Cardinals Winter League Notebook: Wk 1, Pt 2

Results from St. Louis Cardinals prospects competing last week in Venezuela. Leobaldo Pina is off to a nice start in the Parallel League.

Welcome to the second of our weekly reports on what is happening on the Winter League front. Each week we will bring you the highlights from all of the winter leagues in which St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers are participating.

St. Louis' prospects are disbursed among five leagues located in four countries. Brian Walton has a good overview of players potentially participating along with a link to an interview with Moises Rodriguez, Cardinals director of international operations, outlining the process of how players are placed.

This second of two weekly reports will cover the Venezuelan League, Venezuelan Parallel League and Nicaraguan League.

Venezuelan League

Eight teams comprise the Venezuelan League, which runs from October 10th through December 21st.

11 of St. Louis' minor leaguers were tentatively assigned to seven squads. Three of the 11, shortstop Cesar Valera (State College), catcher Gerwuins Velazco (Peoria) and pitcher Kender Villegas (GCL) were subsequently re-assigned to the Venezuelan Parallel League (VPL). A fourth player, catcher Jose Gomez, has not appeared in either a Venezuelan League or VPL game to date.

That leaves seven minor leaguers playing in the Venezuelan League. Shortstop Ildemaro Vargas (Peoria) was sent to the Caribes (Caribbeans) de Anzoategui while the Tigres de Aragua feature Memphis reliever Jorge Rondon for the second consecutive season.

Pending Memphis free agents Richard Castillo and Deryk Hooker are with the Cardinales (Cardinals) de Lara as is right-hander Scott McGregor (Memphis). Finally, Peoria Chiefs teammates Silfredo Garcia and Breyvic Valera are re-teamed on the Bravos (Braves) de Margarita. .

Caribes de Anzoategui –
The Caribes are off to a 10-6 start but Ildemaro Vargas has contributed next to nothing. Vargas was the starting shortstop twice in his team's first four games but saw limited action later after going hitless. He took over at third in the later innings of one contest, pinch ran in another and pinch hit in a third. In fact the 22-year-old is still looking for his first hit after seven at bats in five games. Former St. Louis farmhand Kevin Moscatel is also on the roster.

Tigres de Aragua –
Aragua got off to a roaring start, winning its first seven but went 3-5 over the next seven and now sport a 10-5 record with one postponement. Among the familiar faces on the Tigres' roster are Eduardo Sanchez and Jose Martinez.
- Jorge Rondon: Rondon appeared in one VPL game before making his 2013 debut for Aragua on October 19th. Overall, the righty was not scored upon in three of four outings but allowed three tallies in just 2/3 of an inning in the fourth. Rondon has yielded seven hits and a base-on-balls in 3 1/3 frames with three strikeouts.

Cardenales de Lara –
Lara has begun the season with a dreadful 4-11 start.
- Richard Castillo: Castillo has relieved exclusively for the Cardenales, tossing four innings over four games. The righty has been scored upon in two of the four appearances. Castillo was thrown into the fire in his 2013 Venezuelan League debut when he entered a tie game with runners at the corners and none out. The 24-year-old allowed both runners to cross. He was more successful the next time out, stranding three inherited runners with a double-play ball that ended the inning.
- Deryk Hooker: Hooker's name does not appear on Lara's roster as of now but it is likely that the right-hander is only pitching the second-half of the season, as he did last year.
- Scott McGregor: McGregor is part of the Cardenales' rotation and has made two starts so far, both against the same squad. He shut down La Guaira on four hits over four innings on October 19th in a game eventually won by Lara but took a tough loss on the 25th when he yielded two runs on four hits and a walk in four.

Bravos de Margarita –
The Bravos have gone 5-10 with one postponed in the early going.
- Silfredo Garcia: Garcia's seven relief appearances have been a bit of a mixed bag. He was scored upon the first two times out but settled down to notch three scoreless appearances in a row, including notching his first save which happened to be of the four outs variety. Garcia gave up two tallies, one earned, on the 24th but recorded his second save on the 27th when he retired two batters to strand the tying run at third. Overall, the 22-year-old has inherited six runners over five appearances and only one has crossed the plate.
- Breyvic Valera: Valera tore up the VPL in 2012 after being re-assigned by Margarita. This season the 21-year-old stuck with the big club and he responded with a .302/.362/.349/.711 line in 43 at bats over 13 games. He made his first start in the Bravos' fourth game and has not sat since then. Valera has worked four free passes, struck out six times and swiped one bag in two attempts, playing exclusively in left field.

