The St. Louis Cardinals announced their fourth set of spring training cuts as they prepared for their return to Jupiter following Tuesday's road win over the Houston Astros. Seven more players are now moving over to the minor league camp, including right-hander Trevor Rosenthal, the last non-roster starting pitcher in major league camp.
The team optioned 40-man roster pitchers Chuckie Fick, Sam Freeman and Adam Ottavino to Triple-A Memphis and re-assigned non-roster pitchers Rosenthal and R.J. Swindle, infielder Ryan Jackson and catcher Steven Hill to minor league camp.
Five of the seven ranked among The Cardinal Nation’s top 40 organizational prospects coming into the 2012 season. They include Rosenthal (12th), Jackson (13th), Ottavino (29th), Freeman (34th) and Fick (40th). Hill had been ranked the previous three years before suffering through an injury plagued 2011 season. Swindle was signed during the off-season as a minor league free agent.
Rosenthal, 21, fanned two of his three batters faced for St. Louis against Houston on Tuesday, Jack Cust and Jason Ruggiano. The Midwest League Post-Season Pitcher of the Year in 2011 finished his first big league camp with a 1.29 ERA (one earned run in seven innings). The right-hander threw consistently at 95-98 mph in his most recent outing. Whether Rosenthal starts at Palm Beach or is pushed to Springfield remains an open question.
Ottavino fanned four in his first outing, yielded a run in his second and four more in his third and final big-league game this spring. The right-hander had been moved from starting to relieving this spring, though the plans for him going forward remain to be seen.
Fick hadn’t pitched since the 14th and yielded a total of two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in his first big league camp. He struck out three and walked two. The right-hander will likely rejoin Memphis’ bullpen.
Freeman’s high level innings pitched and earned run totals were the same as Fick’s, but the lefty surrendered five hits and walked four. Too many baserunners. Still, the former Kansas pitcher may be ready for a shot at Triple-A.
The green uniforms worn on St. Patrick’s Day were not to Swindle’s liking as the veteran lefty yielded three runs to the Tigers that day in just 2/3 of an inning. In three earlier outings totaling two innings, he had five baserunners reach, but none scored.
Hill’s assignment to minor league camp leaves three catchers in camp competing to be the back up – Koyie Hill, Bryan Anderson and Tony Cruz. Steven Hill came in Tuesday’s game in the sixth and went 0-for-1, ending his spring at .222 (2-for-9, both singles). He fanned three times and drove in one.
Jackson also entered Tuesday’s contest mid-way, as he relieved Alex Cora in the seventh. Jackson singled and scored the Cardinals final run in the ninth. The shortstop, expected to be Memphis’ regular at the position in 2012, finished his official big-league stint with a .278 average (5-for-18). He walked twice, scored twice, drove in two, stole a pair of bases and struck out five times.
Following the moves, the Cardinals have 37 players in major league camp, including 31 members of the 40-man roster and six non-roster invitees. They began with a total of 60 players – 39 from the 40-man and 21 NRIs.
To see the entire list, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his minor league features during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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