By Rob Rains
Of the 33 pitchers who will go through their first official workout of the spring with the Cardinals on Wednesday, nearly half – 15 – will be doing so for the first time.
This group includes two left-handers who pitched for the major-league team after being acquired last summer, as well as veteran left-hander Andrew Miller, signed as a free agent in December.
Two other newcomers are on the 40-man roster for the first time while the other 10 are in camp on a non-roster invitation.
Here is a rundown on all 15. We will take a look at the new position players in camp for the first time on Thursday. The list is in alphabetical order:
Chris Beck (NR) – The 28-year-old right-hander was signed as a minor-league free agent in November after splitting the 2018 season between the Mets and White Sox organization. A second-round pick by the White Sox in 2012, Beck has 103 games of major-league experience but likely is headed for a spot in the Memphis bullpen to start the season.
Genesis Cabrera – One of two players the Cardinals acquired in last year’s trade that sent Tommy Pham to Tampa, Cabrera is a 22-year-old left-hander who can hit triple digits with his fastball. He was moved to the bullpen over the winter in the Dominican Republic and put up dominant numbers (21 strikeouts and 2 walks in 14 innings, named the league’s rookie of the year). He has an outside chance to win a major-league job this spring.
Hunter Cervenka (NR) – A left-handed reliever, Cervenka, 29, signed as a minor-league free agent in November. He has pitched for the Braves and Marlins in the majors but spent most of last season in Triple A with the Tigers’ affiliate in Toledo. He likely will be in the Memphis bullpen to begin this season.
Seth Elledge (NR) – The Cardinals obtained the 22-year-old right-hander last summer in the trade that sent Sam Tuivailala to Seattle. A fourth-round pick by the Mariners in 2017, Elledge finished the season at Double A Springfield, where he recorded four saves in 13 appearances. Combined for the year he struck out 74 batters in 55 innings between Modesto and Springfield. Elledge probably is headed to either Memphis or Springfield to start the year.
Giovanny Gallegos – The second pitcher acquired by the Cardinals in the trade that sent Luke Voit to the Yankees last summer, Gallegos is a 27-year-old right-hander. He allowed just one run in 16 innings for Memphis following the trade and also made two relief appearances for the Cardinals. Gallegos probably will be in the Memphis bullpen to begin the season.
Mike Hauschild (NR) – Signed as a minor-league free agent in November, the 29-year-old right-hander has major-league experience with the Rangers and Blue Jays. Hauschild spent most of last year with Triple A Fresno, where he made 19 starts and likely is targeted to begin the season as a back of the rotation starter at Memphis, depending on how the Cardinals elect to use their top prospects to start the year.
Connor Jones (NR) – The right-handed Jones, 24, is one of only three of the non-roster newcomers who is a product of the Cardinals organization, having been drafted in the second round in 2016 from Virginia. He has been used primarily as a starter the last two years, but switched to the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League and the organization has to decide which could be his best path to the majors. Either way Jones likely is ticketed for Memphis to start the season.
Evan Kruczynski (NR) – Less than two years after he was selected by the Cardinals in the ninth round of the 2017 draft out of East Carolina, the 23-year-old left-hander has become one of the top pitching prospects in the organization. Kruczynski split the 2018 season between Palm Beach and Springfield, then pitched in the Arizona Fall League, producing a 1.99 ERA over six starts. He probably will go back to Springfield as the No. 1 starter in the rotation to begin the year before earning a mid-season promotion to Memphis.
Tommy Layne (NR) – At 34, Layne is the oldest non-roster pitcher in the Cardinals’ camp. He signed last summer after being released by the Red Sox, and the St. Louis native turned in some impressive numbers in Memphis – 34 strikeouts, four walks and a 1.35 ERA in 26 innings. Layne has major-league experience with the Padres, Red Sox and Yankees and likely would merit a longer look for a spot if not for the team’s log-jam of left-handed relievers, meaning he probably will head back to Memphis.
Ryan Meisinger (NR) – The 24-year-old right-hander was on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster for 11 days in December after he was claimed off waivers from Baltimore but was outrighted to Memphis to make room for Andrew Miller. Meisinger made 18 appearances for the Orioles last season and split the rest of the season between Double and Triple A. He probably will be part of the Memphis bullpen to begin the season.
Andrew Miller – One of the Cardinals’ two major additions during the off-season, the left-handed reliever is looking to bounce back from an injury-filled 2018 which limited him to just 34 innings with the Indians. He will be used in high leverage situations against the opponent’s key left-handed batters whether that matchup comes in the seventh, eighth or ninth innings. Miller signed a two-year contract with a vesting option for a third season.
Andrew Morales (NR) – The right-hander has been in the Cardinals’ organization since 2014, moving to the bullpen after injuries limited him to just 33 innings in 2017. Now 26, he split last year between Springfield and Memphis, earning six saves with the Triple A club. Morales likely will begin the year in the Memphis bullpen.
Williams Perez (NR) – A native of Venezuela, the 27-year-old right-hander signed as a minor-league free agent in November. He split the 2018 season between Double A and Triple A in the Mariners system, making a combined 17 starts. Perez was a starter for the Braves for parts of the 2016 and 2017 seasons and could open the year either in Springfield or Memphis depending on what other pitching moves the organization makes.
Chasen Shreve – After joining the Cardinals in July from the Yankees as part of the Luke Voit trade, Shreve appeared in 20 games as the team tried to find an effective left-hander to come out of the bullpen. He faces a lot of competition this spring in trying to win the spot as the second left-hander behind Andrew Miller on the opening day roster.
Tyler Webb – The Cardinals’ search for left-handed relievers prompted them to claim Webb off waivers from San Diego last June and he spent the rest of the year going back and forth between St. Louis and Memphis. The 28-year-old will be part of the group trying to win a spot on the opening day roster but probably will begin the year back in Memphis.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Photo of Genesis Cabrera courtesy of Memphis Redbirds