Rios, with an exciting ending to his season, trumps Bier to become our 2008 VSL Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year. Rios' four wins, 2.49 ERA, 68.2 innings, 57 strikeouts, and 1.00 WHIP were tops among the VSL Cards' starters.
The following monthly stats illustrate Rios' solid results compared to his peers.
2008 VSL Cardinals Starting Pitchers (top starter each month highlighted)
Rios was selected to be the opening day starter for the VSL Cardinals in 2008. The 20-year-old right-hander made 15 appearances (13 for starts) posting a 4-3 record, 2.49 ERA, and finished two games for the Redbirds. He allowed 43 hits, 30 runs (19 earned), one home run, hit four batters, walked 26, and striking out 57 (2nd best) over 68.2 innings (team lead). His WHIP was 1.00 and opponents batted just .173 vs. the Cardinals ace. Rios committed two errors, threw six wild pitches, and had a 61-85 ground out-fly out ratio during the season.
The Cardinals' March 4, 2006 free agent signee started out a little slowly. In his first ten outings, Rios was 1-3 and in his worst start of the season on May 30, he was knocked out in the 3rd inning. Rios gave up four hits, eight runs, and three walks and picked up the loss. His next start didn't go as badly, but he was pulled in the fifth. In most of his starts, he was able to make it into the fifth inning, but just had a few bumps in the road.
In his last three outings, all wins, Rios was basically outstanding. He pitched 19 innings, allowing eight hits, two runs (one earned), two walks, and struck out 19. Rios' best appearance came on July 25 as he pitched six scoreless innings, giving up only one hit, walking one, and tying his season-best striking out seven.
With this having been his third season in the Venezuelan Summer League, a change of scenery in 2009 is mandatory, likely a promotion to the Gulf Coast League.
Luhnow on Rios
Cardinals Vice President of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow provided this scouting report on Rios' 2008 improvement.
"Rios has a fastball that was anywhere from 86 to 88 (MPH) early in the summer but ended at 88-92 towards the end of the VSL season. He throws mostly his fastball and he throws it for strikes, occasionally sinking it. Rios mixes in a curveball and an occasional change up. He strikes out 50% of the opposition batters and he is a slight fly ball pitcher."
Note: Like the details on Rios above, you can read individual capsules on each of the club's starting pitchers in our recent four-part series recapping the 2008 VSL Cardinals season.
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