2008 DSL Cardinals Relievers Recap

Second of a four-part series looking at season highlights for the 2008 Dominican Summer League Cardinals' relief pitchers.

Eduard Estalis took up the role as closer for the Dominican Summer League Cardinals in 2008.  The 19-year-old right-hander made 24 relief appearances (finishing 21) posting a 5-3 record, with a 2.31 ERA, collecting ten saves, and blowing three saves.  He allowed 27 hits, 11 runs (nine earned), hit two batters, walked 17 and struck out 40 over 35 innings.  His WHIP was 1.26 and opponents batted .213 vs. him.  Estalis threw five wild pitches, committed two errors, had a 41-22 ground out-fly out ratio, and let three of nine inherited runners-score.

 

The Cardinals' November 2007 free agent signing he made his professional debut on June 5 and blew his first save opportunity.  Estalis had a scoreless streak from June 15-28 (five games, 5.2 innings) and didn't allow a run in 16 games.  The 6'1" 172-pounder also didn't allow a hit in ten games and had a short hitless streak for three games from June 23-28.  One of Estalis' best games came August 20, when he logged four scoreless innings (season high) allowing two hits, one walk, hit a batter, and struck out a season high five batters.  Only three of the Haitian-born prospect's appearances he allowed two or more runs in.

 

Estalis should be back for another year in the DSL in 2009 to most likely nail down the closer role, getting more saves if the team can win more games.  (For reference, he has also had his first name spelled Edouard on The Birdhouse site.)

 

 

Alejandro Pinales made 19 appearances (two for starts and five finishes) posting a 3-2 record, with a 3.40 ERA, one save, two blown saves, and five holds.  The 19-year old right-hander allowed 41 hits, 25 runs (20 earned), two home runs, hit three batters, walked 11, and struck out 40 over 53 innings.  His WHIP was a stellar 0.980 and opponents batted .216 against him.  Pinales threw four wild pitches, committed two errors, had a 58-54 ground out-fly out ratio, and let two of five inherited runners score.

 

The 2nd year DSL participant was juggled between roles early in the season.  He opened attempting to close out the 1st game of the season and failed, then was drilled in his first star of the season (2nd game), and finally picked up a hold in his third appearance as a middle reliever and set-up man.  He seemed to not pick up too well on the starting role as he gave up 12 hits, 11 runs (eight earned), two home runs, but did strike out eight in 7.1 innings.  But he did a fine job as a set-up man and if needed went multiple innings when called on.  The 6'4" 228-pounder struck out three or more in nine games and had three games with five.  In nine games, Pinales didn't allow a run and in three he didn't give up a hit.  His best game came on June 21 when he pitched three innings giving up one hit and striking out five.  His worst outing came July 23. Making his 2nd start, Pinales coughed up eight hits, seven earned runs, two homers, while striking out again five.

 

Pinard, as he's referred to on the DSL official site, will probably return to DSL in 2009 after some work in the winter leagues.  He showed he could handle the set-up role very well and he can eat some innings for the club, so I see the team using him the same way next season.

 

 

Pedro Pena made 18 appearances (three starts and three finishes) posting a 2-5 record with a 3.97 ERA, one blown save, and two holds.  The 17-year-old right-hander allowed 41 hits, 24 runs (21 earned), one home run, hit two batters, walked 23, and struck out 49 over 47.2 innings.  His WHIP was 1.34 and opponents batted .234 against him.  Pena threw nine wild pitches, committed one pick off error, had a 36-52 ground out-fly out ratio, and didn't let any of his six inherited runners score.

 

The 1st year DSL participant began small time in terms of innings (one or two) and around mid-season he was pitching three to four at times.  In his three spot starts Pena pitched 12.1 innings giving up six hits, two earned runs, five walks, and striking out eight.  Other than those three starts he was mainly used as a middle reliever out of the bullpen.  The 6'1" 189-pounder didn't allow a hit in three games and no runs in seven.  He struck out three or more in six appearances, including five twice and a season high six on August 1.  His best game came July 11 when he pitched 4.1 scoreless innings striking out two and giving up only one hit.  Pena's worst outing came June 22 when he was lit up for six hits and four earned runs over 1.1 innings, and even throwing away the ball on a pick off attempt.

