Cardinals Winter League Notebook: 2012 Week 1

Our first weekly report of St. Louis Cardinals players competing in 2012 Winter Leagues.

Welcome to the kick-off of our 2012 Winter Leagues coverage. Each week we will bring you the highlights from all of the winter leagues in which St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers are participating.

This past week saw the season's start for the Dominican, Mexican Pacific and Venezuelan Winter Leagues. Stats are through games of October 17 when available.

Dominican (Winter) League

The Dominican League is comprised of six teams with a season that runs from October 14 through December 21, 2012. One of the highlights of the season is the All-Star Game which will take place on Tuesday, December 11th.

The five Cardinals minor leaguers currently participating are split between three squads. Catcher Audry Perez (Springfield), center fielder Oscar Taveras (Springfield) and catcher Luis De La Cruz (Palm Beach) play for Aguilas Cibaenas (Eagles). Carlos Martinez was slated to pitch for the Aguilas Cibaenas but that decision was reportedly reversed by St. Louis on October 13th.

Second baseman Starlin Rodriguez (Palm Beach) is on the Leones (Lions) del Escogido roster while keystone teammate Ronny Gil suits up for the Gigantes (Giants) del Cibao. The Escogido club is managed by former Cardinal Ken Oberkfell. Recently released outfielder Roberto Reyes also plays for the Gigantes.

Aguilas Cibaenas –
Aguilas played two games this week with a third postponed and went 1-1. Former Cardinal Hector Luna plays third for the Cibaenas.
• Luis De La Cruz: did not play
• Audry Perez: caught both games and batted eighth. Went 2-for-7 with two doubles and two runs driven in. Struck out three times and was caught stealing once.
• Oscar Taveras: started in center both games and hit seventh. Was pinch hit for in the ninth in Tuesday's 2-1 loss. Went 2-for-8 with a double and two strikeouts. Also charged with an error. An October 3rd article says the Cardinals' organization wants Taveras to focus on his defense and base-running. He has instructions to play until December and then check his fatigue level. Taveras indicated that, as of now, he plans on playing the entire season.

Gigantes de Cibao –
The boxscore for the 17th is not available so Cibao played one game with one postponement and one unknown.
• Ronny Gil: did not play

Leones del Escogido –
Escogido only got in one game this week with two others postponed due to rain. Fernando Tatis manned third for the Leones.
• Starlin Rodriguez: did not play

Mexican Pacific League

Eight teams play in the Mexican Pacific League which goes from October 13 through December 30, 2012. The second half of the season starts November 22nd. Mondays are regularly scheduled off days.

Second baseman Jermaine Curtis (Springfield) and southpaw pitcher Nick Additon (Memphis) are St. Louis' representatives in the league. Curtis plays for the Caneros de Los Mochis (Los Mochis Sugarcane Growers) and Additon is part of the Venados (Deer) de Mazatlan pitching staff.

Caneros de Los Mochis –
Los Mochis went 1-3 to start the season including a postponement on Tuesday that was made up as part of a double-header on Wednesday.
• Jermaine Curtis: started at second and led off in three games. He iss off to a slow start, going 1-for-10 with a run batted in and a walk.

Venados de Mazatlan –
Nick Additon was Mazatlan's opening day starter against the Tomateros de Culiacan on October 13th. Additon retired the first six batters he faced before yielding a lead-off double and one-out single in the third. A play at the plate prevented a run from scoring but the lefty was not so fortunate in the fourth when the same double and single combination resulted in Culiacan's first run.

Additon's day was over after he put two runners on in the fifth via a one-out single and a hit batsman. One of those two runners eventually came across to give the 24-year-old a line of 4 1/3 innings with two runs, earned, on five hits and five strikeouts with no free passes issued. Additon threw 78 pitches, 54 of them for strikes and he departed with a 3-2 lead in a game eventually lost by the Venados by a 6-5 score.

Venezuelan League

The Venezuelan Professional League consists of eight teams with a schedule that runs from October 11 through December 30, 2012. The 2012 Venezuelan League All-Star Game will be held on Monday, December 3rd.

