As instructional league was getting underway in Jupiter, Florida, members of the St. Louis Cardinals player development function met for an annual planning exercise.
As depth charts for 2014 were fleshed out, minor leaguers viewed as being non-competitive in the future were identified. In recent days, each player was contacted individually and told of his release.
The ranks of ex-Cardinals now include the following seven players, ordered by most recent level of play. The group includes at least one player from each of the Cardinals’ top six US-based affiliates.
They include the first player signed this summer to be cut (albeit a free agent addition), a 2012 eighth-round pick currently under suspension, two catchers who were shuffled around as needs dictated, including one who played in Australia last winter, and a big lefty who was a soft-tosser. Four of the five position players released batted under .200 this past season.
* Klein spent most of the summer on Memphis’ disabled list after an unusual promotion from Peoria. The 25-year-old traveled with the Redbirds, but never played a game at Triple-A after competing last winter in Australia.
Despite being a 34th rounder, Rahmatulla had a nice 2011 rookie campaign at Johnson City, where he set a new Appalachian League record for doubles and was an all-star. The right-handed hitter began 2012 strongly, named the Midwest League Player of the Month in May. A mid-season promotion to Palm Beach began a slide that led to him bouncing among Palm Beach, Springfield and the DL in 2013.
At 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, Ben O’Shea looked like he should dominate. The lefty had been previously drafted in the 10th round by the White Sox in 2011 but did not sign, joining the Cards the next year. While his numbers were very strong in the New York-Penn League last season, O’Shea struggled in the Midwest League and was ultimately returned to the NYPL, as he ended his Cardinals career on State College’s DL.
Infielder Kyle Grieshaber was the only player of this group signed this summer. The non-drafted free agent from Central Missouri State played sparingly at Johnson City. The right-handed batter posted a very quiet line of .190/.250/.257/.507 in 105 at-bats over 31 Appy League contests.
Outfielder Yoenny Gonzalez was taken in the eighth round in 2012, offering tantalizing speed. The switch-hitter was very green as a baseball player and apparently willing to take risks. The Florida native had a failed drug test and was suspended for 50 games in August.
By the organization making these moves early, the released players have the maximum amount of time to try to secure new playing jobs for next season, if they want to continue on that career path. Others may decide to move into the post-baseball phase of their lives.
The timing of these releases was spread out over several weeks and the Cardinals are probably not done thinning their ranks this fall. More information on that in the upcoming days.
(As a point of reference, last year at this time, the organization dropped 19.)
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