Six Cardinals Youngsters Released

Four Venezuelans, a Colombian and a Californian are among recent cuts by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Last week, St. Louis Cardinals Vice President of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow made it clear that there is more than one exit from the organization's expanding player pipeline. In other words, some players that are deemed unable to make it to the top eventually have to be cut loose to make room for others.

Specifically, Luhnow noted the Venezuelan players currently competing in Extended Spring Training will either make one of the short-season clubs in the USA or be released. They won't be the only ones to receive their walking papers in the upcoming days. Such is the reality of minor league baseball.

Though EST is still running, four players have already been given their release - three pitchers and an outfielder. They are pitchers Fabian Marquez, Wladimir Mendoza and Gustavo Martinez along with outfielder Mateo Marquez. The first two hail from Venezuela, while Martinez is from Colombia and Mateo Marquez is a Californian.

In addition, two other Venezuelan players that never made it to the United States have been released, second baseman Marcos Chavez and pitcher Eleazar Jimenez. The six range from 19 to 23 years of age.

Fabian Marquez

Marquez, a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher from San Carlos, Venezuela, was signed as a non-drafted free agent in October, 2005. In 2006, he posted a 10.89 ERA in 15 games for Rookie-level Johnson City.

With the Gulf Coast League Cardinals last season, he was 2-2 with a 5.01 ERA as a member of the tandem starting rotation. Marquez fanned 22 but walked 25 in 32.1 innings.

Over the winter, Marquez appeared in 14 games for Aragua of the Venezuelan Parallel League, posting a 2-0 record with 7.76 ERA and two saves. Marquez pitched 29 innings giving up a league-high 50 hits, walking 16 and striking out 25.

This Fabian Marquez is not to be confused with another Cardinals farmhand, 16-year-old Fabian E. Marquez. The latter, five years younger, is also a right-handed Venezuelan pitcher and a member of the 2008 Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals. He hails from Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

Wladimir Mendoza

Mendoza, who turned 22 earlier this week, is a left-handed reliever from Lara, Venezuela. He was originally signed as an 18-year-old in August, 2004.

He began his Cardinals career with the 2005 DSL, where he posted an ERA of 5.70, walking and striking out 32. Mendoza improved dramatically with the Venezuelan Summer League Cards in 2006, with an ERA of 2.26.

Mendoza split his 2007 season between the Gulf Coast League Cards and the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League. In aggregate, his ERA was 6.88 and in a common thread among these released pitchers, he was wild. Mendoza fanned 22 in 17 innings but issued a whopping 26 free passes.

Over the winter, he made nine relief appearances for the Aragua team in the Venezuelan Parallel League, posting a 0-0 record with a 10.61 ERA. Mendoza pitched 9.1 innings, issuing 16 walks, and striking out 13. He had a tough time, hitting four batters, making four wild pitches and an error.

Gustavo Martinez

Martinez, 21, a native of Cartagena, Colombia, posted an 0-2 record with 9.39 ERA in the Gulf Coast League last season. The right-hander only struck out five and walked 13 in 15.1 innings.

Last winter, Martinez made ten relief appearances for the Toros in Columbia, posting a 0-0 record with 5.66 ERA. He yielded three home runs, 11 walks, three wild pitches and struck out eight over 20.2 innings. Martinez also made one appearance for the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Republic. He pitched 0.2 innings, giving up two hits, one earned run and took the loss.

He originally signed in October, 2004 as a 16-year-old and was in the rotation for the Dominican Summer League Cardinals in both 2005 (3.38 ERA) and 2006 (4.08 ERA).

Mateo Marquez

Marquez, a 23-year-old outfielder, was drafted in the 47th round last June from California State – Dominguez Hills. Last season with Batavia of the New York-Penn League, the right-handed hitter registered a .191/.270/.301 line and fanned 49 times in 136 at-bats.

Marcos Chavez

Chavez, who turned 19 this past week, is a Barquisimeto, Venezuela native, as is the younger Marquez. The second baseman signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in May, 2006 and hit .115 in 35 games for the VSL Cardinals that summer.

Last season, Chavez managed just an .065 average in 31 at-bats for the VSL Cards.

Eleazar Jimenez

Jimenez, a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher from Guarico, Venezuela, was originally signed as a 16-year-old in July, 2004. He posted a 4.35 ERA in 14 games for the 2005 DSL Cardinals and moved to the VSL the next season, where he registered a 4.28 ERA in 17 games.

In 2007, Jimenez pitched in 21 games for the VSL Cards, all in relief. His ERA was 3.56. He fanned 20 in 30 innings, but walked 14. Over the winter, Jimenez made 12 appearances in relief for Aragua of the Venezuelan Parallel League. He had a 3-1 record with a 2.70 ERA and two saves.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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