Yonathan Gonzalez could have made a case had he started off on the right foot at the beginning of the season and not ended on a bad note on top of that. I'm thinking that Brito might have been tried in the closer role if he didn't miss a month at the beginning of July, coinciding with when Gonzalez moved into the rotation.
Other candidates included top June reliever Moises Colorado, who struggled when returned to the rotation in Javier Avendano's spot and July-August leader Carlos Oraa, who also made a push but comes up short when compared to Brito.
The following monthly stats illustrate Brito's consistent excellence compared to his peers.
2008 VSL Cardinals Bullpen (top five in innings worked by month, top reliever each month highlighted)
|July/August (Brito included for comparison)|
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 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 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 closer Yonathan Gonzalez made a couple of 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 third 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. After three seasons in the academy, he must be promoted or released.
Luhnow on Brito
Cardinals Vice President of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow had this to say about the reliever, who comes from good stock.
"David is the son of Enrique Brito, our longtime scout and coach from Venezuela. David's biggest asset is his lack of fear and mound presence. He goes right after hitters with an 82-85 mph fastball that he locates well, and a curve ball and change up that he knows when to throw.
"Despite a well below average fastball, he has always been able to retire hitters and keep runs from scoring. He is experimenting with a knuckleball," Luhnow said.
Note: Like the details on Brito above, you can read individual capsules on each of the club's relievers in our recent four-part series recapping the 2008 VSL Cardinals season.
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