Cards won't utilize Kelly as backup catcher

Cards won't utilize Kelly as backup catcher

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- General manager John Mozeliak said Monday the Cardinals are leaning toward having 22-year-old catcher Carson Kelly begin the 2017 season in the Minors, which means that the club will remain engaged in the catching market this offseason.

The Cardinlas' decision to release Brayan Pena before the final year of his contract thrust Kelly to second on the Cardinals' catching depth chart. He showed promise as a big-league catcher during a September cameo, but the Cardinals are concerned about the possibility of stunting Kelly's development if he were to play sparingly as Yadier Molina's backup.

"Clearly, he's a talented young man and will eventually get his opportunity," Mozeliak said Kelly, the organization's11th-ranked prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. "I think, in fairness, we've always erred on the continue-to-develop side."

Kelly's RBI single

The Cardinals do still have Alberto Rosario within the organization, and he is considered a backup option. Rosario served as Molina's backup throughout the second half of the 2016 season. But the Cardinals would like to enhance that depth.

Pitching pursuit?

Though the Cardinals still have some unsettled pitching roles, they appear content with their in-house options to fill them. Mozeliak reiterated on Monday that he is "not overly focused on" the pitching market at this time.

"You certainly wouldn't want to pass up something that you thought could help," he noted. "But we have confidence in what we have."

Currently, the Cardinals have more than enough rotation candidates with Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Mike Leake, Lance Lynn, Alex Reyes, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver and Marco Gonzales. The club's bullpen needs were addressed with the November signing of lefty Brett Cecil.

Whether Wacha ends up fitting best in the rotation or bullpen will be partly dictated on how comfortable the Cardinals are with the strength of his shoulder. Wacha has been sidelined by a stress reaction two of the last three seasons, and that prompted the Cardinals to send Wacha home for the offseason with a new workout plan.

The team recently sent one of its trainers to check on Wacha's progress, and he returned encouraged by what he saw, Mozeliak said. Wacha will be reevaluated next when he comes to St. Louis for Winter Warm-Up in January.

Punishment forthcoming

The Cardinals expect to soon learn of the Commissioner's Office decision about potential punishment for their organization's unauthorized access of the Astros' database between March 2013 and June 2014. With Major League Baseball's attention monopolized by Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations until last week, the investigation into the illegal activity had slowed.

Mozeliak said on Monday that he anticipates a resolution to the matter before the end of this calendar year.

Chris Correa, the Cardinals' former scouting director, was sentenced to 46 months in prison this summer after pleading guilty to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer. He is the only Cardinals employee known to have infiltrated Houston's database.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com 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.