2008 DSL Cardinals Starting Rotation Recap

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

Angel Cruz was selected to be the opening day starter for the DSL Cardinals in 2008.  The 20-year-old made nine starts, posting a 4-2 record with a 1.62 ERA.  He allowed 33 hits, 14 runs (nine earned), one home run, hit two batters, walked nine and struck out 47 over 50 innings.  His WHIP was 0.84 and opponents batted .185 vs. the ace of the staff.  Cruz threw two wild pitches and had a 48-49 ground out-fly out ratio on the season.


The 2nd year DSL participant never once fell below five innings in any of his starts and even pitched a complete game on June 13 (five innings, ended early due to rain).  In four games, Cruz struck out seven or more and in his first four outings (21 innings), he only allowed one earned run.  The 6'4" 200-pounder's best start came June 19 when he gave up only three hits, no runs, and struck out eight over six innings.  The right-hander's worst start was on July 2 when he chalked up two hits, three earned runs, one home run, and walked two over six innings.


Cruz was also selected to start the 2008 DSL All-Star game on July 27 and soon after was promoted to the Rookie-Level Gulf Coast League Cardinals.  The team really scrambled to find someone to fill the void left in the final month after he was gone.



Charllan Jimenez was tapped as the number two guy in the rotation but it didn't last long.  The 18-year-old right-hander made seven appearances (three starts) posting a 0-2 record with a 2.92 ERA and finished three games.  He allowed 20 hits, eight earned runs, walked seven, and struck out 13 over 24.2 innings.  His WHIP was 1.09 and opponents batted .233 against him.  Jimenez threw three wild pitches and had a 20-35 ground out-fly out ratio.


The 1st year DSL participant made four appearances (three for starts) in the beginning of the season with the last coming June 20.  Jimenez then went missing for over a month and reemerged August 12.  As a starter he was 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA, walking five and striking out eight over 13 innings.  The 6'1" 180-pounder struck out a season high four on June 1 in his first professional appearance.  His best game came August 20 pitching six innings allowing one hit and no runs, walking one and striking out three.  Jimenez's worst outing was on June 7 when he was clubbed for seven hits, four earned runs, walked two and was knocked out after three innings.


Jimenez should probably show up in winter ball, especially with him missing a huge amount of time during the season, which I'm thinking was injury related.  Look for him to return to DSL in 2009 to regain his spot in the rotation.



Ramon Urena was moved into the rotation after his first relief appearance of the 2009 season.  The 18-year-old right-hander made 13 appearances (11 starts) posting a 1-6 record with a 3.42 ERA.  He allowed 51 hits, 28 runs (20 earned), hit five batters, walked 22 and struck out 38 over 52.2 innings.  His WHIP was 1.39 and opponents batted .259 against him.  Urena was 1-for-2 on pick offs, had a 56-47 ground out-fly ratio, and let all three of his inherited runners score during the season.


The Cardinals' July 3, 2007 free agent signing muscled out some innings for the DSL squad only falling under four innings in four starts and getting through six twice.  Urena struck out a season-high six on August 8 and had three other five strikeout games during the season.  His best game was on August 18 when he pitched five innings giving up three hits, no runs, four walks, and striking out five.  The 6'0" 170-pounder's worst came August 3, when he was pounded out for eight hits six runs (five earned) in only one inning.  Urena's only winning decision came at the beginning of the season, on June 15.


Urena was in instructs last fall and was named, after last season, as one of Jeff Luhnow's top pitchers in the DSL.  I think he may return to the Dominican next season for a 3rd season (2nd full), but also could get the call to GCL in the end.  He did take a small step back during the 2008 season compared to 2007 but still can provide a viable arm for the rotation.



Keury Herrera was the 4th arm in the DSL Cardinals rotation.  The 17-year-old left-hander made 12 appearances (one relief) posting a 2-5 record with a 4.75 ERA.  He allowed 40 hits, 35 runs (22 earned), one home run, hit four batters, walked 34, and struck out 34 over 41.2 innings.  His WHIP was 1.78 and opponents had a .252 batting average vs. him.  Herrera picked two runners off, had a 28-42 ground out-fly out ration, uncorked ten wild pitches, and had three balks.


The 1st year DSL participant made his debut on June 11 and was veryl shaky, but calmed down over his next five of six starts.  Between June 16 and July 21, he pitched 27 innings giving up 12 hits and nine runs (8 earned).  After those starts, his season took a downward tumble where he only made it out of the 3rd inning only once in his next four starts.  On August 21, Herrera made his last appearance out of the bullpen.  June 28 was one of his best starts as he pitched five scoreless innings, allowing one hit, walking three and striking out a season-high six.  The 6'1" 180-pounder had his worst outing on July 29 getting ripped for seven hits and seven runs (six earned) in just 1.1 innings.


