Angel Cruz did that for the Dominican Summer League Cardinals and was the top pitcher on this young staff. This being his second year in the league, he showed his experience and was dominant at that.
Even after being promoted with a month to go in the season, Cruz was still ranked in the top five in stats for the club. Without him, this Cardinals team probably would have had five more losses tacked onto their final season record. In that last month, the team scrambled to fill the void in the rotation he left when promoted.
The rest of the starters for the team come up far short of Cruz in comparison. The closest to touching him were Jose Pasen and Ramon Urena, both of whom spent the entire season in the rotation. What separates them from Cruz is the fact they both finished with losing records, ERAs that were 3.50 or above, and higher walk rates. But Pasen was a strikeout monster and made a fine transition from playing in the outfield in 2007 to starting in 2008.
The following monthly stats illustrate Cruz' solid results compared to his peers.
2008 DSL Cardinals Starting Pitchers (listed by innings pitched by month)
|Angel Cruz||5||1-1||27||18||5 (3)||5||26|
|Charllan Jimenez||3||0-1||13||14||6 (6)||5||8|
|Ramon Urena||3||1-2||15||13||7 (5)||7||9|
|Keury Herrera||4||2-0||17||6||7 (6)||13||16|
|Jose Pasen||4||0-1||17||18||17 (9)||8||24|
|Angel Cruz||4||3-1||23||15||9 (6)||4||21|
|Ramon Urena||3||0-2||15||12||6 (5)||6||10|
|Keury Herrera||4||0-3||13||14||13 (11)||13||10|
|Juan Jacquez||3||0-0||6.1||7||9 (8)||7||5|
|Jose Pasen||5||2-1||23||15||13 (7)||11||26|
|Pedro Pena||3||0-0||12||6||2 (2)||5||8|
|Angel DeJesus||4||1-1||19||18||5 (1)||2||16|
|Keury Herrera||3||0-2||9||16||13 (4)||7||8|
|Ramon Urena||5||0-2||17||22||12 (9)||8||16|
|Jose Pasen||3||1-2||13||14||8 (6)||5||9|
The 20-year-old made nine starts for the 2008 DSL Cardinals, 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 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 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.
Luhnow on Cruz
Cardinals Vice President of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow provided this scouting report on Cruz' background and his 2008 improvement.
"Cruz is the half brother of Bill Villanueva, our pitching coach in the Gulf Coast League. Score one on the positive side (along with Chuckie Fick) for the nepotism camp. He is 20 years old, 6'3" right handed pitcher in his second year with the organization.
"He features an 86 to 88 mph fastball with plus command. He has a late breaking curve ball as an outpitch. He is one of the top strike throwers in our organization. A repeatable delivery and the most polished pitcher for us in the DSL. Cruz earned a stateside promotion in August," concluded Luhnow.
Note: Like the details on Cruz 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.
Master article with all 2008 Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Players of the Year and the schedule for daily announcements: link. (This link is also permanently located at the lower left of The Birdhouse home page.)
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