photo: Elehuris Montero (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
St. Louis Cardinals press release
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Wednesday, November 20) that they have selected the contracts of infielder Elehuris Montero (pronounced eh-lay-rees), and right-handed pitchers Alvaro Seijas (say-hoss) and Jake Woodford. The team also announced that they designated for assignment right-handed pitcher Dominic Leone. Today’s transactions place the team’s 40-man Major League roster at 40 players.
Montero, 21, a 6-foot-3, 225 lb., third baseman from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, entered the 2019 season rated as the No. 5 prospect in the Cardinals organization by Baseball America. In 2019, Montero played in only 63 games between Springfield (AA) and a rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League due to a fracture in his hamate bone as he batted .194 with 7 home runs and 18 RBI. He represented the Cardinals in the Arizona Fall League playing 15 games for Glendale. Over the course of his five-year professional career spanning 360 minor league games, Montero is batting .269 with 32 home runs, 192 RBI, 84 doubles, seven triples and 207 runs scored. He was named 2018 Midwest League Player of the Year, earning Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star honors while leading the league with a .322 batting average and .529 slugging percentage to go with 15 home runs and 69 RBI before earning a promotion to High-A Palm Beach to finish the season. Montero’s father played minor league baseball in the Phillies organization.
Seijas, 21, a right-handed pitcher from Maracay, Venezuela, has a career record of 22-19 with a 3.81 ERA over four professional seasons in the Cardinals organization. During 2019, the Midwest League All-Star pitched for Peoria (A) and Palm Beach (A) combining to go 8-6 with a 2.81 ERA over 24 starts (134.1 IP) with 114 strikeouts. Seijas led all Cardinals full season minor league pitchers in ERA, while ranking T-6th among organizational pitchers in wins (8), 7th in strikeouts (114), T-7th in games started (24), 8th in innings pitched (134.1) and tied for the lead with 14 double plays induced. He was one of six Cardinals minor leaguers to throw a complete game and one of three to toss a shutout. Unranked among the top prospects by publications, Seijas made six scoreless starts during the season of 5.0 or more innings and ran off a 19.0 inning scoreless streak in Palm Beach from August 3-22.
Woodford, 23, the Cardinals 2015 supplemental first round selection (39th overall) out of Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., went 9-8 with a 4.15 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 26 starts for Memphis (AAA) in 2019. The Pacific Coast League Mid-Season All-Star ranked among league leaders in ERA (3rd), strikeouts (3rd), starts (T1st), innings pitched (151.2, 2nd), opponent average (.223, 1st), opponent slugging (.384, 1st), and WHIP (1.31, 3rd). The 6-foot-4, 220 lb. Woodford was named PCL Pitcher of the Week for the June 17-23 period after throwing 7.0 scoreless innings of two-hit ball in Memphis’ 5-0 win over the Oklahoma City Dodgers on June 22. Woodford, who entered the 2019 season rated as the No. 16 prospect in the Cardinals organization by Baseball America and invited as a non-roster player to the Cardinals Major League Spring Training camp in 2019, has pitched 108 innings or more in each of the last four seasons with his total increasing each year.
Brian Walton’s take
No surprises here, at least as far as I am concerned, as I had predicted all four moves, and only them.
Once all the free agents departed and the 60-day injured list players were required to be restored the 40-man roster, the Cardinals had three open spots. However, the re-signing of pitcher Adam Wainwright reduced the openings to two.
In my November 16 (subscriber article) assessment, Montero and Woodford were must-adds and were joined by Seijas as the three additions predicted. The three were ranked no. 3, 11 and 26, respectively, in the system in The Cardinal Nation’s August prospect rankings.
Among those on my bubble, at lower than 50 percent odds of protection, were reliever Bryan Dobzanski and infielder John Nogowski. Another I could have mentioned in greater detail is reliever Connor Jones.
The three new 40-man members by definition are invited to St. Louis’ major league spring training camp in February. Woodford was a non-roster invitee in 2019, but for the other two, it will be a first.
Seijas is the least known of the three, but was The Cardinal Nation’s 2019 Comeback Pitcher of the Year for the system.
As a result of the three additions, one player had to be removed. Leone, 28, was the remaining take the Cardinals received from Toronto for outfielder Randal Grichuk in January 2018. The right-hander never fully established himself and finished 2019 off St. Louis’ playoff roster. As an arbitration-eligible player, Leone was in line to make an estimated $1.6 million in 2020, roughly three times the minimum MLB salary. Instead, he will likely be heading to a new home.
Being designated for assignment means that Leone is immediately taken off the 40-man roster. Within the next seven days, he will either be claimed by another organization, going onto their 40-man, will clear waivers and be assigned to Memphis, or be released.
Coincidentally, the other pitcher the #stlcards received from Toronto for Randal Grichuk along with Dominic Leone, Conner Greene, also lost his 40-man roster spot today, DFAed by KC. The Royals had grabbed the RHP off waivers last November.
— Brian Walton (@B_Walton) November 20, 2019
The other Cardinals eligibles, including Dobanski, Nogowski and Jones, even if taken in the Rule 5 draft, I would expect to eventually be returned.
Which reminds me, as I always tell readers, part of any team’s own assessment in preparation for the Rule 5 draft is whether the Rule 5-eligible player might be deemed major league-ready by another organization – and therefore, a good selection candidate. However, even more important is the estimation of the player’s ability to stick on the new team’s (starting in 2020) 26-man active MLB roster all of the next season.
Simply put, even if a player is selected in the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, he could still be returned later, as was the case with pitcher Chris Ellis this past year.
With the 40-man roster full, unless an additional move is made in the interim, the Cardinals will be unable to select anyone in the Major League Phase of the December 12 draft.
Leone cleared outright waivers and was released effective Monday, November 25.
Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation
Last month from the Arizona Fall League, Montero discussed his career to date, his injuries in 2019 and the future.
To track the Cardinals’ 25- and 40-man rosters 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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