Some players rumored to be making appearances in the winter leagues never made it (such as Yadier Molina and Juan Encarnacion) due to league financial problems or player injuries. I would think that newcomer Juan Gonzalez would also have been included in that category playing for Puerto Rico had the league operated this winter.
Still, we were left with a great group of prospects, some of whom could make a big impact this coming season. Six prospects were asked to join the Cardinals major league spring training camp: Hugo Castellanos, Rico Washington, Amaury Marti, D'Angelo Jimenez, Mark Worrell and Kelvin Jimenez. Another will most likely be the starting shortstop for the team in Cesar Izturis. The various others tried to use this time to improve their skills so they may move up in the farm system or keep their jobs with the Cardinals. Many just wanted to play for their home country which some do not anymore due to money troubles, security, injury, or lack of interest by some fans.
The Cardinals had two champions this off-season in Jimenez, who helped Licey to the Caribbean Series Championship and Donovan Solano, who helped lead the Caimanes over Boer for the Colombian/Nicaraguan crown.
Today, we will start with the pitchers and return tomorrow with the hitters. Here's how the hurlers did with a few highlights of their seasons along with some former Cardinals farmhands that have moved on. (2007 regular season teams in parentheses.)
Hugo Castellanos (Memphis) made 34 relief appearances for the Yaquis de Obregon (LMP), posting a 2-0 record with a 0.89 ERA and 7 saves. Castellanos gave up 23 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 0 home runs, 1 HBP, 14 walks and struck out 31 over 30.1 innings. He was tied for 6th in the Mexican Pacific League in saves and ranked 7th with holds (10). Castellanos did a great job of keeping the ball down on the ground with a 39-to-19 ground out-fly out ratio and managed a 20-5 inherited runners-scored ratio. That led to only two blown saves during the regular winter season.
Castellanos didn't allow a hit in his first five appearances (4.2 innings) and no runs in his first 11 appearances (10 innings) He began the season as the late inning relief specialist and later on when he began to show some weakness, he was moved into the earlier innings. His best game came on December 18th, when he pitched 2.1 innings of relief giving up no hits or runs and struck out five en route to his second win.
Castellanos helped lead Obregon into the LMP playoffs, where he posted a 1-1 record with 0.53 ERA, 1 save, and 4 holds. He gave up 6 hits, 1 run (earned), 6 walks (1 intentional), 3 HBP's, and struck out 17 over 17.2 innings. His ground out-fly out ratio was an incredible 30-to-6 and his inherited runners-scored mark was 9-2.
Obregon won the LMP championship and headed to the Dominican for the Caribbean Series. There, Castellanos pitched 2.2 innings over 3 games, giving up 5 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 2 walks (1 intentional) with no strike outs. He struggled in his final appearance, but Obregon still managed to win the game. His ground out-fly out ratio was 4-to-4 and inherited runners-scored ratio was 1-to-1. His pitches-strikes count was 38-23. Obregon finished tied for last in the Caribbean Series.
As many know, Castellanos was re-signed over the winter to a Minor League contract with an invite to the St. Louis Cardinals spring camp. He was a solid arm out of the bullpen for Memphis last year and I hope to see the same this year, maybe as a set-up man to Chris Perez or possible seventh-inning guy. With his experience, he should also show some leadership with the younger pitchers coming up and possibly during the year he may get his first-ever call to the big leagues.
Fernando Salas (Palm Beach/Saltillo) made 21 relief appearances for the Venados de Mazatlan (LMP), posting a 1-1 record with a 2.95 ERA and 3 saves. Salas gave up 19 hits, 6 runs (all earned), 4 home runs, 1 HBP, 3 walks and struck out 14 over 18.1 innings. Salas' ground out-fly out ratio was 14-27 and his inherited runners-scored ratio was 21-4. Salas started out as an early-game relief arm but as the season progressed, he was moved into the late innings as a set-up man. His best game came on December 5th when he pitched 1.1 innings giving up no hits or runs and striking out 2, en route to his first win. He helped Mazatlan into the LMP playoffs but was not on the postseason roster.
Salas had a rough year last year at Palm Beach and in the Mexican Summer League, but a nice winter season. The question is whether the Cardinals bring him back this summer to pitch in their farm system. Guess we will have to wait to see what spring brings and how camps pan out.
Matt Scherer (Springfield) made 15 relief appearances for Caribes de Anzoategui (LVBP), posting a 1-0 record with a 7.43 ERA, 2 saves, and 5 holds. Scherer gave up 17 hits, 11 runs (all earned), 4 home runs, 3 walks and struck out 13 over 13.1 innings. Scherer's ground out-fly out ratio was 17-10, inherited runners-scored ratio was 8-1, and had 4 blown saves. He had only four bad outings in which his ERA went up drastically and had nine scoreless outings.
