The St. Louis Cardinals conduct a mini-camp, if you will, prior to the full squad minor league and major league camps begin. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold provides an excellent list of the players who were invited to be a part of the camp. Each player has a dream of one day reaching the majors. The long road begins in Jupiter, Fl.
A couple names are familiar to many, Carlos Martinez (#2 Cardinals’ prospect) and Oscar Taveras (#3) are among the players attending. Most of the rest of the group consists of players who are especially young and have had experience at the lower levels of minor league baseball.
The purpose of the camp is to allow the players to get acclimated and receive special attention from coaches before all players show up. There are two dedicated minor league coaches and then there is a spattering of other minor league and major league coaches who will show up at the camp after major league camp ends each day.
Obviously this is a great idea for young players who are still getting their feet wet in professional baseball. The percentage of players who enter professional baseball in the MiLB system and are able to reach the major leagues is about 10%, give or take a few tenths of a percent.
The talent level of players from around the world who desire to play professional baseball is increasing every season. As MLB continues to expand its global reach this is only going to increase the talent and make reaching the majors more difficult.
So, it is encouraging that the Cardinals run these special camps prior to the main camps. It allows the especially gifted among their minor league system to reap the benefits of one on one instruction that will wane as time at camp moves on and as their respective seasons begin.
With many international players in the mix, it also allows them time to get a feel for living in the United States and allows them time to hang out with the men they will be playing with all season. It is never too early to start the camaraderie that comes with being a part of a professional baseball team. It is what leads to the chemistry each team wants to build as seasons go on.
Many of these men will never get their cup of coffee. Some of them will get painstakingly close. But, most will play in the minors for as long as they can handle the rigors of travel and disappointment of not reaching the next level, while they see teammates pass them on the depth charts. Being a professional baseball player is not a simple thing. Like other professional sports, only the best will survive and reach the plateau. Even then there is no guarantee they will remain in the big leagues if they make it. Some of them will also get passed over, as the next prospect looms behind them.
The mini-camp may help some of these young men learn the trials and tribulations of playing minor league baseball, and may allow them to put into perspective the odds they face. These players are living a dream and the Cardinals’ organization is doing their best to help the players realize it.