St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 6-12

photo: Mike Shildt via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

In the St. Louis Cardinals week that was, the former manager may have a new job, four minor leaguers joined the system, an ex-Cardinal will pitch in Japan and the system has a new top prospect according to one national concern. Our history feature looks at the still unsuccessful Hall of Fame voting history for third baseman Ken Boyer.

Report: Shildt to work for MLB

On Sunday evening, a report surfaced that has fired St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt taking a job in Major League Baseball’s On-Field Operations department, reporting to senior VP Michael Hill.

Hill’s group has responsibility for on-field disciplinary issues and umpiring at the MLB and minor league levels, though the 53-year-old Shildt’s specific duties are not yet known. The rumor was first reported by USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale.

Cardinals select four in minor league Rule 5 draft

The minor league phase of the annual Rule 5 draft occurred on Wednesday, December 8. The major league phase of the draft has been delayed pending the end of the lockout. The minor league phase was held virtually and consisted of five rounds. Only one team, the Miami Marlins, made a pick in Round 5.

The Cardinals selected players in rounds 1 through 4, two outfielders and two pitchers. In Round 1, the choice was Ben DeLuzio, a center fielder from the Arizona Diamondbacks system. DeLuzio was originally drafted in 2013 by the Miami Marlins out of high school. He did not sign and played for Florida State University. He was signed by the Diamondbacks as an undrafted free agent in 2016. DeLuzio was assigned to the Triple-A and Double-A levels in 2021 and hit a combined .282/.343/.444 in 68 games.

In Round 2, the Cardinals chose RHP Carlos Guarate from the San Diego Padres. Guarate was an international signing by the Padres in 2018 out of Venezuela and played the 2021 season for the Low-A and High-A teams for San Diego. His combined record was 3-8 with an ERA of 5.91.

The Cardinals took outfielder Jonah Davis in Round 3. Davis was the 15th round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018. He played the 2021 season at the High-A and Double-A levels in the Pirates system and slashed a combined .205/.331/.418 with 15 home runs and 38 RBI in 92 games.

The Cardinals were one of only four teams to make a Round 4 selection. They picked LHP Nelfri Contreras from the Dodgers, who was a 2017 international signing from the Dominican Republic. He pitched for the Dodgers’ Low-A team in 2021, posting a 3-1 record and an ERA of 3.80 in 13 games as a reliever.

In the draft, St. Louis lost one player. Springfield shortstop Moises Castillo is joining the Chicago White Sox system.

Per Rule 5 rules, all four selections were initially assigned to the Memphis Redbirds. When the season starts, reassignment to other more appropriate levels is likely for some of the four players. So here at The Cardinal Nation, we placed the players at the level at which they ended 2021.

Further information

Cardinals Select Four in the Minor League Rule 5 Draft

Former Cardinal Gant to pitch in Japan

John Gant (St. Louis Cardinals)

Ex-St. Louis right-handed pitcher John Gant is headed to Japan to play for the Hokkaido-Nippon Ham Fighters of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. The 29-year-old has reportedly signed a one-year contract with the team.

Gant joined the Cardinals in December 2016 as part of the Jaime Garcia trade with Atlanta. He pitched 4 ½ seasons with the Cardinals before being dealt at mid-season 2021 to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher J.A. Happ. Gant pitched in 139 games for the Cardinals, 35 as a starter and 104 as a reliever.  He posted a record of 22-17 and an ERA of 3.52.

Gant was designated for assignment by the Twins at the end of the season and he elected free agency after he cleared waivers.

Baseball America ranks Cardinals Top 10 prospects

Baseball America’s Top 10 Cardinals prospects for 2022 were released this past week as follows:

  1. Jordan Walker
  2. Nolan Gorman
  3. Matthew Liberatore
  4. Michael McGreevy
  5. Ivan Herrera
  6. Lars Nootbaar
  7. Joshua Baez
  8. Masyn Winn
  9. Juan Yepez
  10. Alec Burleson

Walker moves up from No. 6 in BA’s 2021 ranking. Gorman improves to No. 2 from No. 3 and Liberatore falls from No. 2 to No. 3. Herrera drops to No. 5 from No. 4. The remaining players on the 2022 list were not ranked in BA’s Top 10 for 2021. McGreevy and Baez are 2021 draft picks.

Jordan Walker

Yepez, Nootbaar, and Gorman all played in the 2021 Arizona Fall League. Gorman suffered a hamstring injury early and did not play for the remainder of the schedule. Nootbaar and Yepez were standouts in the AFL. Notably Nootbaar has major league service time but still has prospect eligibility, having not reached the 150 plate appearance threshold to lose prospect status. Yepez was added to the Cardinals 40-man roster in October for the Wild Card Game but did not make an appearance.

