Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals prospects in the Venezuelan, Venezuelan Parallel, Puerto Rican and Nicaraguan Leagues

This weekly notebook covers two winter leagues in Venezuela, plus Puerto Rico and Nicaragua. Jhonny Polanco is pitching well in Nicaragua.

Stats are through December 7th.

Venezuelan League

The Venezuelan League consists of eight teams competing in one group.  Opening Day was October 7th and the regular season ends on December 29th.  The first-half season stats closed on November 15th. 

Bravos de Margarita –

Ismael Brito (Johnson City):  Brito was removed from Margarita’s active roster on November 3rd, having not appeared in a game since the 29th.  He resurfaced in the Venezuelan Parallel League and his performance there will be addressed in that portion of the notebook.  His cumulative VL line:  7 G, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO, 3.37 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .182 BAA, .286 BABIP

Silfredo Garcia (Springfield):  Garcia has pitched three times since the last report, first pitching a scoreless eighth in an eventual 2-1 win by Margarita.  The righty utilized a 6-3 double play to work around two singles yielded.  Three days later, Garcia notched his first save despite surrendering a run on a single and RBI double with one gone in the ninth, making the final score 3-1.  On December 3rd, he injected a free pass into a ninth inning consisting of three groundball outs.  His line so far: 63 G, 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB (1 IBB), 3 SO, 1.69 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .286 BAA, .316 BABIP, 3 IR/2 IRS 

Juan Perez (State College):  Perez’ stay in the Venezuelan League was brief, as the 20-year-old relieved once on November 28th.  He began the ninth trying to maintain the Bravos’ 9-3 lead, but alternated two outs with two bases-on-balls.  Perez capped the performance with a two-run double before recording the final out.  He was removed from Margarita’s active roster on December 3rd. 

Breyvic Valera (Springfield):  Valera posted strong numbers in his last 12 starts, going 16-for-38 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs and seven walks against four strikeouts for a line of .421/.522/.737/1.259.  He scored 10 runs, knocking in five while batting fifth primarily.  Nine of his 12 starts came at the hot corner although Valera switched to second in the latter innings four times.  His other three starts were in the outfield, twice in right and once in center.  He committed four errors, all fielding, three at third and one in right.  Valera was successful only once in four stolen base attempts.  His overall mark:  .302/.399/.434/.833, 48-for-159 in 47 games/46 starts, 9 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 28 R, 19 RBI, 25 BB, 8 SO, 7 SB, 11 CS, 9 E, .305 BABIP 

Kender Villegas (State College):  Villegas last pitched in a Venezuelan League game on October 16th.  Like Brito, he recently saw action in the Venezuelan Parallel League.  His cumulative VL line:  2 G, 2.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R/ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 2 SO, 19.29 ERA, 2.67 WHIP, .545 BAA, .500 BABIP

Justin Wright (Memphis):  The fact that Wright has yet to be scored upon in six outings covering four innings can be attributed to a bail out by his successor on the first of his four relief appearances for the period.  The lefty got the nod with one gone and the score knotted at three all in the ninth inning on the 25th and loaded the bases on three consecutive singles.  The next reliever up left all three on, a game Margarita won in 12.  Wright was thrown back out there the next day with better results, yielding a harmless ninth-inning single with two out and holding a 9-3 lead.  The southpaw retired his first two faced before issuing a free pass in the second game of a double-header on Thursday, keeping the Bravos’ deficit to a single score.  He finished the period by retiring his only batter, stranding two on in the sixth and keeping Margarita up 2-0.  His cumulative line:  6 G, 4 IP, 5 H, 0 R/ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .294 BAA, .357 BABIP 

Leones del Caracas –

On Thursday it was reported that Miguel Socolovich will not pitch for the Leones at all this season. 

Tiburones de La Guaira –

Juan Gonzalez (Triple-A):  Gonzalez, whom St. Louis signed as a minor league free agent last month, has relieved 14 times for La Guaira, giving up 19 runs on 24 hits and eight free passes, two intentional, in 13 2/3 innings.  The 25-year-old has fanned just five batters and plunked three.  Overall, he has a 12.51 ERA, 2.34 WHIP and a .381 BAA with a .375 BABIP.  Gonzalez has inherited runners four times, twice with none out and runners in scoring position.  Five of eight inherited runners have scored on him. 

Venezuelan Parallel League

The 14-team VPL is the developmental arm of the Venezuelan League with its own regular season, play offs and championship.  An occurrence since the last notebook involved St Louis’ trade of back-up catcher Tony Cruz to Kansas City for 19-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Jose Martinez.  Although his age and major league affiliation makes him a candidate for participation in the Venezuelan Parallel League, no player with that name is listed on the stat sheets. 

Bravos de Margarita –

Carlos Torres (Gulf Coast):  Torres’ lack of performance at the plate dictated just two starts in the Bravos’ nine most recent games.  The 23-year-old singled once in eight at bats, striking out six times and stealing a base.  That drops his overall numbers to .231/.282/.446/.728, 15-for-65 in 18 starts, with four doubles, two triples and two home runs, four walks, 20 strikeouts, eight runs scored and 10 driven in, .295 BABIP.  Torres is three-for-three in stolen base attempts.

