The St. Louis Cardinals have signed catcher J.R. Towles to a minor-league deal with an invitation to major league spring training camp, reports Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
Towles is most remembered by Cardinals fans as having been a member of the Houston Astros from 2007-2011. The 28-year-old was outrighted by the Astros in October 2011 and became a free agent after the World Series. He signed a minor league deal with a spring invite with the Minnesota Twins, but spent all of 2012 with Triple-A Rochester before becoming a free agent again.
The Texas native was originally signed by the Astros as their 20th round pick in the 2004 draft. Towles made his MLB debut with Houston in September 2007. Though he appeared in the majors in each of the following four seasons, the right-handed hitter never had as many as 200 plate appearances in any year.
In 484 MLB plate appearances over five seasons, Towles’ line is .187/.267/.315/.582. As the reserve catcher for Rochester this season, his OPS was comparable at .595 (.214/.280/.315).
Towles' career highlight occurred against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. On September 20, 2007, the rookie went 4-for-4 for nine total bases and eight RBI against Braden Looper and several relievers. He finished the 18-1 Houston win with a ninth-inning home run while facing second baseman/emergency pitcher Aaron Miles.
With the 2013 Cardinals, Towles (pronounced “Tolls”) is expected to compete with Tony Cruz for the reserve catcher’s job at the MLB level along with another former major leaguer signed earlier to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, Rob Johnson.
To see the entire Cardinals system, by level and position, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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