The St. Louis Cardinals and Peoria Chiefs have announced the preliminary roster for the Chiefs 32nd season of professional baseball in the Midwest League. The roster includes eight players who have been drafted in the first 10 rounds, 11 2013 draftees, six of the top 30 players in the organization ranked by Baseball America and eight players who played at least one game for the Chiefs in 2013. The current roster includes 25 players plus one more on the disabled list heading into Thursday's 6:30 p.m. opener at Wisconsin. Roster PDF
The top ranked prospects on the 2014 Chiefs roster are RHP Alexander Reyes at #7, C Carson Kelly at #11 and OF Kenneth Peoples-Walls at #18. Both Kelly and Peoples-Walls are playing new positions in 2014 and Reyes was ranked #98 in all of MiLB by Baseball prospectus. The other three players ranked by Baseball America are Juan Herrera at #20, CJ McElroy at #24 and Steve Bean at #28.
The active opening day roster includes 12 position players and 13 pitchers for manager Joe Kruzel. Of the positions players, five are infielders, five are outfielders and two are catchers. Herrera is joined in the infield by Mason Katz, Michael Schulze, Jake Stone and Cesar Valera. Herrera, a shortstop, was acquired by the Cardinals in July, 2013 in a trade for the Cleveland Indians and hit .271 in 23 games with the Chiefs to finish last season. Katz, a second baseman, was drafted out of Louisiana State in the fourth round in 2013 and hit .249 with two homers and 23 RBI for State College. Schulze, a 19th round pick in 2013 out of Missouri Western State, hit .275 for State College in 35 games with 12 RBI while playing three infield positions. Stone played first base for the GCL Cardinals and hit .298 with 14 extra-base hits and 20 RBI after being drafted in the 27th round out of Tennessee Wesleyan in 2013. Valera, a middle infielder and Venezuelan native, hit .265 for State College in 2013 with 19 extra-base hits and 27 RBI.
As for the outfielders, Peoples-Walls and McElroy will be joined by Jimmy Bosco, Ronald Castillo and Matthew Young. Peoples-Walls was drafted in the fourth round in 2011 out of Westchester High School in Los Angeles. He hit .300 with seven homers, 11 doubles, four triples, 35 RBI and 41 runs scored in 59 games for Johnson City last season. McElroy, a third round pick in 2011, returns to the Chiefs after battling through an injury-plagued 2013 in which he hit .240 with nine doubles and 24 runs scored in 58 games. Bosco was drafted out of Menlo College in the 13th round of last year's draft and hit .200 with 24 extra-base hits, 34 runs scored and 27 RBI for State College. Castillo, a Dominican Republic native, hit .341 for State College last year with 10 extra-base hits and 28 RBI. Young, a 20th round pick in 2012 out of Cal State-Dominguez Hills, played for the Chiefs for a week in 2013 before hitting .252 in 45 games for State College with 12 extra-base hit and 13 RBI.
The opening day roster will have two active catchers plus one on the disabled list as Kelly is joined by Steve Bean with returnee Gerwuins Velazco on the DL. Kelly, a second round pick in 2012, is making the change to catcher after playing third base in 2012 and 2013. Last season the now 19-year-old hit .219 with two homers in 43 games in Peoria before hitting .277 with four homers, 16 doubles and 32 RBI for State College. Bean, a Supplemental first round pick in 2012 out of Rockwall High School in Texas, hit .229 with two homers and 14 RBI for Johnson City last season. Velazco spent all of 2013 with the Chiefs hitting .206 with six extra-base hits and 11 RBI over 78 games.
Of the 13 pitchers on the roster, the Chiefs have six starting pitchers. Righties Silfredo Garcia, Nick Petree, Alex Reyes and Arturo Reyes are joined by lefties Chase Brookshire and Jimmy Reed. Brookshire, a 20th round pick in 2013 out of Belmont, was 1-0 with a 1.57 ERA in nine games last year for State College. He struck out 19 batters and walked just three in 22 2/3 innings. Garcia, a Venezuelan native, pitched 18 times for the Chiefs last year going 4-5 with a 3.82 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 99 innings. Petree was drafted in the ninth round out of Missouri State in the 2013 draft and he went 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA in 12 games and nine starts for State College last season. Petree struck out 46 and walked 16 over 55 2/3 innings. Reed, a lefty drafted out of Maryland in the sixth round last year, went 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA in 12 games and nine starts for State College. Alex Reyes, 19, was 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts for Johnson City last season while striking out 68 batters over 58 1/3 innings. Born in New Jersey, Reyes moved to the Dominican Republic during high school and signed with the Cardinals in December 2012. Arturo Reyes was drafted in the 40th round last June after pitching at Gonzaga with Cardinals first round pick Marco Gonzales. Last season he was 1-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 10 games and seven starts for State College.
The bullpen consists of seven arms, all right-handers: Kyle Barraclough, Kevin Herget, Zach Loraine, Blake McKnight, Chris Perry, Joe Scanio and Chris Thomas.
Perry, Scanio and Thomas all return to Peoria. Perry made nine starts for the Chiefs and four for State College last season after missing 2012 with a back injury. Overall in 2013 he was 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings. Scanio, a 16th round pick in 2012 out of NW State, spent all of 2013 with the Chiefs going 3-4 with a 3.95 ERA over 73 relief innings. Thomas was limited to just 7 2/3 innings in 2013 due to two injuries and an illness. He went 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA for the Chiefs and did not pitch after June 2. Among the newcomers to Peoria, Barraclough does have Midwest League experience having spent part of 2012 with Quad Cities. A seventh round pick in 2012 out of St. Mary's, Barraclough was limited to just 3 1/3 innings with the GCL Cardinals last season due to a shoulder injury. Herget was drafted in the 39th round last June out of Kean University and went 7-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 14 games and eight starts for State College. Loraine, a Lake St. Louis, MO native, was drafted in the 21st round last June out of Coker College before going 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 24 games for Johnson City. McKnight, also a Missouri native, was the first player ever drafted out of Evangel University when the Cardinals selected him in the 38th round last June. A product of home-schooling, McKnight went 3-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 games and 10 starts for Johnson City in 2013.
As for the roster breakdown, the Chiefs will start the season with Alex Reyes (8/29/94) as the youngest player and Thomas (3/16/88) as the oldest. There are two 19-year olds, four 20-year olds, one 21-year olds, six 22-year olds, 10 23-year olds, one 24-year old and one 26-year old on the roster. Eleven of the players were drafted by the Cardinals in 2013, six in 2012, two in 2011, one was acquired via trade and six were signed as non-drafted free agents. Twenty-one of the Chiefs players were born in the United States while three are from Venezuela and two are from the Dominican Republic. Of the US-born players, six are from Missouri, four are from California, two are from Texas and two are from New Jersey. Eight of the players saw action for the Chiefs in 2013 and five played for Joe Kruzel in Johnson City.