(Jupiter, FL) Following today’s 6-3 victory over Houston, the St. Louis Cardinals announced some changes to their camp roster.
“Yeah, we had quite a few moves,” began Mike Matheny. “Sandy Alcantara, Jack Flaherty, (Daniel) Poncedeleon, Robby Rowland, Dennis Ortega, and then after the game Austin Gomber, Andrew Knizner, Jeremy Martinez, (Eliezer) Alvarez, (Edmundo) Sosa, and we sent out Marco Gonzales too, to go get work with the rehab group.”
Gonzales was optioned to Memphis (AAA), while Alvarez and Sosa were optioned to Palm Beach (A) which reduces the 40-man roster to 37 players for St. Louis. The other eight players were reassigned to Minor League camp.
“All of them had some opportunities,” continued Matheny. “Gomber stands out as a guy, as he sat there, just telling him ‘you came in here a year ago as one of the guys that we just knew about’, took him pretty seriously this year. What he did last season and what he did in the Fall League, wanted to put him to the test. You could see him filling in a lot of different roles. So, go down and gave him a couple things to work on, be the guy and we could see him be. He could find himself here helping us out.”
The 23-year old Gomber allowed just one hit during the 8th inning today and overall appeared in 5 games, giving up 8 hits, 4 earned runs, and striking out 8 batters in 8.1 innings pitched.
No longer just about his electric fastball, Alcantara also impressed the Cardinals skipper.
“Sandy, was just–as advertised,” said Matheny. “I think he had one outing where he was trying to throw and after that it was just lights out. He’s working on a little bit of sinker, I think’s going to be huge. A lot like in that transformation with Carlos Martinez.
“Flaherty, good spring too. And Poncedeleon, just almost a different guy. A whole different level of maturity in how he’s pitching. We had some impressive young kids in this camp.”
Ortega also impressed Matheny.
“Dennis really showed a lot of moxey,” he said. “Just kind of watching him behind the plate, for a 19-year old kid to be standing out there. You watch him, even a veteran pitcher making a bad pitch, he’ll stand up and kind of correct him or give him something to think about. He catches older than 19. He can flat throw and I think you’re going to see a high ceiling with him offensively, too.”
“The development staff has done such a great job. It seems like everyone of these kids coming in, they just look a little more refined. Whether it’s Sosa at shortstop, Alvarez at second base–they’ve been really on top of their game. You can tell they’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
“I didn’t get to see it, but today was supposed to be a really good side,” said Matheny. “Looked like the intensity level was closer. It’s just harder for us to keep rehabbing guys here while we’re trying to get everybody going. Probably just better for him to get on a consistent work program down there and once again see if he’s that guy if we need help.”
While he stopped short of stating that Gonzales would be a part of the 2017 club later this season, Matheny was quick to provide a recent history lesson on the lefty.
“We can’t go very far back–he’s the guy we kept trying to run out there against the Giants in the playoffs two years ago out of the pen and a guy we called up to start for us before that,” he said. “No, it’s going to be health. And once he gets healthy, how well he’s able to execute his pitches.”
photo credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports, STLBaseballWeekly.com