2013 GCL Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year

Kender Villegas is our top reliever on the St. Louis Cardinals' US entry-level rookie league club.

Kender Villegas may have been assigned to repeat the Gulf Coast League in 2013 and deal with a move from the rotation to the bullpen, but if the Venezuelan native was unhappy, he simply took it out on opposing GCL hitters.

Villegas
The 20-year-old led the 2013 Cardinals relief corps in appearances, ERA and WHIP. Villegas averaged 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings and logged a very solid 32/7 strikeout to walk count in 29 1/3 innings. His fastball touches 91 mph and he is making progress to refine his curve, but his changeup is his bread and butter, a true swing-and-miss pitch.

The right-hander was only one of two GCL bullpen members to not allow an opposing home run all season. The other, Kyle Grana, also led the club with four saves to Villegas' two prior to his promotion to Johnson City. Grana and Jonathan Escudero, who had the best strikeout rate among the relievers at 12 per nine innings, were also worthy candidates.

2013 free agent signee Dylan Hawkins was the club's top left-handed reliever with a 2.61 ERA. Like Hawkins, lefty Ismael Brito had a solid 1.00 WHIP to go with his 2.81 ERA before his promotion to Johnson City.

After these five, there was a wide gulf in terms of ERA. The other four members of the pen all posted marks of 4.69 or greater.

Throughout the season, Villegas was the most consistently effective and reliable reliever to whom manager Steve Turco could turn. As a result, Villegas is The Cardinal Nation's 2013 Gulf Coast Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year.

Here are the aggregate numbers for the relief staff, listed in ascending ERA sequence.

GCL Cardinals relievers W L ERA G SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP HD GF
Kender Villegas 1 1 1.23 22 2 29.1 20 5 4 0 7 32 0.92 2 13
Kyle Grana 1 0 1.69 15 4 21.1 18 9 4 0 7 24 1.17 2 10
Ismael Brito 3 1 1.73 11 0 26.0 21 5 5 3 5 27 1.00 0 3
Dylan Hawkins 3 2 2.61 16 0 31.0 22 11 9 2 9 34 1.00 0 4
Jonathan Escudero 1 1 2.81 20 0 32.0 28 14 10 1 14 41 1.31 5 4
Fidencio Flores 5 2 4.69 13 0 40.1 44 24 21 2 16 25 1.49 0 2
Juan Caballero 2 1 5.33 18 2 25.1 26 16 15 3 6 21 1.26 1 8
Hector Salazar 0 6 5.44 16 0 41.1 41 30 25 3 18 30 1.43 1 4
Isaac Silva 1 4 5.51 11 0 32.2 33 25 20 2 21 37 1.65 1 0




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 Gulf Coast League Cardinals Starting Pitcher and Player of the Year.



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