Cardinals release a dozen minor leaguers

This is the time of the year when organizations are seriously taking stock in the players they have and comparing that with what they need to start the 2009 season.

As a result, the St. Louis Cardinals now have three fewer players in the fold in the US as they released first baseman Carlos Pupo, infielder Ross Oeder and outfielder Nick Peoples. All three played a majority of their time in 2008 with the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Midwest League. With the bat last season, none were able to reach the Mendoza Line.

Nine other players from their overseas academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela have also been cut.

The USA three

Carlos Pupo. The well-traveled first baseman leaves the Cardinals organization after just one complete season. The 23-year-old played for four different colleges in four years, ending with Purdue in 2007, where his line as a senior was a not-so-lusty .175/.262/.298.

Not surprisingly, Pupo went undrafted. He played locally in Florida where he caught the eye of a Cardinals scout. After working out in Jupiter with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, he was offered a contract. After 11 solid games in the GCL, the right-handed hitter skipped up to Quad Cities, more appropriate for a player of his age and experience. In the Midwest League, he struggled. In 38 games and 141 at-bats, Pupo hit just .184/.223/.319 with four home runs and 17 RBIs.

Ross Oeder. A utility infielder, Oeder, 23, was taken by the Cardinals in the 28th round of the 2007 draft from Wright State University. That season, the Ohio native batted .270 with no home runs and eight RBI in 148 at-bats for the short-season class-A Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League.

In 2008, Oeder did not make a full-season team initially, instead joining Quad Cities in mid-June. His line was .183/.252/.349 in 109 at-bats over 32 games.

Nick Peoples. The outfielder/second baseman played college ball in his hometown of Austin for the University of Texas. A broken collarbone in the 2007 NCAA Regionals caused Peoples to remain on the draft board until the Cardinals took him in the 19th round.

The injury delayed the 24-year-old’s professional debut until the 2008 season. Peoples also did not come north with a full-season squad, instead remaining behind in Extended Spring Training. He was assigned to Quad Cities in late May, but didn’t deliver with the bat. Peoples’ season line was .183/.270 /.272. The right-handed batter had just ten extra base hits in 180 at-bats and struck out 46 times.

Nine away from LA

In addition, it is not a major surprise that the Cardinals have trimmed nine players from their Dominican and Venezuelan Summer League rosters. After all, I’ve documented many of the organization’s recent signings in Latin America, both in July and during the fourth quarter. (Sorry, the second article is Scout subscribers-only.)

It only stands to reason that when new players arrive, others must leave. While handfuls have made the big step up to play in the US, others miss the cut, either due to poor performance or Father Time. These academy players may only remain under contract for up to four years before either being required to either move up or out.

The nine cut loose include one Nicaraguan, four Dominicans and four from the Venezuelan roster. The contracts of two were technically voided due to questions about their identity and/or date of birth, including one of their July 2nd signings in 2008. They are:

DSL Home Pos Comments
Dennis Montero Dominican RHP July 2 sign. DOB 11/20/91 reported. Commanded four pitches. FB 88-90.
Walter Santos Nicaragua LHP 6.19 ERA over two DSL seasons. Career opposing BA: .324.

The other seven were simply released:

Juan Jaquez Dominican RHP 6.59 and 6.75 ERAs in second and third DSL seasons.
Carlos Mejia Dominican RHP 2.10 ERA this summer. Only one here to play in DWIL this winter.
Randy Santos Dominican LHP 21 BB in 22.1 IP and .306 opposing BA in debut.
Billy Bolivar Venezuela OF Hit .214 in 3rd VSL season coming off .215 BA in 2007. 6 OF errors in 54G.
Peter Jaspe Venezuela OF Career .191 BA over two VSL seasons.
Miguel Lopez Venezuela LHP 39 K, 36 BB in 61 pro innings over two years. 4.87 career ERA in relief.
Wilson Perez Venezuela OF Improved from .096 BA in 2007 to .275 in 2008. Apparently not enough.

In a side note, in the Dominican Winter League stats I published at The Birdhouse (sorry, subscriber-only again), the Randy Santos there (DOB 8/21/88) is the older one, a right-hander who pitched for Johnson City in 2008. The alleged birthday of the released Randy Santos, the left-hander listed here, is 6/4/91.

Glad we’ve got that cleared up. Now, if we could just do something about the two Angel Tapias!

New! Roster matrix coming very soon

Even after these moves, the organization still has 306 players under contract from the 40-man roster down through the academies. In a new feature coming Monday, I will be sharing (and maintaining throughout the year) a roster matrix of all these players, by position and level, from top to bottom – all ten teams, all in one place.

This is a feature you simply won’t find anywhere else. Look for the roster matrix this coming week exclusively here at The Cardinal Nation.