While 14 different pitchers started at least one game for the 2016 Gulf Coast League Cardinals, only four appeared in more games as a starter than reliever, led by Franyel Casadilla and Alvaro Seijas with nine each.
Though Anthony Ciavarella, St. Louis’ 24th-round pick out of Monmouth (New Jersey) College, had a lower overall ERA (2.48), but half the runs scored against him in his eight starts were unearned. As a starter, the 6-foot, 180-pound lefty was 0-3, with both his wins having been awarded in relief.
Juan Alvarez, a 19-year-old Dominican, earned four wins, but three came in relief. In six starts, Alvarez was 1-2 with a more than respectable 2.83 ERA. But Alvarez appeared only twice in road games, -- both against the Nationals in Viera – and was lit up both times.
Casadilla, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander from Santa Teresa del Tuy, Venezuela, earned his first win as the opening day starter and led the staff with five victories, going 3-0 in August. Perhaps the most consistent starter, Casadilla allowed more than two earned runs only once. He also hurled the GCL’s only complete-game shutout (shortened by rain to five innings) this season.
The 17-year-old Seijas, a right-hander from Maracay, Venezuela, has a big personality and confidence beyond his years. Though he made one start in which he gave up five runs, Seijas had seven starts during which he went at least four innings and allowed no runs or one earned run. Casadilla had five such outings.
Their stats and performances over the season were very close. At his best, Seijas was a little better than Casadilla.
With five days off before the do-or-die semifinal against the Red Sox, who had defeated the Cardinals in their three previous semifinals over the past four years, the entire staff was rested. So manager Steve Turco could select any of his pitchers to start.
He chose Seijas, who allowed three hits and two walks while striking out three over five innings to earn the win in a 6-2 Cardinals victory.
Even if the outcome had been different, Turco said afterward that would have made the same choice of Seijas again.
So are we. Congratulations to Alvaro Seijas, The Cardinal Nation Gulf Coast League Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2016.
The Cardinal Nation’s 32nd-ranked prospect in the system has more career upside as well. Seijas, who received St. Louis’ largest international bonus in 2015, is currently competing in the organization’s instructional league camp in Jupiter, Florida, an honor not bestowed on our other finalists.
Link to master article with all 2016 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selection as the GCL Cardinals Player of the Year.
Brian Walton also contributed to this article.
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