Ismael Brito (Johnson City):  Brito retired his only batter faced and has not seen action since November 24th.  His cumulative VPL line:  0-0, 3 G, 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 0 HB, 2 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP 

Kender Villegas (State College):  Villegas pitched well in three appearances totaling 2 2/3 innings, picking up his second save on the 24th and tossing scoreless outings on the 25th and 27th.  The righty allowed just one hit, fanning two. His cumulative VPL line:  0-1, 5 G, 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R/ER, 0 HB, 1 BB, 3 SO, 4.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .250 BAA, .308 BABIP

Caribes de Anzoategui –

Ronnierd Garcia (State College):  After batting a meager .152/.278/.217/.495, 7-for-46 in the first 18 games, 12 starts, Garcia has not played at all since November 5th.  He has a double, triple, eight walks, nine strikeouts, three runs scored and two knocked in, .189 BABIP.  He has committed three errors.

Leones del Caracas – 

Gerwuins Velazco (State College):  Velazco started three of his team’s first 12 games but has not pitched since October 19th.  His overall mark:  0-1, 3 G/GS, 3.75 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 12 IP, 14 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 SO, 1.50 WHIP, .318 BAA., 333 BABIP.

Jhohan Acevedo (State College):  Acevedo did not play for a nine-day span encompassing five games but appeared in Caracas’ four most recent contests, starting three and batting lead off.  He returned with a bang, going .444/.615/.556/1.171, 4-for-9 with a double, four base-on-balls, five runs scored and four knocked in.  Acevedo struck out twice, giving him 14 walks for the season against just seven strikeouts.  That raises his cumulative mark to .268/.455/.293/.747, 11-for-41 in 16 games, 12 starts, with 14 walks, seven strikeouts, seven runs scored, seven RBIs and four stolen bases in six attempts, .324 BABIP. 

Tiburones de La Guaira –

Anderson Gerdel (Johnson City):  Gerdel appeared three times out of the Tiburones’ bullpen with horrific results in one of those appearances, mixed in another and good in the third.  He was the long relief on the 23rd, tossing 3 1/3 frames of one-hit, one-walk ball.  His one hit given up, however, drove in two inherited runners, one of them earned.  Gerdel was truly dreadful his next time out on the 27th, surrendering a grand slam that was part of the five runs yielded, four earned, on four hits in just a third of an inning.  He bounced back with a one-two-three fifth on the 2nd, picking up his second win.  His line to date:  2-1, 11 G, 4 GS, 4.03 ERA, 29 IP, 35 H, 16 R, 13 ER, 4 HR, 1 HB, 3 BB, 20 SO, 1.31 WHIP, .315 BAA, .356 BABIP

Puerto Rican League 

The struggling Puerto Rican League is down to just four teams with a regular season running from October 30th through December 30, 2015.  They do not play on either Mondays or Thursdays. 

Three St. Louis farmhands began the season with the Gigantes de Carolina – pitcher Juan Caballero, outfielder Anthony Garcia and first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez – while Cuban right-hander Pedro Echemendia (State College) was added to Carolina’s roster on December 2nd. 

Gigantes de Carolina –

Juan Caballero (Johnson City):  Caballero has been a bright spot on Carolina’s pitching staff, picking up his first win in his first start on the 27th.  The righty shut out the opposition on a hit and base-on-balls through six, striking out four.  His encore was 3 2/3 more scoreless frames out of the bullpen on the 2nd with just one hit allowed.  His finale was 1 2/3 more innings of shutout ball on the 4th, the highlight being consecutive outs that stranded an inherited runner at third in the fifth. Caballero’s numbers for the period:  1-0, 3 G, 1 GS, 0.00 ERA, 11.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, 0.44 WHIP, .081 BAA, .097 BABIP, 1 IR/0 IRS.  His overall mark:  1-1, 9 G, 1 GS, 0.89 ERA, 20.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R/ER, 8 BB (1 IBB), 13 SO, 0.79 WHIP, .114 BAA, .141 BABIP, 4 IR/0 IRS in four appearances 

Pedro Echemendia (State College):  The Cuban is off to a superb start for Carolina, garnering two wins in as many appearances.  He retired all six batters faced in his Puerto Rican League debut on the 4th, fanning four.  The righty induced a 5-3 groundout in the 10th inning of a tie contest on Sunday, leaving an inherited runner at third.  Echemendia obtained his second win after his team pushed across a tally in the bottom of the frame.  

Anthony Garcia (Memphis):  Garcia’s bat went back into the deep freeze, as the outfielder acquired just one hit in 19 at bats over six starts.  To add insult to injury, the first base umpire ejected him in the third inning on the 27th even though Garcia was not in the lineup.  Chirping from the dugout?  His overall numbers:  .205/.290/.352/.642, 18-for-88 in 23 games, with four doubles, three home runs, eight walks, 17 strikeouts, 11 runs scored, 14 RBIs and a .221 BABIP.  He has committed three miscues.

Jonathan Rodriguez (Springfield):  Rodriguez appeared in just three of the Gigantes’ 10 games, singling twice in seven at bats with three walks and four strikeouts.  That raises his overall mark to .250/.363/.338/.701, 17-for-68 in 20 games, with six doubles, 10 walks, 26 strikeouts, seven runs scored and seven knocked in, .405 BABIP.  He has not committed an error. 

Nicaraguan League

The four-team Nicaraguan League got underway on November 3rd and the regular season finishes on January 3rd.  Reliever Jhonny Polanco is part of the Indios del Boer bullpen. 

Indios del Boer –

Jhonny Polanco (Springfield):  Polanco has been outstanding in nine games for the Indios, giving up just one hit and two base-on-balls, one intentional, in 11 innings.  He has accumulated five saves and has fanned seven.  His line to date:  9 G, 5 SV, 11 IP, 1 H, 2 BB (1 IBB), 7 SO, 0.00 ERA, 0.27 WHIP, .034 BAA, .045 BABIP. 

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