Outfielder Tyler O'Neill, who hit 31 homers last year in Triple A, is one of 12 position players in his first major-league spring camp with the Cardinals. (Memphis Redbirds)

By Rob Rains

When the Cardinals go through their first full-squad workout of the spring on Monday in Jupiter, Fla., it will be a new experience for 12 of the position players.

Those 12, including seven non-roster invitees, are participating in the Cardinals’ major-league spring training for the first time.

So fans can get to know a little more about all the new faces, here are capsules on the 12 players in camp for the first time: Earlier, we ran capsules on the 15 new pitchers in the major-league camp.

The Cardinals will play the first game of their spring training schedule on Friday.
Here are the new position players:

Randy Arozarena (NR)– Not as heralded a signing as a couple of the other Cuban free agents the last couple of years, the outfielder who turns 22 next week split the 2017 season between Palm Beach and Springfield before having a big winter in Mexico. Because of all the talent in the outfield in the Cardinals’ system it won’t be a surprise if he returns to Springfield to start this season but he should be in Triple A by the middle of the year.

Steven Baron (NR) – Signed as a free agent, the former first-round pick of the Mariners is one of the extra catchers in camp and probably is ticketed to begin the year as the backup to Andrew Knizner in Memphis. Baron, 27, hit .256 in 54 games at Triple A for the Mariners last season.

Tommy Edman (NR) – The Cardinals’ sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft out of Stanford, Edman split 2017 between Peoria, Palm Beach and Springfield. The 22-year-old shortstop likely will return to Double A for the start of this season.

Alex Mejia (NR) – The 27-year-old infielder appeared in 29 games in the majors last season and is considered an above-average defender but hit just .109. Mejia did hit well at Memphis and is a good insurance option for the Cardinals to keep at Triple A in case of injuries at the big-league level.

Oscar Mercado – The move from shortstop to centerfield in 2016 re-energized Mercado’s career and he took off at Springfield last season, turning in an All-Star performance that also earned him a spot in the Arizona Fall League and a promotion to the 40-man roster. The Cardinals know he can play at a major-league level defensively but want to see his bat continue to improve, whether he begins the year at Memphis or returns to Double A because of the crowded collection of outfielders at the top levels of the farm system.

Yairo Munoz – One of two infielders acquired from Oakland in the Stephen Piscotty trade, Munoz was placed on the 40-man roster and projects to open the year as the starting shortstop at Memphis. Munoz, 23, split the 2017 season between Double A and Triple A for the Athletics.

Tyler O’Neill – One of only nine minor-league players to hit 30 or more home runs last season, O’Neill comes to camp battling for a spot as one of the Cardinals’ backup outfielders. His power could be a welcome addition to the team’s bench, but at 22 it also makes sense if the Cardinals want to keep him playing every day at Triple A, working to sustain his power while trying to reduce his strikeouts and hit for a higher average.

Marcell Ozuna – The focal point of the Cardinals’ offseason moves, Ozuna arrives as the projected cleanup hitter and left fielder. He brings with him the hope of the Cardinals that he can repeat the big offensive season he had in 2017 for the Marlins and become the high impact bat the team has lacked since the departure of Albert Pujols after the 2011 season.

Francisco Pena (NR) – Another veteran minor-league catcher signed over the winter as a free agent to provide depth in spring training, Pena. 28, could go to either Memphis or Springfield depending on what the organization’s needs at the end of the spring. He was in Triple A with the Orioles the last two years.

Rangel Ravelo (NR)
– The 25-year-old Ravelo is mostly a first baseman. He was acquired by the Cardinals in the middle of last season and finished the year at Memphis, hitting .314 with eight homers and 41 RBIs in 89 games. It’s hard to project him playing anywhere except Memphis this season given the current makeup of the Cardinals’ bench.

Max Schrock (NR) – The other infielder acquired from Oakland for Piscotty, Schrock is mostly a second baseman, and probably projects to open the year as the starter there at Memphis. The 23-year-old spent last season in Double A for the A’s, hitting .321 in 106 games.

Luke Voit
– A St. Louis native, Voit made his childhood dreams come true last season when he reached the majors with the Cardinals. His challenge now is to stay there, and his chances could well be determined by whether the Cardinals decide to go with a four or-five man bench. He also hopes to increase his versatility by showing he can also play the outfield in addition to first base.

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