board or even hint as to who is on it. In fact, they may not yet know who they will select. It would not be due to a lack of preparation, however, since the direction may depend on the 17 players taken before St. Louis’ first turn at no. 18 overall.

Having said that, a number of national draft observers believe that college pitching is the strongest segment of this class. Given the magnitude of pitching struggles at all levels of the Cardinals minor league system, going with the flow may be the best approach.

How soon will signings occur?

By delaying the draft a month, the annual conflicts with the NCAA College World Series are no more. Signings should begin relatively quickly, with the normal caveats of examinations needing to occur before official announcements are made.

Draftees, whether high school or college, will have less than three weeks – until August 1 – to make their signing decision.

What is next?

Check back at The Cardinal Nation for daily draft coverage with player scouting reports by Blake Newberry and commentary by Brian Walton.


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.

Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2021 Week 9


Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

10% off Blowout Sale now underway on the spiral-bound, printed version.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Add Fourth Veteran Pitcher in Recent Days – Luis Garcia

photo: Luis Garcia (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Friday, July 9) that they have signed veteran right-handed pitcher Luis García to a free-agent contract, and that he will join the team for its series-opening game this afternoon in Chicago.

To make room for García on the team’s 26-player active roster, right-handed pitcher Johan Oviedo was optioned to Memphis (AAA).  Pitcher Carlos Martínez (right thumb sprain) has been transferred to the 60-day Injured List allowing for García’s addition to the team’s 40-player Major League roster.

García, 34, has spent eight seasons in the majors with Philadelphia (2013-18), Los Angeles Angels (2019) and Texas (2020).  The 6-2, 240-pound García has appeared in 326 career games (all but four as a reliever) and has compiled a career mark of 14-17 with a 4.26 ERA in 315.0 innings pitched.

García worked in 60 or more games in three of five seasons from 2015-2019, including a career-high 72 in 2015 for the Phillies, and he logged 59 games in 2018.

The Santo Domingo, D.R. native was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an International free agent in 2004 just days before his 17th birthday and he debuted in the States in 2007 with the Gulf Coast League Dodgers.  García has appeared in 258 career games in the minors, most recently with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.

In 18 games for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders this season, García was 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA, striking out 19 in 17.1 innings of relief with just three walks allowed.  García, who was released by the Yankees on July 6, made his last appearance for the RailRiders on June 26.

Luis Garcia

García joins recent additions to the Cardinals pitching staff over the past three weeks that have included Wade LeBlanc, Brandon Waddell and Justin Miller.

García has been assigned uniform no. 66.

Brian Walton’s take

As noted above, the Cardinals continue to reclaim veteran pitchers that other teams have given up on. This has been required as the club’s minor league depth has mostly been exhausted to compensate for the spate of injuries suffered by St. Louis pitching.

Speaking of which, the move to the 60-day IL with Martinez puts a boundary around his return from the torn ligament in his thumb. Even if he is well enough to pitch in September, rejoining the rotation this season feels like a remote possibility, given the buildup time that would be required to start.

Manager Mike Shildt mentioned on Friday that Martinez “has some choices” to make about his recovery plan. Surgery was not mentioned specifically, but must be a possibility, With two option years ahead at a costly rate based on his recent production, the 29-year-old may be done as a Cardinal.

Carlos Martinez

Oviedo, who has had to learn how to be a major league pitcher via the school of hard knocks, is being sent down to Memphis to stay on a semi-regular starting schedule. He is tentatively scheduled to take the ball for the Redbirds next Tuesday, with his potential return to St. Louis to be determined after that, Shildt said on Friday.

Johan Oviedo


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.


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Memphis Redbirds Notebook – 2021 Week 9


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Carlos Martinez Joins List of Injured Cardinals Starting Pitchers

photo: Carlos Martinez and assistant trainer Chris Conroy (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals had listed Carlos Martinez or Wade LeBlanc as the possible starting pitcher for Friday’s series opener in Chicago. The decision was dependent on whether Martinez’ injured hand would enable him to throw a Wednesday bullpen session.

That earlier cautious optimism went out the window when the veteran right-hander did not show improvement in his grip strength tests. A subsequent MRI on Wednesday in San Francisco revealed news that was “not positive,” said Cardinals manager Mike Shildt that afternoon.

Carlos Martinez

Martinez has a torn ligament in his right thumb that was suffered while batting. The two-time National League All-Star has been placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to July 5.

