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Cardinals sign Cuban free-agent Aledmys Diaz to Major League contract

Shortstop is set to report to Major League Spring Training camp

JUPITER, Fla., March 9, 2014 - The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have signed Cuban free-agent shortstop Aledmys (pronounced ah-led-mees) Diaz to a Major League contract and he will report to the Cardinals Major League spring training camp tomorrow (Monday, March 10).

Diaz, 23, batted .315 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 270 at-bats during his final season (2012) playing for Los Naranjas de Villa Clara in Cuba's Serie Nacional professional league. Serie Nacional is Cuba's highest level professional league and has produced such recent stars as Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes, the Dodgers Yasiel Puig and Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman. Diaz played five seasons (2008-12) for Los Naranjas de Villa Clara starting when he was age 17, and his Los Naranjas de Villa Clara teammates included the White Sox Dayan Viciedo and the Rangers Leonys Martin.

"We have been following Aledmys for quite some time," stated Cardinals Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. "His signing marks a significant benchmark for the Cardinals in the international arena and we are excited to have reached this agreement."

Diaz is considered to be an offensively-gifted middle infielder who the Cardinals anticipate will begin the 2014 season at the high minor league level as he becomes familiar with the organization. The 6-1, 195-pound right-handed hitting Diaz held a private workout for the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. last month.

Diaz, born on August 1, 1990 in Santa Clara, Villa Clara, Cuba, has represented Cuba in several international tournaments, including the 2010 World University Championship games in Tokyo, Japan. He currently resides in Mexico City, Mexico.

Diaz will look to join such Cuban notables as catcher Eli Marrero, pitcher Rene Arocha and catcher Mike Gonzalez to have played for the Cardinals at the Major League level. Gonzalez, who had three separate playing stints with St. Louis (1915-18, 1924-25 and 1931-32), also coached for the Cardinals from 1934-46 and he served briefly as the Cardinals manager during parts of the 1938 and 1940 seasons.

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