JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals trimmed their spring roster to 32 after Saturday's 6-5 loss to the Marlins by reassigning five players to Minor League camp. Among them was second baseman Kolten Wong, the club's first-round Draft pick in 2011.
Wong is slated to start the season in Triple-A along with three other players who were included in this latest round of cuts -- outfielder Justin Christian, catcher J.R. Towles and right-hander Seth Maness. The fifth player sent out, catcher Audry Perez, is headed to Double-A Springfield.
Because the team prioritized getting work for Matt Carpenter and Daniel Descalso at second base this spring, Wong was limited to 28 at-bats. He hit .285 but left his biggest impression on defense, which, manager Mike Matheny said, was noticeably improved from a year ago.
"He's a player that's closer, without question," Matheny said. "I saluted him and the Minor League staff. [Double-A manager] Mike Shildt and his staff last year, the effort he put in certainly was worth the effort. He came back a better defensive player, without question. Just watching him move around the bag, watching how he was turning, watching his first step, his instincts."
Maness, the organization's pitcher of the year in 2012, also left a strong impression during his first invite to Major League Spring Training. In seven Grapefruit League innings, Maness allowed eight hits and three runs and struck out seven. He walked only one.
Maness is projected to pitch in the Triple-A rotation.
"He's just not somebody that's talked about that much, even though he was the organization pitcher of the year. But he showed me a lot this spring," Matheny said. "I told him to just keep doing what he's doing. He's got a bright future with the way that he can make a pitch."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.