2013 DSL Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year

Four Dominican Summer League Cardinals relief pitchers logged ERAs under 3.00, two had sub-1.20 WHIPs, but only one finished 14 games and converted six saves.

Here in phase two of our annual recaps of the just-completed season across the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system, we move from team reports to relief pitchers, starting with the Dominican Summer League.

Over the course of the 2013 season, the DSL Cardinals' pitching staff was a pleasant surprise. As a group, the young arms finished 11th of 35 DSL clubs in ERA at 2.94 and eighth in strikeouts - for a team that posted a sub-.500 won-loss record.

While nine Cardinals hurlers pitched the majority of their games in a starting role, nine others threw at least 10 innings primarily as a reliever. Their stats follow, listed in ascending ERA order.

DSL Cards relievers W L ERA G SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP HLD GF
Yeison Medina 1 1 1.26 17 6 28.2 21 8 4 0 12 35 1.15 1 14
Andy De La Cruz 3 3 2.01 14 0 31.1 24 12 7 0 15 23 1.24 1 4
Virgilio Encarnacion 2 1 2.01 11 4 22.1 14 5 5 0 10 20 1.07 0 9
Esteban Vallejo 1 2 2.89 12 1 28.0 25 17 9 0 18 18 1.54 3 6
Alirio Negrette 1 1 3.22 11 2 22.1 24 16 8 0 10 15 1.52 2 5
Jose Lara 2 0 3.82 14 2 30.2 37 16 13 0 7 24 1.43 2 8
Rigobert Urena 0 2 4.56 9 0 23.2 21 14 12 2 16 17 1.56 1 3
Ronald Sanchez 2 1 5.56 11 0 11.1 11 10 7 1 12 9 2.03 1 5
Frendy Gavin 1 1 6.32 10 0 15.2 12 14 11 0 15 10 1.72 1 5

Unlike the starting pitchers, whose ERAs were almost all under 3.00, the relievers had very mixed results. Only four of the nine DSL Cardinals bullpenners came in under that 3.00 mark, though unlike in the US, every reliever averaged more than one inning per outing.

Free passes were a problem almost without exception across this group of young relievers. In fact, two of the best four in ERA accomplished it despite high walk rates. That was especially the case with Estaban Vallejo, whose strikeout to walk ratio was just 1/1.

Because he is 21 years old and pitching for a second season in a league of teenagers, one should expect Virglio Encarnacion to excel. The right-hander did his part, allowing the fewest baserunners of the relievers, tying for second-best ERA at 2.01 and was second in saves with four.

18-year-old Andy De La Cruz was the standout bullpen lefty with a 2.01 ERA. Though his walks were high at 4.3 per nine innings, De La Cruz was the heaviest-used reliever for manager Fray Peniche, throwing 31 1/3 innings. (Other lefties deployed in relief were Frendy Gavin, Alirio Negrette and Rigobert Urena.)

On top of the list is The Cardinal Nation's 2013 DSL Cardinals Reliever of the Year. Yeison Medina was the ninth inning go-to-guy for manager Fray Peniche, finishing 14 games and saving six. Both were team highs as was his 17 games pitched. Though the right-hander is 20 years of age, 2013 marked his first professional season.

"Medina was a late signing this spring, just before we started our DSL season," noted Cardinals director of international operations Moises Rodriguez. "He is built like a bull – very strong – about 6-foot-2."

The Dominican native led the relievers with a 1.26 ERA, striking out 35 and walking 12 in 28 2/3 frames. At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Medina is said to throw a 89-92 mph fastball that touches 93-94 and has a curve and change as well.

"Some times we to calm him down a little bit because he loved to use his fastball and would lose his command," Rodriguez said. "He is definitely a power arm and we are looking forward to seeing him in the US next year when he comes over."



Link to master article with all 2013 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selections as the Dominican Summer League Cardinals Starting Pitcher and Player of the Year.



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