Ryan Helsley

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley throws a bullpen session during spring training baseball practice Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The Cardinals have added four players to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's deadline to protect players from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. The Cardinals selected the contracts of RHP Ryan Helsley, LHP Genesis Cabrera, OF Lane Thomas and INF Ramon Urias, ensuring they couldn't be scooped up by another team in next month's draft.

The Cardinals began the day with two open spots on their 40-man roster, and in adding four players, have designated pitchers Conner Greene and Derian Gonzalez for assignment. The roster currently stands at the maximum 40 players.

Helsley is the 4th-ranked prospect in the Cardinals system according to MLB Pipeline. He spent the 2018 season between Springfield and Memphis, and posted a cumulative 3.97 ERA in 70.1 innings while striking out an impressive 82 hitters. Helsley's season was cut short by shoulder fatigue, but the 24-year-old has the tools and potential to rebound from the injury to have an impact on the St. Louis club as early as the upcoming 2019 season.

Though Helsley has primarily served as a starting pitcher in the minors, it would not be surprising to see him get his initial shot to contribute in the majors out of the bullpen, similar to the integration of Dakota Hudson to the Cardinals relief corps late this past summer. Helsley can pump his fastball up into the triple digits, which should certainly play out of the St. Louis bullpen if he can exhibit control at the MLB level.

Genesis Cabrera was acquired by the Cardinals in the Tommy Pham trade over the summer, and is a candidate for a 2019 that desperately seeks reliability from the left side. The lanky 22-year-old lefty is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

Lane Thomas, another Fall League participant, is a toolsy 23-year-old outfielder who thrived in 2018 with an .823 OPS between Springfield and Memphis. He joins Adolis Garcia and Justin Williams as outfielders competing for their outside shot at a spot on the major league bench in the near future. Thomas was originally acquired for international bonus pool money from Toronto, money the Cardinals weren't even allowed to spend at the time due to penalties from exceeding their spending limits the previous season.

The final addition to the roster Tuesday was 24-year-old infielder Ramon Urias. Urias enjoyed great success at the plate with Springfield in 2018 with a .996 OPS in 194 plate appearances. Though his offensive output in 149 plate appearances in Memphis that same season (.720 OPS) was not nearly as robust, Urias offers defensive flexibility that could serve him well down the line for an organization that just lost Greg Garcia on waivers.

It's likely the 40-man roster will need additional tweaking as the Cardinals acquire new players this winter, but at least for the time being, the roster is set and in compliance ahead of Tuesday's deadline.

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