Cardinals News: St. Louis cleans house, release five minor league players
By Eric Treuden
The Cardinals released five minor league players prior to Opening Day
As we near Opening Day of the 2023 regular season, many teams around the league are finalizing the rosters and shaping the minor leagues along the way.
As players are optioned from big league camp down to the minors, there are suddenly some low-level players who are getting squeezed out of jobs. While most of these names may make fans of the St. Louis Cardinals say "who?", these are young professionals who are just beginning their careers. Just like that, the only organization they've ever known has moved on from them.
Per transaction logs on Minor League Baseball's website, the Cardinals have released five minor league players from the organization.
Pitchers: Levi Prater (L), John Beller (L), Michael YaSenka (R)
Outfielders: Jonah Davis, Tommy Jew
Prater, 23, was taken by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft. He showed promise in 2021 in A-ball, making 24 appearances (16 starts) and posting a 6.72 ERA. While that does not instill much confidence, he did strike out 104 batters in 68.1 innings which equates to 13.7 batters per nine innings (a fantastic mark). However, his control completely disappeared last year as he made a full-time transition to the bullpen. He had a 6.21 ERA in 30 games, striking out (44) as many batters as he walked (44). His strikeout ability will need to return if he is to find a home with a new organization.
Beller, 24, has had a hard time adjusting to professional ball. He also debuted in 2021, going 0-7 with a 4.59 ERA in 21 appearances and 80.1 innings. He, like Prater, struck out a ton of batters (11.0 per nine innings) and seemed to be better than his win-loss record would suggest. He looked sharp in High-A (3.04 ERA in 13 games and 26.2 innings) but struggled in a 15-game showing in Double-A, posting a 6.75 ERA with nearly as many walks (14) as strikeouts (17). He has shown more promise than Prater has, and shouldn't be on the open market for very long.
YaSenka, 24, debuted for the Cardinals back in 2019 and seemed to be a solid pitching prospect in the making. However, the COVID-shortened 2020 season took too much of his development away. When he returned to the mound in 2021, he looked like a shell of the pitcher he once was. This continued into 2022 as well, as he had a 6.05 ERA in 58 innings, walking nearly five batters per nine innings and allowing 12 home runs in that short time.
Davis, 25, just wrapped up his first - and ultimately, only - season in the Cardinals organization. He broke into the league with the Pirates back in 2018 and has at times shown promise as a power hitter, but he didn't perform the way anyone hoped he would with his new club last year. In 67 games for the Double-A Springfield affiliate of the Cardinals, he hit eight home runs with a .146 average and 92 strikeouts in 164 at-bats. He has always struggled with his eye at the plate and may need to sharpen this up if he is to ever make it higher than Double-A.
Finally, Jew, a 25-year-old speedster, was also let go after a disastrous offensive showing last year. He stole 45 bases in 181 games in the Cardinals system but struggled mightily with getting on base. All told he hit 12 home runs with 61 driven in with a .194 batting average in just over 580 at-bats in two years.