Memphis Redbirds sold to Diamond Baseball Holdings

The Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds, is one of nine minor league teams being acquired by Diamond Baseball Holdings (DBH), a subsidiary of Endeavor. Endeavor is a sports and entertainment company that operates globally.

DBH was formed this year and its CEO is Peter Freund, who was the prior majority owner of the Redbirds. The team will continue to be operated as the Triple-A affiliate of the Cardinals and will be under the continued management of team president and general manager Craig Unger.

Other teams included in the acquisition are all four full season affiliates of the Atlanta Braves, plus the Iowa Cubs, the Chicago Cubs Triple-A affiliate, the Yankees Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes Barre Raiders, Hudson Valley Renegades (High-A Yankees), and San Jose Giants (Low-A Giants).

More information

Memphis Redbirds Ownership Change Coming

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

As of December 1, the MLB/MLB Players Association Collective Bargaining Agreement expired. No new agreement was reached by that time. Shortly after, the Commissioner’s Office announced that the owners of all 30 teams voted unanimously to institute a lockout of MLB players effective immediately.

As a result of the lockout, all major league transactions are halted indefinitely. Players and team personnel are prohibited from communicating with each other and players are not permitted to use team facilities. The parties may continue to negotiate to reach an agreement that would end the lockout.

Depending on how long the lockout continues, the exchanging of salaries for arbitration purposes, which occurs in mid-January, may be delayed. The Cardinals annual Winter Warm-Up, which occurs in January, is still scheduled to occur as of this writing but could also be canceled.

There will be no major league activity to report for the foreseeable future as long as the lockout continues.

Blast from the Past

The Baseball Hall of Fame recently announced its 2022 selections by two voting groups, the Early Baseball Era Committee, and the Golden Days Committee. Two former Cardinals were selected, Jim Kaat and Minnie Minoso, both deserving candidates.

One Cardinal candidate was notably missing from the list of selectees. Third baseman Ken Boyer, who played 11 seasons in St. Louis, was among the Golden Days nominees but was not selected for election. Many believe Boyer is deserving but he has yet to be recognized. He spent 15 years on the writers’ ballot before falling off after not receiving the necessary 75% in any of those years.

This week’s Blast from the Past takes a look at the voting history for Ken Boyer in all 15 years on the writers’ ballot to demonstrate the level of support he received over time.  We conclude with his history on Veterans Committee ballots.

Boyer’s first year on the ballot was 1975. That year he received only nine votes, 2.5% of the total. Below are his years he was on the ballot and vote percentage he received.

  • 1976 ballot:  15 votes, 3.9% of the vote.
  • 1977 ballot:  14 votes, 3.7%.
  • 1978 ballot:  18 votes, 4.7%.
  • 1979 ballot:  20 votes, 4.6%.

Boyer was dropped from the ballot after 1979 because he received less than 5% of the vote for the first five years. He was restored to the ballot in 1985 following numerous complaints during the intervening years.

  • 1985 ballot:  68 votes, 17.2% of the vote.
  • 1986 ballot:  95 votes, 22.4%.
  • 1987 ballot:  96 votes, 22.3%.
  • 1988 ballot:  109 votes, 25.5%.
  • 1989 ballot:  62 votes, 13.9%.
  • 1990 ballot:  78 votes, 17.6%.
  • 1991 ballot:  58 votes, 13.1%.
  • 1992 ballot:  71 votes, 16.5%.
  • 1993 ballot:  69 votes, 16.3 %.
  • 1994 ballot:  54 votes, 11.8%.

Boyer was again removed from the ballot after 1994, as it was his 15th and final year of eligibility. As can be seen, 1988’s 25.5% was his best showing over those 15 years, far short of the necessary 75%.

Ken Boyer

Over the years, the Veterans Committees have changed in name, number of voters and participants. Boyer was a Veterans Committee candidate in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He received 11 of 81 cast ballots in 2003. 61 votes were needed for selection in 2003.

In 2005, Boyer garnered 15 of the necessary 60 votes for election. In 2007, he received nine votes of the necessary 62 votes needed.

Boyer was on the ballot for the Golden Era Committee in 2011 (for 2012 class) and 2014 (for 2015 class). He is listed as receiving fewer than three votes both years of the necessary 12.

The Golden Era Committee was replaced by the Golden Days Committee in 2016. Boyer was on the ballot for the 2022 class and is listed as receiving fewer than four of the necessary 12 votes.

Sadly, Boyer passed away from cancer in 1982, before he was restored to the writers’ ballot in 1985. He was survived by his wife and four children. The Cardinals retired his number in 1984 and he remains the only Cardinal whose number is retired and who is not elected to the Hall of Fame. The hope of many that it will change continues.


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