I expect Herrera to return to the DSL in 2009 and regain his form from the beginning of 2008.  He pitched very well until his mid-season crash and should provide a solid arm for the team next season.  He will be one guy I will be closely eyeing in the future.



Jose Pasen made the switch from outfielder to pitcher for the 2008 season after his hitting didn't work out the way the team officials (mainly Dan Radison) wanted it to.  The 18-year old right-hander made 12 starts posting a 3-4 record and 3.71 ERA.  He allowed 47 hits, 38 runs (22 earned), two home runs, hit four batters, walked 24 and struck out 59 over 53.1 innings.  His WHIP was 1.33 and opposing batters hit .235 vs. him.  Pasen threw seven wild pitches, committed two errors, had one balk, and a 56-39 ground out-fly out ratio.


The 2nd year DSL participant didn't seem fazed at all by the change in positions.  Six of his appearances fell below six innings, none under three.  In five of his games he struck out five or more including a season-high ten on June 18.  His best start came on July 1 when he pitched five innings giving up three hits and one run, while striking out three.  The 6'1" 180-pounder had one of his worst starts on June 23.  Pasen gave up nine hits and five runs (four earned) over 3.2 innings, but still managed six strikeouts.


Pasen probably will return to the DSL in 2009 with a little winter workout over the off-season.  He could be tapped as the team's ace for next season and may get a look for the GCL if he keeps it up.



Juan Jacquez was selected as one of the replacements in the rotation when Charllan Jimenez went on hiatus.  The 21-year-old right-hander made 12 appearances (four starts) posting a 0-2 record with a 6.75 ERA.  He allowed 22 hits, 20 runs (17 earned), two home runs, hit six batters, walked 20, and struck out 16 over 22.2 innings.  His WHIP was 1.85 and opponents batted .253 against him.  Jacquez threw three wild pitches, picked one runner off, had a 24-23 ground out-fly out ratio, and let two of three inherited runners score.


The 3rd year DSL participant was moved into the rotation June 27 after making four relief appearances.  His stay was short and not so sweet.  As a starter, Jacquez pitched ten innings coughing up ten hits and 13 runs (11 earned), while walking seven and striking out seven.  His best start came on July 14 when he pitched four scoreless innings giving up one hit and striking out two.  As a reliever he was also hit pretty hard, only having one hitless outing and four scoreless.  Jacquez had a season high four strikeouts on June 7 and stretched out a season-high four innings twice.  His worst appearance came July 12 when he was clubbed for four hits, seven earned runs, two home runs, and walked four in just 1.1 innings.


Jacquez is probably on his way out the door.  This was his 3rd completed season in the organization without really any improvement, actually taking a downturn from years past.  I really don't see any reason to keep him for a 4th season as it would require a promotion to the GCL. Seems most unlikely.



Angel De Jesus was moved into the rotation after Jacquez's failed attempt to earn a spot.  The 19-year-old right-hander made 17 appearances (five for starts) posting a 2-4 record, 1.75 ERA, blowing two save opportunities, and finishing five games.  He allowed 38 hits, 18 runs (nine earned), hit four batters, walked 19, and struck out 40 over 46.1 innings.  De Jesus threw six wild pitches, committed two pick off errors, had a 47-43 ground out-fly out ratio, and let three of four inherited runners score.


The 1st year DSL participant might have found his spot, being in the rotation.  He started out being used in the late innings and was juggled back and forth between that and middle reliever, as he blew two saves and claimed a 1-3 record.  On July 24 De Jesus was called upon for his first start of the season and for his final six games he made five openings for the Cardinals.  In three of those starts he went five innings or more and two appearances he didn't allow a run. 


As a starter, De Jesus pitched 23 innings allowing 14 hits, nine runs, (four earned), six walks, and struck out 21.  The 6'6" 188-pounder had his best game on August 8 (Game 2,   though he also pitched in Game 1) pitching six scoreless innings giving up four hits, hitting one batter, and striking out a season high six for the win.


De Jesus should join the names mentioned above in the DSL rotation in 2009.  He seems to have found a groove and a spot on the Cardinals squad, even though it took most of the season and a couple lost starting pitchers to get the call. (For future reference his last name is spelled DeJesus and De Jesus in The Birdhouse database)



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