Scherer only pitched the first half of the Venezuelan League winter season before heading back home. His best outing came on October 18th in which he pitched 2 innings, giving up 1 hit, no runs, and struck out 2, en route to his 1st save. He was used mainly in the late innings, much like Hugo Castellanos.
Scherer didn't have too great of a winter season, but still could be considered for a spot at Memphis. More likely, he could start the season at Springfield to get some time in and build confidence and possibly become a Mark Worrell/Andy Cavazos replacement later this season at Memphis.
Jose Arredondo (Johnson City) made 5 relief appearances for Aguilas Cibaenas (LDBP), posting a 0-1 record with 1.42 ERA and 1 save. Arredondo gave up 9 hits, 4 runs (1 earned), 1 home runs, and struck out 4 over 6.1 innings. His ground out-fly out ratio was 8-6 and inherited runners-scored ratio was 4-2. He came in during the second half of the winter season and made limited appearances. His best outing came on December 1st, when he pitched 2 innings, giving up 1 hit, no runs, and struck out 2.
Arredondo went to the LDBP playoffs with Aguilas, making relief appearances in three games. He gave up 5 hits, 2 runs (earned), and struck out 2 over 3 innings. He was only used when the team was either going to lose or had a decent lead.
Kelvin Jimenez (St. Louis/Memphis) made 8 relief appearances for Estrellas de Oriente (LDBP), posting a 1-1 record with a 3.27 ERA and 1 hold. He gave up 8 hits, 6 runs (4 earned), 5 walks, and struck out 7 over 11 innings. He also arrived for the second half of the season, seeing limited time before the playoffs. His ground out-fly out ratio was 10-14. His best game came on December 7th, when he pitched 2 innings giving up 0 hits or runs and struck out 1.
He went on to the LDBP playoffs with Estrellas. Jimenez made 6 relief appearances, posting a 0-1 record and giving up 8 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 home run, 4 walks (1 intentional), and striking out 7 over 12.1 innings. His ground out-fly out ratio was 18-12 and his inherited runners-scored ratio was 8-2. He mainly played the role of an early-innings reliever in the playoffs behind the starter.
There seems to be two choices for Jimenez in spring camp. Does he stay with the team and make the roster or does he get cut and take a minor league assignment? I think La Russa and Duncan plan to keep this guy around. They have already kept him on the 40-man roster through the winter. I sense they have plans for this guy this season.
Mark Worrell (Memphis) (right) made 6 relief appearances for Tigres del Licey (LDBP), posting a 0-0 record 4.76 ERA and 1 hold. He gave up 5 hits, 3 runs (earned), 1 home run, 1 HBP, 5 walks, and struck out 4 over 5.2 innings. He also had 1 pick off. Worrell made the trip to winter league in the second half of the season and didn't stay too long.
His ground out-fly out ratio was 5-6 and his inherited runners-scored ratio was 3-0. He struggled with his control and placement in his appearances. Worrell's first three games were alright, but the next three he fell apart. His best game came on November 24th, when he pitched 1 inning giving up no hits or runs and striking out 1.
I would think that this assignment was intended to get Worrell prepped for this next season, possibly getting the call to St. Louis given he is now on the 40-man roster. I thought he would have stayed longer, but maybe after seeing him hit the wall in his last three outings, all parties decided to stop there. Let's hope this doesn't carry over into the regular season.
Andres Rosales (Johnson City) made 4 relief appearances for Toros (LCBP), posting a 1-0 record with 2.70 ERA. He gave up 5 hits, 2 runs (earned), 0 home runs, 3 walks, 2 wild pitches, and struck out 10 over 6.2 innings. His best game came November 7th when he pitched 2 innings of relief giving up 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 1 wild pitch and striking out 2 en route to his first win. Rosales only pitched in the first half of the winter season and made limited appearances (as a reliever) before returning to the States. He was one of a few solid arms out of the Toros bullpen.
Rosales could be looking at a possible bump up to Quad Cities depending on how the rosters settle after spring training and how well he starts out this season. He looks to have a shot at a starting rotation spot.
Gustavo Martinez (GCL) made 10 relief appearances for the Toros (LCBP), posting a 0-0 record with 5.66 ERA. He gave up 28 hits, 15 runs (13 earened), 3 home runs, 11 walks (1 intentional), 3 wild pitches, and struck out 8 over 20.2 innings. He was roughed up in the Colombian League and struggled with his control.
He also made an appearance for the Leones del Escogido (LDBP), where he pitched 0.2 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 run (earned) and taking the loss. His ground out to fly out ratio was 1-1.
Martinez had a tough season last year and tough winter season, too. If he doesn't show any improvement in 2008, he could possibly get cut from the farm system. He's looking at his third season in either the DSL or GCL.
Former Cardinals Pitchers in Winter League Play
Troy Cate (Memphis/St. Louis)
signed a minor
league deal with the
Bill Pulsipher (Memphis/St. Louis 2005) played for Aguilas de Zuila (LVBP): link