“It will impact him for some period of time,” his manager said. “I am not expecting him in the rotation any time soon.”

It is the 29-year-old’s second stint on the IL in 2021. Martinez was out from May 11 through May 20 with a right ankle injury caused by slipping on wet steps during a dugout celebration.

In 16 inconsistent starts in 2021, Martinez has a 6.23 ERA. He will be eligible for free agency this fall if the Cardinals do not pick up 2022 and 2023 options for his services.

Martinez joins fellow St. Louis starting pitchers Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson on the injured list. Kwang-Hyun Kim also missed time earlier this season, leaving 39-year-old Adam Wainwright as the only rotation constant in 2021. This is a key reason why the underachieving club has a record that is under .500 into the second half of the season.

In the corresponding roster move, the Cardinals recalled outfielder Lars Nootbaar. Though technically, the rookie was brought up from Triple-A Memphis, he has been traveling with St. Louis during the current road trip.

Lars Nootbaar

In his earlier debut, Nootbaar was with St. Louis from June 22 until July 1, when Harrison Bader was activated. With the Cardinals, the 23-year-old Nootbaar slashed 160/.214/.240/.454 in 28 plate appearances over nine contests.

This time around, Nootbaar will likely serve in a reserve role with St. Louis.


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.


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Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2021 Week 9


Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

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Bader Returns to St. Louis’ Lineup and Thursday Roster Moves

photo: Harrison Bader (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

Following Wednesday’s signing of left-handed reliever T. J. McFarland, who had opted out of his contract with the Washington Nationals, the St. Louis Cardinals lost another player, a catcher, likely for the same reason – the perception of a better opportunity elsewhere.

  • Memphis catcher Tyler Heineman unconditionally released.
  • Outfielder Harrison Bader activated from the 10-day IL by St. Louis.
  • Outfielder Lars Nootbaar optioned from St. Louis to Memphis.

Heineman

Heineman, 30, was signed as a minor league free agent last November. The switch-hitter had prior MLB experience with Miami and San Francisco but did not seem close to joining St. Louis. Heineman has spent most of his time at Triple-A since first reaching that level in 2015.

Tyler Heineman

With the Redbirds, Heineman slashed .254/.325/.313/.638 in 77 plate appearances over 21 games. Other catchers on the Memphis roster include Clint Coulter, Dennis Ortega and 40-man roster player Al1 Sanchez.

Bader

The Cardinals announced Thursday that they activated centerfielder Harrison Bader from the 10-day injured list. Bader missed the 34 games due to a right rib hairline fracture suffered on May 24 at the Chicago White Sox while diving forward attempting to catch a line drive.

Harrison Bader

Bader rehabbed at High-A Palm Beach and Triple-A Memphis before rejoining the Cardinals as they open their road trip in Colorado. He is the last of St. Louis’ starting position players to come off the injured list, finally putting the offense at its true full strength.

Secondary impacts include the return of Tommy Edman to second base from right field and the move of Dylan Carlson for center back to right field.

Nootbaar

To make room on St. Louis’ 26-man active roster, the Cardinals optioned outfielder Lars Nootbaar to Memphis following Wednesday’s game. In his MLB debut, the 23-year-old slashed 160/.214/.240/.454 in 28 plate appearances over nine contests.

Lars Nootbaar

Before his first-ever call-up to the Cardinals on June 22, the former USC Trojan was slashing .329/.430/.557/.987 with five home runs and 17 RBI with Memphis.

Perhaps with an eye toward these moves, the Cardinals released outfielder Matt Szczur on Monday. Other outfielders on Memphis’ active roster are Lane Thomas, Justin Williams, Scott Hurst and Conner Capel. Coulter also has considerable outfield experience.


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.


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Springfield Cardinals Notebook – 2021 Week 8


Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

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St. Louis’ Top Two Prospects to 2021 MLB Futures Game

photo: Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore (St. Louis Cardinals)

The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game features top Minor League prospects competing as part of MLB All-Star Sunday. After a one-year hiatus due to COVID, the annual event will be held on July 11 at Coors Field in Denver.

Among those invited to participate are The St. Louis Cardinals’ top hitting and pitching prospects per The Cardinal Nation, no. 1 infielder Nolan Gorman and no. 2 left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore.

The contest will pit 25 American League prospects against an equal number from the National League in a seven-inning game to be televised nationally.

