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Cards set to host camp for select Minor Leaguers

For third straight year, club to give prospects jump-start on new season

ST. LOUIS -- For the third straight year, the Cardinals will host an early spring camp for a select group of Minor League players. Included among the two dozen the Cardinals invited are six of the organization's seven selections from the first three rounds of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft: James Ramsey, Stephen Piscotty, Patrick Wisdom, Steve Bean, Carson Kelly and Tim Cooney.

The only one of those top seven picks not participating is right-hander Michael Wacha, who instead earned a non-roster invitation to big league camp. Wacha was selected with the 19th overall pick of the Draft.

"The last two years that we have had it, it's gone well," farm director John Vuch said of this early program. "You look back over the names that have come to early camp, and it's guys who have gone on to have a really good year. It gives them a head start, a jump-start, to the season. We identify guys who would benefit from the extra work and individual work, but also guys who we think could have an impact year."

Early camp participants will report to Jupiter, Fla., on Feb. 22, with their first workout scheduled for the following day. The rest of the Minor League workouts don't begin until March 5 (pitchers/catchers) and March 7 (position players). The full list of players reporting for early camp is as follows:

PITCHERS: Seth Blair, Cooney, Victor De Leon, Sam Gaviglio, Tyrell Jenkins, Dean Kiekhefer, Zach Russell, Lee Stoppelman, Jordan Swagerty, Justin Wright

CATCHERS: Bean, Gerwuins Velazco

INFIELDERS: Kelly, Jake Lemmerman, Ildemaro Vargas, Colin Walsh, Jacob Wilson, Wisdom

OUTFIELDERS: Anthony Garcia, CJ McElroy, Tommy Pham, Piscotty, Ramsey, Charlie Tilson

While these players will take advantage of individualized instruction, they are also likely to be observed by members of the Major League coaching staff. Last year, Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist observed some of the Minor League players throw bullpen sessions. Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo has also been known to dedicate some time to work with the infielders.

Early camp participants often take part in some educational session, as well. The past two years, for instance, they have met with members of the press in order to gain a better understanding of what media obligations await them as they climb through the system.

Two pitchers on this early camp list -- Jenkins and Swagerty -- were actually non-roster participants in Major League Spring Training last year. But with both returning from injuries, Vuch said that the Cardinals decided it would better to have both supervised in Minor League camp this spring.

That said, neither Jenkins nor Swagerty is expected to be limited once camp opens. Swagerty missed the entire 2012 season while recovering from elbow surgery. Jenkins suffered a shoulder injury late in the Minor League season. He is already in Jupiter, working out under the supervision of club staff.

"We felt it would be better for him to have a little more low-key atmosphere," Vuch said of the decision to keep Jenkins, 20, out of Major League camp. "If you're in big league camp, there can be the temptation to impress. It's safer for him to come in and not think he has to impress the big league guys."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
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