Cardinals Option Six Players to Minors Sunday

photo: Jack Flaherty (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Jack Flaherty (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced following today’s (Sunday’s) game that they have reduced their Spring Training roster by six players, leaving the number of players in Major League camp at 40 (29 roster players & 11 non-roster invitees).

The team today optioned pitchers Jack Flaherty, John Gant and Ryan Sherriff, catcher Carson Kelly, infielder Breyvic Valera and outfielder Oscar Mercado to the Memphis Redbirds (AAA) roster.

Brian Walton’s take

Carson Kelly (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

With the day off Monday, cuts were expected today. This is the third major group to be sent down to minor league camp this spring.

There had been rumblings in recent days that Kelly could be among them, likely to be replaced as the reserve catcher by minor league free agent signee Francisco Pena. Kelly batted just .100 this spring (three singles in 30 at-bats, .100). With Kelly playing daily at Memphis, fellow top 10 prospect Andrew Knizner will likely be returning to Double-A Springfield.

Breyvic Valera (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

However, to make room on the St. Louis roster for Pena, the Cardinals will have to drop a player from the 40-man roster – unless there is a major injury between now and opening day to clear space by a 60-day disabled list move.

The current 40-man player perhaps most likely on the bubble is Valera, who did not hit well this spring. (Four singles in 25 at-bats for a .160 average.) The switch-hitting infielder/outfielder seems to have been passed in the pecking order by newcomer Yairo Munoz.

Oscar Mercado (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Mercado was impressive defensively, but managed just five singles in 29 at-bats (.172) in Grapefruit League action. The center fielder has yet to appear at Triple-A, and there this season, he would have to compete for playing time with fellow top 20 prospects Tyler O’Neill, Adolis Garcia and Randy Arozarena. The latter two remain in big-league camp as non-roster invitees.

John Gant (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Gant was given the honor of making Sunday’s start against Washington in place of Carlos Martinez. In two innings, the right-hander allowed just one hit and no walks. For the spring, Gant posted a 1.35 ERA to go with 14 strikeouts and just one free pass in 13 1/3 frames.

Flaherty was one of St. Louis’ more impressive pitchers this spring, with a .191 batting average against and a team-leading 20 strikeouts against five walks in 13 innings. Seven runs scored for a less-desirable 4.85 ERA, however. Likely the defacto no. 6 starter, Flaherty will continue to develop by starting every fifth day for Memphis until St. Louis needs him again.

Ryan Sherriff (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Normally a dependable bullpen lefty, Sherriff struggled this spring, yielding six runs, five earned, in just six innings, for a 7.50 ERA.

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 Welcome 181 to 2017 Minors Camp

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 2018 Prospect Guide PDF version for less than half price. Our limited edition printed and bound Guide is now sold out.

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

© 2018 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.