The St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing five minor league free agents, including a former second round draft pick. Outfielder Oscar Mercado returns to the Cardinals after four years with Cleveland and Philadelphia, and infielder Taylor Motter, shortstop Juniel Querecuto (joo-nee-EL care-uh-KOO-toh), left-handed pitcher Kenny Hernandez and right-handed pitcher Logan Sawyer will also join the Cardinals organization for the 2023 season.
Mercado, who turns 28 on December 16, has played 278 games in Major League Baseball since his debut with Cleveland in 2019. He was part of a 2018 trade in which St. Louis acquired minor league outfielders Jhon Torres and Conner Capel. Originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 2nd round of the 2013 June Amateur Draft, Mercado batted .235 with 26 home runs, 95 RBI and 27 stolen bases over four MLB seasons with career highs of .269 with 15 HR, 54 RBI and 15 stolen bases his 2019 rookie season.
Sawyer, 29, was a former 29th round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2014. He pitched three of the last four years in the Independent Leagues and Australia. In 2022, Sawyer dominated his opponents as a member of Evansville in the Frontier League, racking up 22 saves over 30 appearances with the Otters. He allowed only one unearned run on 11 hits with three walks while striking out 39 batters over 30 innings. His last action in affiliated ball was with the Rockies’ High-A affiliate in Modesto in 2016.
Motter, 33, is a former 17th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays out of Coastal Carolina University in 2011. The veteran of five years in Major League Baseball played the 2022 season between Gwinnett (AAA) and Louisville of the International League. He cracked 20 home runs with 54 RBI earning a two-game promotion to Cincinnati. Since 2016, he’s played all four infield positions and the two corner outfield spots as a member of Tampa Bay, Seattle, Minnesota, Colorado, Boston and Cincinnati totaling 159 games with a career batting average of .191 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI.
Quereceto, 30, last played in the Major Leagues in 2016 with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Barquisimeto, Venezuela, native spent five seasons since with the Rays, Giants, Diamondbacks and Reds minor league affiliates and five winter seasons in the Venezuelan League. Over his professional career, he’s played in 1,037 minor league games and four Major League games.
Hernandez, 24, was originally signed as an International free agent by the Diamondbacks in 2016 and has played six seasons advancing as high as Double-A Amarillo. He’s appeared in 122 games, making 40 starts with a 26-22 record and 3.90 ERA.