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Do the Cardinals have roster room to protect any Rule 5 minor league prospects?

Cardinals infielder Patrick Wisdom practices in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com

The Division Championships are not even over yet, let alone the World Series when free agent frenzy is set to begin. Yet I turn my attention the 40 man roster and how it may affect our Rule 5 eligible minor league prospects.

Currently the 40 man roster is full for the Cardinals. At the end of the World Series, Luke Gregerson, Michael Wacha, Dexter Fowler, and Alex Reyes will come off the 60 day DL and be added back on. At the same time Bud Norris, Matt Adams, and Tyson Ross become FA, leaving the Cardinals to make at least one additional move before then to get the roster back to 40 as they resigned Adam Wainwright for 2019. Take your pick to release: Matt Bowman, Fransisco Pena, Greg Garcia, or tougher choices: Mike Mayers, Chasen Shreve, Tyler Webb and others.

The aforementioned moves may balance the 40 man roster, but there appears to be a lot of heavy lifting needed via trades and Free agency this winter to revamp this roster back to being World Series contenders, which leads to the question, Do we have enough roster room to protect any Rule 5 draftees?

A quick look at Rule 5 draft rules. Teams must file a 40-man roster with the league office by November 20th. Any player who fits all of the criteria below is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft:

· Player is not on the 40-man roster

· Player has been in the minor leagues for at least 4 years if he was signed after age 19

· Player has been in the minor leagues for at least 5 years if he was signed before age 19

· The cost of drafting a player is $100,000. Any player drafted must remain on the drafting team's 25-man roster the entire first season he is with the drafting club.

Call it a gamble or call it a lottery, but the rules make it a little easier to see why Patrick Wisdom made it by the rule 5 draft not once but twice. The 25 man active roster spot is a much more expensive piece of the equation than just the $100,000 signing fee.

Let’s look at the most notable names not currently on the 40 man:

Ryan Helsley P Memphis Redbirds. Helsley a, 5th round draft pick in 2015, is 27-9 in 62 starts. He started 2018 at Springfield, but by mid May was starting at Memphis where he compiled a 2-1 record with a 3.71 ERA in 5 starts covering 26 innings. On June 10th he went on the DL, and made 1 final start in the Gulf Coast League walking 3 in 2.2 innings before being shut down for the season.

Lane Thomas CF Memphis Redbirds. Thomas was acquired from the Blue Jays in 2017 for international bonus pool money, he was a 5th round pick of Toronto in 2014. He had never hit over 8 HR in a minor league season until 2018 when he clubbed 21 at Springfield in 100 games and 6 in 32 games at Memphis. There is no question we are amply supplied with outfielders currently, but Thomas is one I would hate to lose.

2B Max Schrock Memphis Redbirds. Schrock was the second player received alongside Yairo Munoz in the trade that sent Stephen Piscotty to Oakland. Schrock is hitting .304 in 6 seasons at the minor league level. He dropped to .249 playing the whole season at Memphis with 4 HR. Primarily a 2B with limited time at SS and 3B, he does hit left handed and just may be considered to replace Greg Garcia off the bench, if the Cardinals move on from him.

P Genesis Cabrera Springfield Cardinals. He is a left handed prospect SP acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Tommy Pham trade. Cabrera is 30-24 with a 3.65 ERA in 74 starts in the minors. He was 1-3 in 5 starts for Springfield throwing 24.2 innings with a 4.74 ERA. Cabrera with a mid 90s fastball and a

slider in the mid 80s with a bit of control problem, is another lefthander, that seems you can never have enough of.

Of the 4 mentioned above, my feeling is Max Schrock may be the only one added to the roster, and that would only be if the Cardinals outrighted Greg Garcia who is out of options. Helsey while promising, I do not believe any team would gamble on a late season injured AA pitcher to take up a 25 man roster spot. Lane Thomas with the current logjam ahead of him of, Bader, Fowler, Ozuna, Adolis Garcia, O’Neill, J Martinez, Arozerena, and Justin Williams, does not seem likely that the Cardinals would protect him. Cabrera as well never pitching above AA seems as if no team would gamble on losing a 25 man roster spot for an unproven starter even if he is left handed.

There is another group at AAA that may be vulnerable as well: Rangel Ravelo, Alex Mejia, Edward Mujica, Wilfredo Tovar, and Ramon Urias. I have previously propped up Rangel Ravelo as a possible 1B option as the Matt Carpenter contract ends as early as 2020 if the Cardinals buy out that contract. All things considered it should be an interesting winter for the Cardinal organization and for the fans alike dissecting every move we do or do not make.

Thanks for reading and I also update our minor league players progress in the Fall and Winter leagues at St. Louis Cardinal Minor League Spotlight on Facebook and share on the Cardinal Nation 24/7 page and Cardinal Nation group as well.

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