The St. Louis Cardinals added three players to their 40-man roster by Wednesday’s deadline, protecting each from next month’s Rule 5 Draft. The three are outfielders Oscar Taveras and Mike O’Neill and infielder Greg Garcia.
The organization also removed three players from its 40-man roster via outrights, pitcher John Gast and infielders Jermaine Curtis and Ryan Jackson. The latter was claimed via waivers by the Houston Astros.
Coming into the week, the Cardinals’ 40-man roster total sat at 36, leaving them four potential openings. That is how it remains heading into the Rule 5 Draft and the free agent signing season. The 2013 Rule 5 Draft will be held on Thursday, December 12 at Baseball’s Winter Meetings.
In the case of outfielder Oscar Taveras, this move was only a matter of time. The only reason the 21-year-old was not already on the 40-man and making his Major League debut was his untimely ankle injury last summer. His addition was as sure of a thing as anything could be.
Simply put, outfielder Mike O’Neill is an on-base machine. After the left-handed hitter posted a .431 mark with Springfield, the organization promoted him to Memphis for the final month. There, the 25-year-old reached base at “only” a .402 rate.
Though O’Neill ranks behind top prospects Stephen Piscotty and James Ramsey in our Cardinals outfield prospect pecking order, an MLB future seems to be ahead. With the departure of Adron Chambers via free agency, some opportunity exists.
Infielder Greg Garcia, 24, opened eyes during 2013 spring camp, when he was one of the Cardinals’ final cuts. Around a May disabled list stint, the left-handed hitter had a rough start to the season with Memphis, however, batting just .235 in the first half.
Post-break, Garcia was again impressive, with a line of .331/.429/.451/.881 over his final 42 games for the Redbirds. Able to play second, shortstop and third base, Garcia could be well-positioned to play the Daniel Descalso role with St. Louis in the future or return to Memphis for more seasoning in 2014.
Among the other unprotected players, oft-injured Memphis outfielder Tommy Pham, Springfield teammates catcher Cody Stanley and outfielder Starlin Rodriguez plus pitchers Boone Whiting, Jordan Swagerty and Seth Blair may be among those most appealing to other organizations.
Being left unprotected does not mean these players are not valuable. However, it is not clear that any of them are ready to stick on a major league roster for the entire 2014 season.
More details will be coming for The Cardinal Nation subscribers both leading up to and following the Rule 5 Draft.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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