Venezuelan Parallel League

The developmental arm of the Venezuelan League is the Venezuelan Parallel League or VPL. The league is comprised of two divisions: "A" which has eight teams and "B" which has nine. All of the Cardinals' minor leaguers currently playing are in "A". The regular season began on October 10th and finishes on December 14, 2013.

Five of St. Louis' farmhands were on record as being tentatively assigned to the VPL. Of those five listed in Brian Walton's overview, pitcher Juan Perez' name has yet to appear in a box score. Three more minor leaguers were re-assigned by their Venezuelan League club, as mentioned earlier in this report. Additionally, two more Major League aspirants – pitcher Ismael Brito and infielder Ronnierd Garcia – have shown up in the stats for a total of nine minor leaguers.

Bravos –
The Bravos have a 9-3 record to date.
- Ismael Brito: The lefty reliever is off to a solid start, tossing four scoreless frames over three games. Brito has given up three hits and a walk for a 1.00 WHIP while fanning four. Twice he has inherited runners and one of two scored.
- Carlos Torres: Torres is among the club leaders in both games played (12) and at bats (39) and it's easy to see why. The left fielder, who just turned 21 earlier this month, has 13 hits, including four doubles, with eight runs scored and four driven in for a line of .333/.395/.436/.831. Torres has walked three times with five strikeouts and swiped a bag.

Caracas –
Caracas has won nine, lost one with two ties so far.
- Leobaldo Pina: Pina spent the first eight games on the bench collecting dust but made the most of his opportunity when finally given the chance. The 19-year-old has started at either short or third in four of the last five contests and posted a sizzling .471/.550/.824/1.374 mark. Pina has eight hits in 17 at bats, including two doubles and two triples with three walks and only one strikeout.
- Gerwuins Velazco: The tale of Velazco's playing time is the inverse of Pina's as he started the initial four games at either first or catcher. Velazco saw his playing time dwindle, perhaps because of his weak line of .143/.333/.333/.667, 3-for-21 in eight games with a double and home run. He has six free passes against four strikeouts.

Caribes –
Caribes has won only two of ten games to date. They have lost eight with one tie.
- Ronnierd Garcia: Caribes' third baseman has started all 11 games, batting either third or fifth. Garcia has posted a anemic .209/.286/.465/.751 mark, 9-for-43 with three doubles, a triple and two home runs. He has walked four times with 10 strikeouts and has committed six errors.
- Jose Godoy: Godoy finally got a start on the 28th as the Caribes' designated hitter but was hitless in three at bats. He walked once and touched home one time.
- Cesar Valera: Valera has started six games, five as the designated hitter and one at short. He has gone 6-for-23 with two doubles, one triple, two walks and three strikeouts for a line of .261/.333/.435/.768.

La Guaira –
La Guaira has eight wins against four losses and one tie so far.
- Anderson Gerdel: Gerdel has started once and relieved twice. All three earned runs yielded in 7 2/3 total innings came in his October 15th start when he lasted just 3 2/3. Gerdel bounced back with a solid three-inning relief performance on the 23rd that netted him his first win. Overall, he has allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits and a walk while fanning five. That gives Gerdel a 1.04 WHIP.
- Kender Villegas: Villegas has as many walks (four) as strikeouts to date. The right-hander started the season opener on October 10th and retired the first five batters faced. He appeared to lose the strike zone at that point and issued four consecutive free passes that pushed across the only run charged to him in two innings. Villegas' only other appearance came on the 15th when he shut down the opposition for 1 2/3 frames. Overall, he has tossed 3 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and four walks that resulted in one run.

Related article: Part one of this report covered Cardinals prospects' results the past week in the Dominican Republic.

© 2013 The Cardinal Nation, and All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories