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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals non-roster invitees – an update


With the recent addition of three minor leaguers, Shaun Garceau, Katsuhiko Maekawa and Brad Furnish, the number of non-roster invitees (NRIs) set to arrive at the St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp this weekend has grown to 23.

In terms of the primary complement of players in spring training camp, the contents of the 40-man roster, that total has now dropped to 34 players with the subtraction of just-released second baseman Adam Kennedy.

Given these changes and some further work I have done on past NRIs since last time, it seems a good time to revisit the subject for an update as well as an expansion.

I will also note a post by Derrick Goold on his blog that highlights some of the top NRIs in 2009 camp. He did stub his toe slightly on the historical references by labeling Quinton McCracken an NRI, though the outfielder wasn’t. (McCracken was on the 40-man roster in 2001 camp.) In all fairness, several of the current NRIs are Goold’s primary focus and he knows those guys well.

First up here are the updated totals for 2009 along with a longer historical view back to 2000. I will note that the past totals are not necessarily the exact numbers on day one of camp. In some seasons, players were added after spring training was underway. Instead, these numbers include all players in camp those springs.

In other words, don’t be surprised if the 2009 totals change again, but don’t worry. I’ll keep everyone updated if you are not already into this subject yourselves.

Update 2/28: Hyang-Nam Choi added (Clayton Mortensen injured). Corrected McCormick not added. (MLB.com report in error.) NRI total is 26.

Update 2/26: Mark McCormick and Trey Hearne added (Matt Scherer and Mitchell Boggs slowed). Updated NRI total is 26.

Update 2/24: Justin Fiske added. New NRI total 24.

In camp 2009x Avg 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000
Roster 34 39 40 40 38 38 38 40 38 40 40
NRI 26 23 29 19 23 20 24 23 20 22 26
Total in camp 60 62 69 59 61 58 62 63 58 62 66
x as of 2/28/09
2009 Avg 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000
NRI made 25-man TBD 2 2 0 2 2 3 4 1 3 2

As a refresher, here are the identities of the 26 non-roster invitees so far this spring.

Pitchers (14) Catchers (6) Infielders (4) Outfielders (2)
Tyler Herron Bryan Anderson Allen Craig Jon Jay
Clayton Mortensen Tony Cruz David Freese Colby Rasmus
Ian Ostlund Luis De La Cruz Joe Thurston
Adam Ottavino Steven Hill Brett Wallace
Fernando Salas Justin Knoedler
Francisco Samuel Matt Pagnozzi
Jess Todd
P.J. Walters
Brad Furnish added 2/10
Katsuhiko Maekawa added 2/10
Shaun Garceau added 2/10
Justin Fiske added 2/24
Mark McCormick added 2/26
Trey Hearne added 2/26
Hyang-Nam Choi added 2/28

In my earlier NRI article mentioned above, for each recent season, I had highlighted several well-known players that either made the club as an NRI or failed in their attempt. Wouldn’t you know it; a subsequent request was made to share the names of every NRI player.

Being a sucker for reader challenges on interesting topics, I took the bait and did the work.

I have broken the list from left to right into those few who made the team, including the three first-time MLBers, followed by veterans cut, split between pitchers and position players (called “hitters” to save space). Next are the youngsters that didn’t make the team, also broken out by pitchers and position players.

The final column lists the extra catchers, at least one of whom remains a genuine prospect. That is Bryan Anderson (pictured), who in 2009 is attending his fourth consecutive big league spring camp as a member of the organization.

That is a record since 2000 at least, but being Rule 5-eligible this coming winter means that odds are very low that Anderson will have the opportunity to extend his NRI streak to five in a row in 2010. More than likely, he will finally be on the Cardinals 40-man roster or will be gone.

2008 NRI made 25-man Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut Rookie pitcher cut Rookie hitter cut Extra catchers
Ron Villone Cliff Politte Juan Gonzalez Mitchell Boggs David Freese Bryan Anderson
Rico Washington * Dewan Brazelton D’Angelo Jimenez Hugo Castellanos Amaury Marti Nick Derba
* 1st MLB action Ron Flores Josh Phelps Jaime Garcia Colby Rasmus Gabe Johnson
John Wasdin Clayton Mortensen Nick Stavinoha Mark Johnson
Adam Ottavino Matt Pagnozzi
Chris Perez Brandon Yarbrough
P.J. Walters David Carpenter
Tyler Herron
Stuart Pomeranz
2007 NRI made 25-man Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut Rookie pitcher cut Rookie hitter cut Extra catchers
none Mike Smith Eli Marrero Kelvin Jimenez Rick Ankiel Bryan Anderson
Jolbert Cabrera Chris Lambert Tagg Bozied Ryan Christianson
Ryan Ludwick Mike Parisi Edgar Gonzalez Brian Esposito
Mike Sillman Miguel Negron Michel Hernandez
Mark Worrell Colby Rasmus Danilo Sanchez
2006 NRI made 25-man Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut Rookie pitcher cut Rookie hitter cut Extra catchers
Josh Hancock Alan Benes Dave Berg Andy Cavazos none Bryan Anderson
Scott Spiezio Brian Falkenborg Brian Daubach Randy Leek Brian Esposito
Jeff Nelson Ramon Nivar Rich Rundles Iker Franco
Blaine Neal Prentice Redman Gabe Johnson
John Riedling Jason Motte
Dennis Tankersley Kit Pellow
Brad Voyles
John Webb
2005 NRI made 25-man Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut Rookie pitcher cut Rookie hitter cut Extra catchers
Bill Pulsipher Bob File Raul Gonzalez Jeremy Cummings Skip Schumaker Brad Cresse
Abraham Nunez Toby Borland Mike Bell Anthony Reyes Chris Duncan Gabe Johnson
Chris Gissell Wilton Guerrero Brad Thompson Jason Motte
Nerio Rodriguez Brandon Berger Dan Moylan
Hector Mercado
2004 NRI made 25-man Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut Rookie pitcher cut Rookie hitter cut Extra catchers
Tony Womack Alan Benes Kevin Witt Matt Duff none Mike Mahoney
Ray Lankford Doug Creek Emil Brown Tyler Johnson Yadier Molina
Cody McKay Randy Flores Greg Vaughn Spike Lundberg Dan Moylan
Joe Horgan Wilson Delgado Matt Pagnozzi
Alan Levrault Scott Seabol
Chad Paronto John Mabry
Jason Pearson Mark Quinn
2003 NRI made 25-man Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut Rookie pitcher cut Rookie hitter cut Extra catchers
Cal Eldred Todd Erdos Kurt Abbott Juan Pena John Nelson Kevin Brown
Lance Painter Nerio Rodriguez Jose Nieves Kevin Ohme Mike Peeples Alex Delgado
Russ Springer John Snyder Ivanon Coffie Dan Moylan
Kiko Calero * Dan Serafini Jon Nunnally Luis Rodriguez
* 1st MLB action Todd Dunwoody Yadier Molina
Alex Ochoa
2002 NRI made 25-man Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut Rookie pitcher cut Rookie hitter cut Extra catchers
Eduardo Perez Rich Loiselle Al Martin Kevin Sheredy Ryan Balfe Matt Garrick
Gabe Molina Mike Coolbaugh Clint Weibl Stubby Clapp B.J. Wasgis
Travis Smith Wilson Delgado Chris Duncan Jamie Pogue
Chris Snopek Chris Haas
Ernie Young Tony Mota
Luis Saturria
2001 NRI made 25-man Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut Rookie pitcher cut Rookie hitter cut Extra catchers
John Mabry Dan Carlson Shane Andrews Bud Smith Stubby Clapp David Benham
Jeff Tabaka Mike Cather Bernard Gilkey Blake Williams Luis Garcia Mike Figga
Albert Pujols* Jim Corsi Kevin Polcovich Lou Lucca Matt Garrick
* 1st MLB action Rick Krivda Kerry Robinson Mike Stefanski
Rafael Medina
Heathcliff Slocumb
2000 NRI made 25-man Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut Rookie pitcher cut Rookie hitter cut Extra catchers
Shawon Dunston Jim Dougherty Brian McRae John Ambrose Lou Lucca David Benham
Dave Wainhouse Rick Heiserman Ernie Young Justin Brunette Chris Haas Steve Bieser
John Hudek Glenn Murray Chad Hutchinson Chris Richard Keith McDonald
Mike James Casey Candaele Jason Woolf Henry Mercedes
Luis Garcia Luis Saturria Marc Ronan
Eduardo Perez
Rick Wilkins

It is worth noting that I perhaps should have split the rookies out even further. Their common thread is lack of significant MLB experience. Yet among the legitimate farmhands trying to work their way to the top is a hybrid, former pitcher turned rookie hitter Rick Ankiel (2007) as well as career minor league journeymen such as Tagg Bozied, who was also in camp that same spring.

Another interesting name for trivia lovers is that of Matt Pagnozzi, nephew of beloved former Cardinals catcher Tom Pagnozzi (in St. Louis from 1987 through 1998). The younger catcher may have set a record of his own when he was passed over for three seasons between his initial invite in 2004 and his next chance in 2008.

With his current invite, Pags the junior has snagged his second in a row and third overall. That must have excited Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch who mentioned him as one of three catching candidates to make the big league roster should Yadier Molina or Jason LaRue require time on the DL. That seems overly-optimistic for a career .208 hitter over six minor league seasons.

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