Cardinals cut nine minor leaguers

The nine players released by the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday are Hyang-Nam Choi, Russ Haltiwanger,
Jon Mikrut, Brian Cartie, Zach Pitts, Matt Spade, Wayne Daman, Jose Mateo and Jameson Maj.

Two are newcomers to the organization, four are former free agent signings, two are from the 2007 Draft (rounds 20 and 45) and one was taken in last June’s Draft (round 24). Seven of the nine are right-handed relievers, one is a left and the only position player in the group is a third baseman.

The Korean right-hander Choi had previous minor league experience in the Cleveland system in 2007. The Cardinals organization had signed the 37-year-old at the end of February.

Haltiwanger, 24, was selected by the Cardinals from the Kansas City Royals in the minor league phase of last December’s Rule 5 Draft and as such, should be offered back to them. The right-hander was originally taken by the Reds in the 29th round of the 2005 Draft.

Mikrut (pictured), 26, was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2005. The right-hander started out strongly with Palm Beach last season, earning a promotion to Double-A Springfield. There, he posted a 4.25 ERA in 65 2/3 innings over 44 games. He fanned 46 and walked 20.

The 23-year-old third baseman Cartie spent the entire 2008 season with the A-Advanced Palm Beach Cardinals where he batted .264 with three home runs and 35 RBIs in 77 games. He became a Cardinal via the 20th round of the 2007 Draft.

Pitts, 23, was taken in the 24th round of the 2008 Draft from Louisville. The right-handed pitcher went 0-4 for Batavia of the New York-Penn League with a 2.70 ERA and an opposing batting average .207 compiled while starting and relieving.

After signing with the Cards in June 2007 as a non-drafted free agent, left-handed reliever Matt Spade pitched in the Gulf Coast League, for Johnson City and Quad Cites, where he ended 2007 and pitched for all of 2008. The 21-year-old had a 3.61 ERA in 47 games last season. He struck out 48 and walked 24 in 52 1/3 innings.

Daman, 24, a right-handed reliever, also signed as a free agent in June 2007. Between Palm Beach and Quad Cities, he pitched in 40 games last season, posting a 3.29 ERA while fanning 57 and walking 24 in 68 1/3 innings.

Right-hander Jose Mateo, 22, was signed back in 2005 as a non-drafted free agent from the Dominican Republic. He spent all of the 2008 season with Johnson City except for a end-of-season start with Palm Beach. With JC, he had a 3-1 record with a 3.63 ERA and two saves. He walked seven batters in 34 2/3 innings pitched, and struck out 29 batters.

Maj was taken in the 45th round of the 2007 Draft out of Abilene Christian. The 23-year-old right-handed reliever reached Quad Cities last season after starting the season with Batavia. Across the two stops, he walked just eight batters while striking out 54 in 60 innings last season. His combined ERA was 4.20.