With 14 different pitchers starting at least once during the 60-game Gulf Coast League season, the average for the Cardinals in their eight seasons in the rookie-level circuit, there certainly is no shortage of candidates for The Cardinal Nation’s Starting Pitcher of the Year. 10 of the 14 were primarily starters.
The Cardinals’ top 2014 draft pick, Luke Weaver, had a 0.00 ERA in four starts, but he pitched a total of only six innings before moving up to Class A-Advanced Palm Beach. Andrew Morales, the Cardinals’ other high-profile collegian drafted this year, wasn’t quite as sharp and pitched only five innings before his promotion to Palm Beach.
Frederis Parra, a 19-year-old Dominican right-hander, led the staff in starts and innings. Parra pitched well, earning three wins, and starting the team’s combined no-hitter. Though winless in eight starts, second-round pick Ronnie Williams pitched better every time out.
By season’s end, Jack Flaherty was perhaps the team’s most effective and reliable starter. The first-rounder allowed 18 hits and four walks while fanning 28 in 22 innings. Two of the four runs Flaherty allowed, and the only home run, came in his one-inning pro debut in relief on July 5.
Edging out Flaherty for the honor of top starter on the GCL Cardinals, however, is Jorge Rodriguez, who compiled a 0.98 ERA and 0.72 WHIP in 27 2/3 innings. The 20-year-old Dominican right-hander earned wins in four of his five starts, and the Cardinals also won the other game, though Rodriguez pitched only four innings so he did not qualify. Though they were both shortened by rain to less than six innings, Rodriguez was the first pitcher in the GCL since 2011 to have two complete-game wins.
Occasionally touching 96 on a downward angle with his fastball, Rodriguez also throws a curve and a changeup. Because of a shoulder issue, he did not pitch in the final six weeks of the season, though twice in the final two weeks he was scheduled to pitch only to be scratched on game day. Rodriguez was invited to instructional league in 2013, but is taking this fall off.
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Link to master article with all 2014 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our upcoming selection as the GCL Cardinals Player of the Year.
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