Cardinals Release Five More Venezuelans

The St. Louis Cardinals have released five teenagers, including four right-handed pitchers and an infielder, on the heels of three other releases earlier this month.

In the past, it was unusual for the St. Louis Cardinals to sign a teenager to one of their overseas academies, only to give up on him after his first summer season of play as a professional. Yet that is exactly what has occurred with these five young Venezuelans released by the organization.

Signed between March and June of 2010, right-handed pitchers Edubray Ramos and Jose Perez along with shortstop Kevin Gonzalez have been cut loose. Two 2009 signees are also now ex-Cardinals. Both are right-handed pitchers, Geudy Guerra and Kevin Cueto.

It is not as if the organization has grown increasingly impatient or is reacting after the fact to a rash of bad signings. A major change has been announced for 2011 that raised the bar of competitiveness for all of their overseas prospects.

Of course, I am referring to the Cardinals' recent decision to suspend play in the Venezuelan Summer League. That move means there will be 35 fewer roster spots in the system this year compared to last.

Players deemed not ready or able to step up into the higher level of play in the Dominican Summer League end up being released. Such was likely behind three releases announced by the Cardinals two weeks ago as well as these five.

RHPs career Age Signed W/L ERA IP H BB K
Geudy Guerra 17 Feb-09 1-2 4.18 23 2/3 26 13 10
Edubray Ramos 18 Mar-10 1-0 9.53 17 26 10 17
Kevin Cueto 17 Jul-09 1-1 5.85 20 17 19 16
Jose Perez 17 2Q-10 0-3 6.65 21 2/3 29 7 11
IF career Age Signed G AB BA OBP SLG OPS
Kevin Gonzalez 18 Jun-10 25 95 0.185 0.298 0.198 0.495

Guerra pitched as a 16-year-old last summer, his first in professional ball. The 5-foot-9, 179-pound right-hander appeared in 14 games, all in the relief, with the Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals. Guerra finished nine games, but did not collect a save. He hit four batters with pitches. In addition to the 11 earned runs allowed, seven unearned tallies crossed the plate during his 23 2/3 mound innings.

Ramos, then 17, also made his debut with the 2010 VSL Cardinals. While the right-hander fanned a batter per inning, he couldn't keep the opponents off the basepaths. Ramos was shelled for 26 hits, added 10 free passes and committed four balks in just 17 innings. On top of an ERA approaching 10, five unearned runs scored as well.

Cueto, 16 years of age last season, demonstrated serious control issues. In the VSL, the 6-foot, 170-pound right-handed reliever issued 19 walks in 20 innings, hit seven batters and uncorked five wild pitches. Six unearned runs scored on his watch.

In his rookie 2010 VSL season, Perez, 17, was the wildest of a group that collectively lacked control. Over just 21 2/3 frames, the right-hander hit ten batters and threw nine wild pitches. In ten games, including three starts, the 6-foot, 170-pounder posted a 6.65 ERA.

Playing as a 17-year-old in his first official professional action, Gonzalez split his time between second base and shortstop and also appeared briefly at third for the VSL Cards. At short, the 5-foot-11, 160-pounder erred once in every seven chances. At the plate, the right-handed batter managed just one extra-base hit in 95 plate appearances. Gonzalez fanned over a quarter of the time and registered an OPS under .500.

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