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St. Louis Cardinals roster: To make room for Stephen Piscotty, Cards option Tommy Pham and DFA Ty Kelly

The St. Louis Cardinals promoted Stephen Piscotty, the organization's top hitting prospect, to the majors on Tuesday. The promotion of Piscotty required a roster shuffle. Because the decision to promote Piscotty was not prompted by a player landing on the disabled list with an injury, the Cardinals had to clear a spot on the 25-man active roster as well as one on the 40-man roster.

Entering Tuesday, Piscotty was not on the Cardinals' 40-man roster. In order to be on a major-league team's 25-man active roster, a player has to be on the 40-man. The St. Louis 40-man had its full allotment of 40 players, so the Cardinals had to open up a roster spot for Piscotty to fill.

The Cardinals could have created roster space for Piscotty with one move: designating a player on the 40-man and 25-man for assignment. Instead, St. Louis made two:

  1. Monday: Optioned Tommy Pham to Triple-A but did not DFA him—meaning Pham did not lose his 40-man roster spot and the St. Louis 40-man was still full. This created a spot on the 25-man St. Louis roster for Piscotty.
  2. Tuesday: Designated Ty Kelly, an infielder/outfielder with Memphis and friend of the VEB Podcast, for assignment, which opened up a spot on the 40-man for Piscotty.

The moves the Cardinals chose to make to clear space for Piscotty on the 25-man and 40-man rosters were not terribly surprising.

Pham earned a call up to St. Louis with a hot start in Memphis that continued the production he put up in 2014 when healthy. But in 49 big-league plate appearances, Pham hit .182/.265/.341, which equals a .262 wOBA and 64 wRC+. In other words, Pham was not the spark the Cardinals hoped he might be when they promoted him and gave him regular playing time. So St. Louis demoted Pham to Memphis to see if Piscotty might provide the batting spark they are are seeking. We'll likely see Pham again come September, if not sooner.

The Cardinals acquired Kelly during the offseason from the Mariners in exchange for Sam Gaviglio. After a few months, it's a trade that no one has won. Gaviglio has thrown 93 innings with a 5.13 ERA and 5.49 FIP for the Tacoma Rainiers, Seattle's Triple-A affiliate. After hitting .320/.456/.406 (.402 wOBA, 141 wRC+) in 2013 and .263/.381/.412 (.361 wOBA, 113 wRC+) in 2014 with Tacoma, Kelly has managed to hit just .203/.317/.286 (.287 wOBA, 68 wRC+) with Memphis in 2015. Some of that is BABIP-related (.239), but that doesn't keep one's 40-man roster spot safe. As with Aledmys Diaz earlier in the month, every other MLB club will get a chance to claim Kelly. If no one does, he will rejoin Memphis later in the week.


More roster moves are likely in the Cardinals' future, as they hope to get a handful of pitchers healthy. Two 15-day DL inhabitants and one hurler on the 60-day DL have started or will soon begin rehab stints, according to's Jenifer Langosch.
  • Reliever Mitch Harris is with Memphis on a rehab stint that commenced on Tuesday. Whether Harris will leave Memphis once the Cardinals activate him from the major-league DL remains to be seen. It would not be terribly surprising for the Cards to activate the righty and immediately option him to Memphis.
  • Hopping set-up man Jordan Walden begins a rehab stint with Double-A Springfield today.
  • Jaime Garcia is slated to make a rehab start with Low-A Peoria on Thursday.


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