 

Pena did a fine job as a starter and I wouldn't be surprised to see him get some more action in that department next season, but he also did fine in the long reliever role for the club.

 

 

Amaury Castillo made 16 relief appearances (one game finish) posting a 1-1 record, 5.83 ERA, one blown save, and one hold.  The 17-year-old right-hander allowed 23 hits, 22 runs (19 earned), one home run, hit two batters, walked 28, and struck out 38 over 29.1 innings.  His WHIP was a too-high 1.74 due to the walks, but opponents batted .232 vs. him.  Castillo threw ten wild pitches, had a 14-27 ground out-fly out ratio, and let only two of his 12 inherited runners score.

 

The 1st year DSL participant made his debut on June 7 and was a little rough around the edges the first month and a half.  During that time he yielded up one or more earned runs in his first nine of ten appearances, sometimes only lasting an inning or two.  But between July 23 and August 11, Castillo pitched in seven games just giving up eight hits and five earned runs over 12.1 innings.  The 6'5" 210-pounder had six games where he struck out three or more.  His best game came July 29 when he struck out a season high six and not giving up a hit or run over 3.2 innings.  Castillo saved the worst for last as on August 11 he allowed three hits and four earned runs in one inning.

 

Castillo happens to be the only DSL player at this time that received an invite to the St. Louis Cardinals Instructional League this coming fall.  This probably means he caught the officials' eyes during the 2008 season.  I still see him returning for another season at DSL in 2009 and maybe a look in the rotation or a few starts here and there during the season.

 

 

Carlos Mejia made 13 appearances (one start and three game finishes) posting a 3-1 record with a 2.10 ERA, and one blown save.  The 19-year-old right-hander allowed 27 hits, 11 runs (eight earned), hit eight batters, walked 12, and struck out 25 over 34.1 innings.  His WHIP was 1.14 and opponents batted .225 vs. him.  Mejia threw four wild pitches, had one balk, committed two errors, had a 27-46 ground out-fly out ratio, and let four of eight inherited runners score.

 

The Cardinals' March 18, 2007 free agent signing struggled in his first three games of the season before calming down and finding his spot as a middle reliever.  Mejia also missed about three weeks in July for unknown reasons.  In eight of his appearances he didn't allow a run and two with no hits.  In August, the 6'2" 180-pounder had three outings where he went beyond the usual one or two innings for five or more.  Mejia struck out three or more four separate times.  His best game came August 7 when he pitched five innings allowing two hits and no runs.  His worst came June 11 when he was tagged for four hits, three earned runs, and two walks in just 1.2 innings.

 

Mejia will probably be back for a 3rd season at DSL in 2009, with some work over the winter, staying the same role as in 2008.

 

 

Walter Santos made 13 appearances (one start and six game finishes) posting a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA and one blown save.  The 18-year-old left-hander allowed 27 hits, 18 runs (12 earned), hit two batters, walked six and struck out 20 over 20 innings.  His WHIP was a too-high 1.65 and opponents clubbed him for a .321 batting average.  Santos threw two wild pitches, had two balks, had a 13-24 ground out to fly out ratio, and let three of nine inherited runners score.

 

The Cardinals' January 1, 2007 free agent signing also struggled in the first half of his season before missing two and a half weeks.  When he returned, there was a major change in the lefty as he kept the ball down unlike at the beginning.  The 5'11" 150-pounder didn't give up a hit in four outings and no runs in seven games.  After his return, Santos pitched seven innings allowing seven hits, three runs (two earned), and striking out eight.  This includes a four-game scoreless streak to end the season and only two hits.  The Nicaraguan had his best outing on August 21 pitching two innings only giving up one hit.  He was drilled on July 18 for seven hits, eight runs (four earned) in 1.1 innings.

 

Santos should make a return for a 3rd season, I'm figuring there was either an injury or mechanics issue that was dealt with mid-season.  If he returns to DSL in 2009, look for him to pick the lefty-specialist role right were he left off in 2008.

 

 

Randy Santos made 12 appearances (two starts and three game finishes) posting an 0-1 record, with a 4.43 ERA and one save.  The 17-year-old left-hander allowed 26 hits, 14 runs (11 earned), hit two batters, walked 21, and struck out 14 over 22.1 innings.  His WHIP was an ugly 2.10 and opponents clubbed him for a .306 batting average.  Santos threw four wild pitches, had a 17-30 ground out to fly out ratio, and let three of five inherited runners score.

