Dominican Grads to Extended Spring Training

16 Dominican players have been invited to Extended Spring Training Camp in Jupiter, Florida starting next month.

As the "first crop" representing the fruits of the Cardinals' increased labor in the Dominican Republic, 15 of these 16 players highlighted below will experience their first taste of baseball in America when they report to Extended Spring Training on Tuesday, April 4.


In the capsules that follow, I took at look back at their results during the 71-game 2005 Dominican Summer League season. In a league where pitching was far ahead of hitting, there were still standouts in both areas. As a point of reference, the DSL Cardinals hit just .228, but held their opponents to a .217 mark last season.


Pitchers (8)


Elvis Hernandez – The 20-year-old righty fanned 36 in 35 1/3 innings while posting a 2.04 ERA and holding opponents to a .197 mark at the plate. His five saves were second-best on the team.


Oscar Lara - Last season's closer turns 22 next month. The right-hander saved 16 games and won two more in 23 appearances. His 1.38 ERA was best on the DSL Cardinals, while his OBA of .156 tied for second stingiest.


Henderson LugoLugo was the DSL Cardinals' staff "horse" in 2005. His 71 innings pitched was over 50% more than anyone else. He whiffed 78 opposing hitters in the process while posting a tidy 1.77 ERA. His six wins tied for tops on the team.


Fabian Marquez – Marquez, a 19-year-old righty, just signed with the Cardinals in October, but given his invitation to the USA, they obviously like what they saw when they scouted him.


Nelson Montilla – Montilla is a 21-year-old right-hander who was a valuable reliever in 2005. He fanned more than one hitter per inning, won six games and his OBA (.162) and ERA (1.55) were among the best on the staff.


Frank Oliveros – A 19-year-old lefty who like Peralta, didn't post great numbers last season – 4.17 ERA and an OBA of .273. But, he is young and left-handed.


Jackson Paz – Paz is a 23-year-old lefty who has shown flashes of goodness in terms of getting ground balls and strikeouts. But, he has struggled with injuries since being selected from the Minnesota Twins in the Double-A phase of the December, 2004 Rule 5 draft. Paz is the only one of these Extended Spring Training invitees who has pitched in America. Paz was assigned to Quad Cities last year but suffered a partial labrum tear that sidelined him for most of the season. His stint in camp this spring is likely part of his rehabilitation process.


Senger Peralta – When I looked at the 18-year-old's numbers, I saw little that was distinctive. However, then I remembered that Peralta is a lefty. He did post a 2.70 ERA in 40 innings and fanned 36. His 2.57 K/BB ratio was best of the three lefties and good for fifth on the staff.  His control, 3.15/9 IP, was fourth.


Position players (8)


Wilmer Alvarado – This switch-hitting catcher just turned 18 in February. Despite only three extra base hits in 169 at-bats, Alvarado led the team with 25 RBI. However, he also fanned 37 times and batted just .225. But, the potential looks to be there.


Simon Brito – The 19-year-old right-handed hitting outfielder did not stand out in 2005 with the bat. He fanned 33 times in 108 at-bats and collected just two extra-base hits while hitting .241.


Ciro Caldera – Caldera, a 19-year-old catcher, demonstrated a good batting eye, as he fanned just 13 times in 148 at-bats. He drew 22 walks, tied for tops on the squad, which helped elevate his already-respectable .264 average (second-highest on a weak-hitting team) to a robust .370 OBP, good for fourth-best on the squad.


Nelson LugoLugo, a 20-year-old right-handed hitting infielder, tied for the team lead in runs scored with 32 and was second in steals with 15. He also stroked 11 extra-base hits. On the down side, his 42 strikeouts in 118 at-bats were worst on the squad. However, his 22 walks elevated his OBP to a team-best .393.


Melvin Puello – Puello is a 20-year-old right-handed hitting outfielder who struggled at the plate, hitting just .205, but showed promise in that 11 of his 31 hits went for extra bases.


Jose Ramirez – The right-handed hitting outfielder turns 21 next week. Looking at it one way, Ramirez supplied half the home runs for his 2005 DSL squad. On the other hand, his total was just three. Ramirez also demonstrated good speed, with seven doubles, two triples and nine stolen bases. On a club that hit just .228 overall, Ramirez' team-best .306 average and second-best .386 OBP really stand out.


Elvin Tejada – The 20-year-old right-handed hitting shortstop led his DSL team with ten doubles and added two triples in 158 at-bats in 2005. Tejada made his hits count, as his 22 RBI was second most on the team.


Willian Sandoval – The 21-year-old switch-hitting infielder was the speed merchant of the DSL '05 squad as he swiped 29 bases and scored 32 runs in just 152 at-bats. Both paced the team. While he hit just .250, his OBP of .358 was still fifth-best on the roster.


Brian Walton can be reached via email at


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