Quad Cities Relief Pitcher of the Year: 2008

Pete Parise receives the nod as our top reliever on the 2008 Quad Cities River Bandits, the St. Louis Cardinals affiliate in the Class-A Midwest League.

When I was asked to choose a Player of the Year for the Quad Cities River Bandits, I thought it would be an easy task. When I was asked to pick a Pitcher of the Year, I still thought it would be an easy task.


When I was asked to pick a Relief Pitcher of the Year, the task became much more difficult. With the River Bandits utilizing the tandem starter system for the first half of the year, there were very few true relief pitchers to consider.


With the revolving door on the clubhouse all summer—the team roster carried 59 different names in five months--it was difficult to find many players who had been here long enough to consider for an annual award.


In making my selection, I first eliminated relievers who had appeared in fewer than fifteen games. I felt this was a fair number for this summer with all of the player moves that were made. For this nomination, I only considered pitchers who appeared primarily as relievers or closers. Tomorrow I will recap the starters. I included WHIP, ERA, and BB per K in my selection.


With these criteria in mind, I first narrowed the list to these pitchers:


Wayne Daman was a real workhorse early in the season. His promotion left a hole in the bullpen. With a record of 5-2 and an ERA of 2.49 in 47 innings pitched, Wayne deserves a mention here.


Eduardo Sanchez was probably the quietest member of the team this summer. He struck out 55 opponents in 56.2 innings while walking only 25. He was a very stable part of the team after he arrived in the Quad Cities. He started five games but came in as a reliever in 21.


Dylan Gonzalez was one of the most interesting characters in the bullpen all summer. He was often seen "pitching to ghosts" as he warmed up.  He threw 42.1 innings in 26 games. He would be higher on my list of nominees except that he sometimes had some control problems.


Justin Fiske and Francisco Samuel would have been considered but they were promoted early in the season. I look forward to having Matt Frevert and Scott McGregor back next spring to see what develops with them. Brandon Garner looked very impressive before he left the organization and the game in mid-season.


Thus, I have narrowed the field to two relief pitchers. I won't wimp out and award two RPOY's.


My choice for runner-up in this category is Matt Spade. He joined the team shortly after the beginning of the season. Matt wasn't real flashy. He would have been hard to notice on the team except when he was on the mound.


Regular readers know that I would rather ignore the stats and just enjoy the game. They will also tell you that I enjoy getting to know players as people rather than just players. Matt was one of the team's leaders in both stats and being a nice guy.


Matt missed being with the River Bandits for the entire season by just one week and he closed the season with an ERA of 3.61. As a reliever, he threw 52.1 innings in 47 games. He was 2-2 with one save and six holds. Besides his performance on the field, Matt is a very kind-hearted young man off the field. I see good things coming for Matt's career with the Cardinals.


So, the field becomes one. My selection for Quad Cities River Bandits Relief Pitcher of the Year for 2008 is Pete Parise. Pete stuck out 50 opponents in 48.1 innings and recorded 13 saves. When the game was close at Modern Woodmen Park, fans turned to see who was warming up in the bullpen. There was always a sense of relief and anticipation when Pete's #5 jersey became visible.


Born and reared in the Bronx, Pete maintains a "small town" approach to life. He's a consummate professional but I can't imagine that he would lose his cool in front of fans under any circumstances.


Besides the stats mentioned above, Pete gave up only seven walks and five long balls in 36 games. When he was promoted late in the summer, he had an ERA of 2.23—lower than anyone else on the team who appeared in more than 10 games.


When I interviewed Pete this summer for my weekly article on this site, he made it clear that he is driven to succeed in this game, but that family is much more important to him. It was fun to watch Pete interact with fans after the game, especially with children. He always had time to greet fans.


I'm glad to give a tip of my baseball cap and my endorsement for Relief Pitcher of the Year to Pete Parise. Tomorrow, I'll discuss the starters.



Editor's Notes: Parise is also scheduled to pitch this winter in the Colombian League, which gets underway a week from Friday, on October 24. Make sure you catch our daily Cardinals Winter League Notebook for all the action.


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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