Both Cardinals are members of the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, with the former new to the roster and the latter having been with the club this season except for a period competing in the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Coincidentally, Liberatore will make his eighth start of the season for the Redbirds Wednesday evening. In his most recent start last week, he allowed four runs in the first inning, but bounced back to retire 15 of the last 16 batters he faced. Liberatore struck out a season-high nine batters in that start.

Prior to that, the 21-year-old had been outstanding in June, allowing just two earned runs on eight hits in 11 1/3 innings. In seven Memphis starts this season, Liberatore has a 4.62 ERA backed by 37 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 37 innings and an opposing batting average of just .248. One negative is six home runs allowed, including two in his most recent outing.

It is unclear if Liberatore will be allowed by the Cardinals to be a part of the U.S. team that will be one of the six nations to compete in the Tokyo Olympics beginning in late July.

Matthew Liberatore

 Gorman was promoted to Memphis from Springfield on Monday and will be playing his first Triple-A contest Wednesday night. The 19th overall selection in the 2018 Draft excelled in his first shot at the Double-A level, slashing .288/.354/.508/.862 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI in 43 games.

Gorman’s childhood friend is none other than Liberatore. The two grew up playing youth baseball together in suburban Phoenix and are currently the nos. 28 and 27 prospects in the game, respectively, according to MLB Pipeline.

While still in High-A in 2019, Gorman also played in the Futures Game, along with then no. 1 Cardinals prospect and current outfielder Dylan Carlson.

Nolan Gorman


For more

Click here to see all 50 prospects selected to the 2021 Futures Game.


Other Wednesday news

The Cardinals have signed pitcher T.J. McFarlane to a contract that will pay him a higher rate if he reaches the majors. First to report the move of the lefty opting out of his contract with Washington and signing with St. Louis is Jesse Daugherty of the Washington Post.

My expectation is that the 32-year-old will not initially be given a 40-man roster spot and will be assigned to Memphis, but at this point, the Cardinals have not commented.

McFarland pitched in the majors from 2013-2020 with Baltimore, Arizona and in 285 appearances, his career ERA is 4.08.

T.J. McFarland


Peoria outfielder Tyler Reichenborn has been placed on the High-A club’s 7-day injured list.

Tyler Reichenborn

In 119 plate appearances over 31 games for the Chiefs, the 22-year-old has slashed .220/.345/.380/.725. Reichenborn has three home runs, 12 RBI and has fanned 30 times. The Minnesota native was signed in 2019 as a non-drafted free agent.


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.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2021 Week 8


Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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

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Cardinals A-Ball Teams Welcome Back Four

Four players who had been inactive with St. Louis Cardinals Class-A affiliates Peoria and Palm Beach were activated by their respective clubs on Tuesday. High-A Peoria welcomes two pitchers back into action while Low-A Palm Beach receives a pair of outfielders.

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Cardinals Place Ponce de Leon on Injured List

photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon (Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals release

RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon was placed on the 10-day Injured List today (Wednesday, June 23) with right shoulder discomfort. The Cardinals have recalled RHP Seth Elledge (0-0, 5.40 ERA, 9 appearances with St. Louis) from Memphis (AAA), who was just 52 miles down the road in Toledo where the Redbirds were playing the Mudhens last night.

Daniel Ponce de Leon

Ponce de Leon was removed from last night game after two batters (his second trip to the I.L. this season; right shoulder inflammation 4/30-5/18).

Seth Elledge

Brian Walton’s take

Ponce becomes the Cardinals’ sixth pitcher on the IL and third reliever (joining Kodi Whitley and Jordan Hicks). He explained the feeling was similar to that he experienced prior to his last time sidelined. The timing of his return is to be determined.


Update: Wednesday minor league move

Palm Beach right-handed pitcher Hector Soto has been placed on the 7-day injured list.

Hector Soto

Soto, 22, joined the Beach Birds three weeks ago from Complex camp and pitched in five Class-A games. In 5 1/3 innings over five outings, the native of Mexico allowed four runs, but only two were earned, for a 3.38 ERA. Soto yielded seven hits, but only one walk to go with seven strikeouts.llll

This is Soto’s second season in the US, as he appeared briefly at four different levels –in 2019 – both short-season teams that lost their affiliation (State College and Johnson City) as well as the Gulf Coast League and Palm Beach, when the latter was classified as High-A.


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.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2021 Week 7


Now Available – 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide

Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.

TCN’s 2021 Cardinals Prospect Guide – Now Available!


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© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.