On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals added three pitchers to their 40-man roster to protect them from the 2011 Rule 5 Draft, to be held on December 8. The three are right-handed starter Adam Ottavino, right-handed reliever Chuckie Fick and left-handed reliever Sam Freeman.
No players have been removed from the Cardinals’ 40-man, so the current count of players is 36, leaving room for free agent additions. To see the details of the 40-man roster, Cardinals major and minor league free agents and all 269 players currently under contract across the Cardinals system by level and position, check out the always up-to-date Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
Following these moves, the Cardinals still have 47 minor league players eligible to be taken in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. The Cardinal Nation subscribers can view the entire list here.
Ottavino, who turns 26 years of age next week, was the Cardinals’ first-round selection in the 2006 draft. He reached Memphis in 2009 after pitching for Italy in the World Baseball Classic and was added to the 40-man that November. Ottavino returned to Triple-A to open the 2010 season before making his five-game MLB debut that May.
The Brooklyn, New York native spent most of the remainder of that season on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain. The Cardinals prematurely released a statement that Ottavino would undergo surgery, though the player opted to take the rehab route instead. The organization removed him from the 40-man roster that fall, but he was not taken in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft, likely because of questions about the shoulder.
Other than one short stint on the disabled list in 2011, Ottavino proved his health, making 25 starts and throwing 141 innings for the Pacific Coast League Redbirds. He fanned 120, sixth-most in the PCL, but also walked 74, fourth-highest in the league, while posting a 4.85 ERA.
Though the Cardinals have kept Ottavino in a starting role to date, some believe his stuff would be better suited to relieving.
Fick, who will also be celebrating his 26th birthday this week, joined the organization in the 15th round of the 2007 draft. The right-hander first reached Memphis in June, 2010 and returned there for the entire 2011 season.
With the Redbirds this summer, he posted a 2.30 ERA in 54 games, the latter being the second-highest total on the team and fifth-most in the Pacific Coast League. Fick’s strikeout to walk ratio was 61:37 in 70 1/3 innings. His .180 batting average against and 16 holds led all PCL relievers.
Following the season, the Californian was named to Team USA, which performed in two international competitions in October - the IBAF Baseball World Cup and the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
In the latter competition, Fick helped the USA squad win the silver medal. He made five appearances and finished with a 2.08 ERA. Fick pitched 8 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and two earned runs.
He is the son of long-time Cardinals professional scout Chuck Fick and nephew of former major leaguer Robert Fick.
Freeman, the Cardinals' 32nd round selection in the 2008 draft from the University of Kansas, missed all of the 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery.
The 24-year-old returned in 2011, breaking spring camp with A-Advanced Palm Beach before earning a promotion to Double-A Springfield in May. Freeman logged a combined 3.16 ERA in 59 games. He struck out 59 but issued 32 free passes in 68 1/3 innings of work.
This winter, the left-hander is pitching for Margarita of the Venezuelan League. Freeman has thrown 10 innings over 13 games, having allowed just one earned run (0.90 ERA). His strikeout to walk ratio is 7:6.
Freeman is providing weekly reports from his tour of duty in Venezuela, which run exclusively here at The Cardinal Nation. Check out his most recent report about life on and off the field in a very different land.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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