ST. LOUIS -- A prospect-heavy camp will arrive in Springfield, Mo., next week as the Cardinals open their alternate training camp at Double-A Springfield.
Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn, the Cardinals’ top two picks in the 2020 MLB Draft, were two of the 12 players added to the Cardinals’ 60-man player pool for this season. Top prospects Nolan Gorman (No. 2) and Matthew Liberatore (No. 3) were also added.
“The strategy there was to make sure that we had some depth for our Major League club should we need it,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. “But we also felt like giving some of our younger players an opportunity to do some form of baseball was something that we thought was important.”
That camp will officially open July 16, and the group of players could be there throughout the Major League regular season. The alternate training site is meant to provide depth during the 60-game season, but with no Minor League season, the Cardinals want to give some prospects a chance to have some baseball activity this year.
“We told them to pack heavy because it’s going to be awhile,” Mozeliak said.
The Cardinals are balancing Major League depth in their 60-man player pool versus bringing top prospects who aren’t ready for the Majors yet to get work in. Mozeliak said the team wanted to bring their top Draft picks to get them into the routine of baseball.
Drafted as a two-way player, Winn will get the chance to do both at camp. Jose Oquendo is running the camp and will spend time with Winn doing infield drills. Pitching coordinator Tim Leveque will oversee pitching, so Winn will be able to be coached on his pitching, too.
“Because of the nature of the camp, we’ll probably allow him access to both,” Mozeliak said. “Because you’re really not emboldened to build a roster of necessarily strict guidelines or rules. With no pressures of games, it’s much more manageable.”
The Cardinals have 48 players on their Busch Stadium roster, and 18 of them will be assigned to the Springfield camp to start the season unless they’re placed on the injured list. Pitchers Zack Thompson, Rob Kaminsky and Seth Elledge were added to the Busch Stadium roster this week but will start the season in Springfield.
Here are the 12 players the Cardinals invited to Springfield: right-hander Nabil Crismatt, outfielder Trejyn Fletcher, third baseman Gorman, left-hander Liberatore, infielder Evan Mendoza, third baseman Malcom Nunez, right-hander Roel Ramirez, catcher Julio Rodriguez, right-hander Angel Rondon, right-hander Alvaro Seijas, third baseman Walker and shortstop/right-hander Winn.
Martínez ‘impressive’ in first bullpen
Carlos Martínez never lost sight of his goal this season while baseball was on hold these last four months. The Cardinals right-hander stayed in shape and showed up to workouts at Busch Stadium this week healthy and with his eyes on the starting rotation. While in the Dominican Republic, he sent videos of his bullpen sessions and live batting practices to pitching coach Mike Maddux every week, and Martínez said he threw seven innings and 95 pitches in his last live batting practice before flying to St. Louis.
“I never lost my focus,” Martínez said. “I was waiting for the opportunity again, waiting for the season to come back and to play again. Every time when I go onto the mound, I want to try to do my job and help the team.”
Martínez is going to get the opportunity to start, just like back in March. He and Kwang-Hyun Kim will battle for the fifth spot, but the shortened season could also see Martínez moved back to closer. Manager Mike Shildt said rotation clarity will come in the next seven to 10 days, but the feedback from Martínez’s bullpen on Tuesday was “impressive.”
“Everybody was very pleased with how it came out, sharp, just very impressed by the whole way he went about it,” Shildt said. “Ball was coming out, secondary pitches, command -- very positive feedback.”