Top prospect Carlson part of Cards' player pool

June 29th, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- Ahead of summer camp officially starting at the end of this week, the Cardinals announced the 44 players they will bring to Busch Stadium to train. The club said that the rest of the 60-man player pool, which teams had until 3 p.m. CT Sunday to submit, will be announced later.

The Cardinals will have two camp sites for the preseason. Busch Stadium will be where the players competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster will train, while the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate in Springfield, Mo., will host the rest of the player pool. The Cards will open camp with the initial 44 players on July 3, and they will have the rest of the roster at Springfield start camp around July 14. Players who begin camp at Busch Stadium can also join the Springfield camp when it opens as the club whittles down its roster ahead of Opening Day on July 23 or 24.

Prospects in the 60-man player pool will only gain service time if added to the active roster, giving the Cardinals an opportunity to continue development, even if they don’t make an appearance this season. The Springfield camp will likely host many of the Cards’ top younger prospects who aren’t quite ready for the Majors this summer.

Here are the 44 players who are invited to train at Busch Stadium.

Catchers (5): Jose Godoy, Ivan Herrera, Andrew Knizner, Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters

This will likely be Molina’s 16th Opening Day start, and Wieters will again serve as the backup catcher. Herrera, 20, is the Cardinals’ No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and he is largely considered the future at catcher for the organization. After 18 games last season at Class A Advanced Palm Beach and another 10 in the the Arizona Fall League, Herrera made a name for himself with strong potential on both sides of the ball and will get plenty of good looks this summer.

Infielders (10): Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong, Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Brad Miller, John Nogowski, Rangel Ravelo, Max Schrock, Edmundo Sosa, Kolten Wong

There aren’t a lot of surprises here with most of the Cardinals’ starting infield set. As camp unfolds, however, it's going to be interesting to watch what the club decides to do at designated hitter -- there are a few options in the infield -- and what the utility-infield competition looks like because of it. Edman and Miller are the utility players at this point, but Sosa and Schrock still have a chance to make an impact in the Majors this season. First baseman/outfielder Ravelo will likely see some time at DH.

Nogowski is getting a deserving nod as a non 40-man roster addition after an impressive Spring Training. Third baseman Elehuris Montero, who was hurt for about half of 2019, is on the 40-man roster but was left off this initial announcement.

Outfielders (7): Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson, Austin Dean, Dexter Fowler, Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, Justin Williams

The outfield competition is very much in play once camp opens. O’Neill and Thomas are still considered frontrunners to the starting left-field spot, and Bader and Fowler are the incumbents in center and right field, respectively. We could also see O’Neill and Fowler rotate through the DH spot this season.

The most notable name on this list, although expected, is Carlson, the Cardinals’ No. 1 prospect. Back in March with a 162-game season ahead of them, the Cards were likely going to begin the season with Carlson at Triple-A Memphis. But if the switch-hitting outfielder produces like he did at Spring Training -- 10-for-32 with a .905 OPS -- St. Louis might not have a choice but to start him in the Majors in this shortened 2020 season.

Pitchers (22): Génesis Cabrera, Brett Cecil, Junior Fernandez, Jack Flaherty, Giovanny Gallegos, John Gant, Austin Gomber, Ryan Helsley, Jordan Hicks, Dakota Hudson, Kwang-Hyun Kim, Carlos Martínez, Miles Mikolas, Andrew Miller, Johan Oviedo, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Alex Reyes, Ricardo Sánchez, Adam Wainwright, Tyler Webb, Kodi Whitley, Jake Woodford

The Cardinals' pitching staff is deep and balanced, and it's loaded with players whom the club believes can help in the big leagues this season. The Opening Day roster will likely have seven or eight pitchers who will be able to go three to four innings at a time, and we could see a six-man rotation to start the season with Flaherty, Hudson, Wainwright, Mikolas, Martínez and Kim.

Hicks is coming off Tommy John surgery and has been throwing off the mound. There’s a strong chance he’ll be ready for Opening Day, but it remains to be seen if the Cardinals will put him back as the closer right away. Helsley, Miller, Gallegos, Cabrera, Gant or Fernandez all could be considered for the ninth.

Whitley (No. 14 prospect) and Oviedo (No. 11) are the most significant and intriguing additions on this list. They’re rising prospects who both made strong impressions at Spring Training and could be used as impact bullpen arms at some point this season. Whitley had success at three levels, including Triple-A, last year as a reliever. And Oviedo, while younger, turned a lot of heads in Spring Training with his hard-throwing arm that struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings this spring.

Young right-hander Alvaro Seijas is another 40-man roster player who will not be in the Busch camp. Right-hander John Brebbia is not counted toward the 60-man player pool because he will miss the entire 2020 season after having Tommy John surgery in early June.

According to MLB's Operating Manual, all players on a 40-man roster “that the Club anticipates participating” during the season will be part of the player pool, while the rest will be made up of non-40-man roster players under contract. Any 40-man-roster players who are not included in a player pool (for example, maybe a prospect who isn’t deemed ready for the Majors) will still be paid during the season.

No team will be allowed to exceed the limit of 60 players in its player pool at any time during Spring Training 2.0 or the regular season.