The second of a four-part series looks at season highlights for the 2008 Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals' relief pitchers.
Yonathan Gonzalez was selected by the VSL Cardinals
as the team's closer. The 20-year
old right-hander made 31 appearances (two starts) posting a 4-2 record, 3.93
ERA, and nine saves. He allowed 53
hits, 27 runs (23 earned), hit nine batters, walked nine, and struck out 43 over
52.2 innings. His WHIP was 1.18 and
opponents had a .260 batting average against him. Gonzalez had a 73-to-39 ground out to
fly out ratio, let six inherited runners score out of 16, committed two errors
and had five balks.
The Cardinals March 6, 2006 free
agent signee did not pitch badly at all.
He had about five really rough relief appearances, where he allowed three
or more runs, but other than that it was one run here or one run there. One thing is his transition from being a
starter to a closer didn't go all that well, as he blewing six of his 15 closing
opportunities. At the end of the
season Gonzalez was tapped to make two spot starts, and he did a great job. There he pitched 14 innings allowing
nine hits, four runs (three earned), two walks, one hit batter, and struck out
I'm thinking he will surely get
the promotion to the Gulf Coast League next season. Jeff Luhnow has spoken very highly of
him and after all Jeff did keep him around this long even after Gonzalez tested
positive for PED's in 2006.
Fernando Cedeno had the role of long reliever for
the club. The 18-year old
right-hander made 27 relief appearances posting a 3-8 record, 5.13 ERA, and
picked up four holds. He allowed 63
hits, 38 runs (27 earned), hit one batter, walked 23, and struck out 14 over
47.1 innings. His WHIP was a 1.82
and opponents clubbed him for a .330 batting average. Cedeno had an 88-to-30 ground out to fly
out ratio, let six of 19 inherited runners score, threw three wild pitches, and
blew two saves.
The 2nd year VSL
participant struggled right from the start of the season. Cedeno had about five really good
appearances and the others ranged from subpar to really bad. In five of his games, he allowed three
or more runs. His best came May 29,
when he pitched 2.2 innings giving up three hits, no runs, and struck out one en
route to a winning decision. His
worst came on June 14, when he coughed up six hits and five runs in just 1.1
Cedeno has struggled during both
seasons in the VSL and also during winter play. I'm not expecting him to make a return
next season to the organization. If
anything he may spend a 3rd year at VSL, taking up a roster
Miguel Lopez was tapped as the left-handed
specialist out of the pen. The
19-year old reliever made 20 relief appearances posting a 0-1 record, 3.44 ERA,
and picked up three holds. He
allowed 30 hits, 23 runs (14 earned), hit one batter, walked 21, and struck out
24 over 36.2 innings. His WHIP was
a 1.39 and opponents batted .231 against him. Lopez had a 50-to-31 ground out to fly
out ratio, let only four inherited runners score out of 18, threw two wild
pitches, collected one error, and one balk. The Cardinals' February 17, 2007
free agent signee was not very lights-out in the beginning of the season. In his first two games pitched Lopez was
tagged for six hits and seven runs (four earned) in 2.1 innings. He basically pitched one to maybe two
innings throughout the season and had his occasional ‘long relief' appearance
five times, where he went an extended three or more innings. Lopez had five games in which he didn't
allow a hit, 11 games with no runs, and had two separate streaks of no runs
given up (5.1 innings and 6.1 innings, both coming in
This being his 2nd
season in the VSL, I would assume a possible call for the instructional league
and 2009 promotion to the GCL. Jeff
Luhnow mentioned him in pre-season as one of the top lefties that scout Juan
Mercado wooed to the organization.
Carlos Oraa was used as a right-handed long
reliever by the Cardinals. The
18-year old pitcher made 19 relief appearances posting a 3-2 record, 2.31 ERA,
and earned three holds. He allowed
38 hits, 13 runs (nine earned), one home run, hit three batters, walked 14, and
struck out 24 over 35 innings. His
WHIP was a 1.49 and opponents had a .290 batting average against him. Oraa's ground out to fly out ratio was
45-to-41, let eight of 18 inherited runners score, had one balk, committed one
error, and blew two saves.
