The Cardinals announced on Twitter today that they have invited 12 players to the Alternate Training Site that will open on July 16th in Springfield, Missouri.
7/8/20: Added RHP Nabil Crismatt, OF Tre Fletcher, 3B Nolan Gorman, LHP Matthew Liberatore, IF Evan Mendoza, 3B Malcolm Nunez, RHP Roel Ramirez, C Julio Rodriguez, RHP Angel Rondon, RHP Alvaro Seijas, 3B Jordan Walker and SS/RHP Masyn Winn to the Club’s 60-man Club Player Pool. All will be assigned to the Alternate Training Site.
This is certainly interesting news. Many have wondered if the Cards would follow suit with other clubs and invite their top draft picks and other top prospects to some form of summer camp to get them work, and the Cards have answered “Yes.”
*The 4 additions I announced earlier today (three of which were made yesterday) were all to the Summer Camp roster, not the Alternate Training Site.
*First round pick Jordan Walker and second round pick Masyn Winn are of course new names to the pool, having just been drafted in early June. Nabil Crismatt, Nolan Gorman, Matthew Liberatore, Even Mendoza, Roel Ramirez, Julio Rodriguez, Angel Rondon and Alvaro Seijas were all invited to the first spring training but got cut before camp was cancelled.
*Of the original players that were invited to the first spring training, catchers Oscar Hernandez and Alexis Wilson were released by AAA Memphis on May 27th, and as of this writing, have not landed other jobs. Other catchers Aaron Antonini and Pedro Pages are still in the organization, but have been left off of the CPP. Other players that were cut from the first spring training but have not been invited back include RHP Akeem Bostick, RHP Alex FaGalde, Griffin Roberts, RHP Ramon Santos and 1B Luken Baker.
*Of the original players that were invited to the first spring training and made it past all of the pre-freeze roster cuts, RHP Jesus Cruz, RHP Bryan Dobzanski, LHP Evan Kruczynski, RHP Tommy Parsons, C Dennis Ortega, C Carlos Soto and IF Kramer Robertson have been left off of the CPP.
*Other than Walker and Winn, brand new names to camp are OF Tre Fletcher and 3B Malcom Nunez.
UPDATED CARDINALS 60-MAN CLUB PLAYER POOL
The players listed in italics below are non-40-man roster players. The pitcher’s handedness is listed in parentheses. Also in the parentheses is the number of minor league options remaining, if the player is on the 40-man roster. If there is no number in parentheses for a 40-man roster player, that indicates he is out of options. If “N/A” is in parentheses, that means that he technically has minor league options remaining, but because he has 5 years of more of MLB service time (or in Kim’s case because of a special contract clause), he may not be assigned to the minor leagues without his consent.
SUMMER CAMP ROSTER (48)
Genesis Cabrera (L 2), Brett Cecil (L), Junior Fernandez (R, 3), Seth Elledge (R), Jack Flaherty (R, 2) Giovanny Gallegos (R, 1), John Gant (R), Austin Gomber (L, 1), Ryan Helsley (R, 2) Jordan Hicks (R, 60-day IL), Dakota Hudson (R, 3), Rob Kaminsky (L), Kwang-Hyun Kim (L, N/A), Carlos Martinez (R, N/A), Miles Mikolas (R), Andrew Miller (L), Johan Oviedo (R), Daniel Ponce de Leon (R, 1), Alex Reyes (R, 2), Ricardo Sanchez (L, 1), Zack Thompson (L), Adam Wainwright (R, N/A), Tyler Webb (L), Kodi Whitley (R), Jake Woodford (R, 3)
Jose Godoy, Ivan Herrera, Andrew Knizner (2), Yadier Molina (N/A), Matt Wieters (N/A)
Matt Carpenter (N/A), Paul DeJong (3), Tommy Edman (3), Paul Goldschmidt (N/A), Brad Miller (N/A), Elehuris Montero (3), John Nogowski, Rangel Ravelo, Max Schrock, Edmundo Sosa, Kolten Wong (N/A)
Harrison Bader (1), Dylan Carlson, Austin Dean (2), Dexter Fowler (N/A), Tyler O’Neill (1), Lane Thomas (2), Justin Williams (1)
ALTERNATE TRAINING SITE ROSTER (12)
Nabil Crismatt (R), Matthew Liberatore (L), Roel Ramirez (R), Angel Rondon (R), Alvaro Seijas (R, 3), Masyn Winn (R)
Nolan Gorman, Evan Mendoza, Malcolm Nunez, Jordan Walker
Thanks to Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch, we have the following information about the Alternate Training Site (which I will be abbreviating as ATS all year):
*It will start on July 16th instead of July 14th as planned to allow more time for intake testing and to compensate a bit for the test delays over the holiday weekend.
