Venezuelan Summer League Cards Bullpen Recap

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 nine.

 

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 innings.

 

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 spot.

 

 

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 July).

 

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 six.

 

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 rotation.

 

 

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 save.

 

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 error.

 

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 pitches.

 

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 Recap

 

 

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