The St. Louis Cardinals created 40-man roster space by outrighting three players to Triple-A Memphis. The three are catchers Bryan Anderson and Steven Hill plus relief pitcher Adam Reifer. Of the three, only Reifer has no major league experience.
Following the moves, St. Louis’ roster is down to 37 players. That creates room to add hotter prospects to protect them from the Rule 5 draft and/or to sign free agents.
Anderson, 25, was originally selected in the fourth round (140th overall) of the June 2005 First-Year Player Draft. He received a $250,000 signing bonus after signing out of a California high school.
The left-handed hitting catcher ranked in the top 10 in the system from 2006-2009 and was a top prospect across the game, appearing in the Futures Game in 2007 and 2008. After reaching Memphis early in the 2008 season, his career stalled. Anderson was added to the 40-man roster in November 2009 and made a brief MLB debut in June 2010.
After losing out to Tony Cruz for the reserve catcher’s job in 2012 spring camp, Anderson returned to Memphis for a fifth season. It became his worst summer yet with the bat. Anderson’s Triple-A line was .225/.302/.317 with a .619 OPS that was dead last among all qualifying hitters in the 16-team Pacific Coast League.
Anderson was recalled to St. Louis at the end of August when Yadier Molina was injured, but played very sparingly. He becomes a six-year minor league free agent as a result of this move.
Hill, 27, has been outrighted previously, so has the right to declare free agency. He was originally selected in the 13th round (412th overall) of the June 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Hill made his MLB debut in 2010, but was outrighted that November.
After an injury-plagued 2011, Hill was returned to the 40-man this summer. He played in six MLB games in late May and early June, then was recalled from Memphis to St. Louis on September 10, playing a bench role over the final three weeks.
The right-handed hitter appeared in 87 games at Memphis this season, batting .266 with 17 home runs and 52 RBI. Hill ranked second on the Redbirds in home runs and third in RBI. In the field, the versatile slugger started games at first base (29), third base (20), outfield (17) and catcher (10) for the Redbirds. Hill missed almost a month due to a left foot injury suffered during the first week of the season.
Reifer, 26, joined the Cardinals after being selected in the 11th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. The hard-throwing reliever peaked in 2010. That season, he tied for second in the Texas League in saves (17) and tied for fourth in appearances (51), games finished (33) and holds (8). He made a brief Triple-A debut before being added to the 40-man roster that November.
The right-hander’s 2011 season was wrecked by an April knee injury. While Reifer led Memphis in appearances this season, he was not his old self. A 4.90 ERA and a significantly decreased strikeout rate (44 in 64 1/3 innings) were the results of a pitcher no longer throwing in the upper 90's. I believe the Cardinals will retain control of Reifer's services through the 2013 season.
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