*Jose Oquendo will be in charge of the camp. Pitching coordinator Tim Leveque will oversee the pitching. Masyn Winn, whom I arbitrarily labeled as a pitcher above, will be given two-way instruction.
*Although RHP Seth Elledge, LHP Rob Kaminsky and LHP Zack Thompson have been named to the Summer Camp Roster, the plan is for them to immediately move to the ATS in Springfield when it opens. They were added to the St. Louis camp to help with the depth that has been depleted by COVID issues testing delays.
UPDATED ROSTER ANALYSIS
*The Cards’ 40-man roster is at 38, with both RHP John Brebbia and RHP Jordan Hicks on the 60-day (or now 45-day) IL. Hicks is on the Summer Camp roster, but will not be ready to pitch when the season starts. All 38 40-man roster players are on the club’s CPP.
*The Cards’ 60-man Club Player Pool is now full. If the club wants to substitute or remove a player, it must engage in a transaction. Aside from a trade, a placement on the 60-day (45-day) IL, the COVID-19 Related Injury List, or a rare placement on one of a series of special lists, the Cards such a transaction would likely result in the outright loss of the player. For 40-man roster players, this would likely be either a release, a designation for assignment or an attempted outright assignment. For non-40-man roster players, it would likely mean a release.
*The Cards’ ATS players represent a mix of players, some of whom were added because they are prospects that the Club did not want to see rot. Others the club wanted to see because they will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. And others I interpret as players the club would feel comfortable calling on in the case of an immediate emergency.
*Walker, Winn, Gorman, Nunez, Fletcher and Liberatore fall into the first category. Julio Rodriguez is on the AA Springfield roster, and is on the depth chart behind Jose Godoy, who would have backed up Andrew Knizner at AAA Memphis had there been a minor league season. Someone has to catch all those ATS pitchers and Rodriguez is the next man up. Although Herrera only had 65 PA at High-A ball last year, he was invited to camp in St. Louis at first because he’s a favored prospect in the organization. He likely is behind Rodriguez on the theoretical depth chart and probably would have repeated Palm Beach to start things off this year.
*Trejyn (Tre) Fletcher was the Cards’ second round draft choice in the June 2019 draft. Fletcher had a two-week stint with the GCL Cardinals, then was sent to Rookie Johnson City, where he didn’t hit at all, slashing .228/.271/.325 with 59 SO to only 7 BB in 133 PA. For you math majors, that’s a 44.3% strikeout percentage, but I doubt any reasonable person suggests we should hold that against the then 18-year old kid who went straight from the high school fields in Maine. Here is our own Red Baron’s scouting report on Fletcher from last year, and his prospect list discussion is here.
*The Cards signed Malcolm Nunez as a 17-year old undrafted free agent out Cuba on July 3rd, 2018. The Red Baron’s scouting report is here. Nunez absolutely destroyed the Dominican Summer League in 199 PA for the Cards’ 2018 DSL Blue outfit, slashing .415/.497/.774 and winning the DSL triple crown. He had 13 HRs, 16 doubles, 3 triples and walked almost as often as he struck out (26 BB to only 29 SO). After a stay in extended spring training, the Cards promoted Nunez all the way to A Peoria in the Midwest League in 2019, where, according to Baseball Prospectus, he was three years younger than the average player. After 77 PA, he was slashing .183/.247/.197, so the Cards sent him down to Rookie Johnson City on June 3rd, where he remained the rest of the season and struggled to the tune of a .254/.336/.385 slash line. Nunez is only 19-years old, and went through as much as you can expect a young man of that age to go through in baseball—defecting from his home country and playing against much older competition. The question for Nunez is whether he will he will be able to remain at third base defensively, and if not, whether his bat will ultimately be strong enough to stay at first base. Baron’s updated prospect list treatment on Nunez is here.
