Cardinals Announce 2021 Spring Camp Invitations

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

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals will be opening their 24th year of Spring Training in Jupiter, Fla. when the team’s pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday, February 17.  The Cardinals full squad will conduct their first workouts on Monday, February 22.

The Cardinals have invited 65 players to Spring Training, including 38 players who are on the team’s 40-man Major League Roster.  The camp roster includes 33 pitchers (11 non-roster), 8 catchers (5 non-roster), 14 infielders (7 non-roster) and 10 outfielders (4 non-roster).

Seven players on the roster have seven or more years of Major League service time, led by catcher Yadier Molina’s 16-plus years.  Twenty-four players have no Major League service time.

The Cardinals camp roster includes 10 left-handed pitchers, eight left-handed hitting position players and four switch-hitters.

Newcomers to the Cardinals organization this spring include Nolan Arenado (3B); Tyler Heineman (C), Max Moroff (INF), Johan Quezada (RHP), Josė Rondón (INF) and Garrett Williams (LHP).

Brian Walton’s take

In recognition of the ongoing challenges created by the coronavirus, the size of camp has been dropped from 73 last year to the current 65. (No more than 75 players can be invited per the current MLB directive.)

This decline was primarily driven by pitchers, with their non-roster invitee (NRI) count reduced from 17 in 2020 to 11 in 2021. However, this change should have no bearing whatsoever on the team’s ability to prepare for the upcoming season.

By definition, the entire 40-man roster (which is not currently full) is invited to big-league camp, so the real news here is the 27 NRIs.

Overall, they are a young group in terms of experience, but they have plenty of talent as evident by the fact that 13 of the 27 are among The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 prospects for 2021.

50 Days, 50 Nights, 50 St. Louis Cardinals Prospects for 2021

Pitchers

Just two of the 11 NRI pitchers have prior MLB time – and it was very brief.

Jesus Cruz and Roel Ramirez had similar fates. They were pressed into early duty last August and bombed in their debuts with St. Louis. The right-handers were removed from the roster and cleared waivers, to remain and gain more experience.

Five of the 11 are ranked among The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 prospects for 2021, including two top five lefties – Matthew Liberatore (no. 3) and Zack Thompson (no. 5). Others are Griffin Roberts at no. 20, Tommy Parsons at no. 32 and Evan Kruczynski at no. 46.

Matthew Liberatore

Pitchers passed over include former 40-man pitchers Ricardo Sanchez and Alvaro Seijas and no. 43 prospect Alex FaGalde.

Catchers

One of the extra catchers has played in the majors. Veteran Tyler Heineman was with San Francisco for a time in 2020 and is likely slated for Triple-A.

The only member of our current Top 50 is Pedro Pages at no. 35.

Pedro Pages

It is very surprising to see catcher Julio Rodriguez, The Cardinal Nation’s 25th-ranked prospect, not included among the NRIs.

Infielders

During the off-season, MLB veterans Jose Rondon and Max Moroff were signed to compete for a reserve spot with 40-man holdover Edmundo Sosa.

TCN’s 2021 Top 50 infield prospects are led by no. 2 prospect, third baseman Nolan Gorman. Others are first baseman Luken Baker, no. 23, Kramer Robertson, no. 37, Delvin Perez at no. 42 and Evan Mendoza at no. 45. The latter three are shortstops, with Perez having been the team’s first-round pick in 2016 and a disappointment to date offensively.

Nolan Gorman

Infielders not invited to camp include 2019 Springfield middle infielders Irving Lopez and Rayder Ascanio. Neither is a ranked prospect nor is it a surprise they are not invited.

Outfielders

This is a green bunch, as none of the four have prior MLB time. In fact, only Conner Capel has a very brief eight games of Triple-A time as an injury fill-in to lead the quartet.

In our 2021 prospect rankings, Justin Toerner comes in at no. 40, Capel is no. 48, Lars Nootbaar is an honorable mention and Scott Hurst is currently unranked.

Justin Toerner

There are no surprise camp omissions among the organization’s outfielders, a group that is thin overall. However, the six already on the 40-man roster provide more than adequate depth in the short term.


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

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

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