With eight days before they open the season at Busch Stadium against Pittsburgh, the Cardinals started populating their alternate-site camp in Springfield, Mo., with a handful of pitchers.
They’ll be keeping the position players in St. Louis for a little longer.
They still need a lineup for the the big-league squad to play against.
The Cardinals announced their first reassignments of “Summer Camp” on Thursday morning, sending lefties Rob Kaminsky and Zack Thompson along with catcher Ivan Herrera and righthander Seth Elledge to the Springfield roster.
Kaminsky has an approaching opt-out in his contract that would allow him to become a free agent if he did not get an assignment with the Cardinals.
The date of the opt-out clause was pushed back to July, due to the delayed start of the season.
Intake testing for the alternate-site camp was completed two days ago, and the Cardinals hope to have those test results back in time to hold their first workout Thursday evening at the Hammons Field complex. The Cardinals plan to have at least some of the “campers” at that site practicing Thursday, weather permitting.
The four players reassigned Thursday morning have been going through the testing protocols at Busch Stadium and will be able to join workouts immediately in Springfield.
The Cardinals had 12 players headed to Springfield already, including last month’s top two draft picks — Masyn Winn, a shortstop/pitcher from Texas, and first-round pick Jordan Walker, a third baseman from Georgia. The Cardinals also have top prospects Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore headed to the Class AA facility.
The complete list of players already assigned there is available here.
Longtime coach Jose Oquendo will run the camp.
Kaminsky and Elledge threw live batting practice on the field at Busch Stadium on Wednesday afternoon before their departures. Kaminsky is a former first-round pick for the Cardinals, and the lefty was a late addition to the Busch camp. The Cardinals brought him in early along with Thompson to give some lefthanded depth to the team after two 40-man lefties tested positive for COVID-19.
The Cardinals traded Kaminsky years ago to Cleveland in exchange for Brandon Moss. They re-signed him this past winter as a minor-league free agent.
Thompson is the Cardinals’ first-round pick from 2019, and he impressed in spring training and could be called upon to contribute at some point during this shortened season. He was featured as one of the starters, along with Liberatore, in the Post-Dispatch’s look into the future at every position for the Cardinals.
Herrera is positioned as the future at catcher.
The Cardinals intend to keep most of the position players through the weekend so that they can continue playing intrasquad games. Early in camp, second baseman Max Schrock has impressed coaches and Andrew Knizner has made a case for his bat to be available on the bench, let alone for him to be considered for the third catcher spot.
Outfielder Austin Dean also has drawn praise from team evaluators.
If the Cardinals elect to take a three-man taxi squad on the first road trip (July 28-Aug. 4), one of those players must be a catcher. He can also be at home games and used as a bullpen catcher to help with warming up relievers during games.
Outfielder Dylan Carlson could start the year on that taxi squad, continue to practice with the team, and travel with the team, and then be added to the roster at some point after the first week. If Carlson is on the active roster for less than 61 days, the Cardinals will maintain control of his rights for an additional year. That would take missing as few as five games.
The Cardinals are also weighing whether to take 16 or 17 pitchers into opening day. The team will start with a 30-man roster.
That roster will be trimmed to 28 after two weeks.
The team will have a 26-man roster for the final month of the 60-game season.