Springfield Cards Reliever of the Year: 2008

Our Scout.com Springfield Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year for 2008 is closer Fernando Salas. The 23-year-old amassed 25 saves this season for the Double-A Texas League club.

Last week, St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan sat down with a group of us well-meaning sports writers over a bowl of chili and our favorite beverage and praised the St. Louis team for the outstanding job the team did this season over-all. But, he did admit that the Cardinals need to go out and find some players to fill some key positions. One of those is a pitcher who can "finish the game."

Well, Mr. Duncan, you need look no further than your own backyard. For, therein lies just the guy you are looking for--Springfield Cardinals relief pitcher Fernando Salas.

If the choice for Starting Pitcher of the Year for the Springfield Cardinals (unveiled here tomorrow) was a no-brainer, then the selection for top relief pitcher is nothing short of a shoo-in. Fernando Salas was picked in May by the St. Louis Cardinals organization as their Minor League Pitcher of the Month. During the month of May, Salas was 0-0 in 12 games with five saves, 28 strikeouts, only two walks and an ERA of 1.23, keeping his opponents to a .104 batting average against him.

According to Jeff Luhnow, vice-president of scouting and player development for the St. Louis Cardinals, Salas was purchased from the Mexican League in 2007, along with Angel Rivera, who played in the Gulf Coast League this season, after years of the Cardinals trying to get a foothold in the Mexican market.

Salas has three main pitches--an average velocity fast ball, a curve ball with considerable power and a rarely-used change-up. Salas, who wears number 38, is 6-foot-2 and weighs 200 pounds. He was born May 30, 1985 in Hustabampo, Sonora, Mexico and the Cardinals control his rights until 2013.

Salas was ranked number 18 in Baseball America's Top 20 prospects in the Texas League. His teammate Jess Todd ranked seventh. Salas was twice a 2008 Texas League All-Star, at the mid-season and post-season. He also was named to the 2008 All-Star Futures Game, held at Yankee Stadium.

Perhaps the best indicator of Salas deserving the nod for Relief Pitcher of the Year for the Springfield Cardinals in 2008 is the fact that he had 25 saves on the year, an astonishing record on its own. The player with the next most saves was Luke Gregerson, who came away with 10 saves on the year--a full 15 saves behind Salas. The rest of the Springfield squad picked up only five saves among them for the entire season.

Look for Salas to begin the 2009 season with Springfield, but move quickly to Memphis and work out of the bullpen as a closer. If he continues to improve and impress scouts and managers as he has in 2008, he could very likely appear in the Big Leagues before the end of the season--depending on how deep the need for a closer goes in St. Louis.

Salas' stats speak for themselves:

Player W L ERA PCT WHIP G SV IP H
J Dew  4.50  .333  1.60  38  50.0  57 
B Dickson  6.75  .600  1.98  29.1  42 
J Fiske  2.97  1.000  1.32  26  69.2  62 
B Furnish  1.64  .500  1.32  22.0  17 
M Gonzalez  3.59  1.000  1.20  47  57.2  47 
L Gregerson  3.35  .538  1.17  57  10  75.1  62 
J Kinney  7.36  .000  1.09  3.2 
J Mikrut  4.25  .571  1.26  44  65.2  63 
K Mura  2.74  .375  1.30  11  62.1  71 
A Ottavino  5.23  .300  1.60  24  115.1  133 
M Pagnozzi  0.00  1.000  0.43  2.1 
L Perdomo  4.50  .500  1.33  15  18.0  18 
F Salas  3.65  .700  1.09  60  25  74.0  65 
Z Zuercher  5.34  .500  1.78  29  30.1  36 

Player  R ER HR SO BB BK WP HBP AVG G AB TPA
J Dew  34  25  54  23  .286  199  230 
B Dickson  23  22  21  16  .347  121  141 
J Fiske  23  23  74  30  .242  256  293 
B Furnish  10  15  12  .221  77  91 
M Gonzalez  27  23  35  22  .225  12  209  243 
L Gregerson  32  28  78  26  .221  29  280  312 
J Kinney  .286  14  15 
J Mikrut  36  31  13  46  20  .252  13  250  276 
K Mura  24  19  25  10  .291  244  262 
A Ottavino  75  67  16  96  52  10  .291  457  530 
M Pagnozzi  .125 
L Perdomo  12  22  .247  73  80 
F Salas  31  30  12  100  16  .236  37  276  300 
Z Zuercher  20  18  23  18  .298  11  121  145 

Player SAC SF PINH Rr  P ING RrScr
J Dew  23 
B Dickson 
J Fiske 
B Furnish 
M Gonzalez  15 
L Gregerson  30 
J Kinney 
J Mikrut  21 
K Mura 
A Ottavino 
M Pagnozzi 
L Perdomo 
F Salas  25  11 
Z Zuercher  10 

Congratulations to our Springfield Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year, Fernando Salas!



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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