Cards clear Martinez, Reyes for '17 Classic

Cards clear Martinez, Reyes for '17 Classic

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Though neither has been formally announced as a participant in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, pitchers Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes have been granted permission by the Cardinals to represent the Dominican Republic in the international tournament.

Martinez is expected to be named to that team soon. Reyes is not yet sure whether he'll receive an invitation from the Dominican federation. Final rosters must be submitted no later than Feb. 6.

"I think it's a very exciting opportunity for both," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said on Monday. "I think this is a great experience for these guys. You hope when competing that no one gets hurt, and that, in the end, it grows the game globally. For me, I don't have any concerns going into it. And as long as the player is excited about the opportunity, it's great."

The only player on the Cardinals' 40-man roster to previously be confirmed as a participant is catcher Yadier Molina, who will be representing Puerto Rico in the Classic for a fourth time. There still may be more. This year's tournament will be held from March 6-22, meaning that participating players will be absent from Spring Training for some length of time.

That's not so much a concern for Martinez, who has established himself as a key member of the Cardinals' rotation. It may be a bit more significant for Reyes, who isn't assured of a starting job out of camp. He is, however, expected to enter Spring Training as a favorite to snag one of the remaining rotation spots.

Reyes, 22, appeared in 12 games and logged 46 innings after being called up by the Cardinals in August. He posted a 1.57 ERA and helped lead the Cardinals to wins in three late-season starts after being thrust into the rotation. He is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization's top prospect and the seventh-best prospect in baseball.

Martinez threw a career-high 195 1/3 innings as he emerged an ace of the Cardinals' staff in 2016. The 25-year-old led all Cardinals starters with 16 wins, a 3.04 ERA and 174 strikeouts.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.