As they further trim to set their four full-season club rosters, the St. Louis Cardinals made seven minor league player releases on Tuesday morning. They are:
- Justin Knoedler
- Ricky Noland
- Dylan Gonzalez
- Davis Bilardello
- Ryan Bird
- J.D. Stambaugh
- Josh Hester (pictured)
Of the list, the first two are catchers while the other five are pitchers. Two of them are left-handed.
It was a bad day for second-generation Cardinals as two sons of team employees were among the released players, Bilardello and Gonzalez.
Knoedler was on Memphis’ working roster, Bird, Bilardello and Stambaugh were competing for spots with Palm Beach while the others were fighting for a place on the Quad Cities club and apparently were considered too old and/or did not show enough to compete for one of the short-season clubs in extended spring training coming up.
Justin Knoedler, 28, was seemingly brought in to become the Cardinals’ third catcher, ready in Memphis for a call, as was veteran Mark Johnson last season. He had cups of coffee with the San Francisco Giants in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Yet amid whispers of being a defensive disappointment, Knoedler was a surprise name among the first cuts from major league camp.
With Matt Pagnozzi, Bryan Anderson, Steven Hill, Tony Cruz and Brandon Yarbrough all at the top two levels of the system, there seemed no place for Knoedler to go, other than to be released. I am not surprised by this move in the least.
Also a catcher, Rickey Noland was signed by the Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent last June from Division II Delta State University. The 23-year-old batted .231 in just 39 at-bats for Johnson City of the Appalachian League during 2008.
Dylan Gonzalez was taken by the Cardinals in the 31st round in the 2007 Draft from Pepperdine. The 24-year-old right-hander posted a 2.66 ERA in 20 games of relief for Johnson City in 2007, but struggled at times with Quad Cities last season. There, his ERA was 5.31 as he fanned 41 in 42 1/3 innings while walking 15. Dylan is the son of Cards area scout Charlie Gonzalez..
The son of Cardinals minor league catching coordinator Dann Bilardello, Davis Bilardello is a 24-year-old left-handed pitcher taken in the 43rd round of the 2007 Draft from the University of South Florida. Between Batavia in 2007 and Palm Beach in 2008, his ERA was 4.21 as he struck out 45 but issued 31 free passes in 72 2/3 career innings.
A minor league free agent signing last October, Ryan Bird was a 2008 standout in the independent Frontier League, where he paced the circuit in wins and strikeouts and was third in ERA. The 24-year-old right-hander from St. Louis University apparently couldn’t carry over that indy ball success to his time with the Cardinals.
J.D. Stambaugh is a 24-year-old lefty originally taken in the 25th round of the 2007 Draft from Brigham Young. His 3.15 ERA during 2007 with Batavia ranked in the top ten of the New York-Penn League, but he found less success with Quad Cities in 2008. There he registered a 6.43 ERA over 35 innings, with four starts and 11 relief appearances and missed time due to injury.
Josh Hester was the earliest draft pick of the group, having been selected in the 16th round of the 2008 Draft from Freed Hardeman University. The 23-year-old righty was a tandem starter for short-season Batavia last summer, where he appeared in 14 games, including seven starts. He posted a 2-2 record with a 4.31 ERA, striking out 47 and walking just nine in 48 innings with better results as a reliever than as a starter.