The Cardinals' February 10, 2007
free agent signee began the season pitching one or less innings in his first
four games. As time went on, the
team noticed he could go a little longer and extended his stays in the
game. Oraa had a span of 8.2
innings (5 games) where he didn't allow a single run to score, between June 13
and June 30. In ten of his relief
appearances, Oraa didn't yield a run and in only four he gave up two. On August 2, he pitched three scoreless
innings giving up three hits and striking out a season high
Oraa did a fine job this season
and I think he may see some time at Jupiter in the next year. If Jeff Luhnow hasn't talked about this
kid yet, the time is now to start.
Fabian Marquez, like Oraa, was plugged into a
‘long reliever' role for the team.
The 17-year old right-hander made 18 appearances (one spot start) posting
a 2-0 record, 2.97 ERA, and picked up one hold. He allowed 30 hits, 18 runs (12 earned),
three home runs, hit two batters, walked 16, and struck out 32 over 36.1
innings. His WHIP was a 1.27 and
opponents batted .219 against him.
Marquez's ground out to fly out ratio was 43-to-33, he allowed eight of
15 inherited runners to score, had one pick off, threw two wild pitches, and
blew one save.
The 1st year VSL
participant was solid addition to the Cardinals middle relief core this
season. In eight games, he didn't
give up a run and in five he didn't allow a single hit. In July alone Marquez yielded ten hits
and five runs (four earned) in 15 innings.
He pitched well enough to earn his only start of the season on July 17,
going four innings allowing two hits, one (earned) run, two walks, and striking
out two. Marquez struck out a
season high five on June 3. And his
worst game came May 16, when he showed little placement and control and gave up
three hits, five runs (two earned), two walks, hit a batter, one home run and
struck out four.
Marquez should make a return to
VSL next season and I will predict a move to the
David Brito started out the 2008 season as a
long reliever and gradually was cut back to one or less innings in each of his
games. The 19-year old right hander
made 18 relief appearances posting a 4-1 record, 0.30 ERA, three saves, and
picked up two holds along the way.
Brito allowed 21 hits, two runs (one earned), hit four batters, walked
six, and struck out 13 over 30.1 innings.
His WHIP was a 0.89 and opponents had a .204 batting average against
him. Brito had a 39-to-33 ground
out to fly out ratio, and let six of his 22 inherited runners score, picked two
runners off, threw five wild pitches, had one balk, and blew one
The Cardinals' April 30, 2006 free
agent signee was really outstanding this season. Brito had a scoreless streak of 12
innings spanning from May 26 to June 19.
He also picked up three straight winning decisions between May 15 and May
21. But it seems injury (or
something else) struck in late June that took him out of play for almost a
month. When Brito returned, he
didn't give up a single run in his final four appearances (five innings) and
earned two saves and one hold as Yonathan Gonzalez made a couple
starts. Brito wasn't much of a
strikeout pitcher; more of a guy that could get the ball in play for the
fielders to make plays with.
This being Brito's 3rd
year and a good season at that, he may very well have earned himself an
invitation to the States next season.
If he was injured, which I'm guessing he was, this could be the only
thing that might hold him back from a promotion. I also wouldn't rule out a release over
the winter, as he sits on that same fine line as Geney Rios.
Ruben Alvarado was kind of being groomed for a
long reliever role with the VSL Cardinals, but ended up being a back up to
Miguel Lopez in the lefty-specialist department. The 17-year old left-hander made ten
relief appearances posting a 0-1 record, 9.37 ERA, and earned one hold. He allowed 22 hits, 20 runs (17 earned),
one home run, hit two batters, walked 12, and struck out 12 over 16.1
innings. His WHIP was a 2.08 and
opponents clubbed him for a .318 batting average. Alvarado had a 13-to-22 ground out to
fly out ratio, let one of two inherited runners to score, and had a throwing
The Cardinals' July 2, 2007 free
agent signee just couldn't get it going this season. Alvarado basically appeared in losing
situations and pitched two innings or more five times. In his first two outings, he was hit
with eight hits, seven runs (four earned), three walks, two hit batters, one
home run, and struck out two.
