Organizationally, the St. Louis Cardinals usually prefer relief pitchers not be used in set roles. The thinking is that young hurlers should be familiar with many usage patterns, including the ability to go multiple innings when needed.
Three others who earned saves were normally starters, but were working in tandem situations, and another, Carlos Torres, is an outfielder, called upon in extra innings and blowout emergencies.
Left-hander Ismael Brito was probably the most reliable reliever available to manager Steve Turco, but Brito was moved up to Johnson City midway through the season after seven appearances, during which he logged a 1.77 ERA. However, Brito walked 10 against 19 strikeouts and 22 hits allowed in 20 innings for a concerning WHIP of 1.57.
Only Arias (15), DeLorenzo (17), Brady Bowen (15) and converted catcher Gerwuins Velazco (18) made more relief appearances than Brito. Arias’ ERA was over five while Bowen came in at 3.38. DeLorenzo’s earned run average was 2.95.
Though Velazco, a 23-year-old Venezuelan right-hander, was used in fewer high-leverage situations than the other three relievers noted just above, the first-year pitcher showed remarkable poise and control with just five walks and 24 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. Velazco led those who remained in the bullpen all season long with a 2.81 ERA.
After the GCL season ended, Velazco was promoted to the State College Spikes to help them in their attempt to win a New York-Penn League wild card berth.
For someone with so little experience on the mound, Velazco’s impressive performance has netted him The Cardinal Nation’s Reliever of the Year nod for the 2015 Gulf Coast League Cardinals.
Other relievers of note included Yeison Medina, who pitched well in four outings after serving his drug suspension, lefty Max Foody, whose good-looking comeback resulted in another injury and another retirement, former slugger Rowan Wick, who appeared in just three games before suffering a sore elbow and 2015 11th-rounder Paul Salazar, shut down after 1 2/3 innings due to an elbow problem.
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Link to master article with all 2015 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that includes our selections as the GCL Cardinals Starting Pitcher and Player of the Year.
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