photo: Jake Woodford (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)
St. Louis Cardinals press release
The St. Louis Cardinals announced this afternoon (Monday, March 11) that they have optioned or re-assigned six players to the team’s minor league camp, reducing the number of players in Major League Spring Training camp to 49, including 33 roster players.
The team optioned infielder Ramón Urías and outfielder Lane Thomas to the Memphis (AAA) roster and re-assigned non-roster pitchers Connor Jones and Jake Woodford and catchers José Godóy and Brian O’Keefe to minor league camp.
Brian Walton’s take
There is little surprise about the non-roster players, as Jones and Woodford are not competitive to make the team and fewer pitchers mean fewer guys are needed to catch them.
The 40-man players dropped would not have been the ones I would have predicted coming into camp, however. Thomas lost considerable playing time due to a side injury, which opened the door for Dylan Carlson to play more as well as minor league camper Scott Hurst.
Like Thomas, Urias was lapped by a non-roster invitee, middle infielder Tommy Edman. Not only did they compete in camp, but they will also bump heads for time at Memphis this season with 40-man shortstop Edmundo Sosa, already sent out in the first wave of cuts on Saturday, second baseman Max Schrock, and the loser of the utilityman battle between Yairo Muñoz and Drew Robinson. The latter three remain in camp.
Woodford closed his stint on a positive note, throwing two scoreless innings to save Monday’s win over the Nationals. The right-hander ends his camp with three runs, two earned, allowed in six innings for a 3.00 ERA. He held opponents to a .190 batting average, walked three and fanned four. The 22-year old should be in the competition to return to Memphis’s rotation.
Jones, moved to relief late last season, is coming off a rough Saturday outing in which he yielded four runs in just 1/3 of an inning. Those were his only runs in 4 1/3 frames, making his spring ERA 8.31. Jones allowed five hits, issued four free passes and struck out four. The 24-year old has not yet made his Memphis debut in a relief role, but after competing in the Arizona Fall League, he should be in the thick of the battle for a spot in the Redbirds pen.
Thomas, who did not play from February 25 through March 9, got into only four spring games. The outfielder had three singles and three strikeouts in seven plate appearances (.429 batting average). Thomas should open the season as Memphis’s starting center fielder.
My comments above about Edman do not reflect as poorly on Urias as they recognize that the former has simply played better than the latter. Over 24 at-bats this spring, Urias put up a slash line of .292/.320/.500/.820, including two doubles, a home run and four RBI. On the downside, he whiffed seven times, drew no walks and made a terrible throw to second base for an error on Saturday.
This spring, Godoy went 0-for-2 including a strikeout and O’Keefe went 0-for-1 with a caught stealing as a pinch runner on his ledger. The two finished last season at high-A Palm Beach, and based on the catching logjam ahead, they may return there for 2019.
On The Cardinal Nation’s top prospect list for 2019, Thomas is ninth, Woodford is 19th, Urias is 33rd and Jones is 39th. Only the catchers are unranked.
To track the remaining players in camp, 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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