CREVE COEUR • Last Sunday, in the Post-Dispatch's weekly minor league insider, I discussed how after several years in mothballs the Cardinals are restarting their instructional league program later this month in Jupiter, Fla. (You can see that article here.)
A while back, the cost of the instructional leagues were removed from the budget because the Cardinals (a) questioned the benefit of a development camp held at the end of the season, (b) established the pre-spring training "Early Bird" camp as an alternative, and (c) the opponents are so scarce now on the east coast of Florida that scheduling games is tricky.
This year, the line item is back in the budget at the urging of farm director John Vuch and others because they believe there is a benefit.
The instructional league camp — which offers individual attention to an invited cross-section of minor-leaguers — will be a place later this month for several injured players to make up for lost innings or at-bats. It will be a chance for the Cardinals coaches and managers to spend more time with recently drafted players who had a short window of instruction before launching immediately into games. (Prep star Carson Kelly, for example, didn't have a spring training with the Cardinals, per se. He went from the draft to games.) It will also give a few players a chance to focus on a new position, work on switch-hitting, or, in the case of a few, continue the transition from fielder to pitcher.
A lot of that is covered in the article linked to above. What was missing in that article because of space was the complete list of players going to Jupiter for instructs.
So, here it is, as provided by the Cardinals:
RHP Fernado Baez (DSL), who was a catcher and is working his way into being a strong-armed pitching prospect.
RHP Yunior Castillo (BAT), a former shortstop.
RHP Victor DeLeon (JC), a strapping power pitcher with high upside.
LHP Max Foody (GCL), who was drafted in 2012 after the top 10 rounds but was given an above-slot bonus to woo him away from a college commitment. He was able to get eight games (six starts) in for the GCL squad and over 16 1/3 innings he walked 16, struck out 18, had a 11.57 ERA, and finished 0-2.
LHP Hector Hernandez (QC)
LHP Dean Kiekhefer (PB), a Louisville alum who had a breakout season in relief for the High-A affiliate. Kiekhefer struck out 41 and walked only four in 44 appearances (60 1/3 innings). He had a 2.24 ERA in relief. Of the 75 at-bats lefthanded hitters had against him, 17 resulted in hits and 14 struck out.
LHP Iden Nazario (SPR)
RHP Willy Paulino (JC)
RHP Robert Stock (QC), the former catcher made a successful transition to the bullpen this season. With some fine-tuning he'll likely emerge as a top-30 prospect for 2013 as a pitcher.
RHP Sam Tuivailala (JC), a former infielder with a strong arm who made the transition to pitcher a day after hitting a home run. Good way to go out as a position player. An even better way to come in as a pitcher was the velocity Tuivailala showed from the first bullpen, and the advancement he made all the way to a short-season club in his first summer as a pitcher.
LHP Dail Villanueva (QC)
RHP Ronnie Shaban (JC), the curious case of Ronnie Shaban was mentioned in a previous minor league insider from August.
RHP Zach Russell (PB)
LHP Dewin Perez (DSL)
RHP Juan Perez (DSL)
LHP Ben Freeman (BAT)
C Steve Bean (GCL), drafted in 2012, the young Bean was a push to one of the short-season clubs, but was able to find some traction and success after a move to the lowest affiliate.
C Rowan Wick (GCL)
C Adam Ehrlich (JC), the 19-year-old California kid hit .329 with a .404 on-base percentage and a .409 slugging percentage in his first 42 games as a pro.
C Luis Cruz (DSL)
1B David Washington (BAT)
1B David Medina (QC)
SS Cesar Valera (JC), a highly regarded international signing who the Cardinals believe could be a leader of the next wave from Latin America, the one that follows Oscar Taveras' group up through the system.
SS Kenny Peoples-Walls (GCL), who made strides defensively and at the plate this season while being a constant for the GCL team that earned a spot in the Gulf Coats League's playoffs.
IF Bruce Caldwell (JC)
2B Colin Walsh (QC), who will work on playing second base, a position he manned in college at Stanford and one the Cardinals believe he can possibly take over full-time and even inherit at Class AA from Kolten Wong. Walsh will leave instructs for the Arizona Fall League in early October.
2B Luis Perez (GCL)
3B Carson Kelly (JC), the aforementioned prep star.
3B Patrick Wisdom (BAT), one of the three third baseman the Cardinals drafted in the early rounds. The St. Mary's College product had an impressive pro debut with short-season Batavia. He hit .282/.373/.465 in 65 games while also providing six home runs, 42 RBIs, and 40 runs scored.
UT Jacob Wilson (BAT)
OF Matthew Young (BAT)
OF Yoenny Gonzalez (GCL), who stole 14 bases in 17 attempts.
OF C. J. McElroy (JC), a 2011 draft pick with plus speed and what he describes as "baseball blood" from the former major leaguers in his family. McElroy showed well in his first full pro season. That included a .314 on-base percentage in the Appy League and 24 steals in 29 attempts.
OF Lance Jeffries (JC), the St. Louis native had some struggles as he started high in the order and faded for the Appy League club.
OF James Ramsey (PB), comes to instructs after being the highest-placed position player drafted in 2012. He jumped straight from Florida State to Florida State League, and the Cardinals expect him to be able to rise quickly. This instructs could be prelude to an invitation to early bird camp and a head start on 2013.
OF Jhohan Acevedo (GCL)
OF Anthony Garcia (QC), a name-to-know prospect. Garcia had 19 home runs and a .280 average for Quad Cities in what arguably was the breakout season in the system. He is the only player to rank in the top five in the entire organization in home runs (19, 3rd), RBIs (74, 3rd), on-base percentage (.408, 4th), and slugging percentage (.525, 2nd). Taveras didn't do that, though he was the only regular in the system to have a higher slugging percentage than Garcia, a right-handed hitting outfielder from Puerto Rico who was selected 549th overall in the 2009 draft.
OF Charlie Tilson (inj), the high-profile center fielder from the 2011 draft will join instructs after missing the entire season with a separated shoulder. Tilson will participate as much as the joint allows him, though the Cardinals do expect Tilson to be cleared to do almost everything in the postseason camp, including getting some at-bats to make up for the time lost on the disabled list.