March 25 Q of the Day

As the Cardinals’ minor league players are sent to their camp, what determines who and when they are assigned? From where I sit, there never seems to be any rhyme or reason to the order in which they slide over. I’m guessing the where part isn’t important right now as they’ll get their season-opening team assignments as their camp breaks.

— John B., White Plains, NY

There are a few factors behind the when of those assignments, but the biggest is playing time. The Cardinals will always prioritize playing time for their Major League players, though early in camp there are opportunities for the minor leaguers because starters aren’t pitching deep into games and position players aren’t playing full games (or daily, for that matter). That begins to change the closer we get to late March, and as a result, those playing opportunities dry up for a lot of the younger players. At the point where the Cardinals feel like it is more beneficial for a player to be on the field regularly in minor league games than it is to get the experience of being in a big league clubhouse, moves are made.

That’s why you have seen the Cardinals make several rounds of small cuts instead of doing so in big waves. Moves are made on an individual basis.

As for who determines when the timing is right, that is a combination of general manager John Mozeliak, manager Mike Matheny and farm director Gary LaRocque. Once players are reassigned to minor league camp, they are often put with the affiliate that they will join to start the regular season. That is not always the case, though, so don’t assume these current assignments are permanent.

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