 

The 1st year DSL participant was added to the active roster mid-June and made his debut June 16.  Except for walks he was pretty much lights out in his first six outings not allowing a single run and only four hits over 9.1 innings.  Within in the same amount of time he had a hitless streak for four games.  After that it went all down hill for the 6'5" 175-pounder as he was tagged for two of more runs in each of his next five games and issued a total of 13 walks.  Santos had a season-high three strikeouts on July 12.  His best game came June 27 when he pitched two hitless and scoreless innings and struck out two.  His worst outing came August 1 when he walked four allowed five hits and four earned runs in 2.1 innings.

 

Santos should be another on the DSL roster in 2009 and could be groomed to follow in Walter Santos' shoes as a lefty-specialist or possibly Keury Herrera as a lefty in the rotation.

 

 

Eddy Rivera made 12 appearances (two starts and four game finishes) posting an 0-0 record and 3.12 ERA.  The 19-year-old right-hander allowed 11 hits, eight runs (six earned), hit four batters, walked 18 and struck out 23 over 17.1 innings.  His WHIP was 1.67 and opponents hit just .186 vs. him.  Rivera threw two wild pitches, had a 14-10 ground out-fly out ratio, and let three of six inherited runners score.

 

The 1st year DSL participant was another reliever that was pretty much lights out in the beginning before stumbling in the second half of the season.  In seven games he didn't allow a single hit or run, including a scoreless streak that spanned five games (8.2 innings). Rivera put a runner on base by either walks or hitting a batter in all of his outings.  The 5'11" 185-pounder had four games where he struck out three or more including two five strikeout games on back-to-back outings on July 3 and 7.  His best game came July 3 when he struck out five, walked one, and didn't give up a hit or run in two innings.  His very first game looks to be his worst as he allowed three earned runs, four hits, one home run in 2.1 innings.  In August Rivera also went missing for some time, only making three appearances struggling through only two innings (one being a start).

 

Rivera should also make a return to DSL and probably a winter wonderland workout over the off-season.  I'd look for him to be another arm used in middle relief or a possible set-up man for the squad.

 

 

Juan Mercedes made eight relief appearances (four game finishes) posting an 0-0 record, with a 7.84 ERA and one hold.  The 19-year old left-hander allowed seven hits, ten runs (nine earned), hit five batters, walked 20, and struck out 11 over 10.1 innings.  His WHIP was a very high 2.61 but opponents hit just .184 vs. him.  Mercedes threw two wild pitches, had a 14-4 ground out-fly out ratio, and kept both inherited runners on base.

 

The 1st year DSL participant was added to the active roster mid-July and made his debut July 14.  He had a season high three strikeouts, in one inning, on August 5, but to offset that he had four games in which he walked at least three or more.  In four appearances Mercedes didn't allow a run and two no hits.  He was used mostly in the 8th inning.

 

Mercedes might have had a ton of walks, but what catches my eye is his opponents' batting average and ground out to fly out ratio.  If he can get his placement down (strikes), he may become a big addition to the bullpen or rotation in 2009.

 

 

Braulin Beltre and Yedilson Pena, both 17-year-old left-handers, where added to the active roster at the end of June making their professional debuts on June 26.  A month later both where suspended for 50 games and in the latest Birdhouse interview with Jeff Luhnow, both were cut loose before signing legal contracts.  Since both have been released there is no need to go any further on either.

 

 

Christian Concepcion was also added to the active roster at the beginning of August, after being demoted from the Gulf Coast League to make room for Angel Cruz.  He was hammered out in his only appearance on August 6, much like he was in the GCL.  Since he didn't pitch in another game for DSL at the end of the year, I assume he may be gone too. 

 

 

And finally I wanted to point out, that after some further research on Jaime Sanchez, who was signed last July by the St. Louis Cardinals out of the Dominican, he had been released from any obligations with the organization (mentioned in July, 7th  DSL report).  The right-hander didn't pass his MLB background check as noted by Brian Walton in November, 2007.  It is a mandatory one-year suspension if players fail a background check by MLB.  (Another example: Edward Pinales of the Cleveland Indians currently on suspension)

 

 

Link to Part One: 2008 DSL Cardinals Starting Rotation Recap

 

 

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