photo: Lane Thomas (Jeff Curry/Imagn)
St. Louis Cardinals announcement
Apparently, when the St. Louis Cardinals team has a day off, as they do on Thursday, May 23, so do the people who write their press releases. Instead of using the traditional method to announce roster changes, the club took to Twitter.
RHP Ryan Helsley has been optioned to Memphis (AAA). OF Lane Thomas, recalled yesterday as our 26th man, will remain on the 25-man roster. RHP Alex Reyes’ option has been transferred to Palm Beach (A). pic.twitter.com/xtbJkMuhW1
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 23, 2019
(In the above, Thomas is on the left and Helsley is on the right. In between is John Gant.)
Brian Walton’s take
As noted, when Tuesday’s rainout created a Wednesday twin-bill at Busch Stadium, the two teams were allowed to add a 26th player for the second game. Moving ahead, the Cardinals decided to keep another position player in Thomas and drop a pitcher. This returns the bench balance to five hitters and seven relief pitchers.
Helsley, The Cardinal Nation’s fifth-ranked prospect, had been recalled from Memphis for the second time this season and in his career last Friday, May 17. This time up, the 24-year old right-hander pitched just once.
In 1 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the Wednesday double-header vs. the Royals, Helsley allowed a run on one hit and two walks. He struck out three. In four MLB appearances overall, his rookie-year ERA is 3.38.
Helsley is likely to return to a long relief role for the Triple-A Redbirds. Though St. Louis may need starting help, it appears others will be considered and Helsley will remain in the bullpen – at least for 2019.
Thomas, who holds the next rung on the TCN top 50 after Helsley, sixth, was previously with St. Louis from April 16-27. Last week, I had speculated that because of his consistency, the center fielder might receive the next call when St. Louis needed another outfielder over Tyler O’Neill – and that is what occurred.
In all fairness, what O’Neill needs most is to get regular at-bats, which will only occur with Memphis. With a potential opening in left field in 2020, the Cardinals need to decide if O’Neill will be the man for the job. So far, his major league time has been marked by home runs and strikeouts.
In Wednesday’s nightcap, Thomas played in right field as a defensive replacement for Dexter Fowler for the final two innings of St. Louis’ 10-3 win, but did not make a plate appearance. In his prior stint in the bigs, the right-handed hitter went 4-for-10, including a home run and four RBI.
In 35 games with Memphis this season, Thomas has a slash line of .271/.376/.407/.783. He has 15 RBI, 19 runs scored and is a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts for the Redbirds. As the fifth outfielder, Thomas’ starts with St. Louis should be few and far between, but defensive replacements for the corners are clearly welcome.
Having been optioned by St. Louis to the minors, the 24-year old Reyes had been placed on Memphis’ injured list on April 28 after punching a wall in frustration, fracturing his left (non-throwing) pinkie finger.
The nuance of Reyes’ transaction is this: Though he remains on St. Louis’ 40-man roster, there are no rehab assignments for minor leaguers, so his option was simply transferred from Memphis to Palm Beach. The Beach Birds’ roster had been kept at 24 players for the last few days. Now we know why.
The right-hander was already in Florida, having been sent to the Cardinals rehab complex to continue to throw on a consistent schedule. Reyes made his regular bullpen sessions between “starts”, when he pitched from a mound, but from behind a protective screen. In this side session, under the watchful eye of trainers and as measured by Trackman, he wore a glove, but was not allowed to catch return throws to protect his healing hand.
As the side photo indicates, Reyes had been wearing a Velcro immobilizing splint on his left hand. He last pitched for the Triple-A Redbirds on April 25 – exactly four weeks from today.
In addition to nearby Palm Beach’s Thursday road trip opener, another benefit of pitching for the high-A Cardinals initially is to keep Reyes from risking further injury by having to hit. As an affiliate of the American League Rays, his Thursday opponent, the Charlotte Stone Crabs deploys the designated hitter.
The rate and pace to bring Reyes back to Memphis (and eventually St. Louis) is to be determined.
Alex Reyes seemed to get stronger as he progressed. Retired last eight batters straight, including four of his six strikeouts plus four infield outs. In addition to his fastball that peaked at 99, he used his slider and curve. Of course, it is high-A.
— Brian Walton (@B_Walton) May 24, 2019
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