Welcome back to The Cardinal Nation’s weekly summary of St. Louis Cardinals players competing in winter leagues around the world. As I mentioned last week, as more leagues open play, I am breaking the hitters and pitchers into separate reports. Yesterday, I highlighted the offense.
Today, we will look at the hurlers.
The main change from last week is that the Dominican League (LIDOM) opened on Thursday, October 20 so is included for the first time. Now, three of the four leagues which join Cuba in the annual Caribbean Series in February are underway – including Mexico (LMP) and Venezuela (LVBP). Puerto Rico’s opener is tonight, Thursday, October 27, so look for more player additions in next week’s report.
In addition, there is a minor winter league in Venezuela called Liga Paralela or Parallel League. At times, players move up to the LVBP temporarily and many times right back down.
The Arizona Fall League prospect showcase is in its third week of action.
Other winter leagues yet to open, which typically feature lower level players from those nations, include Panama (November 3) and Colombia (November 4).
New to the report this week is Jeremy Hefner. The right-hander is pitching for the Gigantes in the Dominican. Expected to become a free agent soon, the former Mets starter may be trying to attract attention for his next contract after an injury-interrupted 2016 with Memphis.
Catcher-turned-pitcher Gerwuins Velazco has joined Caribes of the Venezuelan Liga Paralela. Because the Parallel League is considered a minor league, I list his stats below the others.
As I suggested last week was a possibility, Silfredo Garcia was moved up from Liga Paralela to the Venezuelan League.
In addition to the one starter, Austin Gomber, the Cardinals have three relievers assigned to the Glendale Desert Dogs of the AFL – Corey Littrell, Ryan Sherriff and Rowan Wick.
Cardinals farmhands pitching in the LVBP include starter Kurt Heyer and relievers Pedro Echemendia and David Oca, and are now joined by Garcia.
Palm Beach reliever Kyle Grana is working in relief for Navojoa in Mexico.
Pitching stats - season
Following are pitching stats for the winter ball season through October 26, sorted by ERA.
Pitching standouts - season
Looking at ERA, WHIP and batting average against, the first three pitchers listed are off to the best start this fall/winter season.
Pitching in Venezuela, Cuban reliever Echemendia has the best numbers across the board, though his strikeout total of one in 5 1/3 innings stands out for the wrong reason. Lefty Littrell has been the Cards’ most effective reliever of the three in the Arizona Fall League and his Glendale teammate Gomber has been solid through his three starts.
Wick and Sherriff have allowed too many baserunners in Arizona and their numbers indicate the results.
Grana has a very good batting average against of .207, but his WHIP is too high due to an ongoing problem with walks – six in eight innings.
In their debuts in their respective leagues, Garcia and Velazco struggled, able to only secure one out while yielding a run each. With three free passes and a hit given up, the latter had an especially rough outing.
Following are pitching stats for the last week, sorted by ERA.
Pitching standouts – week
This is cutting the data fine, but still does indicate recent trends.
Gomber had a fine five-inning start, his longest in the AFL to date, but four relievers were unscored upon last week. Make that three, as two unearned runs crossed the plate during Heyer’s outing.
Oca pitched for just two outs total in two games, leaving Echemendia and Wick, who both tossed two scoreless innings. The former’s two frames were perfect while the latter yielded two hits, and with Echemendia also having the best overall stats for the campaign to date, he is our Pitcher of the Week.
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