GCL Cardinals Player of the Year: 2008

The St. Louis Cardinals' largest international signing during the last off-season, Cuban-born outfielder Ryde Rodriguez proved his worth in his American debut.

In August, 2007, the St. Louis Cardinals made their biggest international splash in years, signing the switch-hitting Ryde Rodriguez for a half-a-million bucks.  It was the first time in over a decade this kind of an amount was lavished on such a player, but it demonstrated the organization is serious about player development and building the Latin American pipeline.


With many remaining questions about his background and his true ability, the Cuban-born outfielder made a strong debut in the Gulf Coast League in the summer of 2008. 


Rodriguez hit .329/.374/.392 in 41 games for the Cardinals. His batting average led the team and ranked fourth in the GCL, where he was named a 2008 All-Star. The switch-hitter stole seven bases, which was tied for the second-best mark on the team. 


Disappointing was his lack of power. Rodriguez had only nine extra base hits, all doubles. Also, he will need to improve his plate discipline; he logged 32 strikeouts compared to only eight walks.  


Rodriguez was promoted late in the year to Johnson City, where he appeared in five Appalachian League games.  In 15 at bats, he hit .333/.412/.400 with a double and one RBI. 



Honorable Mentions


After an abysmal 2007 in which he hit .096 for the GCL Cardinals, Rainel Rosario returned and bounced back to turn in a very respectable season.  Rosario tied for seventh in the league with five home runs while finishing tied for eighth in runs scored.   Rosario ranked tied for tenth in doubles with 12. 


Luis Mateo was proving himself in the afternoon league before being promoted to Johnson City.  Mateo hit .274/.338/.363 in 33 games.  The Puerto Rican showed promise on the base paths with seven steals in eight attempts.


Though the power numbers were not there, Devin Shepherd showed promise during a tremendous July.  For the month, the outfielder hit .317/.394/.397 with five of his extra base hits coming during the heat of July.  


Catcher Juan Castillo quietly put together an impressive American debut.  The 18-year-old was solid behind the plate and hit .293/.384/.400 in 75 at bats.   


Though he played in only 10 games, first baseman Carlos Pupo finished second on the team with three home runs while slugging .706. 


Yunier Castillo might have not shown much with the bat but his smooth glove work was certainly noticed.  The 19-year-old received a late-season promotion and appeared in six games for Johnson City. 



On the Mend


The Gulf Coast League Cardinals hosted three of the organization's top outfield prospects during their injury rehabilitation stints.  Colby Rasmus played three games for the team and hit .556 with a home run in two at-bats.  Steven "King of the" Hill swatted three home runs in the four games he suited up with the GCL Cards.  In five games with the team, Tyler Henley hit .368. 



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.)



Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.


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