Six of the Cardinals' minor leaguers play on four teams. The Tigres (Tigers) de Aragua feature Memphis reliever Jorge Rondon and infielder Jose Garcia. The Memphis connection continues with the Redbirds' hitting coach Mark Budaska continuing that role for the Tigres.

Second baseman Ildemaro Vargas, who received a late season call-up to Batavia from Johnson City, joins the Caribes (Caribbeans) de Anzoategui while right-hander Richard Castillo (Springfield-Palm Beach) is on the pitching staff of the Cardenales (Cardinals) de Lara. Silfredo Garcia, who caught the attention of minor league fans this year while pitching for the GCL and Johnson City Cardinals, links up with middle infielder Breyvic Valera (Batavia) on the Bravos (Braves) de Margarita roster.

Caribes de Anzoategui –
The Caribes went 2-3 for the week.
• Ildemaro Vargas: pinch hit in the eighth in Friday's game and struck out swinging. Remained in the game in the ninth, playing shortstop.

Tigres de Aragua –
Aragua went 2-3 as well on the week. Esteban Yan was the starter in the Tigres' Opening Day loss. Former St. Louis farmhand Jose Martinez also plays for Aragua.
• Jose Garcia: Started at short in two games in the nine hole, going hitless with a walk in three at bats. Had a throwing error in Thursday's game that did not result in a run. Ground into a double play in his only at bat on Saturday. Walked once and committed two throwing errors, one of which eventually resulted in a run. Was pinch hit for in both contests.
• Jorge Rondon: Entered Friday's game with runners at the corners and none out in the fourth. Allowed both to cross. Threw two wild pitches, hit a batter, yielded a single, a home run and two stolen bases. His line was 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R/ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 1 HB, 1 SO.

Cardenales de Lara –
Lara went 3-3 this week. Former Cardinal Joe Thurston is a teammate of Castillo.
• Richard Castillo: All three of his appearances were in relief. Gave up two runs, earned, on four hits, including a solo shot. Walked two and struck out two. Allowed one of three inherited runners to score.

Bravos de Margarita –
Margarita went 5-0 with one postponment for the week. The Diamondbacks' Henry Blanco, Detroit's Anibal Sanchez and Dodgers' Ronald Belisario are on the roster as is the Mets' Wilmer Flores who was selected for the 2012 Futures Game. In fact the Bravos' roster includes nine players that are on their respective organizations' 40-man.
• Silfredo Garcia: Tossed three innings over two relief appearances. Began the inning in both appearances so did not inherit any runners. Struck out two and walked two with a hit yielded but no runs.
• Breyvic Valera: did not play.

Venezuelan Parallel League

The developmental arm of the Venezuelan Professional League is the Venezuelan Parallel League. The regular season of this league, which has two eight-team divisions, began on October 11th and finishes on December 14, 2012.

All five of St. Louis' representatives play on teams in Division A. They are: Lefty Ismael Brito (DSL Cardinals) for the Bravos, third baseman Ronnierd Garcia (GCL Cardinals) for the Caribes, right-hander Anderson Gerdel (Johnson City) for La Guaira, catcher Jose Gomez (GCL Cardinals) for Zulia and catcher Gerwuins Velazco (Johnson City) for Caracas.

• Ismael Brito: Appeared in one of six games with one inning pitched in relief. Walked one but faced only three batters.
• Ronnierd Garcia: Started all four of the Caribes' games: two in left and two at third. His only hit in 16 at bats was a solo home run. He walked once, was hit by a pitch, struck out three times and was charged with an error in his first game in left. Was also caught stealing once.
• Anderson Gerdel: Was the winning pitcher in Saturday's contest. Tossed three innings out of the bullpen with a run yielded on two singles, a double and a walk with two strikeouts.
• Jose Gomez: Was the starting catcher in two of Zulia's five games this week. Went 3-for-6 with a solo shot, a walk and one strikeout.
• Gerwuins Velazco: Started two of his team's four games (one at first and another as catcher) and appeared in a third as the catcher. Went 1-for-8 with two walks, two runs scored, two strikeouts and one error while playing first.

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