Alvarado's best game came July 25, when he was extended over three
scoreless innings giving up only three hits and striking out a season high
four. He is also listed as
collecting a save that day, but the team won the game 10-0 (head scratcher
here). Alvarado did miss a
considerable amount of time between May 21 and June 24, which raise questions of
a possible injury.
Alvarado may make a return to VSL
next season, and should make a stop in winter ball too. His role might be changed next season to
taking over the lefty-specialist or a possible insertion into the starting
rotation (I just have a feeling here).
Gregorio Ramos didn't get in a lot of time during
the 2008 season with the VSL Cardinals.
The 18-year old right-hander made nine relief appearances posting a 0-0
record and 4.82 ERA. Ramos allowed
nine hits, seven runs (five earned), hit five batters, walked 15, and struck out
eight over 9.1 innings. His WHIP
was a 2.57 and opponents hit .265 against him. Ramos had a 6-to-11 ground out to fly
out ratio, let his only inherited runner score, and threw two wild
The Cardinals' July 2, 2007 free
agent signee made his professional debut on May 14, pitching two innings, giving
up two hits, one earned run, walking three, hitting one batter, throwing one
wild pitch and striking out two. He
made only three more appearances in May, two in June, two in July, and one in
August after his debut. Ramos gave
up a hit in each of his games except for two and no runs allowed in three of
those nine games.
For me, it's too early to really
evaluate him since he didn't make too many appearances. I'm figuring a return to winter ball and
VSL in 2009.
Jackson Solarte, like Ramos, didn't get involved
too much during the 2008 season.
The 18-year old right-hander made seven relief appearances posting a 1-0
record and 13.00 ERA. He allowed 17
hits, 14 runs (13 earned), hit three batters, walked four, and struck out six
over nine innings. His WHIP was a
2.33 and opponents clubbed him for a .386 batting average. Solarte had a 10-to-11 ground out to fly
out ratio, let three of five inherited runners to score, threw six wild pitches,
had one balk, and blew one save.
The 1st year VSL
participant made his professional debut on June 6, pitching one inning and
giving up one hit, one earned run, one walk, hitting one batter, and throwing
one wild pitch. He only pitched
three times in June and four in July.
Solarte did have a season-high three strikeouts on July 24, as he blew
his 1st save opportunity and picked up his 1st and only
win in 2008.
We should see Solarte make an
appearance over the winter in the parallel leagues and return to VSL next
season. It's early for me to put a
role on him also.
Francisco Guzman made the switch from C/1B to
relief pitcher mid-season. The
20-year old right-hander made four relief appearances, posting a 0-0 record and
9.53 ERA. He allowed seven hits,
seven runs (six earned), one home run, hit one batter, walked five, and struck
out four over 5.2 innings. His WHIP
was 2.12, he had a 10-to-2 ground out to fly out ratio, let four of seven
inherited runners score, and threw three wild pitches.
The 2nd tear VSL
participant was originally slated to be a back up to Yorbel Alcala, but
the additions of Limbert Rivas, Jesus Montero, and Omar Viloria seemed to force him out of that position. Guzman had gone 6-for-25 (.240) with
five runs, four RBIs four walks, and four strike outs in his first 13 games as a
position player. He began his
training to be a pitcher mid-June and made his debut July 1. Guzman was hit pretty hard in his last
two games as he was adding more innings to his resume and struck out a season
high four on August 1.
Guzman will be looking at his
3rd season in the Cardinals organization in 2009. I'm thinking he
will see some time in winter ball to work more on his pitching and then a return
to VSL to build on his 2008 season.
Link to part one: 2008 VSL Cardinals Starting Rotation
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