2008 VSL Cardinals Starting Rotation Recap

First of a four-part series looking at season highlights for the 2008 Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals' starting rotation.

Geney Rios was selected to be the opening day starter for the VSL Cardinals in 2008.  The 20-year-old right-hander made 15 appearances (13 for starts) posting a 4-3 record, 2.49 ERA, and finished two games for the Redbirds.  He allowed 43 hits, 30 runs (19 earned), one home run, hit four batters, walked 26, and striking out 57 (2nd best) over 68.2 innings (team lead).  His WHIP was a 1.00 and opponents batted just .173 vs. the Cardinals ace.  Rios committed two errors, threw six wild pitches, and had a 61-85 ground out-fly out ratio during the season.


The Cardinals' March 4, 2006 free agent signee started out a little slowly.  In his first ten outings, Rios was 1-3 and in his worst start of the season on May 30, he was knocked out in the 3rd inning.  Rios gave up four hits, eight runs, and three walks and picked up the loss.  His next start didn't go as badly, but he was pulled in the 5th.  In most of his starts, he was able to make it into the 5th inning, but just had a few bumps in the road. 


In his last three outings, all wins, Rios was basically outstanding.  He pitched 19 innings, allowing 8 hits, two runs (one earned), two walks, and struck out 19.  Rios' best appearance came on July 25 as he pitched six scoreless innings, giving up only one hit, walking one, and tying his season-best striking out seven.


With this being his 3rd season in the Venezuelan Summer League, he should see a change of scenery in 2009.  Rios may either be released over the fall or receive an invitation to instructional league and possibly a promotion to the Gulf Coast League.



Moises Colorado was chosen to be the second man in the VSL Cardinals rotation.  The 18-year old left-hander made 16 appearances (eight for starts) posting an 0-3 record, 3.12 ERA, and blowing two saves.  He allowed 34 hits, 20 (15 earned) runs, hit four batters, walked 24, and struck out 62 (team lead) over 43.1 innings.  Colorado's WHIP was a 1.34 and opponents batted .211 against him.  He also had three errors, six wild pitches, and picked up six balks on the season.  His ground out-fly out ratio was 26-to-37 and he allowed four runners to score out of the seven he inherited.


The second year VSL participant was very good in his first five outings (four starts) allowing seven runs (five earned) and striking out 16 over 16.1 innings.  But starting at the end of May, Colorado went missing for almost three weeks.  I imagine an injury occurred which took him out of action.  His best start came May 24, when he pitched five scoreless innings allowing only two hits, one walk, and striking out a season high ten.


When the 6'3" 170 pounder returned, he found that Hector Corpas had taken his spot in the rotation.  Colorado was placed in the bullpen for the first month and received a start on July 7.  He extended a scoreless streak to nine appearances which was broken up July 18.  Colorado didn't get fully back into the rotation until Javier Avendano started having problems in the last couple weeks of VSL play.  In his last three starts, Colorado allowed 16 hits, 11 runs (nine earned), seven walks, and striking out 11 over 11.2 innings. 


I'm figuring Colorado will be sent to winter league play to work out some kinks and be ready to re-enter the starting rotation in 2009. Before the season started, Jeff Luhnow picked Colorado as one of four top pitchers in the Caribbean under the Cardinals' umbrella.



Javier Avendano was tapped as the 3rd man in the 2008 rotation.  The 17-year old right-hander made 12 appearances (ten starts) posting a 1-1 record with a 2.34 ERA and earned one save and one hold during the season.  Avendano allowed 35 hits, 12 (11 earned) runs, three home runs, hit two batters, walked 18, and struck out 33 over 42.1 innings.  His WHIP was a 1.25 and opponents had a .232 batting average against him.  Avendano had a 39-to-37 ground out-fly out ratio, threw five wild pitches, and three balks.


The Cardinals' July 2, 2007 free agent signee was solid for all of May and most of June.  Avendano allowed one or two runs and pitched shut out innings in three of his first eight appearances.  The 6'3" 180 pounder did hit a bump June 25 when he only lasted two innings.  It seemed to be nothing of concern at the time as he went on to pitch six innings of two-hit ball in the next start and struck out a season-high seven.


He missed the next week and half (in July) before making his return. Avendano made what I would call a rehab start, as he only pitched two innings before being pulled for Geney Rios, the slated starter. And on July 30, Avendano made his final appearance out of the bullpen and was a little shaky, giving up three hits in a 1/3 of an inning.


