Welcome to the premiere 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.
This report covers the Venezuelan League, Venezuelan Parallel League and Nicaraguan League and will be one of two weekly reports, once the rest of the winter leagues get underway.
Starting dates for other leagues in which Cardinals are expected to suit up include Dominican Republic on October 17 and Puerto Rico on October 30.
Eight teams comprise the Venezuelan League, which runs from October 9th through the end of December.
Stats are through October 14th.
Bravos de Margarita –
Weekly Record: 2-3
- Ismael Brito (Johnson City): The 21-year-old appeared in one game, recording a swinging K and line out before running into trouble. Brito was given the hook after walking one followed by an infield single to second. Both runners crossed home plate thanks to a long ball served up by his successor.
- Silfredo Garcia (Palm Beach): Garcia began his winter work in impressive fashion, dousing a bases-loaded inherited fire in the season opening victory by inducing a 4-3 groundball out. The right-hander worked around a teammate’s defensive miscue that opened the next frame, retiring the next three batters on a pop to second plus two ground outs. Garcia tossed a clean inning the next time out, maneuvering around back-to-back singles. The Puerto Cabello native took the mound in the ninth on Tuesday with his squad clinging to a 3-2 lead and sent three down in order, one by strikeout, earning his first save.
Caribes de Anzoategui –
Weekly Record: 3-1
- Cesar Valera (Palm Beach): While the infielder is listed on the roster, Valera did not yet appear in a game.
Leones del Caracas –
Weekly Record: 2-3
- Tommy Pham (Memphis): Pham had mixed numbers in his 2014 Venezuelan League debut, garnering only two hits in 15 at bats over five starts in center. Both hits were home runs accounting for three RBI and a .533 slugging percentage. Pham posted a solid .409 on-base percentage by working six free passes in 22 plate appearances, two more walks than his strikeout total for the period.
- Boone Whiting (Memphis): The right-hander has made two starts, on the 10th and 15th, both no-decisions. Whiting allowed two runs each time out, going longer in the second outing, 5 1/3 innings, versus just 3 2/3 initially. He fanned eight and walked two in nine innings, having allowed one home run as part of his 4.00 ERA.
Tiburones de La Guaira –
Weekly Record: 2-3
- Rafael Ortega (Memphis): Ortega is off to a cold start, going 1-for-12 with a sac bunt and three strikeouts in four starts. The centerfielder was pinch hit for three times and did not play in Tuesday’s contest.
The developmental arm of the Venezuelan League is the Venezuelan Parallel League or VPL. The 16-team league breaks down into two divisions with the regular season running from mid-October through mid-December.
Early information from the VPL is limited with stats available through October 11th. Three of St. Louis’ farmhands have shown up in the results so far, outfielder Jhohan Acevedo (State College), infielder Ronnierd Garcia (Peoria) and pitcher Kender Villegas (Johnson City). Several more are expected to take part and will be discussed as they appear.
Acevedo was the starting centerfielder on the 9th, the only game reported so far. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and strikeout, stranding three on base. He was caught stealing once in the 4-3 win.
Caribes won their game on October 9th. Garcia is back with the club again this season, looking to improve on his 2013 line of .213/.287/.394/.680 in 127 at bats over 35 games. Caribes’ starting first baseman singled once in four at bats in the clean-up role in the season opener.
La Guaira –
La Guaira lost both of their first two games of the season. Villegas is back with the team again in 2014 and took the loss on the 10th despite not giving up an earned run. All four of the tallies the righty allowed in his three-inning start scored in the first on four hits plus a passed ball and fielding error. Three of the four hits occurred after the inning should have been over. Villegas retired six of his next eight batters in the second and third, yielding a two-out single in each frame. He fanned three and did not walk a batter.
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