DSL Cardinals 2012 Relief Pitcher of the Year

Four DSL Cards relievers logged ERAs under 2.00, two had sub-1.00 WHIPs, but only one had 14 saves.

When we first formalized these annual awards in 2007, we decided to have a separate recognition for relief pitchers at each level of play in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. Bullpenners play a key role on every squad, yet always seem to take a back seat to starters.

As you can see from the article at the link above, four of our top relievers in the system in 2007 have reached the majors – Luke Gregerson, Jason Motte, Mark Worrell and Eduardo Sanchez. It serves as a good reminder that minor league relievers can have major league futures, too.

Here in phase two of our annual recaps, we move from team reports to relievers, starting with the Dominican Summer League.

The DSL Cardinals logged a staff ERA of 3.12, eighth-best in the 35-team DSL. They finished third in strikeouts and probably would have been in second had they been able to play their final two games, canceled due to bad weather. The Cards were just below midpoint, 16th, in walks issued.

12 Cardinals pitchers spent a majority of the 2012 season in a relief role. Many times at lower levels of the system, a designated closer is not used. Instead, ninth-inning opportunities are shared among a number of bullpenners, as their performance in various roles are evaluated.

That wasn't the case for the DSL Cardinals this summer. While manager Fray Peniche had all 12 relievers finish at least one game, one of them logged 14 of his team's 22 saves.

That is Ismael Brito, our choice as The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Dominican Summer League Cardinals Reliever of the Year.

DSL Cards relievers W L ERA G SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Ismael Brito 1 0 1.57 20 14 34.1 21 6 6 0 12 42 0.96 0 17
Ramon Santos 1 2 1.52 16 3 29.2 18 7 5 0 11 24 0.98 3 7
Fernando Baez 5 1 1.14 14 1 39.1 25 7 5 0 20 50 1.14 2 6
Esteban Vallejo 0 0 1.85 12 1 24.1 24 7 5 1 8 22 1.32 2 4
Fernando Gonzalez 1 0 3.38 4 1 5.1 7 2 2 1 0 5 1.31 0 2
Jorge Rodriguez 1 1 4.26 13 1 19 14 13 9 0 16 22 1.58 3 4
Jose Lara 2 1 8.10 13 1 26.2 34 31 24 2 11 13 1.69 2 3
Frederis Parra 4 2 2.21 15 0 36.2 30 11 9 0 10 21 1.09 1 4
Alirio Negrette 1 2 3.24 13 0 16.2 13 8 6 0 12 13 1.50 1 6
Jose Pena 2 0 5.40 14 0 20 18 17 12 2 17 14 1.75 0 9
Luis De La Rosa 0 0 5.40 8 0 15 17 11 9 0 14 18 2.07 1 1
Juan Fresa 0 0 7.11 8 0 6.1 6 7 5 0 12 4 2.84 0 3

Brito was one of four Cardinals relievers to register an ERA under two, and one of two to allow less than one baserunner per inning (along with team leader Ramon Santos).

What set Brito apart was a strikeout rate of better than one per inning, 42 in 34 1/3 frames. The 19-year-old did that while walking just 11 batters all summer long. The Venezuelan also has the added benefit of being left-handed. This was Brito's third season in the system after pitching in the VSL in 2010 and DSL in 2011.

Other relief standouts include Fernando Baez. Known as the "Dominican Jason Motte," the right-hander rung up a team-best 50 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings. The ex-catcher is currently in instructional league camp in the US.

Estaban Vallejo walked just eight in 24 1/3 innings and was the fourth DSL Cardinals reliever with a sub-2.00 ERA (1.85).



Link to master article with all 2012 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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