Cards Venezuelan Parallel League Starters

Josh Jones looks back at the recently completed Venezuelan Liga Paralela for standout starting pitching performances among St. Louis Cardinals farmhands.

The St. Louis Cardinals Venezuelan Parallel League team struggled through the winter season, but there were also some bright spots.  We could see Eduardo Sanchez get prepped for his soon-to-be closer job at Johnson City, three July second signings in Ruben Alvarado, Diemer Bier, and Javier Avendano, and a couple of promising starters in Yonathan Gonzalez and Richard Castillo.

 

The Cardinals Parallel team didn't rank too highly in overall team vs. team stats.  The club finished tenth among 15 teams with a 23-29 record, the second to worst ERA at 4.97 and ninth in saves.  The staff gave up the most hits (507), second to most runs (332, 245 earned), most home runs (46), and were fourth in walks (199), and tenth in strike outs (325).  So, it was not a very impressive season for the boys in Venezuela. 

 

Following is a breakdown of the pitching staff using the stats I was given and some comments for a few.  Please keep in mind some box scores were not posted, so I worked around it as best as I could. The first part of this article covers the starting rotation, with the relievers next. Each player's age and regular season 2007 team are noted in parentheses after his name.

 

Yonathan Gonzalez (20-VSL) took the ball on the opening day and started 11 of 11 games for the Parallel Cardinals posting a 2-4 record with a 4.09 ERA.  He was second in team losses, second in ERA (among starters), led the team (and Parallel League) in games started and innings pitched (50.2, sixth among Parallel leaders) and fifth in strike outs (28).  He allowed 32 runs (23 earned), seven home runs, and 18 walks over 50.2 innings.  He was more of a ground ball pitcher rather than a fly ball or strike out pitcher (ground out-fly out: 69-40). 

 

Gonzalez' best start came on December 16th when he pitched five strong innings, giving up six hits, no runs, one walk, and striking out six.  Gonzalez only had four bad starts out of 11, but the bullpen managed to blow the games in the later innings so he never received decisions for his other starts.  Maybe we could see him get a bump up to Johnson City in the next year or so.

 

Fernando Cedeno (18-VSL) started 10 of 10 games for the Parallel Cardinals posting a 1-6 record with a 6.64 ERA.   Cedeno lead the team in losses, earned runs (30) and had the worst ERA among starters on the team.  Cedeno allowed 48 hits, 35 runs (30 earned), four home runs, and 10 walks over 40.2 innings.  Cedeno also was more of a ground ball pitcher rather than a fly ball or strike out pitcher (ground out-fly out: 65-38).  He had some control problems as he had seven hit by pitches and seven wild pitches. 

 

Cedeno's best start came November 20th when he pitched six strong innings giving up three hits, no runs and striking out two en route to his first and only win in Parallel League play.  He would have a couple good starts and was just off the next couple starts, and went back and forth during his starts in the league.  He would have picked up a couple more wins, but there was a lack of run support and bullpen disasters.

 

Jose Calero (17-VSL) started seven of nine games for the Parallel Cardinals posting a 3-2 record with a 5.40 ERA.  Calero was tied for second on the team in wins, but was second worst (among starters) with his ERA, third worst with hits allowed.  Calero allowed 50 hits, 27 runs (21 earned), three home runs, and 11 walks, and striking out 14 over 35 innings (starts and relief appearances).

 

Calero was also another good ground ball pitcher rather than a fly ball or strike out pitcher (ground out-fly out: 50-24).  Calero's best start came October 19th when he pitched five innings giving up five hits, no runs, one walk, and striking out one.

 

Orlando Munoz (17-VSL) started seven of 15 games pitched for Parallel Cardinals, posting a 1-3 record with 5.02 ERA.  Munoz was second on the team with losses, second in hits allowed (51), worst in runs (37), third worst in earned runs (24), tied for worst in home runs allowed (7), second in walks allowed (15), but was third in innings pitched and fourth in strike outs (30).

 

Munoz pitched just fine until the beginning of November when he was fully shifted into the starting role, then he began to have issues with giving up hits and runs.  Munoz's best start came November 21st when he pitched five innings giving up four hits, no runs, and striking out one en route to his first and only win in Parallel League play.

 

Richard Castillo (18-VSL) started 10 of 10 games for the Parallel Cardinals, posting a 5-3 record with 3.91 ERA.  Castillo lead the team in wins (second in League play), lead starters with ERA, second in innings pitched (48.1, ninth in League play), third in hits allowed (50), and led the team in strikeouts (42, sixth in League play).  Castillo was the only starter to not allow a home run in Parallel League play.  Castillo gave up 50 hits, 24 runs (21 earned), 15 walks and struck out 42 over 48.1 innings. 

 

Castillo's best start came November 17th when he pitched six strong innings, giving up three hits, no runs, two walks, and striking out six en route to his third win in Parallel League play. Castillo probably should have a couple more wins, but received little run support in certain losses and no-decisions.  Castillo was the most reliable starter in the Cardinals rotation and depending how things work out next year, we should see him get a bump up.

 

Various Other Spot Starters

 

Pablo Ortiz (19-VSL) started four of five games for the Parallel Cardinals posting a 0-1 record with 5.06 ERA.  Ortiz allowed 21 hits, 20 runs (only nine earned), one HR, seven walks, and struck out 17 over 16 innings. There were plenty of errors when he pitched.  Ortiz's best start came October 18th when he pitched four innings, giving up four hits, three runs (two earned), two walks, one wild pitch, and striking out three in a no decision.

 

Jose Penaloza (19-VSL) started two of 13 games for the Parallel Cardinals posting a 0-2 record with 5.18 ERA and one save.  He mainly was a bullpen arm but made a couple spot starts for the squad.  Penaloza gave up four hits, seven runs (three earned), one home run, six walks, one wild pitch and struck out six in eight innings in two game starts.  Altogether Penaloza gave up 30 hits, 22 runs (14 earned), two home runs, 18 walks, and struck out 12 over 24.1 innings total.  His best outing came December 10th when he pitched two innings of relief giving up one hit, no runs, one walk, and striking out one.

 

David Brito (19-VSL) started just one of 16 games for the Parallel Cardinals posting a 2-2 record with 4.91 ERA.  He made one start on November 15th, in which he pitched 4.1 innings giving up six hits, seven runs (three earned), one home run, four walks, and struck out two en route to a loss.  Brito had only five bad outings altogether, which hiked his ERA upward.  His best outing came October 30th when he pitched 2.2 innings of relief giving up two hits, no runs, and striking out four.

 

 

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