*Nabil Crismatt has been in organized baseball since June of 2012, when he signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets as an undrafted free agent out of Colombia. He stayed in the Mets’ organization through the 2018 season, after which he was declared an automatic Rule 55 minor league free agent. He signed a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners’ organization for last season, and after being declared a free agent again at the end of the season, signed a 2020 minor league deal with the Cards with a spring training invite. Over 8 years in the minor leagues, he has spent parts of two seasons in AAA ball. Although used mostly in relief at the beginning of his career, he has been used more as a starter since 2016. He has 17 career AAA starts. He split both 2018 and 2019 across AA and AAA, did well in the former classification and struggled in the higher classification. His FIP in both AAA stints was over 6, while he had a K/BB ratio of over 8.00 in 14 games and 13 starts last year in AA. Crismatt was featured in this brief blurb from Fangraphs last year, which includes a small scouting report. Still only 25 years old, Crismatt will be the grizzled veteran of the ATS if the Cards do what I think they will do to start the season, which is carry 17 pitchers on the opening day 30-man active roster. If they do that, every pitcher with major league experience will be on the active roster, leaving Crismatt as the oldest pitcher at the ATS with the most experience in organized baseball who also has significant AAA experience.
*Roel Ramirez is also 25 years old, but has only 2 games of AAA experience. Part of the Tommy Pham trade in 2018 from the Rays, Ramirez was set to be declared an automatic Rule 55 minor league free agent after the 2019 season, but the Cards signed him to a 2020 successor minor league deal. I thought he had an outside chance to be named to the 40-man roster last November because signing him to a successor minor league deal did not protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Nonetheless, he was only named to the AAA reserve list and went unclaimed. He is certainly in camp because of his age and overall experience in the minors, but also because the Cards need to see him pitch before he is set to become a minor league free agent again. Ramirez was very hittable with AA Springfield last year as he allowed more hits than innings pitched, but he was unlucky with a .361 BABIP allowed. He has always kept the ball in the yard. He pitched 9 games (3 starts) in the Arizona Fall League with a K/BB ratio of over 5.00.
*Evan Mendoza was drafted in the 11th round of the 2017 draft out of North Carolina State about a week before his 21st birthday. He rocketed up to AAA for a brief bit last year, but missed over half the season due to injuries. While he hit very well in a brief stop in High-A Palm Beach in 2018, he has yet to really solve AA pitching, with a .252/.307/.329 line over 2 years and a full season’s worth of plate appearances with Springfield. Last season was much worse than 2018, but he only had 222 PA before he got hurt, with over 400 PA the year before. He’s played 3B and 1B almost exclusively and is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this upcoming December. He’s more of an emergency depth option.
*The Cards signed Angel Rondon as an 18-year old undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic on January 6th, 2016. Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs relegated Rondon to a one-sentence blurb in a “Conversion Arms and Older Dudes” section of their Cardinals’ prospects article in January. All they said was that Rondon is an “arm strength only relief type.” That’s not too charitable an assessment of one of the Cardinals’ 2019 Minor League Players of the Year, especially one who pitched in the rotation all season long (8 starts for Palm Beach and 20 for Springfield). Red Baron offers a more in-depth assessment of Rondon’s 2019 season here. He gives a longer treatment of Rondon in this prospect piece from this past January. Rondon is still only 22 years old, but will be eligible for the upcoming December Rule 5 draft if he is not added to the 40-man roster when reserve lists are due to be filed in November. This makes it important that the Cards get a closer look this season.
Opening day is right around the corner and the Cardinals’ 60-man Club Player Pool has finally been filled to the max. If you don’t see a player’s name on the above list, the chances are that you will not hear much more about him this season. The past 10 days or so has been fast and furious with transactions, lists and rule changes. Let me know in the comments or feel free to send me an e-mail with any questions.