Avendano will probably also follow Colorado to the winter leagues to work out his injury, if there was one.  I think he may return for another season at VSL and see how well he progresses from there.  He was also picked as one of four top pitchers by Luhnow.



Deimer Bier was named the 4th man in the rotation.  The 17-year-old right-hander made 14 appearances (13 starts) posting a 3-1 record and 2.90 ERA.  He allowed 51 hits, 24 runs (19 earned), three home runs, hit two batters, walked 22, and struck out 26 over 61 innings.  His WHIP was a 1.53 and opponents had a .222 batting average against him.  His ground out-fly out ratio was 67-to-72, and he threw three wild pitches, and made two balks.


The Cardinals' July 2, 2007 free agent signee was a consistent starter for this rotation and by my notes, he did not miss a start for the club.  Bier may not have been the strikeout king for the team but he got opponents to hit and hit into outs.  He was able to finish off a game for the club and come back two days later to make his scheduled start pitching five innings.  Bier's worst start came June 20 as he allowed a season high seven-hits and four runs (three earned) in four innings.  He rebounded in his next appearance on July 27, making his best start, as he pitched five innings allowing four hits, one (earned) run, and striking out a season-high nine.  He also struck out eight on July 23 and six on June 14. 


Being his first professional season, Bier preformed very well and should get the return call to the VSL next season. Again, he is another of Luhnow's pre-season picks as top pitchers in the Caribbean.



Carlos Noguera rounded out the five-man rotation for the VSL Cardinals.  The 19-year-old right-hander made 15 appearances (13 starts) posting a 2-3 record and a 2.57 ERA.  He allowed 73 hits, 25 runs (18 earned), two home runs, hit six batters, walked 11, and struck out 29 over 63 innings.  Noguera's WHIP was a 1.33 and opponents batted .292 against him.  He had a 69-to-81 ground out-fly out ratio, committed three errors, threw three wild pitches, and picked up one balk.


The Cardinals' July 12, 2005 free agent signee made his first two appearances out of the bullpen pitching two innings, allowing four hits, one (earned) run, one walk, and striking out one.  Then he made his first start May 16.  I'm assuming the pitching staff was a little short when the season opened with him making the bullpen trip along with the other arms mentioned above.  Noguera, like Bier, was not a strikeout king but put the ball in play for the fielders to turn outs.  Out of all the regular starters, Noguera walked the fewest batters and showed good control.  He also ate up innings, keeping the bullpen rested, only being pulled before the 5th inning in two of 13 starts.


His best start came July 11, as he pitched six scoreless innings allowing only four hits and striking out two.  Noguera picked up a season-high five strike outs on July 16 in five innings.  His worst start came July 5 when he was pulled after only two innings chalking up seven hits and five (earned) runs.


This being his 3rd season in the VSL, he should get a look in the instructional fall league and a possible promotion to the Gulf Coast League depending how the team officials feel about him.  I'm not sure the organization will bring a player back for a fourth season in the league, but this could change.



Hector Corpas entered the starting rotation in the number two slot on June 6 when Moises Colorado was shelved for three weeks.  He made 14 appearances (nine starts) posting a 4-8 record and a 4.92 ERA.  Corpas allowed 59 hits, 33 runs (29 earned), three home runs, hit one batter, walked 22, and struck out 26 over 53 innings.  He had a 1.53 WHIP and opponents batted .286 against him.  The 6'3" 170 pounder had a 62-to-58 ground out-fly out ratio and allowed three of seven inherited runners to score.  Corpas threw four wild pitches, committed one error, and picked off two base runners.


The 2nd year Cardinals pitcher made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2007 and struggled somewhat.  His move to the VSL seemed to calm him down a little.  In his first five appearances he was used in long relief by the club pitching between two and three innings.  His last was his worst of the season, as he allowed four hits and five (earned) runs in a 1/3 of an inning.  He compiled a 3-1 record and 4.50 ERA before the move to the rotation.


Corpas didn't fare too well as a starter, giving up a considerable amount of hits and runs over the rest of the season and adding on to the 1-7 record he collected in relief.  His ERA as a starter was 5.05, worst among the rotation.  Maybe they felt with his experience, Corpas might be able to handle the conversion.  His best start came June 12 as he pitched five innings allowing only one hit, no runs, three walks, and striking out three.


With Corpas' subpar 2008 season in his 2nd in the organization, I'm not sure where he will go from here.  He could be brought back for a third season to see if he improves in 2009 and maybe receive some work in winter ball to make a return as a starter.



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